…SF addict …

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Purple Cloud by M.P.Shiel

This is a 'last man alive' story written in 1901 by English author Matthew Phipps Shiel (1865 -1947) but is also a story of paranoia and what changes come over a person when faced with the reality of loneliness.
(This is an e-book, downloaded from Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/11229 )

After earning a place aboard an expedition to reach the north pole, Adam Jeffson becomes isolated when one by one his team mates die, not from the cold but from some strange purple-hued vapour, notable for its smell of peach blossoms. As our explorer makes his way alone across the frozen wastes he encounters many ships, each one drifting aimlessly with dead crew-he eventually realises he is all alone!
He takes his ship, the Boreal, further and further south encountering further devastation eventually reaching England and his own home, now empty and cold. The bodies, both human and animal, he encounters are notable for being strangely preserved-(tied to the the unusual smell perhaps?)-there is no decay, no disease, just inanimateness all around!
With various methods Jeffson makes his way around the world, his manner and attire changing  as he goes.

I found the writing quite accessible for such an early book -some of the usage was a bit odd compared to modern English and I had to make use of the dictionary on my phone a few times but on the whole it was easily digestible,somewhat reminding me of Jack London, and I quite enjoyed it!

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