I read this book in 1993 or thereabouts but could have been decades old for all I know. It was in Greek but was definitely translated from another language (I have no idea which one).

What I remember from the story was that something happened and everything that used electricity stopped working. This might have been caused by aliens, but I don't remember aliens actually appearing.

I remember a particular part where someone had two cigarette lighters, one using fuel and one electric, and only the former worked.

I think people learned to live happily after getting over the event and in the end, when someone re-discovered electricity, the others destroyed his machine, saying that life was better without electricity.

This may have been a book for children, but I'm not sure.

I'm not interested in reading it again, I just remembered it and am curious about whether the author was a Luddite.

  • 1
    The theme sounds similar to a lot of novels including the Emberverse
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 13:38
  • The Emberverse is 10 years too recent... I can imagine there's a lot of stories with that main theme but I'm hoping the lighter scene and the ending may help someone pinpoint it.
    – George T
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 13:51
  • Thanks. I came across those while searching but neither sounds like it. There was no secret society or magic. As best as I can remember, the entire point of the story was "Electricity is more trouble than it's worth, life would be better without it".
    – George T
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 7:20
  • I read a book or story based on this premise back in early 70's. Remember it as a 50's novel, but can't recall name. Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 13:29

6 Answers 6


I found the very same book I read. The story is translated from Italian, and is titled "Proprio come ieri" which Google translates as "Just like yesterday". The author is Giuliano Amici.

The story is a bit different than I remember. I skimmed through the book, which takes place in the relatively near future.
It begins with the aliens themselves worried about civilisation on Earth because technology is advancing too fast and the people aren't mature enough to handle it, so they decide to delay it. They were the ones who caused the biblical cataclysm but this time they just use some gas that disables electricity.

Then most of the book follows the story of some people after electricity has stopped. The part with the lighters exists, except that it's two people comparing their lighters. The invention at the end is also there, pretty much as I remembered it. Then the aliens say that the Earth people have learned their lesson and leave.

Unfortunately I've not been able to find any information on the author or the book that's not in Italian.


Is it Ravage by René Barjavel? I don't have a copy to hand, but the summary from Wikipedia is:

A civilization much more advanced than ours falls to its knees when electricity suddenly disappears. Chaos, disease, and famine ensue, which readers witness through the adventures of a small group of survivors led by François Deschamps. The group leaves Paris and starts a journey toward Provence where the survivors will create a new patriarchal society with Deschamps as their leader.

  • It may have been... I can't find enough information about the story to contradict anything I remember.
    – George T
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 8:54

It might be the uk tv series The Changes based on Peter Dickinsons The Devil's Children. It was a 70s thing.

These days there are lots of EMP books.


This reminds me of the book Ariel, from 1983. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1669906.Ariel

I'm not certain this is the one you're looking for as I don't remember the ending mentioned here.

  • Quite sure this isn't it, but thanks for the suggestion. I don't recall a unicorn or any mythical creature (other than the aliens, which I could be mistaken about).
    – George T
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 14:35

I know it is a short story, but consider Frederic Brown's "The Waveries". From 1945 I think. Creatures are attracted to the Earth by its radio transmissions and graze on sources of electricity forcing an overnight change to an early industrial society (steam, horse, bicycle). Fascinating and evocative story.


And just in case, it might be Fade Out by Pat Tilley?

Alien robots arrive, although we later learn they have been underground for millennia. Four pyramids push their way out of the ground at equidistant points around the planet. After doing basically nothing for weeks as we puny humans try to figure out what they are, they begin to suppress all electricity around the pyramids.

The major difference is that the book ends with this process still occurring and everyone preparing for the post-electricity world. There is nothing about life after that point, which is why I think the other answers are more likely.

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