Talk:Earth Abides

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Former good article nominee Earth Abides was a Language and literature good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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Is this attribution ok?[edit]

I went through the section Analysis and rewrote it as best I could, (I needed to do so in an attempt to attribute the thoughts it held.) Is the writeup and the attribution sufficient to remove the unverified claims tag? Jacqke 9:12pm Feb 23, 2008.

Failed GA[edit]

This article failed the GA noms due to lack of references. Tarret 00:10, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

References are only part of the problem, as someone should step in to give this article (a) a chapter-by-chapter synopsis and (b) a more focused analysis. My recall of the novel is that Stewart used chapter openings to show the step-by-step erosion of man's artifacts (highways, etc.), and that parallels the disinterest of tribal youngsters in rebuilding civilization. Pepso 14:07, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Descriptions of the disintegration of the world of modern man are given as italicised "asides" rather than chapter headings. I'd be quite happy to go into some depth about this novel but I fear it would be "original research". Here is a 1st attempt:

The vast majority of mankind is killed by a plague, carried around the world swiftly by airplanes. There are too few people left to maintain basic services such as electricity and water other than where they are fully automated. The hero, Ish, lives north of San Francisco near the Golden Gate bridge and is saved from death by having been recently bitten by a rattlesnake on a backpacking expedition taken to research local flora and fauna. Ish therefore learns about the Great Disaster (as it is referred to by characters in the book) after it has happened. Ish meets various survivors but shies away from maintaining contact for various reasons - the others are permanently drunk or hostile. He drives a car across the USA, mainly to study the effect the disaster has had on surviving humans and on the ecosystem of the country. He reaches New York City, then returns. He meets a woman, Em, who later turns out to be of mixed race. Ezra, an older man, later joins the group which eventually reaches 7 adults. Children are born and the "tribe" leads a scavenging existence on leftover food and other resources. The book "fast forwards" 20 years to a crisis in which a stranger, Charlie, suspected of carrying disease, joins the group (he returns with two of the younger generation who had made an expedition eastwards to search for other survivors). The older generation decide collectively to execute Charlie, but too late to prevent the feared epidemic which kills 5 people including Ish's favourite son. The years roll by, and the older generation start to die off. Ish is becoming disillusioned by his failure to educate the younger tribe members about the lost civilisation whose ruins lie around them. Eventually he becomes somewhat reconciled to this and decides to teach them how to make bows and arrows, which will ensure they are at least able to hunt game once rifles cease to work. Ish now has semi-divine status - not something which he, as a rationalist, enjoys. Ezra is the last of his peers to die, leaving an isolated and frail Ish alone in a tribe whose values and aims and language are foreign to him. Ish suffers a stroke when moving into San Francisco to escape the after-effects of a forest fire, and hands his hammer, the symbol of his authority, to his great-grandson Jack, who has shown leadership qualities and intelligence. In the final scene, the dying Ish reflects that man is a temporary feature in the landscape - "men go and come, but Earth abides"

The book reflects on the nature of human civilisation and the modern, mechanised and automated world. How long would it take survivors of such a disaster to revert to savagery? Would the fact that the world would probably contain enough packaged food to last many years, and a supply of guns to make hunting easy, hinder the motivation of survivors to set up a genuinely sustainable economy? Would such a society be a bucolic paradise - or would conflicts within the tribe and with strangers inevitably force us to set up a State capable of enforcing the will of the community, even to the extent of killing those who are seen as a threat? Has humanity distorted the ecology to such an extent that it may take decades or centuries to return to a natural balance? The book surmises that the world would be subject to periodic plagues of insects, rats or domestic animals in the absence of predators previously eliminated by humans. How much of the vast body of knowledge accumulated by humanity over the last 10,000 years (of which Wikipedia is of course a partial repository) would be of any use to the survivors of a massive disaster such as a plague or nuclear war? Or would, as Ish decides, the single most useful item of knowledge that the survivors could pass on to the next generation be as basic as how to make a bow and arrow?

The book has been criticised as being somewhat dull amd downbeat compared to later apocalyptic visions in print and on the movie and TV screen. The survivors seem paralysed by the disaster and incapable of planning effectively to overcome the difficulties of their situation. However this may be actually quite realistic - a randomly selected group of urban and suburban people from a Western country quite probably would act in this way. We probably would miss our home comforts so much (even more so today) that a collective depression would set in even once we had got over the immediate shock of the disaster. Our current motivations are to do with status, fame, wealth, leisure pursuits, our legacy to the future (which we assume will be a long one and one of continued progress). With these gone, and replaced by a barren lifestyle based on raiding supermarkets for old cans of food, who could blame us for being a little demotivated? Maybe tough outdoor types used to a solitary existence could cope better - but if only, say, 1 in 100,000 survive, which is roughly the survival rate indicated in the book - say 3,000 people in the whole USA and 60,000 in the world as a whole - how many mountain men will be left?

Exile 23:45, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

Very good synopsis. Made me want to reread the novel after these many years. Still would like to see more mention of the ecosystem breakdown, water faucets that run dry, grass growing in the highway cracks, etc. Pepso 00:11, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
The above is very well-written, and the parts of it that deal with the plot of the book would do well in the article. But about two-thirds of it does seem to be original research, and what this article needs is less unsourced commentary, not more of it. My personal feeling is that if you find yourself using question marks repeatedly, you are no longer writing a plot summary; you are writing a blurb. Per above failed GA nom, I have tagged the article as needing sources. Sorry to be a downer, for what it's worth the article as it stands (and the above) has convinced me to add this title to my reading list. -- Antepenultimate 00:22, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
My recollection is that Ish isn't really sure just how he escaped the plague; he thinks that the rattlesnake venom could have shielded him, but isn't certain. I seem to recall that Ish spent several days in near-delirium as his body fought off the effects of the venom, so it's also possible that his temporary isolation from society contributed as well. I don't believe his survival is ever explained, so I suppose it's possible that Ish might have even been naturally resistant to the plague bug. But at the end of the day, Ish just doesn't know, and like the reader, can only speculate. Does my reading agree with that of others? Regards, 72.0.15.8 (talk) 14:35, 31 March 2014 (UTC)

Ish and Em[edit]

It is my feeling that the names of the main characters, Ish and Em, are a reference to the the two first humans of Norse mythology, Ash and Elm (or Ask and Embla as rendered on this site). Boris B 20:49, 9 March 2007 (UTC)


Not sure how to reply to this, but will do my best! Ish and Em are Hebrew for "Man" and "Mother." Also, I have an image of the cover of the first edition of Earth Abides if someone can tell me how to send it up.

Donald M. Scott George R. Stewart Biographer. dscott943@sbcglobal.net


At one point, Em says to Ish something about the moon and stars in her eyes or hands (or some such) and asked why he never questioned her (I'm sorry, I don't have the book handy at the moment). What was the symbolism in this scene?

Edits were mine[edit]

I forgot to sign in when I made recent major changes to Earth Abides. Changes made under these ip adresses were mine: 69.146.55.122, 137.89.226.11, Jacqke (talk) 19:30, 26 February 2008 (UTC)

Again for 69.146.55.122 Jacqke (talk) 00:52, 29 February 2008 (UTC)

GA fail[edit]

This article is pretty well referenced and comprehensive. Its two main problems are that many of its images have no free use rationale (this is a quick killer of GA noms). Also, it needs a copyedit from someone not familiar with the subject. I'd suggest going to the WP:LOCE before renominating just to be sure everything is covered. Wrad (talk) 02:06, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

Criticism of the book[edit]

I have a lot of citations to make in this section. Jacqke (talk) 23:15, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

Linking to Amazon.com[edit]

In the Criticism of the book section, I added a link directly to Amazon.com, because I cite statistics directly from the site and the information is likely to change. Wikipedia readers and editors will have a more enjoyable experience if they can check that information out quickly without having to juggle, looking for the link to the page. Jacqke (talk) 23:33, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

Assessment of Earth Abides[edit]

Earth Abides was given an assessment change. Here is what was writen:

  • I have upped the clasification to "B" which is at very least. Also I have restructured the article to bring it more in line with the WP:NOVELS article pattern. If anything the article might need trimming a little if it is to progress further - particularly the Plot summary is a little on the long side and some of what was under the analysis section is tending toward OR. However generally this is showing great signs of promise and is much improved from previously. 11:48, 10 March 2008 (UTC)


Earth Abides[edit]

I have made a lot of additions to this article, but am still learning Wikipedia conventions. I could use some pointers if I am making mistakes, and pointers to how I can improve this article. I received a comment that someone not familiar with the book should take a look at it. Thanks,Jacqke (talk) 23:47, 8 March 2008 (UTC)

Review from Yllosubmarine[edit]

The article received a peer review, which follows Jacqke (talk) 18:51, 14 March 2008 (UTC):

This is a fairly good start for an article, especially from someone who is relatively new around here, so congrats! Because I haven't read the book and cannot comment on the content of the article and how it relates to the work, most of my comments deal with MOS and formatting issues.
  • Keep in mind WP:LEAD; that large block quote in the lead section is great, but the first part of the article is supposed to be an overview of the entire article, so large, clunky specifics are usually not a good idea. Also, only include facts in the lead that are mentioned in the body of the article -- James Sallis is not mentioned anywhere else. I would suggest moving the entire second to "Literary significance and reception" and saying something more broad about its reception in the lead.
  • This could use a very strong copy-edit. The first sentence, for example, is not grammatically incorrect, but it is a little too detailed: "Earth Abides is a 1949 post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by American author George R. Stewart. Telling the story of the fall of civilization from deadly disease and its rebirth..." perhaps?
  • Remember that all refs must go after punctuation or the end of the line, depending on what it refers to. Ref 3, for example, currently goes before the period, which is incorrect.
  • I count 18 separate book covers. This is, to put it lightly, overkill. :) It also goes against fair use guidelines, which states that "As few non-free content uses as possible are included in each article and in Wikipedia as a whole. Multiple items are not used if one will suffice; one is used only if necessary." I understand the desire to illustrate articles that are so prose-heavy, but the only cover image that is truly needed is the original cover, which is currently in the infobox. If there is one other that is notable in itself and/or mentioned in the article, then you can include that one, as well.
DoneJacqke (talk) 18:51, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
  • Although it's obvious to most that the source for the plot summary and introduction are the book itself, there are others who insist that every section is referenced. Even if it's just the book itself, one or two refs wouldn't hurt down the line.
  • Some interlinking of less common terms would be helpful: "Golden Gate Bridge", "pandemic", city names, etc.
  • The "Characters" section seems to fall into a list-like pitfall. To help this, combine smaller sentences into one paragraph on minor characters, or just remove the minor characters all together to concentrate on the main characters.
  • Amazon is not where you should be getting your reception information for. Stick to scholarly and notable reviews from the media, not John and Jane Does from the internet. :) State the names of the reviewers and perhaps even quote them for proof; this is where James Sallis could come in handy.
  • Do you have sources for the "Symbols" section? Interesting stuff, but you need something scholarly -- this does not include the book itself. Have critics remarked upon these symbols?
Done—eliminated as the symbols were original research. Will look for them if I can ever get to a decent university library.Jacqke (talk) 19:31, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
  • I strongly suggest merging the "Symbols" and "Themes" section and converting the material from list to prose formatting. That goes for "Details That Are Dated", as well. By the way, WP:HEAD: lowercase unless proper names!
converting from list to prose, Done.Jacqke (talk) 03:33, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
lowercase in headlines, Done.Jacqke (talk) 03:33, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
Merging Symbols and Themes, Still needs to be doneJacqke (talk) 03:33, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
  • Other Wikipedia articles should never be used as source material. Replace the footnotes and rm them from the "References" section
  • Some footnotes, like "Stewart, George R. (1969). Earth Abides. Boston: Houghton Mifflin...", are already listed in the "References" section. Therefore, you can use truncated names in the footnotes. For example, <ref>Stewart (1969), 125</ref> That cuts down on the clutter, but still provides the reader with all of the information they need.
I hope this has been useful! If you have any questions or comments, just contact me on my talk page. María (habla conmigo) 17:48, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

Public reaction section[edit]

I am aware that in the WikiProject Novels/Style guidelines it says not to use Amazon .com for reception: Quotes from users on Amazon.com and blogs do not count, as these are self-published).. However, in the very next paragraph it says: Relying on your research, also indicate what the public reaction to the novel was. Well if Amazon.com does not count as public reaction, then what does. I interpret this as a need to divide reception of the novel into "Critical reception" for academics and public figures, and "Public reaction" for how the everyday reader enjoys the book.

I have already started the "Public reaction" section. The "Critical reception" section waits until I can either get access to 1940s and 1950s newspapers, or visit a university with a decent library. Jacqke (talk) 19:28, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Exactly "Amazon.com does not count". You should restrict a reference article like this is third party analysis of the public's reaction. If any can be found that is. :: Kevinalewis : (Talk Page)/(Desk) 08:35, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Message to 91.10.25.164[edit]

I spent a long time working on this article and I would like to see it improved. I will admit, you may be making an improvement. But I do not like anonymous users making substantial changes. That is why I reverted your change; it was not personal. Saying I wasn't sure was a way of opening a conversation to talk. You, however, seem to have taken it personally, using the F-Bomb. I don't care about that. If you want to change the article, please sign in, so that I can talk to you directly when I have concerns. You said I made the mistake of not assuming good faith Wikipedia:Assume good faith. Good faith had nothing to do with it. Your correction wasn't clearly better, and your not signing in left me no direct way to talk to you.Jacqke (talk) 08:13, 1 January 2012 (UTC)