>Ishi, Ish and Earth Abides

>There are a few books I come back to over and over again. One of these is George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides. You’ve probably read it, but if you haven’t I can’t implore you enough to find a copy. It’s probably the best post-apocalypse story you’ll read. In it, Californian Isherwood Williams wakes from a snake-bite-induced delirium to discover a plague has all but erased mankind. Stewart does a grand job of chronicling Ish’s journey and ultimate ascension to the role of ‘the last American’, but what sticks with me are the glorious interludes where he tracks the gradual decay of technology, and its absorption back into the natural world.

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know by now I have a thing about names. For some reason, the name ‘Ish’ has always struck me as hauntingly odd. Well, today I discovered why. In 1911 a man from a stone-age culture walked out of the California hills and became famous as the ‘last wild Indian’. His name was Ishi, and he experienced a few years of celebrity at the university in San Francisco. David Pringle has written a great piece about all this, including the connection between Ishi and Earth Abides – you can read it here. There’s a Wikipedia article too. They say truth is stranger than fiction. In this case, it’s at least as fascinating.

Comments

  1. >Ta for the recommendation – must admit this one slipped past me. Two of my favourites in the same genre are John Christopher's The Death of Grass and A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller. Oh and not forgetting Dr Bloodmoney by Philip K Dick, of course.

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