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False Dawn, one of the first post-apocalyptic science fiction novels to deal with an environmental collapse instead of war, tells a compelling story of two people thrown together by chance, striving to stay alive in a world that can no longer support a vast human population. Seeking refuge in the Sierra Nevada, Thea and Evan have to keep moving to stay ahead of raiding gangs and the few remaining settlements. With devastation all around, they must decide when survival itself may not be worth the price it demands.
Among the first American science fiction novels to use pollution and contamination rather than atomic or hydrogen bombs as the apocalyptic device, and set in actual California locations, False Dawn has come to be regarded as an important transitional novel in dystopian science fiction.