Will EARTH ABIDES be filmed?

Earth Abides, George R. Stewart’s great classic – in 20 languages now, and never out of print in 77 years –  thanks to Alan Ligda, who published the book for a few years through his Hermes Press when the Trade publisher dropped it and thus kept it in print until the Trade publisher realized its mistake  – is long overdue for film treatment.



ALAN LIGDA, Publishing Hero

In the old days of movie-making, before computers and computer graphics, it would have been nearly impossible to film.  But today, when The Martian can re-create a believable long-distance shot of the Martian surface with a few layers of computer graphics, the post-apocalyptic Earth of Stewart’s novel would be easy to re-create.

Today long films based on several linked novels – think Lord of the Rings – make it possible to film long and complex books like Earth Abides.  EA, with its three sections (each in fact a novella) and its shorter interchapters between the three, could be filmed in a three part or five part version.

And Stewart’s Greek Chorus of observations, the beautiful bits of poetic prose set in italics which filter through the text,  would work as well with a viewing audience as they do with a readership, to help them see Stewart’s overview of events.

So it is with great interest I hear rumors of a plan to film Earth Abides as a mini-series.  A mini-series, it seems to me, is not as worthy of the book as a film or films would be; but remember that Lord of the Rings went through several anemic visualizations before Jackson made his mighty epic. So an Earth Abides mini-series would be a start; and if properly done, a fine start. It would certainly expand the fan base; and in so doing, eventually lead to an audience for a feature film or films.

IMDB has announced the mini-series plan.  There’s no detail about the series, but the public IMDB pages let us know it’s being considered.

Without giving away any secrets, I can confirm that another source has indicated the truth of the project.  No more details than are on the IMDB page, but one small slight confirmation of the interest by filmmakers, and their first steps to make it so.

Stay tuned.




18 thoughts on “Will EARTH ABIDES be filmed?

  1. I would love to see this classic turned into a feature film. I first read it in the late 1960’s and have never forgotten it. I recently had occasion to recommend it to a friend who had never read it and in so doing, decided it was high time I re-read it myself. In the process of doing so now. It was only 20 years old when I first encountered it, and now it is nearly 70 years old so it’s fascinating to compare what was new and modern when I first read it in 1969 or so with what has developed since then – computers, technology of all kinds, renewable energy, etc. not to mention politics! Again, I would really like to see this as a full length motion picture.

  2. currently, I translate excerpts from heston charlton’s book “The Actor’s life”. In his chapter on Orson Welles, we read that Orson Welles invited Charlton to read this book because he thought he could make a film of it. Here is this excerpt to the day of March 31, 1957: A lazy, late-sleeping n Sunday morning, filled with sun and Fray’s laughter and hot cakes after four sets. After the day of the day, the day of the day of the day, the day of the day of the day, the day of the day, the day of the day.

    • Thanks for this interesting information. I’ve gone to your Heston weblog, to read the original; I”ll likely add the Orson Welles story to my GRS weblog. Isn’t it interesting that Welles, the greatest of filmmakers, saw the cinematic potential of Earth Abides? As did others. My thinking is that before the days of computer-generated graphics, it would have been too difficult to film – like Lord of the Rings, which never successfully reached the screen until Peter Jackson and WETA were able to develop the necessary software to create that mythical world.

      Again, thanks for this important piece of Earth Abides history.

      • Thank you for your pleasant kind comment. But I am surprised that the extract which I sent you, is not whole and not disrupted by a series of repetitive words. Here is thus this whole extract:

        of March 31, 1957: A lazy, late-sleeping tennisy Sunday morning, filled with sun and Fray’s laughter and hot cakes after four sets. After lunch and the nap this night shooting schedule seems to require, even on a day off. I drove over to Orson’s to pick up EARTH ABIDES, the science fiction novel he thinks might do for a film. (CHARLTON HESTON)

      • Can’t wait for this movie or mini-series or whatever form it takes. I’m a little concerned that a mini-series would prompt producers/director to take some liberties with the story but I’ll watch no matter what form it takes.

        thanks for the update Brian

      • Yes, Brian, I agree. Remember how poorly done were the first two versions of The Lord of the Rings? On the other hand, a poor first step would certainly inspire better future versions. Having said that, and without revealing sources, I can say that the team that is researching the new work has a couple of academy awards under its belt – so IF they ever do it, the film should be a good one.


        Don Scott

  3. Thanks, Frances,

    I’ll send the updated version out to my GRS list, which includes his family. Your email also prompted me to do some more research about the possible film, and that led to the discovery of the producers and possible scriptwriter. I’m not holding my breath to see it happen, but the people who are on the production/writing list have excellent resumes – including Academy Awards – so it may come to pass and if so will be well-done. Many thanks for inspiring me to do that follow-up. I’ll be adding a post about all this in the near future.

    Cheers, DMS

  4. I too read this book as a young man, and have returned to it a number of times across the years, each time remarking to myself how well it gives life to the aging Ish, thinking that is exactly how getting old must be, until now I am myself of that age and see that i have nothing new to learn from Professor Stewart about aging, as he had described it all in this book I read as a young man, written by him when he was in his early 50’s. Of course Earth Abides is about much more than aging, and its story seems much more relevant today than ever, perhaps even a guide to what is now coming directly down the pike and in store for us, not only for the old but also the young, and not only the humans but the elephants and the whales, the wolves and dogs and birds, and everyone who inhabits this earth, which will certainly abide, but perhaps without an Ish or any of our ilk.

  5. Why don’t you write that screenplay, Lori?

    Here’s a story to encourage you.

    For decades I waited for someone to write the biography of Stewart. An important American writer, he’d been largely ignored by the literary literati, so it seemed that a book might keep his memory and his work alive. One day, I met an acquaintance, science fiction author Greg Bear, at a Mars conference. I mentioned that since no one else had done it I was thinking about writing a Stewart biography. “You don’t think about writing a book, Don.” he said. “You either write it or you don’t write it.”

    “I’m not a writer,” I said.

    “When you finish the book you will be.”

    And so, the book was written, and published, and is in libraries on five continents. And I’m a writer.

    So why don’t you write that screenplay?

  6. Thanks for the update – I’ll be 72 in a few weeks and I only hope I’ll live long enough to actually see this film (or series or whatever) made. It’s more relevant and thought provoking (to me anyway) today in 2019, than ever.

  7. That’s the sign of a true classic. Fortunately, GRS is finally, slowly, being discovered – Good reviews in the Chicago Tribune lit mag and The Nation; republication of one of his books by the NY Review of Books Press; and a probable publication of a second book by the same press. Let’s keep our fingers crossed – and buy those new editions when they come out. (Names on the Land is out; rumor is that Storm may follow.)


    Don S

  8. I actually support the miniseries idea. Now (2019) would be the almost peak time for it with all the streaming competition and the trailblazing done by Game of Thrones, Disney’s Mandalorian, and the risks others have taken like Netflix’ fearlessness taking on a wide range of projects or Amazon saving The Expanse. It would be far less expensive to produce than the blockbusters like GOT and The Mandalorian, so they could put more money into bigger names and more talented showrunners and writers.
    The story in this is laser focused on the very question we would face in any apocalypse. And is also the reason why every other sweeping apocalypse story begins to fail apart. They introduce some other trope (zombie apocalypse aside…they’re a whole different treatment) that’s just not central to losing “society”. You don’t need monsters, aliens, black helicopters, constant battle with evil empires, or secret holdouts to be “scary”. And when those get introduced, it goes from thoughtful to base immediately.
    Early seasons cover the original story. Since it would be the greatest show ever (IMHO), ensuing seasons could cover ensuing generations. After fits and starts and ultimate failures of trying to retain archaic technology, the final scene of S15.Ep20 (I know, right?!!) is the pennies.

    • Well put, John H.

      It’s ironic zombies have become the apocalypse du jour, while people refuse to vaccinate their kids for measles – the very disease that kills most of humanity off.

      Maybe a mini-series would get the message through to them.


      Don Scott

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