December Books 4) After London

4) After London by Richard Jeffries

I've been racing through this on my Palm (whole text is also online) leaving behind several other books I had previously started. This is often described as the first ever post-apocalyptic book, published in 1885; some unspecified disaster has overcome civilisation, much of England is flooded and has become a huge lake, and society has reverted to feudalism.

We start off with a lengthy description of the social and zoological situation; we then turn to our hero, Felix Aquila, a young nobleman whose marvellous physical characteristics are dwelt on lovingly (unlike his supposed female love interest, of whom all we are told is that she is beautiful); heruns away from home, fights in a war, discovers the poisonous ruins of London; and is adopted as their king by the shepherd tribes of the south-east in their perennial war against the gipsies/Romany.

The book ends really abruptly with Felix tramping back to his home to reclaim his love. The descriptions of the landscape, vegetation and natural world are fantastic, but there's really very little plot. Still, a classic of proto-science fiction that I can at long last cross off my list.

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