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  1. Alexander, Lloyd — The Black Cauldron
  2. Anthony, Piers — Letters to Jenny
  3. Cooper, Susan — Over Sea, Under Stone
  4. Proulx, Annie — Close Range: Wyoming Stories
  5. Kincaid, Jamaica — Lucy
  6. Christie, Agatha — The Unexpected Guest
  7. Dick, Philip K. — Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  8. Cooper, Susan — The Dark Is Rising
  9. Cooper, Susan — Greenwitch
  10. Shaffer, Peter — Amadeus
  11. Anonymous — Go Ask Alice
  12. Cooper, Susan — The Grey King
  13. Martin, Steve — Shopgirl
  14. Cooper, Susan — Silver on the Tree
  15. Gaiman, Neil — Stardust
  16. Gaiman, Neil — Coraline
  17. Le Guin, Ursula — A Wizard of Earthsea
  18. Le Guin, Ursula — The Tombs of Atuan
  19. Le Guin, Ursula — The Farthest Shore
  20. Le Guin, Ursula — Tehanu
  21. Merton, Thomas — The Seven Storey Mountain: An Autobiography of Faith
  22. Alexander, Lloyd — The Castle of Llyr
  23. Zelazny, Roger — Lord of Light
  24. Card, Orson Scott — Ender's Game
  25. Clarke, Arthur C. — Childhood's End
  26. Grahame, Kenneth — The Wind in the Willows
  27. Dahl, Roald — James and the Giant Peach
  28. Lewis, C.S. — Out of the Silent Planet
  29. Lewis, C.S. — Perelandra
  30. Milne, A.A. — Winnie-the-Pooh
  31. Card, Orson Scott — Speaker for the Dead
  32. Bester, Alfred — The Stars My Destination
  33. Greene, Graham — The Power and the Glory
  34. Gaiman, Neil — Neverwhere
  35. Ballard, J.G. — The Drowned World
  36. Ballard, J.G. — Crash
  37. Joyce, James — The Dubliners
  38. Le Guin, Ursula — Tales from Earthsea
  39. Le Guin, Ursula — The Other Wind
  40. Asimov, Isaac — The Robots of Dawn
  41. Dick, Philip K. — A Scanner Darkly
  42. Stewart, George R. — Earth Abides

Earth Abides is a remarkable book! Stewart possesses a keen mind and vivid imagination. He creates his premise and outcomes with convincing attention to detail and a subtle understanding of scientific processes. The result is extremely thought-provoking and absorbing.

Now, despite the presence of straightforward enough plot, this book's worth lies not so much in the story it tells as in the observations the main character, Ish, makes about the changes in the world about him. The plot does, in fact, lag a bit in places. After all, we hardly encounter anyone other than Ish for the first hundred pages, so around page 90 I started to think, "Okay, I get the point, civilization has been wiped out." But Stewart recovers from this in short order, shifting from a biological and ecological to a psychological and anthropological perspective.

This is where the book shines. Ish had been a doctoral student when the Great Disaster hit. Thus, he had been trained to study and observe. We get treated first to his observations of a world that tries to cope without man exerting his influence on the environment and then to observations of a small community of survivors as they adapt, evolve, and survive. Some of his discoveries are quite surprising, things we might overlook but are completely plausible or even likely given such a premise. Above all, this is an honest book. There is no MacGyver-like hero come to save civilization with, say, a corkscrew, a rubber band, and a hammer—although a hammer does figure prominently in the story. Instead, Stewart gives us a fascinating appraisal of what might happen to the world if mandkind were effectively removed from the equation.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
lillibet
Sep. 30th, 2006 02:45 am (UTC)
I found it interesting that it didn't occur to me to check the publication date until he went to Memphis and didn't visit Graceland. I mean, I'm no big Elvis fan, but when in Memphis...
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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