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The Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel, John Clute


The Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel, John Clute

If now a swell from the Deep has swept over this planetary ship of earth, and I, who alone chanced to find myself in the furthest stern, as the sole survivor of her crew . . . What then, my God, shall I do? The Purple Cloud is widely hailed as a masterpiece of science fiction and one of the best last man novels ever written. A deadly purple vapor passes over the world and annihilates all living creatures except one man, Adam Jeffson. He embarks on an epic journey across a silent and devastated planet, an apocalyptic Robinson Crusoe putting together the semblance of a normal life from the flotsam and jetsam of his former existence. As he descends into madness over the years, he becomes increasingly aware that his survival was no accident and that his destiny-and the fate of the human race-are part of a profound, cosmological plan.


Fantastic, weird, macabre ... It is imaginative, fascinating, convincing, as some dreadful nightmare... A remarkable piece of work, ... head and shoulders above the average tale of fantastic adventure. --The New York Times Book Review Students of early science fiction will welcome the University of Nebraska's Press series Bison Frontiers of the Imagination. This imprint has so far brought back into print sixteen texts from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including works by authors ranging from the well-known Jack London to the more obscure Mary E. Bradley Lane and J.D. Beresford. The publishers should certainly be congratulated in bringing The Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel back to public attention once more. They have chosen to reprint the authors
own final expanded version

... The 1929 version is vintage Shiel; the lush prose complements the epic theme and the grandiose and insane posturings of the pyromaniac protagonist. Shiel was the most eloquent of the immediate successors to H. G. Wells, and even fans of The Last Man by Mary Shelley might admit that Shiel's account of the journeyings of the last man through a dead world is one of the most impressive treatments of this theme. --Times Literary Supplement, December 29, 2000 A reprint of a lost classic, Shiel's purple cloud kills everyone except Adam Jeffers, isolated, and getting more insane as he wanders the barren earth. The question of whether man deserves to survive has never been more poignantly poised. --Western Mail, Saturday Magazine 16 June 2007

About the Author

M. P. Shiel's (1865-1947) long, distinguished writing career included such works as Prince Zaleski, The Lord of the Sea and The Yellow Peril. John Clute is the author of Science Fiction: The Illustrated Encyclopedia (winner of the Hugo Award) and coeditor of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (winner of the Hugo and Locus Awards).

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Book Info

Publication date

1st August 2000


M. P. Shiel, John Clute

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Bison Books an imprint of University of Nebraska Press


296 pages


Science fiction



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