Format - Kindle
Synopsis - The year is 2072, and the earth has been depopulated by a plague epidemic that struck in 2013. The victims of the scarlet plague are dead within an hour or less of the first symptoms appearing. The plague is so swift that research laboratories are wiped out even as scientists are racing toward a cure. As panic spreads, order breaks down and looting and carnage reign. Broadcast stations fall silent. Aircraft fall from the sky as their pilots succumb. 60 years later an old man, Professor James Howard Smith, scrambles along overgrown railway tracks. He attempts to pass the flame of knowledge to his reluctant grandsons, who have known only a savage existence in an overgrown world - its graphic detail, vivid word-pictures, and remarkable prophetic accuracy make The Scarlet Plague one of the most memorable post-holocaust dystopian stories ever written. In a world of Swine Flu, germ-warfare and genetic splicing it makes the Scarlet Plague just that much more scary.
Recently I was organising my Kindle into collections (much easier to keep track of 150+ books!) and found it again. It's a really short novella and so I thought - why not now?
GREAT decision. The Scarlet Plague is absolutely wonderful and fits in perfectly with all of the dystopian visions that are still being written about today. It didn't feel like a book that was written so long ago, it felt pertinent to right here and now - which was both wonderful and terrifying. The scarlet plague that the book refers to, originally has it's outbreak in 2013. YUP.
The plot basically follows an English Professor of the old world and his grandsons as he tells them what happened and tries to instil some kind of education in them, as the people of 2072 are little more than dirty savages. Smith is the last man to remember what life was like before the outbreak and there were some really chilling moments in which he tries to teach his grandchildren what a 'coin' was. It's kind of hard to understand that there is no concept of money - something that our current world revolves around.
The writing was a little..sketchy, but given that there is almost no such thing as language (as we know it) and taking into account of how long ago The Scarlet Plague was first published, it really didn't matter. If anything, it just added to the feel of the story. It was genuinely just a brilliant read and i'm only sad that I didn't read it a year ago when I first had it!