The Purple Cloud

The Purple Cloud

Introduction by:
Notes by:

  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780141196428
  • 352  Pages
  • Penguin Classics
  • Adult


The first great science fiction novel of the twentieth century—now available from Penguin Classics

Strange, macabre, and, fantastical, M. P. Shiel’s The Purple Cloud is a landmark work that heralded the genre of apocalyptic fiction. It 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 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, unleashing fire and destruction on his planet.

A new introduction by literary scholar John Sutherland explores The Purple Cloud‘s apocalyptic themes and Shiel’s colorful private life.


“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.”
The New York Times Book Review
“Delivered with a skill and artistry falling little short of actual majesty.”
– H. P. Lovecraft

“The first great science fiction novel of the science fiction century.”
– John Clute
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