Well, hopefully we’re all still here! I know, I know, everyone’s heard quite enough about the end of the world by now. The thing is, though…it’s a hell of a plot device. I have to admit that when I was in my early teens, I went through a stage where I overdosed on all things post apocalyptic (specializing in Schwarzzeneger films, though I wasn’t picky) and I still really get a kick out of the topic. I don’t know what it is…I certainly wouldn’t WANT to go through something like that, but it’s a great metaphor for the human condition. Plus, in those types of books/movies/whatever you usually get to put a lot of great personalities up against each other. And there are so many ways things COULD go wrong, there really is never going to be a loss of ideas for this genre. So in honor of the Mayans, today I present my list of some of my favorite post apocalyptic/end of the world type fiction (that I can think of right now).
The qualifications for this list isn’t big…it just has to involve a huge change in human society or an end of the world type scenario. Granted, this is far from a full list (since I haven’t read EVERYTHING on the subject).
– The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury – a series of shorts revolving around man’s escape to Mars around the time of implied nuclear destruction of earth. Does a fabulous job of bringing up a lot of shortcomings/high points of humanity by placing people against an unfamiliar backdrop. The first story, especially, which involves a Martian couple is just heartbreaking, while other tales are downright chilling.
– Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – thus proving the end of the world is just the beginning of a grand space adventure. Hilarious, ridiculous, and thought-provoking, this series was a high point of my high school years. It definitely makes you wonder about people a few times.
– World War Z by Max Brooks – Zombie Apocalypse anyone? The whole book revolves on the zombie war and the restructuring of humanity afterwards – by far one of the best worldwide zombie books I’ve EVER read. The movie will never be able to do it justice.
– Walking Dead – I’m still reading the comic series (haven’t gotten to the TV series yet), and I love how this focuses on the personalities and how they clash or mesh with each new conflict. This is by far an excellent series, really sophisticated and it doesn’t treat the genre lightly, which I appreciate. Basically deals with a group of survivors after a zombie plague and their various struggles to stay alive and find safety.
– I am Legend by Richard Matheson – Please read this, even if you’ve watched the movie. Read this instead of watching the movie. Just trust me. While parts of the most recent attempt at putting this on screen were very good, the ending isn’t true to the book at all and destroys the entire buildup of the first part of the movie. There’s so many levels to this book, from the main character’s solitary quest to the twist at the end.
– Total Oblivion, More or Less by Alan De Niro – This is one of those titles that isn’t for everyone. I love it, and I love the fact that I’m not quite sure whether to take it as tongue in cheek or completely serious. The idea of the world ending by random vikings and electricity mysteriously giving out and a family rafting down the Mississippi is awesome. The plot twist of plague being thrown in is even more fascinating. There are definitely very serious elements to this book, not so serious elements, and some that just plain make you wonder what the hell is going on. It’s a great combination, and a title I enjoyed a lot.
Now there are a couple that I haven’t read yet that I really want to…Mainly…
The Stand by Stephen King – I know, how have I not read this? The huge scope of this book intrigues and terrifies me a little bit, but it is on The List.
Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham – I first heard about this title in a Japanese short story I had a translation to, and it took me a while to realize it was a real book. I have to admit, I’m intrigued by the double whammy plot: humanity losing their eyesight from a comet and then becoming susceptible to killer plants. I’m definitely interested in reading this one.
So what am I missing? (and I know I’m missing a lot!) What are some of your end of the world type titles?