The Quiet Earth: Text Classics by Craig Harrison
John Hobson, a geneticist, wakes one morning to find his watch stopped at 6.12. The streets are deserted, there are no signs of life or death anywhere, and every clock he finds has stopped: at 6.12. Is Hobson the last person left on the planet?
Inventive and suspenseful, The Quiet Earth is a confronting journey into the future, and a dark past.
I read this book after watching the movie and they are entirely two separate entities. So don’t go into this book expecting the movie plot.
The Quiet Earth was an..okay book. I felt that the author wrote this using varied methods of ‘stream of consciousness’ and it shows in its random and non-organized writing. By the time I reached the end of the book, I didn’t really care what caused the event that made everyone disappear. I really didn’t. I think they revealed the reason..maybe? But it was mixed in with such gibberish that I didn’t feel like delving through to find the meaning. I figure I’ll go with the nonsensical reason the movie gave as to why it all happened.
There are a few main “topics” or themes that this author dwells upon in this book. The main ones being rasicsm and humanities innate ability to do great harm to other people under the guise of doing it for the greater good or doing it under orders or doing it as some humane way of handling a situation..or person.
The Quiet Earth (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are two main characters in this book and its viewed all from the point of view of a geneticist, John Hobson. He meets up with
Apirana Maketu, otherwise known as Api, who was a soldier. Both of these characters are extremely flawed and have to deal with each other in the aftermath of “the event.” It explores how they relate to each other and to the outside world. It’s their philosophical discussions that drive the main section of the book and it also is about the unsaid and unseen thoughts and forces that surround us and are between us. It also is about the eventual deterioration of humanity and the eventual demise of the ability to relate to other people.
Would I recommend this book? Yes. It is worth a read through, especially if you are a fan of the idea of “what if I was the last person alive?”
Suggestion: After reading it, go to the wiki article to get the wiki’s answer for what caused the event if you were like me and just stopped caring.
It is rather ironic that I didn’t care what the reason for “the event” is by the end of the book as the book’s premise has to do with not caring and apathy. I don’t think that was the authors point, however.
The below are two quotes that would, in my mind, exemplarize the above themes. I also was rather fond of the first one as it really defines what it would feel like living in a world…completely empty of living entities.
“It was like being on the platform of a deserted railway station wondering if you are too early or too late. You pace around, and wait, and look hard at ordinary objects; you stay, and wait, and nothing happens. There is no announcement. the waiting in one place becomes intolerable. Something terrible has occurred along the line. THe explanation is somewhere else.”
“I was surprised, not merely at the warnings my aunt and uncle gave me about the undesirability of associating with Polynesian children, since I already had a vague idea that they disliked Maoris, and remarks about contagious scabies and head lice were familiar in the form of general warnings against people one should not mix with; no, what amazed me was the extent of my own naivete, revealed by the face that the Maori boy knew more about my surrogate parents than I did. In the shake of his head he had expressed a whole world of intuitive knowledge of which I was quite ignorant, knowledge gleaned in ways I couldn’t even begin to guess at.”