In this novel, George R. Stewart takes the reader on an exploration of de-evolution beginning with a plague that wipes out 95% of the human race. The main character is Isherwood, a geographer, who has miraculously survived the illness and is now left with rebuilding civilization. Driving his car Ish, he begins his journey through what is left of his world.
This book has a unique perspective since it is told from Isherwood's perspective as a geographer. He does all the things one would expect from someone in this position, he goes to his parents home, he looks for food, and most importantly, he looks around himself. Ish describes what is happening to the world around him, to the plants, animals, buildings, and streets, and eventually to the people around him. As he moves through what is left of his hometown, Isherwood begins to find other survivors. This group forms a tribe and lives as scavengers, finding food and clothing in old stores and using electricity and water from the pre-plague era. Soon enough, these systems fail, and Ish realizes that the tribe must learn to live off the land if humanity is to survive. He teaches the tribe members how to hunt with the bow and arrow and how to make new tools from the remnants of a dead civilization.
In the end, Isherwood becomes a relic of a forgotten time, but his legacy lives on in those he has guided through to a new dawn.
This report prepared by Deana Cox