The Scarlet Plague (1912) - Jack London
Read by Emma Topping
Bitrate: 64 Kbps
First published in 1912.
Outside the ruins of San Francisco, a former UC Berkeley professor of literature recounts the chilling sequence of events which led to his current lowly state - a gruesome pandemic which killed nearly every living soul on the planet, in a matter of days. Modern civilization tottered and fell, and a new race of barbarians - the western world's brutalized workers - assumed power everywhere. Over the space of a few decades, all learning has been lost. Unlike the professor on Gilligan's Island, the narrator is the least useful member of a thriving tribe, whose younger generation (who boast names like Hoo-Hoo and Har-Lip) are mostly descended from the tribe's brutish founder. He was known only by the title of his former occupation, so the tribe's name is: Chauffeur.
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 contagious, and its course 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.
After the catastrophe, just 40 people are left alive in the San Francisco Bay area. One of them is Professor James Howard Smith, a former English professor at Berkeley, who was 27 years old at the time of the plague. Now an old man, aware of his coming death, he attempts to pass the flame of knowledge to his reluctant young grandsons, who have known only a savage existence in an overgrown world in which wolves and bears far outnumber humans, and who place scant value on the wisdom that feeble old "Granser" is so desperate to impart. Its graphic detail, vivid word-pictures, and remarkable prophetic accuracy make The Scarlet Plague one of the most memorable post-holocaust stories.
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