End of the World: Books

What's my my favorite Science Fiction sub-genre? Post-Apocalyptic fiction. The end of the world scenario some of us love to write about. But I'm not the only one. People's morbid obsession with the unknowable, sometimes depressing and oppressive, future has been around for a very long time. Mary Shelly's The Last Man was published in 1826. But does that make us negative folks or just imaginative thinkers? I choose the latter. So let us all speculate away. 

There has been many books on the subject, many fiction novels, too. And many ways of ending this whole thing: pandemics, viruses, nuclear wars, solar hiccups, aliens, zombies...a lot of ways. And so I wanted to share with you some of my favorite post-apocalyptic books out there. And no, I am not including Stephen King's The Stand or Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Those two books are in enough lists:

Into the Forest (1996)

What I liked about this novel was that we don't really see what's happening around the world or even outside the state of California. We know something went down, but we are not told what. The story centers around two sisters living alone in a forest house after the electricity went out, the phones stopped working, no more gas, and people start moving out.Together they learn how to make do with the limited resources they have. Eventually, the girls have to look outside their own secluded home for means of survival by putting themselves in danger of not only forest creatures but other desperate humans. 

Told like a journal entry and from the pov of a teenager, a very insightful look about growing up with no one telling you how.

The Scarlet Plague (1912)

Jack London is one of my favorite authors. And his account of the end of the world is one of the earlier ones. Short story. A bit stuck in its time, but creative and fun nonetheless.

The earth suffered from a plague that depopulated the world in 2013 (yeah, we're still here.) A lot of people died within hours of getting the first symptoms.  Panic spread, laws broke down, people killed, looted, etc.  60 years later an old man attempts to pass his knowledge to his grandsons, who live like savages and don't understand much of what he says.  

The story is told  through the old man as he reminisce of a better time and looks on to what the future holds for the survivors.

The Taking (2004)

Dean Koontz is usually a hit or miss for me. And this one is more apocalyptic than post, but I have to say that The Taking was a wonderful novel. The very beginning was my favorite part. Great slow and deliberate build up. Not so sure about the ending. But I still enjoyed the ride. A community is under attack by aliens? The people are not entirely sure what they are up against. The main characters go around their own neighborhood and slowly discover that every house has either someone in potential danger or is a death trap to those who dare venture on. 

Suspenseful ride as they all try to understand what The Taking really means to them and the town. 

Earth Abides (1949)

Another early one. About a disease which quickly infected the world and at the same time destroys most of the human race. Ish,  a survivor ventures around what is left of the world around him. He believes he is the only one alive. Him and the animals. But to his surprise, there are others, and they ultimately start to rebuild a new civilization. A lot of trial and error. 

 Earth Abides is a good solid novel. It will make you appreciate your surroundings. 

World War Z (2006)

The Zombie  Apocalypse because you can never have enough Zombie books and movies...right?

A virus that started in some little village quickly spreads across the globe, a zombie virus. And what I love about this one is that it tells the story of how different countries and nations and cultures handled the situation individually. It's an oral history of the war from every facet. Start to finish.  Testimonies of men, women, and  children who confronted the living dead.  So many characters were handled well here. So many mini stories. I recommend it to everyone. If you saw the movie, don't go by that. You have to read the book. 

This book was a hell of a joy ride! Zombies, an engrossing tale of survivors of a war, like any war, the tellers' stories were compelling and fascinating. I didn't know how the book would get away with introducing several new characters per chapter and then cut them off entirely, but somehow it worked. The characters shined and mesmerized momentarily and then off to another tale of survival. Good writing. Good dialogue.

Wastelands: Stories of the apocalypse (2008)

An anthology of short apocalyptic stories. Many, many stories with all types of end of the world scenarios.  Many authors are included here. Well known and lesser known. Some of the scenerios were awesome! Some were okay. Some were forgettable. 

My favorites:

1. The People of Sand and Slag: Science and evolution have turned humans into something new. They don't really resemble what we are today or need everything that we need now to stay alive. 

2. Judgement Passed: A crew arriving from a space mission discover the earth is empty. According to the papers, Jesus has returned. The crew is baffled and some didn't believe in God, still don't. But as it becomes clear that they are alone, they have to rethink their beliefs. 

3. Inertia: A world where people with leprosy have to exist away from the self-destructing 'healthy' folks. 

4. Speech Sounds: Loved this one. People have lost the skill to communicate properly. Or have they? 

5. Killers: The war has killed many but in a town filled with mostly women, they try to live a normal life, except that war veterans are coming back to towns and destroying everything.

6. Ginny Sweethips' Flying Circus: A prostitute, her accountant,  and her guardian. The boys go out to get Ginny some new idiots to force into giving their gas up for some sex in a world where everyone is out trying to screw everyone else in one way or another. This one was fun. 

7. The end of the world as we know it: My favorite one in the bunch. Nicely told. Great ending. This tells a tale of a regular everyday man who wakes up to a world which is no longer the one he has always known. I can't do it justice by explaining it. You just have to read it. It's great!

I have read many post-apocalyptic novels through the years and I could make this list much longer, but I won't. It could take all day. But here's one more. Mine. Out now:

Hear Me Scream (2014)

A global economic crash and the release of a deadly virus exterminates most of the world's population. From the ashes of a ruined nation, a new breed of humans arise. 

The story follows three pov characters:

Raven Carrier, who is guided by a strange voice inside her head,  is on a dangerous mission to find her stolen son in a lawless state full of rebels and bounty hunters.

Nico Lowell is a traveling healer with sharp senses. He goes from town to town healing the sick while he himself is deteriorating inside. His only hope is to find the one person that can keep his weakening body from self-destructing. 

And Camden is imprisoned by the rebel soldiers who brutally abused and murdered his family. The vicious militia overpowering the southern region also teach him about the Sorrows, the next step in human evolution. A northern government that have deprived the people of basic liberties, including the right to exist. 

It has some fantasy elements and a lot of twist and turns. A fun adventure with action, death, love, gore, hate, and triumph...life after. 

Go check some of these out! 


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