EARTH STILL ABIDES – GEORGE R. STEWART

Cover of "Earth Abides"

When I first read Earth Abides by George R. Stewart more than 40 years ago, it wasn’t newly published, but it was new to me.

Unlike many other books I have read and forgotten, Earth Abides has stayed with me. I’ve returned to it many times in recent years, but there was a period of almost 30 years when I couldn’t find a copy of the book anywhere. Nonetheless, I could recall it with remarkable clarity. It was especially remarkable considering the thousands of books I read every year. That I could remember this one book — not to be too punny — spoke volumes. It turns out that I was not alone. Many people found the book unforgettable, including many writers. George Stewart’s masterpiece became the jumping off point for an entire genre.

Earth Abides is a “foundation book,” one of a handful of books that you must read if you are a science fiction fan. It is frequently cited as “the original disaster” story. A foundation book it most definitely is, but classing it as the “original disaster story” rather misses the point.

Earth Abides isn’t merely a disaster story or post apocalyptic science fiction. Above all it is a book of rebuilding, renewal and hope. The event that initiates the story is a disaster, a plague resulting from either a natural mutation or something escaped from a lab that runs amok. Whatever its origins, it kills off most of Earth’s human population. As has been true of plagues throughout history, a small percentage of the population is naturally immune. Additionally, anyone who survived a rattlesnake bite is immune.

The plague is the back story. The front story of Earth Abides is how humankind copes with the tragedy as scattered remnants of people slowly find one another, form groups and gradually create a new civilization. Through marriage and the pressures of survival, groups become tribes. Simultaneously, the earth itself revives and finds a new balance.

Most diseases of old earth are eliminated by depopulation. New generations are wonderfully healthy. Along with physical disease, mental illness, archaic religious and outdated social structures are shed. New human generations have no memory of institutionalized bias and prejudice and the color line becomes non-existent. There is much that needs doing in this new world, but there’s an infinite amount of time in which to do it.

Ultimately, earth will be repopulated. But gently … and hopefully, in peace. The reborn world will contain bits and pieces of what went before, but without its demons.

The book was re-released as a 60th anniversary edition in 2009, including an audio version with an introduction by Connie Willis.

Cover of the 1949 Random House hardcover editi...

Cover of the 1949 Random House hardcover edition of Earth Abides. Cover illustration by H. Lawrence Hoffman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The last time I read it was immediately after it was re-released. Seven years has given me time to be surprised by the book all over again. Be surprised by how much Ish — the main character — changes over the years, how much he grows and matures. How his belief structure adapts to new realities, how much more open his mind becomes. It’s a rare transformation from a literary point of view. Few characters I’ve read have transformed as much as Ish does in Earth Abides.

Earth Abides was published in 1949. In some parts of the U.S. and other countries, the issues with which the book’s characters grapple are still very much alive. They shouldn’t be. We have moved on but only to a point.

The technology stands up surprisingly well because it’s essentially irrelevant. All technology disappears, so it doesn’t matter how advanced it used to be. When the power goes off, it’s over. The world goes back to pre-technological. It has wind, water and sun. Books remain, so knowledge exists, but in stasis, waiting to be rediscovered and deployed. Meanwhile, earth abides.

The world ends, the world begins. Ish and Emma are the “mother” and “father” of the new tribe. Ish, in Hebrew, means “man” and “Eema” means “mother” which I am sure is not coincidental. It’s a wonderful story that suggests the human race has the capacity to not only survive, but reinvent civilization and make a better world.

Earth Abides is timeless. As is the Earth. There’s an entire site dedicated to George R. Stewart — The EARTH ABIDES Project. Definitely check it out!

It’s available for Kindle, Audible download, audiobook (CD and MP3), hardcover and paperback. There was time when it was difficult to find, but it seems to have found its way back into bookstores and libraries.  I’m glad. It remains among my top five all time favorite science fiction novels and if you haven’t read it, there’s no time like the present. I have a spare copy, just in case.

ABIDE | THE DAILY POST

BATTLE AT SQUIRREL PASS – GARRY ARMSTRONG

In Dog Town, possession is 100% of the law.

Showdown!

Showdown!

It’s a standoff right now with Gibbs staring down Bonnie who temporarily has possession of the prized squeaky squirrel. But the drums are beating and troops have been summoned to peacefully settle what could be a violent clash.

Bonnie has the squirrel

Bonnie has the squirrel

The situation has been escalating. It began peacefully enough when the only toys were a pink starfish and a blue octopus — treaty offerings to quell simmering egos.

Gibbs wants the squirrel, but Bonnie isn't letting go

Gibbs wants the squirrel, but Bonnie isn’t letting go

Bonnie and Gibbs initially seemed open to negotiations over sharing of the prized offerings, but positions began hardening. Still, tribal discussions are prone to last minute changes of heart, so a hedgehog was added to make sharing easier, but only seemed to raise the stakes. Gibbs quickly seized the hedgehog, but Bonnie diverted his attention, grinning as she nabbed the new prize and stowed it in her cage. A standoff ensued. Tensions mounted.

Marilyn was overwhelmed with guilt. She had tried to do the right thing but it was turning sour, threatening to erase the harmony of our family. What to do? Sweeten the pot, naturally! Marilyn acquired another starfish, a big green pretzel, and a fuzzy squirrel. Surely with all these choices, harmony would be restored, discord banished.

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The squirrel was a game-changer and took the competition to the next level. We may need a federal mediator to mitigate a worse-case scenario. Following several mad dashes to retrieve the hedgehog and squirrel who were dragged outside by first Gibbs, then Bonnie, Marilyn and I were exhausted. Martial law was considered.

After several bribes in the form of biscuit offerings, a temporary truce was achieved. For the moment, the two dogs have taken up positions at opposite ends of the sofa, each in possession of one or more favorite toys. Gibbs has both the squirrel and the hedgehog — but Bonnie has both starfish. The pretzel has (temporarily?) vanished, into Bonnie’s crate, or the front yard. No one is fighting over the dog and the octopus does not appear to have much traction.

Gibbs, now with both hedgehog and squirrel

Gibbs, now with both hedgehog and squirrel

Squirrel, hedgehog, dog, two star fish, a big pretzel and a bright blue octopus are pawns in an ongoing war between Bonnie and Gibbs. There’s a rabbit in the mail.

Stay tuned for updates.

I’LL BE A STRUMMING FOOL IN 2017

NEW HORIZON | THE DAILY POST


So. I could post one of the thousands of sunrises, sunsets, ocean and mountain and forest vistas. But really? This year, I’m going to learn to really play the ukulele. Yup. I have a goal other than mere survival. I’m going to actually learn to play that instrument, or at least, strum it and sound like I know what I’m doing. Not going for concert quality. Just basic musical competence.

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I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

PAPER COVERS ROCK – ROCK BREAKS SCISSORS – SCISSORS CUT PAPER

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – December 7, 2016


“Paper covers rock, rock breaks scissors, scissors cuts papers,” we would chant. It wasn’t a game, really. More like a way of choosing. Picking who would be on the this team or that, who was in, who was out.

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And finally, what about scissors? Don’t have any pictures? Look amidst the wrapping paper. They’re hiding there.

cee's fun foto chall