Dark, desolate and fantastical, The Purple Cloud was a pioneer in the genre of apocalyptic novels, and the first great science fiction work of the twentieth century. It inspired authors such as H. P. Lovecraft and Stephen King. The Purple Cloud tells the grandly bleak story of Adam Jeffson: the first man to reach the North Pole and the last man left alive on earth. A sweet-smelling, deadly cloud of poisonous gas has devastated the world, and as Jeffson travels the stricken globe in search of human life, he slowly succumbs to madness, and unleashes fire and destruction on his planet. John Sutherland's introduction discusses M. P. Shiel's dissolute life, the originality of his book and its place within the context of 'last man' novels. This edition also includes a chronology, notes and further reading.
One of the best last-man books, The Purple Cloud still surprises with its passionate despair and prescient scenes of mass extinction, motorcars, electrified billboards and telephone sex by undersea cable * Times Literary Supplement * The first great science fiction novel of the science fiction century -- John Clute Delivered with a skill and artistry falling little short of actual majesty -- H P Lovecraft Fantastic, weird, macabre...imaginative, fascinating, convincing, as some dreadful nightmare...a remarkable piece of work...head and shoulders above the average tale of fantastic adventure * New York Times Book Review *