The Late Great Human Road Show


193 pages
ISBN 0-88922-239-8





Rosalie I. Tennison is Editor of Communicator Magazine.


With The Late Great Human Road Show, Paulette Jibes has created a book that is both ambiguous and prophetic. It is the story of several groups of people, who sleep through or miss an evacuation of Toronto. Jibes never explains why the evacuation took place but the reader assumes itwas nuclear related. The lives of the characters entwine as they search for fellow survivors until the climax that brings out the best and the worst in each one.

The characters Jibes has created are a cross section of society — yuppies, a young Native brother and sister, a couple of lunatics, a lonely social worker, a scientist, some intellectual radicals, and several orphaned children. The most endearing and outstanding character in the book is Roxana Raintree, a middle-aged street busker, who befriends the children. And then there is the pregnant cow that brings out gentleness in the children and greed in some of the adults.

Jiles relies on the reader to draw conclusions while she makes the characters appear less than intelligent. There are numerous mentions of previous nuclear accidents and yet the characters do not see a correlation between these and the disappearance of the entire population. Instead, they postulate about general strikes and try not to think about the evidence of vaporization. When radiation sickness overcomes them, they have no idea what is causing it. OnlyRoxana seems to grasp the meaning of the events that have altered their lives.

The book is filled with delightful Canadian references yet the story itself is universal. The lack of chapter definition only serves to point out that in the aftermath of nuclear annihilation nothing will be the way we expect it to be and we must adopt new patterns and a new way of life. Jibes has approached her subject in a different way and although her characterizations could be better, the book stands as a solid examination of human survival.


Jiles, Paulette, “The Late Great Human Road Show,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 20, 2024,