Saturday, June 19, 2010

Post-apocalyptic fiction: one of my favourite genres

For such an optimistic person I find it a bit strange that I have such a fascination with a genre of fiction depicting the despicable ways the world might end and what happens afterward. I think I've always loved reading apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction. I remember Taronga, Z for Zachariah and the Tomorrow series from my young adult years and being absolutely glued to the page. Why? I think I enjoy putting myself in their place and and some kind of survival instinct is stirred within me. I secretly like to think I would be one of the survivors of whatever the apocalypse turns out to be. By reading these books I can get tips for when it comes! Although I've in no way read all books in the genre I thought I'd share with you a bit about the genre, the ones I've read and some I might read before the apocalypse comes.

A brief history... Noah's ark is often mentioned as the first apocalyptic fiction however, I'm sure it the genre dates back before that (anyone know?). But as far as the first in modern times,  Mary Shelley’s The Last Man published 1826 apparently takes the prize. I've been more interested in recent offerings such as Cat's Cradle, The Stand, Blindness, The Road, The Stone Gods, How I Live Now and I also loved Watership Down which crosses over into another favourite genre - allegory/animal fiction.

I'm currently reading Handling the Undead by Swedish author Lindqvist in which a few thousand recently deceased are no longer dead. They are also not alive. It's currently at a critical point where I'm not sure if it is indeed the apocalypse as foretold in the Bible or some kind of pharmaceutical company experiment gone wrong. Though not strictly apocalyptic, I'm really enjoying it at the moment - will let you know how it goes.

What I'm reading next in this genre:
White Earth - McGahan
Hunger Games - Collins
City of Ember series

What I might read one day in this genre:
Brave New World - Huxley

I am Legend - Matheson
In the Country of Last Things - Auster
On the Beach - Shute
Chrysalids - Wyndham

Some other books I've enjoyed, depicting dystopias that I somehow associate with this genre:
Animal farm - Orwell
1984 - Orwell
Slaughterhouse 5 - Vonnegut
Lord of the Flies - Golding
Heart of Darkness- Conrad
Midnights Children - Rushdie

From the lone survivor to the battle of good and evil. I just can't get enough! I think the reason I like this kind of end of the world, survival fiction is also why I'm drawn to vampire and zombie fiction. But that my friends, is another post.


  1. I *love* this style of fiction too!! You might also enjoy The Postman by David Brin, Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, and On the Beach by Nevil Shute

    I also really enjoy books in the alternate history genre, which includes many dystopia-type scenarios. There's a great website devoted to them here -

  2. If you haven't already, you might want to dip into Ridley Walker by Russell Hoban or Margaret Attwood's Oryx and Crake or After the Flood.

  3. Not that I make recommendations or anything, but I just read Robert Silverberg's post-apocalyptic "Tom O'Bedlam" and I enjoyed it very much!
    (Off to update my wishlist now with all your listed titles!)

  4. You might also consider trying Cell by Stephen King

  5. brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrowl blorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrg mmmmmmmmmmmm BRAINS!!!

  6. pride and prejudice & zombies, and thats all i have to say about that!

  7. You might also enjoy The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

  8. I knew I could not be alone in enjoying this kind of literlature. Obviously it sells! Being a librarian, however, I often find myselfe adopting a kind of "coquettish" attitude about my liking it (when around workmates). Anyhow, lately I've acquired a new favourite in the zombie genre: Brian Keene, for example the titles "The Rising", "City of the Dead" and "Dead Sea".

  9. Thanks for all the hot tips guys. Much appreciated! I finished reading Handling the Undead and I really don't think I liked the last 20 pages. It seemed to unravel - could have been better. Apart from the last 20 pages I really enjoyed it. I'm currently taking a break from this genre and reading Wild Sheep Chase - Murakami cause I also love allegory/magical realism! x

  10. Am I too late to offer a suggestion?

    My all-time favourite post-apocalyptic novel is "Earth Abides" by George R Stewart. A classic. I think I'd go so far as to say that it is one of my favourite novels.