This book is amazingly entertaining and, by coincidence, extremely topical. I wonder why it never became that popular worldwide. Perhaps it will soon.
Just think about the trouble we're currently having with that Icelandic vulcano, the tongue-twister Eyjafjallajokull.
What if those spiteful ashes were deadly poisonous?
Well, in "The Purple Cloud" they are.
M.P Shiel was not able to foresee the future (and had no intention to do it), but definitely was some steps forward. He surely had a sort of fetishism towards volcanoes. Being the novelist born in the isle of Montserrat, upsetted by a disastruous volcanic eruption some years ago, this passion can be understood.
I have to disagree with the ones saying that this novel is outmoded. Considering how "The Purple Cloud" was written in 1901, its author shows a surprising modernity in many ways. He tours all around the world using ships, trains, cars and even bicycles showing a great confidence with geography and infrastructures. He tries so hard to be plausible and scientific, even if, in order to do this, he is sometimes superficial, but these inconsistencies add some fun to the book.
But that's not all, folks.
In this hidden gem you can also find some of the best macabre descriptions you will ever read as well as an interesting development/degeneration of the main character: the last man on Earth, indeed.
As for the ones who would like to read this book, but know nothing about Mr. M.P. Shiel, here are the coordinates of this novel.
Latitude: Edgar Allan Poe° - Jules Verne'
Longitude: Kurt Vonnegut° - H.G Wells'