On This Day: George R. Stewart

George Rippey Stewart was born in Pennsylvania on this day in 1895 and died in California in 1980. A Professor of English at the University of California, he published a number of novels, including two studies of natural catastrophe, Storm and Fire. Earth Abides is his only work of science fiction and won the first International Fantasy Award in 1951.

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In this profound ecological fable, a mysterious plague has destroyed the vast majority of the human race. Isherwood Williams, one of the few survivors, returns from a wilderness field trip to discover that civilization has vanished during his absence.

Eventually he returns to San Francisco and encounters a female survivor who becomes his wife. Around them and their children a small community develops, living like their pioneer ancestors, but rebuilding civilization is beyond their resources, and gradually they return to a simpler way of life.

You can read more about George R. Stewart in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.