Bringing Back the Post-Apocalyptic Novel Reading Club

On ye olde blogge, in 2008, I ran a post-apocalyptic novel reading club for about six months. Why, you ask? Well, why not? When you deal with real doom, mocking (or praising on the rare occasions when it is good) fictive doom is theraputic - and fun. All of us, I suspect, have a secret stash of these books - so why not come out and talk about them here? I've had tons of requests to bring it back. Well, requests granted - it is coming back! I'm shooting for the first read to be ready at the beginning of October - meanwhile, does anyone have any suggestions for a first book? I'm pretty open, although I have a couple of ideas of my own. I'd love to hear suggestions - old favorites or new ones are all good!


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I'm glad you are bringing this back. I didn't get here in time to join last time so I'm looking forward to this. No suggestions but I'm ready for anything :)

On The Beach by Nevil Shute. Or a Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter Miller. Those two are my favorites.

My favorite is "Ridley Walker," by Russell Hoban, but I look forward to reading something new.

By auntieintellectual (not verified) on 20 Aug 2010 #permalink

Of course "The Stand" by Stephen King. Or an oldie/goodie: Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven.

By Rhodylady (not verified) on 20 Aug 2010 #permalink

Another oldie/goodie - Parable of The Sower, Octavia Butler !

I don't know what was covered in the previous round in 2008, but here are a few sitting on my shelves (mostly a couple of decades old).

Lucifer's Hammer (Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle)
Footfall (Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle)
The Last Canadian / Death Wind (William C. Heine)
The Killing Star (Charles Pellegrino & George Zebrowski)

There's a few more, I just can't think of them right now.

By TheBrummell (not verified) on 20 Aug 2010 #permalink

I've always wanted to read A Canticle For Leibowitz. Maybe a reading club will provide enough additional motivation to help me actually do it.

"Ridley Walker" is fantastic. The language alone makes it worth the read.
Trubba Not.

I'm in. Lots of good suggestions. How about The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood?

I seem to drink post-apocalyptic lit like water. I just finished Margaret Atwood's *Oryx & Crake* and *The Year of the Flood*. Both were hugely entertaining.
Earlier this summer I read *The Passage* by Justin Cronin, I enjoyed it a lot too.

The YA genre has a bunch of wonderful post-apocalyptic stories. I especially loved these:
*The Hunger Games* & *Catching Fire* the new one will be out in a few days.
*Ship Breaker*

My very favorite novel from this genre is *Into The Forest* by Jean Hegland
Looking forward to your first pick.
I loved it last time when S.M. Stirling chimed in on our discussion!

vancouver, wa

How about "One Second After " by William R. Forstchen?

Electromagnetic pulse instantly disables almost every electrical device in the U.S. Airplanes, most cars, cellphones, refrigeratorsâall are fried and the country plunges into literal and metaphoric darkness. Long-term effects of the disaster- starvation, disease and roving gangs of barbarians.

By Selfishgula (not verified) on 20 Aug 2010 #permalink

I've been wanting to read Super Sad True Love Story, the book with the dumb name:

"Shteyngart's anti-hero, Lenny Abramov, is not so far from Roth's Portnoy in "Portnoy's Complaint", really, but his Manhattan of the near-future is a long, long way from mid-twentieth century Newark. Lenny, son of Russian Jewish immigrants, is one of the last actual readers (as opposed to "scanners") of books (as opposed to "texts") in New York.

Everyone wears an "äppärät" a miniaturized super-smart cell-phone-cum-computer that automatically scans the net-worth, sexual-status and cholesterol level of passers-by, and also relays one's own personal data and whereabouts to the ARA ("American Restoration Authority"), the puppet debtor government which is a vassal to the Chinese and Norwegian super powers...."

One Second After should be mandatory reading for everyone.

World Made by Hand - James Kunstler
Ecotopia - Ernst Callenbach (not post-apoc, but a nice alternative future!)

By curiousalexa (not verified) on 20 Aug 2010 #permalink

The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk.

it is fascinating to put World Made BY Hand into Amazon and see what else people have bought. a goodly combination of survival guides and post-apoc novels!

By curiousalexa (not verified) on 20 Aug 2010 #permalink

"A Canticle for St Leibowitz" is to me the essential post-apocalyptic story. Read it first at High School in the early 1960's. At about the same time as another - AC Clark's "The City And The Stars". And Earth gets destroyed in "Hitchiker's Guide" - that's pretty apocalyptic I'd say.

And what about some movies? From the kitschy "Logan's Run" and "Planet of the Apes" on through "A Boy And His Dog", "Mad Max", "Zardoz". And one that you have to see but most likely have never heard of - :"The Bedsitting Room" (not available on DVD or VHS, but once every few years Showtime airs it). Or for really silly, "Idiocracy", a social rather than nuclear apocalypse.

By Gray Gaffer (not verified) on 20 Aug 2010 #permalink

Wow, how great is this! I've always been a huge post-apocalyptic novel fan, but all I've ever gotten is funny looks whenever I've admitted to it. Many of the titles already posted are among my favorites, but I have a few more to add:

"The Postman" by David Brin - far better than Costner's awful film version.

"The Wind From Nowhere" by JG Ballard - more of an apocalyptic book, but still a good read.

William Tenn's "Of Men and Monsters" - is it really post-apocalyptic if more people are alive after the apocalypse than before?

By Amenhotepstein (not verified) on 20 Aug 2010 #permalink

The Earth Abides, (forgot author) pub. about 1950 but still a great read, Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. He wrote several other PA novels, DOTT still reigns supreme in my books.
Canticle for Leibowitz was excellent as well.

This is awesome! I second The Stand (the uncut version, of course) and how about The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

By ChristineH (not verified) on 20 Aug 2010 #permalink

"Slapstick" and "Galapagos" by Kurt Vonnegut if you are in the mood for some absurdism with your apocalypse...

By Dark Matter (not verified) on 20 Aug 2010 #permalink

Some of these have been mentioned already, but they're so good that I'll second them.
Lucifer's Hammer, by Jerry Pournelle
Into the Forest, by Jean Hegland (I just found that there's a sequel: Windfalls: a novel)
Dies the Fire, by S.M. Stirling
YA trilogy (in which an asteroid hits the moon, cracks it in half, and moves its orbit closer to Earth, with catastrophic results to climate and coastlines): Life as We Knew It; The Dead and the Gone; This World We Live In, by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Wolf and Iron by Gordon R Dickson

By Katkinkate (not verified) on 20 Aug 2010 #permalink

Ursula K. LeGuin's "Always Coming Home" is not PA per se, but it is set in a world that is post-modern civilization. It is an interesting exploration of an anarchist society that, it seems, has deliberately forsworn the wonders of global capitalism.

Second, or third, or whatever, to "Oryx and Crake," and "Parable of the Sower" (as well as its follow-up, "Parable of the Talents"). And "The Road."

"The Chrysalids" by John Wyndham.

I also second "The Book of Dave" and look forward to trying some other suggestions.

By theshortearedowl (not verified) on 20 Aug 2010 #permalink

I'm definately interested in doing this -- just no Margaret Atwood please. I'm never in the mood for femi-nazis.

Canticle for Leibowitz is awesome. I also really liked The Postman. Snow Crash rocks my socks and I'd like to read Anathem which is also by Neil Stephenson. I've read Alas Babylon as well... and probably others. It seems like I'm always reading post apocalyptic fic. Oh, and I really liked the Uglies/Pretties/Specials/Extras series (which is classified as young adult). I second the nomination for Super Sad True Love Story. Heard that interview on Fresh Air the other day and it sounds good.

vonnegut's cat's cradle, although it's really "mid/oncoming" apocalypse.

peter straub's a short guide to the city, this one is a short story, and can be found in american gothic tales (edited by Joyce Carol Oates)., again, not a true post-apocalyptic tale, as it could describe an anonymous current city, but has the very creepy air of "a future unknown"....

Another vote for "Lucifer's Hammer" and "The Postman".

I've been enjoying S.M Sterling's Emberverse series. "Dies the Fire" being the first book. It's more science-fantasy because the unexplained cause of the collapse is unbelievable. But that said it's got all the good stuff you want out of post-apocalyptic fiction.

I also enjoyed "Emergence" by David R. Palmer. Again,it has fantasy aspects that some might find annoying. It also has a very marked writing style that could put folks off.

Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" series is some of the finest science fiction ever written (although it's almost science fantasy in how heavily it leans on Clarke's First Law). It's arguably post-apocalyptic, but we're talking about deep, deep time, not immediate aftermath.

It's gorgeously, intricately written, but without ever waxing too poetic. The narration is actually quite matter-of-fact (and deliciously unreliable), and the whole series is extremely cerebral. If you've never read any Gene Wolfe, you're in for a challenge, and a treat.

Anyway, I can't recommend it highly enough. Start with Shadow of the Torturer and you won't be able to resist reading the rest.

I second Earth Abides as a great one to start with. Author George Stewart, I believe.

I hated The Road, won't read it again nor see the movie. I may be a Doomer but I'm not a Gloomer!

I'd like to suggest, not to start but for later, Kim Stanley Robinson's "Science in the Capital" trilogy: "Forty Days of Rain," "Fifty Degrees Below," and "Sixty Days and Counting." It's a global warming theme and captivatingly written!


"A Place Called Attar" by John D. Belanger. The end comes by ice age, as fits the nature of the main character, a glacial drumlin. At the time it was written, global warming was less well known. An excellent overview of the way things fall apart in an industrial civilization though.


I'll suggest The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. It's post-global warming (although climate change is ongoing), post-peak oil, and, especially post-GMO "revolution". And for once in post-apocalyptic fiction, it's not set in the U.S., Britain, or any other (over) developed nation, but it Thailand. The time is around a hundred years from now and the Thai people struggle in the mouldering ruins of "the Expansion" and the subsequent "Contraction" against the ruthless and predatory "calorie companies" and their own corrupt leaders.

It won the Nebula award a few months ago and is short-listed for the Hugo award to be presented in September.

Kim Stanley Robinson's "The Wild Shore" is worth consideration as well. An interesting vision of a post nuclear war southern California.

I'd second the Windup Girl on the grounds that I just bought it! I think it is quite interesting that Alas Babylon! Lucifer's Hammer and Day of the Triffids (classified as cosy catastrophes) all end with a happy, back on the road to progress theme, or at least so I remember it. It's a good while since I read any of them and I would be quite happy to revisit them. DOTT has one of the scariest beginnings to a book and a picture of an empty slowly decaying London that is as real in my mind as the crowded city I occasionally visit. On a John Wyndham theme The Kraken Wakes is also good, set in a world where alien sea creatures are taking over the world and melting the ice-caps. Who would have thought, in the 50s, that we wouldn't need aliens to destroy our lovely world?

By Yvonne Rowse (not verified) on 20 Aug 2010 #permalink

I'm really pleased to see Ridley Walker mentioned here as I must admit I didn't think it was well known at all.

I love that book, even in spite of the fact that it was a text I had to read at school. The language is tough to master at first but certainly has the effect of drawing you further into the world Hoban creates. It is also set in a post apocalyptic version of Kent, where I grew up.

I'm afraid Will Self's 'Book of Dave', whilst being similar to Ridley Walker in some ways, I found to be one of the few books too depressing for me to persist with (and I like depressing)!

How about 'The Day of The Triffids'? an oldie-but-goodie.

By christinestone (not verified) on 20 Aug 2010 #permalink

Oh, Sharon, how wonderful! I had given up on tha PA book club, thinking you are now just too busy. I am thrilled. I loved it. Don't even know why, but it is such fun. Thank you !

By Hummingbird (not verified) on 20 Aug 2010 #permalink

I'd put in another vote for Stewart's Earth Abides or Starhawk's Fifth Sacred Thing. I don't think anyone's mentioned Brave New World, but maybe everyone's read enough of that in high school already.

Stand on Zanzibar, by John Brunner. Another oldie, but prescient, from the days when overpopulation was a concern. Although it's not post-, but mid-apocalyptic...still, a good read.

Most of my favorites have already been listed,
Lucifer's Hammer, Niven and Pournelle
Emergence, Palmer
Wolf and Iron, Dickson
Postman, Brin

I just re-read Maureen F. McHugh's China Mountain Zhang, though that is about an economic collapse (and China buys/reposesses the US). Dalmas' The General's President is another about economic collapse.

Then there is the fluff, post-genetic collapse, A Brother's Price, by Wen Spencer. This adventure/romance is almost too much fun, though, to be post-apocalyptic.

I'm not sure if this counts as post-apocalyptic exactly, but "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" is fun with zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. And you can't have an apocalypse without zombies ; )

World War Z by Max Brooks is post-apocalyptic, and still deals with zombies. I know, zombies aren't completely necessary for an apocalypse, but these are the first two books that came to mind.

This club sounds like it could be interesting reading.

By Sarah Worrel (not verified) on 21 Aug 2010 #permalink

Good News by Edward Abbey, and another vote for Earth Abides, by George Stewart. Stephen King ripped the latter off big time.

I am looking forward to this, I enjoyed many of the books people have suggested and would reread any of them except The Road which was a horribly boring slog.

This sounds great! I've also read several of these, mostly the older ones (Canticle for Leibowitz, Alas Babylon, On the Beach, etc.) and would like to read something I haven't already read. I don't want to read anything that ends on a depressed note - I can do that myself! - neither would like something that has a falsely happy ending. I'm really looking forward to this. Thanks!

I haven't seen Pesthouse by Jim Crace mentioned. I wouldn't mind reading it again.

There are some great books on this list - Canticle for Liebowitz, Riddley Walker, Alas Babylon,Hunger Games, Life As We Knew It, etc.

Not mentioned yet: Far North, by Marcel Theroux. On the frontier of a failed state, lonely Makepeace patrols a city's ruins. Into this cold land comes a refugee from the vast emptiness of forest. Inspired to find what else remains of civilization, Makepeace takes to the road, to find stockaded villages and hidden work camps laboring to harness the little-understood technologies of a vanished civilization.

Your last round got me reading the SM Stirling books - and wow, did I love them! We got them on Audio from Audible and the narrators were fabulous too.
Recommendations here have inspired me to pick up the Canticle for Leibowitz - it's been on my 'that looks interesting' list for a long time, I'm gonna go for it. :)
I just recently finished Anathem - it is fascinating particularly if you have a decent background in or solid interest in a fairly broad range of scientific things (physics, mathematics, biology) combined with a penchant for philosophy. It wasn't an easy read, but it was worth every minute.
I also really enjoyed Parable of the Sower, recommended here as well.

Octavia Butler's Parable of the Talents and Parable of the Sower. MacArthur "genius" fellowship award winner.. great tales of 2025 dystopian future

Summer of the Apocalypse by James Van Pelt.

It's both an apocalyptic story and a post-apocalyptic one as well. A teenager goes through it and the old man he turns into remembers. Shades of Earth Abides, The Stand and The Scarlet Plague.

For a slightly different look at apocalypse I'd suggest Stephen Baxter's Flood which is concerned with the issue of sea level change. While it starts off in the UK the setting later moves to the US and South America.

I also enjoyed Ben Elton's Stark which is largely set in Australia. While it was published in 1989, when I read it in 2008 I found it remarkably insightful.

My Suggestions-

Into the Forest by Jean Hegland

The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk

One Second After by William Forstchen

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Life As We Knew It , The Dead & The Gone and This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Thank you for bringing this back, Sharon!
I "ditto" Into the Forest by Jean Hegland, I read it after someone suggested it for the ye olde club and it wasn't picked.
I also think that "Anathem" pairs very nicely with "Canticle" -- and it's on the remainder tables these days. But "Anathem" is a bit of a slog.
I'd pick Atwood's Year of the Flood over Oryx and Crake.
But even better, pick some books I haven't read yet.

By Susan in NJ (not verified) on 22 Aug 2010 #permalink

I didn't think of Anathem right away, since its timeline is longer than a single apocalypse. A week or two ago it was on the "Former Bestsellers" table at Barnes and Noble, where the hardback was selling for $6.98. I guess it has experienced its own sort of apocalypse.

By auntieintellectual (not verified) on 22 Aug 2010 #permalink

One of my favorite genres! My top choices are: Earth Abides for a great story about what happens in nature when a species becomes overpopulated, and how a society might re-form itself after a huge die-off.
One Second After, for a very grim-but-essential-to-understand picture of what could happen if a nuclear bomb were set off in the atmosphere, causing an EMP - which would disable all electronic devices permanently (unless they were hardened).
Alas Babylon, a disturbing story of what happens after a nuclear war.
Also, any of the books by J.M. Stirling (Dies the Fire, The Protectors War, etc.) and how about The Rift, by Walter Williams, about a massive earthquake in the American Midwest.

Not a novel, but a devastating short story by Connie Willis: The Last Winnebago.

"Who ever said the apocalypse was going to happen all at once?"

By Ralph Dosser (not verified) on 22 Aug 2010 #permalink

How about Straight To You by David Moody. It's not actually post-apocalyptic but it does concern an apocalypse. Kinda grim reading though since there's really no hope.
I have a lot of what's been mentioned sitting on the shelf waiting to be read. I'm ready to go :)

As is usual, I can't remember the name of a book I read years ago and have wanted to reread. I believe it was set in the Baltimore area and a new ice age had decended. Baltimore was the farest north humans could live and life there was very iffy. The main family had a retrofitted house that included a heated greenhouse room that they slept in during the coldest months.
Any one recgonize this?

"Lucifer's Hammer", more violence and social breakdown, and "Alas Babylon", more homesteading and making do, are perhaps the best of what is commonly available.

Here's another vote for a zombie apocalypse book. (I know you worry about that LOL) "In the Forest of Hands and Teeth" by Carrie Ryan is a young adult book, but I've been wanting to read it since it came out.

"...the post-apocalypse is defined more by constraints than freedoms. The book begins seven generations after the Return, an undead plague that has ended civilization as we know it. Of course, a zombie outbreak usually means shotguns and mall looting--the very essence of freedom. But more than a century on from the Return, the malls have already been looted, and shotguns are a distant memory. The novel's heroine, Mary, lives in a village surrounded by one last vestige of industrial technology: a chain-link fence, beyond which is a vast forest full of shambling, eternally ravenous undead--the forest of hands and teeth. No villager ever goes outside this fence, unless they want to die. (And given this bleak scenario, some do.)"

wow, people know their post-apocalyptic genre! i love a lot of the ones mentioned here already. with a canticle for leibowitz probably being the all-around best writing. totally amazing.

i second (third?) the vote for The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi. great steampunk, post-sea-rise, post-oil setting. and in thailand!

also, margaret atwood's oryx and crake and the year of the flood are not specifically feminist books. have no fear. not that you should anyhow, but. :)

in the YA genre: the Big Empty series, by J.B. Stephens (i think there are 4 total now). so-so writing, but hey, it's YA.

and anything by kim stanley robinson.

and Jamestown, by Matthew Sharpe. post-collapse USA setting, really entertaining po-mo re-imagining of the pocahontas story... really great, funny voice.

also in the po-mo, hipster-lit genre: Liberation: Being the Adventures of the Slick Six After the Collapse of the United States of America by Brian Francis Slattery.

and "Engine Summer", by John Crowley. beautiful imagining of community life a few generations post-collapse.

and this may not count be in your local library, but you can get in on amazon, and it's one of those post-collapse stories that have stuck in my mind, for one reason or another: "Crossing the Blue: a post-petrol, post-America road trip", by Holly Jean Buck. i really enjoyed this one.

can't wait!

Wow! What a lot of feedback. My $0.02

World Made by Hand - James Kunstler

But, OTOH, I'd like to read one that doesn't off 95% of the population first.


Or how about David Graham's Down to a Sunless Sea?

How about historical apocolypse?

Not very practical but I am a fan of P&P&Zombies and S&S&SeaMonsters -- for some nineteenth century apocolypse with Jane Austen. Take that as a vote for zombies.

"The Last Winnebago" really stuck in my brain - I read it years ago. Connie Willis also wrote a good novel set in the middle ages plague years.

By Susan in NJ (not verified) on 23 Aug 2010 #permalink

I vote for Oryx and Crake too.

By Laurie Cybulski (not verified) on 23 Aug 2010 #permalink

Here are the ones we did last time - I probably won't repeat any on this go-round since there are so many good ones, although Lucifer's Hammer is so humorously awful I'm almost tempted to re-run that one just for the comic pleasure of writing about it.

Done last time: Earth Abides, Muir's Poem "The Horses," Dies the Fire (with Stirling chiming in!), _The Gate to Women's Country_, _The Moon is a Harsh Mistress_ (which is really an apocalypse-forestalled book), _Life as We Knew It_, _Lucifer's Hammer_ and Eliot's "The Wasteland" (ok, two of these are poems, but I'm a poetry geek).

Here was the proposed reading list, which was far too ambitious for most people, but fun:…

I think what I'm going to do this time is alternate between books I pick and ones that others vote on, with no advance planning ;-).

I was thinking of starting with _One Second After_ because of the attention it has gotten recently, but I'm ambivalent about choosing a book with a preface by Newt Gingerich. Is it really worth it?


Great idea - I agree with many of the other suggestions. For something a bit different, I'd suggest Raymond Briggs' When the Wind Blows - a graphic novel and not so much post-apocalyptic as during-apocalyptic, but a really moving work. I wonder if it's still in print?

By Quatrefoil (not verified) on 23 Aug 2010 #permalink

I really liked the first sequel to Life As We Knew It - but i have to suggest Pat Murphy's The City, Not Long After.

It's post-post-apocalypse, the main character is one of the kids who doesn't even remember the Before, plus it has the benefit of being beautiful and way shorter than most of the books mentioned.

I Second The City: Not Long Afer by Pat Murphy and suggest Earthling by Tony Daniel

Yes, Oryx and Crake and the Year of the Flood are excellent, disturbing, and entertaining.

Regarding One Second After,and the preface by Newt Gingrich - from what I remember, after listening to this book as an Audible download - the preface seemed to reinforce the idea that we need to take the possibility of an EMP seriously, and not shrug it off, and that our society's basic electrical infrastructure should be "hardened" to protect it. He is in favor of a strong military and there is a somewhat military slant to the book (the ex-military guys are the ones who know how to get things organized in the town, etc.). What I liked, or found valuable, about this book is that it gives a clear picture of what could happen instantly, and is a strong incentive to prepare now. It's more immediate than the standard Peak Oil decline scenario. One Second After is one book that kept me awake at night, one I haven't forgotten, and one that keeps me aware of how prepared I am for a sudden disaster. Definitely worth the time to read or listen to. It will have you looking at where and how you live in a different way.

On a slightly different note...

After reading Greer's "Long Descent", I went back and read Asimov's "Foundation" series. Asimov was all about the slow disintegration of the empire, and the crux of the series was shortening the 'dark ages' type period. I'm not sure I'd necessarily recommend it since it is long (5 books?) and not all that relevant, but there were some really good passages - discussing a machine, and the fact that no one knew how it had been made, or how to replace it should it actually break. But the job of *maintaining* it had become an inherited trade. I think that's exactly what we're going to see more of in our own future.

By curiousalexa (not verified) on 23 Aug 2010 #permalink

The White Plague - Frank Herbert.

By curiousalexa (not verified) on 23 Aug 2010 #permalink


..we need to take the possibility of an EMP seriously..

The first cruise missiles into Baghdad in '03 carried EMP devices, which effectively crippled Iraqi military communications. They are really simple devices that utilize an explosive charge to drive a magnet thru a coil of copper wire, generating an electromagnetic pulse. A modest sized EMP device could be constructed in a person's garage. It's possible to "harden" a facility such as a military installation against an EM pulse but not practical to shield an entire electricity distribution grid against such a pulse. Not to worry, tho, as it would take an EMP device the size of the Starship Enterprise, utilizing a nuclear explosive charge, being detonated in orbit to cripple a sizable portion of the national Grid. I've always thought that bin Laden could have gotten his point across much more effectively, with much greater economic damage yet less loss of life, had he detonated such a device over lower Manhattan instead of sending planes crashing into buildings.

By darwinsdog (not verified) on 23 Aug 2010 #permalink

Good lord. I just put all these suggestions into a spreadsheet for my own records. 65 (unique) suggestions here (so far!), in addition to the 31 items on the reading list from ye olde blogge.

Now how am I supposed to get any actual PREPARATION done?! [grin]

By curiousalexa (not verified) on 23 Aug 2010 #permalink

Well Sharon, you pulled me out of the woodwork for this one!

I'd put a vote in for The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi since it is an interpretation of the future right in line with your regular discussions here. And for many of the reasons the previous poster noted.

Also, don't know where you are on selecting short fiction, but for other readers who might like to find it on their own, I liked this short story by Carrie Vaughn set in a post-peak adapted world. "Amaryllis"

By adaptinginAZ (not verified) on 23 Aug 2010 #permalink

Just wanted to point out that if you're trying to find "The Last Winnebago" by Connie Willis, the actual title is "The Last of the Winnebagos" and it's included in her book of short stories called "Impossible Things" which is available used from Amazon for $0.01 (plus $3.99 shipping).

About an EMP, I found this reassuring post:
Some electrical equipment is innately EMP-resistant. This includes
large electric motors, vacuum tube equipment, electrical generators, trans-
formers, relays, and the like. These might even survive a massive surge of EMP
and would likely to survive if a few of the above precautions were taking in
their design and deployment.

He goes on to discuss other, more vulnerable, equipment and how to protect it. (This information sounds plausible, but I'm no judge of such things.)

It sounds like Gingrich takes the EMP threat seriously. In the forward of _One Second After_, he says:
...I see this book as a terrifying "future history" that might come true. Such books have a significant tradition in their own right. H. G. Wells wrote frightfully accurate prophecies of what history now calls World Wars I and II. Two of the great classics of the Cold War, _Alas, Babylon_ and the movie Testament, gave us a profoundly moving glimpse of what would happen to ordinary citizens if war between us and the Soviets was ever unleashed....

Connie Willis' plague novel is Doomsday Book.

I started reading "One Second After" last year and actually abandoned it a chapter or so in -- and I NEVER do that! It just wasn't doing anything for me. I think it was the political slant of the author, although I've read plenty else that is clearly coming from a right-side perspective or is too military-oriented for my taste and yet it didn't bother me a bit in terms of enjoying the story and finding it useful. So, hard to say, but "One Second After" is "iffy" to me for some reason.

Since you asked, Sharon... I think One Second After is a bit over the top (especially in terms of time frames) but boy, does it ever make you think! The devil is in the details, and this particular scenario does make you think about all the little details. The military stuff is a bit irritating, but I find that is a common theme in American stories of this type, and I can overlook it if the story's good. :)

Several of my day to day practices were rethought after reading it (well, I listened to it on audio - I have a terribly long commute) - therefore it gets my vote for the "really makes you think" category.

Try "This is the way the world ends" by James Morrow... the subject is a touch dated, but its a good black comedy take on the aftermath of nuclear war.

Lots of good suggestions - let me add Julian Comstock, by Robert Charles Wilson which is a 2010 Hugo nominee, and second The Chrysalids and Earth Abides. Oldies but goodies.

#65 Evey -- you may be thinking of Colleen McCullough's A Creed for the Third Millenium: "Tomorrow's America is a cold and ravaged place, a nation devastated by despair and enduring winter. In a small New England city, senior government official Dr. Judith Carriol finds the man she has been seeking: a deliverer of hope in a hopeless time who can revive the dreams of a shattered people; a magnetic, compassionate idealist whom Judith can mold, manipulate and carry to undreamed-of heights; a healer who must ultimately face damnation through the destructive power of love."

An unsubtle retelling of the Jesus story; Judith=Judas, Joshua Christian = Jesus Christ, etc.

Consider "The Tripods" series by John Christopher. I loved them as a kid. A synopsis from Wikipedia sez:

The story of The Tripods is post-apocalyptic. Humanity has been conquered and enslaved by "the tripods", unseen alien entities who travel about in gigantic three-legged walking machines (the unsophisticated humans believe the walking machines themselves to be their living overlords). Human society is largely pastoral, with few habitations larger than villages, and what little industry exists is conducted under the watchful presence of the tripods. Lifestyle is reminiscent of the Middle Ages, but artifacts from later ages are still used, giving individuals and homes an anachronistic appearance.

Humans are controlled from the age of 14 by implants called "caps", which suppress curiosity and creativity and leave the recipient placid and docile, incapable of dissent. The caps cause them to adore the tripods as their saviours. Some people, whose minds are broken (instead of successfully being controlled) under the pressure of the cap's hypnotic power become vagrants, who wander the countryside shouting nonsense."

I am so completely entertained by how many comments you've gotten! I adore this stuff too, I would second Octavia Butler, Starhawk, and I'm just working my way through The Book of the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe. It's really quite good. Looks like I have my reading cut out for me!

My vote is for Oryx & Crake and The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. Looking forward to having the book club back!

Maybe Raven's Manzanita, by Cora Stryker? I only heard her give a reading of it, but it seemed right up your alley. It doesn't seem to exist on the internet, but maybe I'm not searching correctly.

Oh wow, what a great list. I vote for Oryx and Crake, since I just downloaded onto my reader, and I'm going on vacation.

I dont think I saw these recommended:

The Family Tree by Sheri S. Tepper

JG Ballard The Drowned World, The Wind from Nowhere, and The Voices of Time, my cc a novelette in a book of short stories by the same name. That man knew apocalypse.

Gordon R. Dickson's "Wolf and Iron" - post apocalyptic, yet strangely hopeful.

Sheri. S. Teppers's "Gate to Women's Country" - as a feminist homeschooling mother of 3 boys I found this book fascinating and disturbing.

another vote for atwood's oryx and crake and the year of the flood. the stand had some possibilities. my fave so far is the trilogy 40 days of rain, 50 degrees below, and 60 days and counting. all are set in washington dc and feature a new president,a lot of ordinary people, and a selection of folks in between,all trying to cope with a permanently changed landscape.

Having read _Lucifer's Hammer_ and _Footfall_ recently via interlibrary loan (and thinking that no one knew they existed), I am surprised at how many people have voted for these! And then, Googling the Orion program (nuclear bombs for propulsion) and finding out that this propulsion technology could send us to the stars!

I second the following:
Lucifer's Hammer - Niven and Pournelle
Footfall - Niven and Pournelle
Alas, Babylon Frank Herbert
The Stand - Stephen King

For additional consideration:
The Time Machine - H.G. Wells
War of the Worlds - H.G. Wells

And a little non-fiction:
The Last Train from Hiroshima - Charles Pellegrino


I saw the John Christopher recommendation above and it reminded me of 'Death of Grass', surely the most terrifying TEOTWAWKI novel other than nuclear or zombies. From Wikipedia 'A viral strain has attacked rice crops in East Asia causing massive famine; soon a mutation appears which infects the staple crops of West Asia and Europe such as wheat and barley, threatening a famine engulfing the whole of the Old World, while Australasia and the Americas attempt to impose rigorous quarantine to exclude the virus.' It is rather dated in writing style but excellent in apocalyptic content. In the US it was called 'No Blade of Grass'. When you think of what percentage of our calories we get from grasses of various types you can see why it's scary.

By Yvonne Rowse (not verified) on 30 Aug 2010 #permalink

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi deals with a post-Peak Oil and post (or ongoing) climate change world. Very interesting dystopian debut novel.

One very well-written book with a post-apocalyptic element is Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (for British readers, that's not the comedian of Mitchell and Webb fame!). It consists of six nested stories in chronological order, which culminate in a very poignant description of the fragmentation and slow decline of human civilisation after a nuclear war - before closing each of the earlier stories in reverse order, forcing you to re-evaluate the dramas and achievements of the earlier stories' characters in the the light of your new knowledge of the future. A strange and gripping book.

By Peter Barber (not verified) on 02 Sep 2010 #permalink

Tinker's Plague by Stephen B. Pearl,

Tinker' Plague is a good, new, post-apocalyptic, science fiction, environmetal, medical and political thriller. It has real world settings and the first chapter is available to read on his website. The book is well researched and fast paced. I really enjoyed it.

I published my first post-apocalyptic novel TWO JOURNEYS in 2009.
Alan, the sole survivor of a pandemic, finds himselfstranded in Tokyo. He decides to do the impossible: travel home to Berlin to find out whether his family has survived. The Journey takes him across China, Mongolia and Siberia; 10.000 miles of adventure.
TWO JOURNEYS. Author: Clemens P. Suter, ISBN 143-9-250-138. It is available at most internet stores, also as eBook at Smashwords .com. I am currently working on the sequel.