Perhaps ironically, the end of the world is something humans seem very keen on predicting and witnessing, at least is history is to be believed. Those who are seeking Armageddon should probably rejoice to be alive in a time where it’s more easily achieved than ever before.
From lethal viral breakouts to nuclear warfare (and without forgetting the slight chance of cosmic invaders), we have an embarrassing amount of choices to bring about the end of the world, and needless to say, this is very much reflected through our popular culture.
As far as literature is concerned, I think it’s fair to say the post-apocalyptic genre is at the peak of its popularity, and has the potential to ascend even higher in the coming decades. After all, I think we’re all curious to imagine what our planet might look like after we fulfill the deadly prophecy of being human.
Many different authors have taken different approaches to exploring the idea of a post-apocalypse, from simply using it as a setting for a grand adventure without further thought to examining it through the lenses of philosophy, psychology, and general human behaviour.
In here you’ll find the post-apocalyptic science-fiction books which I believe to be worthy of reading, regardless of which direction they choose to tackle the subject from.
As a matter of fact, I think we all ought to partake in this type of literature regularly, lest we forget how good we have it now, and how bad we could make it for ourselves in the future.
“Blackfish City” by Sam J. Miller – The Frozen Tomb of Mankind
Sam J. Miller may have been on the cusp of winning literary awards for much of his career, but in 2019 he broke through once again, winning the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for his science-fiction novel Blackfish City.
Taking us into a future ravaged by war and climate changes, we follow the fate of various denizens of humanity’s last surviving city, constructed in the Arctic Circle, and perhaps more importantly, on the brink of collapse… though not everyone can see it.
“Children of Ruin” by Adrian Tchaikovsky – Lost in Alien Translation
Adrian Tchaikovsky began a sensational science-fiction series with Children of Time, tracing the evolution of two civilizations under extreme conditions.
With Children of Ruin he continues the series, venturing further into the future to explore a race of aliens who have developed on a very different footing from humanity, diverging from it in many ways rather than being a mirror.
Though humanity and its spider allies attempt to contact them and make peace, different evolutionary paths make it exceptionally difficult, perhaps even impossible.
“48 Hours” by William R. Forstchen – The World’s Greatest Trial
William R. Forstchen has a rather special knack for imagining our world in the throes of apocalypse, and in 48 Hours he returns us into a world plunged into obscurity.
In two days the Earth is bound to be hit by a Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun, a cataclysmic event with the power to permanently destroy the planet’s electrical infrastructure.
As the entire world goes offline in an attempt to mitigate the damage, the entire world’s population is preparing to face its darkest hour, teetering on the line between survival and total collapse.
“Days of Chaos” by Jack Hunt – The Order of the Village
Jack Hunt has presented us with his personal depiction of what America would look like in the event of an electronic apocalypse in his EMP Survival Series, focusing on the survival of individuals tangled in the whole mess.
In the second book titled Days of Chaos, we follow our four protagonists once again as they attempt to maintain a fickle order in Lake Placid, a task much easier said than done with people at each others’ throats, a string of murders as well as looters and raiders on the prowl.
Neutrality can only last for so long, and in this new society sides demand to be taken.
“Awakening: Event Horizon” by Stan I. S. Law – A Utopia at the World’s End
The apocalypse preoccupies our mind more than most other topics, and while some see it as the end of the world, there are those who take a somewhat different approach, and see it as a chance to rebuild. Stan I. S. Law explores this way of thinking in the third book of the Avatar Trilogy, titled Awakening: Event Horizon.
The story of Anne, Peter and company continues as a drastic shift in the world occurs: a new ice age that kills over 90% of the Earth’s population and tears massive land chunks asunder.
A new dawn awaits mankind, but what will the people to rise out of it look like?
“Borne” by Jeff VanderMeer – Scavenger of the Ruins
Jeff VanderMeer is widely recognized as one of the more imaginative authors, nearly always presenting us with some new and original depictions of our own world, alternate timelines we wouldn’t dream of reaching in a million years.
In his novel Borne the author takes us to such a place yet again as we follow the story of Rachel, a scavenger who one day finds a small green lump in the ruins of a building, and it turns out to be some creature.
Though at first it looks like discarded waste by the ominously-named Company, there is more to the little green blob than appears at first sight.
“LIFEL1K3” by Jay Kristoff – The Robotization of Humanity
Jay Kristoff has emerged on the literary scene only a few years ago, but has already penned a number of award winners, amazing readers time and time again with his creative prose.
With his new book LIFEL1K3 he marks the beginning of a new trilogy, Lifelike, and takes us to the heart of a post-apocalyptic United States of America where a young girl named Eve lives under radioactive skies.
Though her life had never been easy, it has recently been turned upside down over the course of a day, as gangsters, murderous fanatics, her dying grandpa, telekinetic powers, and androids passing as humans all come crashing down on her.