George R. Stewart kept a Datebook, now in the Bancroft Library George Rippey Stewart Papers. Two entries bracket this twelve-month, 2018-2019:
“11/25/48: Finished first revision Earth Abides”
October 7 – Earth Abides Published.”
The extraordinary novel has never been out of print, thanks to the late publisher Alan Ligda and his fine-press Hermes Press. There have been 28 English language versions alone, and the book is also published in 20 – or maybe 27? – other languages. (A new French Translation has just been published). It has been called a rare book which transcends its “science fiction” categorization. And its influence has been exceptional:
Stephen King based The Stand on “Stewart’s fine novel,” and admits it.
Kim Stanley Robinson makes a subtle reference to the novel in the first volume of his Three Californias Triptych, The Wild Shore.
Poet and novelist James Sallis has written an exemplary essay about Earth Abides.
There is talk of filming the epic work.
Composer Philip Aaberg composed a beautiful piano piece, “Earth Abides” (also available as sheet music from Sweet Grass Music.)
Jimi Hendrix considered Earth Abides his favorite book, and is said to have been inspired to compose “Third Stone From the Sun” by the novel.
And, of course, millions of people have enjoyed and are enjoying the novel. In some cases, as reviews on Amazon reveal, the book can change lives.
It seems 2019 would be a perfect time to celebrate the novel.
Here are some suggestions for such a celebration:
- A second gathering at Indian Rock Park in Berkeley (suggested by one of the followers of this blog).
- A visit to the Bancroft Library to review highlights of the GRS Papers that relate to Earth Abides.
- A subsequent meal, nearby, after Indian Rock and the Bancroft.
- A Dedication of the George R. Stewart Interpretive Sign at Donner Summit.
- A hike to the top of George R. Stewart Peak from the Sign.
- Hike and Dedication to be followed by a barbeque nearby.
All other ideas are welcomed. Add them to the comments and I’ll organize and share them.
October 7, 2019, is the target date for the celebration. But that’s a work day for most people so events should probably be scheduled on the following weekend, which is a 3-day federal holiday. (Monday, the 14th, is the holiday.)
Alan Ligda’s Hermes Press Edition of Earth Abides.