STEWART, George R(ippey)


STEWART, George R(ippey)
(1895-1980)
   US writer who obtained his PhD from the University of California in 1922, later became professor of English there, and concentrated his attention - through novels, literary studies, popular history, etc. - on the Pacific Edge of the USA. His only sf novel, EARTH ABIDES (1949), is set in California, and tells of the struggle to surviveand rebuild after a viral plague has wiped out most of humanity. The protagonist, Isherwood Williams, lives for many decades after the DISASTER, breeding children with one of his rare fellow survivors, andwatching the long night begin as his descendants gradually lose all sense of the civilization he represents; but the Earth abides. The sense of requiem and rebirth promulgated in the novel is rendered all the more complex for readers aware of the implications of Isherwood's nickname, Ish, a direct reference to the historic Ishi, a California Indian whobecame famous in the early years of the century as the last living representative of his tribe, just as Ish is one of the last living representatives of the civilization which has destroyed his namesake's world. Ishi in Two Worlds (1961) by Theodora Kroeber (1897-1979), Ursula K. LE GUIN's mother, serves as a telling complement. One of the finest ofall post- HOLOCAUST novels, GRS's superb elegy was the first winner of the INTERNATIONAL FANTASY AWARD.
   MJE/JC
   See also: GENRE SF; HISTORY OF SF; PASTORAL; SHARED WORLDS; SOCIOLOGY.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.


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