I call The Purple Cloud a fantastic fossil because that's what it is. That is not a criticism. I gave it 5 stars. It's simply that the fact it was written in 1911 shows -- both good and bad. Some of the science is off the wall, but I assume accurate for the day. The novel has a fantastic, hypnotic beginning set in the arctic. Like the jungle of Tarzan (written, I think, about the same time), this arctic landscape never existed, but it's a fantastic place of torment for the hero. Why is this book worth reading? The writing is hyptnotic. They don't write like that anymore. Dense, lush with an incredible poetic language, we follow the hero's solitary wanderings across an empty earth. This is a story of the last man on earth. This is a fossil, an archetype for all the later stories about the last man left alive on earth. A purple cloud came by and killed all while the hero was racing to the North Pole. What carries you along is the hero's interior as he undergoes one slow painful change within himself after another as he searches for another survivor, Does he find anyone? That's for the reader to learn. When you see the movies The Omega Man, The Quiet Earth, The Night of the Comet(this is a comedy) and all the other last man on earth movies, this was the great granddaddy of them all.