I first discovered “Survivors” as a BBC TV series that aired in 2008, and later was made available on Netflix. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled before it revealed the end of the story. So I went looking for the book to find the conclusion. This first edition book was still on the shelf at the public library, 39 years after being published! The first person to check it out had it due on 1977-12-07. There are a total of 44 due dates stamped in the book, ending in 2011, when the library stopped using ink stampers, and switched to computerized receipts. The book is in great shape considering how much usage it has had.
The basic premise of the story is that there has been a viral pandemic, initially spread among the people on an air-flight from Moscow to London. Within a couple weeks, the illness is worldwide, and most of the earth’s population dies. The only ones to survive are people whose bodies were able to fight off the virus. Now they have to rebuild a new life while avoiding water contamination and disease. The main character is Abby Grant, a London wife who is delirious with the virus but recovers and becomes the unofficial leader of a small band of survivors, while searching for her missing son Peter.
The book varied quite a bit from the TV series. There are characters from the BBC version that are totally absent from the book, and vice-versa. The tv show seemed to cover about a year, but the book spanned more than five years. And the conclusion in the book doesn’t really fit with the last episode of the TV show. So you really just have to take each one separately and enjoy it, as if it were a different but similar story. If your library doesn’t have a copy of this book on their shelves, ask them to buy a copy of the 2008 reprint!
Excerpt from page 90 in first edition:
Abby did have plans. During the long days of searching she had considered the future many times. Her ideas had been random, her thoughts disordered, and now the discipline of explaining them in a coherent flow was difficult.
“To begin with, I’m looking for a place to make a home, a farm, I think. No, it’s more than a home. It’s a settlement.”
Dave said, “You can have your pick of farmhouses.”
Abby shook her head. “No, it’s not just any farmhouse. It has to be, well, old-fashioned, I suppose. Open fireplaces. Wood stoves. Spring water. You see, I think we’re going to have to get back to being agriculturalists very quickly. Most of our energy is going to be spent in growing food. We won’t be able to waste time on trying to adapt a modernized place to our needs. I mean, this is lovely” – she made a gesture that embraced the house in which they were sitting – “but even if I could find one just like it, I’d reject it. Because in a year or two, perhaps more, you’ll have to concern yourself with finding oil for your central heating. Petrol for your generator. They are going to become very scarce commodities, and when they’ve gone, this house really won’t function at all. Anyway, I think that by living in a place like this, one is only hanging onto something that no longer exists, and trying to maintain it is wrong.”