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Topic: It's the end of the world! (your favorite apocalypse books?)

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Subject: It's the end of the world! (your favorite apocalypse books?)
Date Posted: 5/30/2008 4:58 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
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I am a sucker for apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic books. What are your favorite "end of the world" books? The method doesn't matter: plague, nuclear holocaust, zombies...!

I'll put in a plug here for one of my classic favorites, The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham, and one of my new favorites, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. I'm looking for some good reads, so please share your faves!

Date Posted: 5/30/2008 5:49 PM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2006
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The granddaddy of them all: Earth Abides, by George R. Stewart. Dated now, of course, having been published in 1949, but still an interesting look. If you've read Stephen King's The Stand, you'll recognize bits and pieces. If you're interested in the history of post-apocalyptic fiction, here's a starting place.

Portions of the book were quite shocking at the time, primarily the inter-racial marriage, but also other aspects.

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Earth-Abides-George-R-Stewart/dp/0345487133/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1212183837&sr=1-1

Date Posted: 5/30/2008 9:28 PM ET
Member Since: 10/3/2007
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i'm a apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic genre newb, but i loved robert mccammon's swan song. it's a long read, but it doesn't drag on like most thick books do. most definitley one of my favorite books. keep the suggestions coming, gonna watch this thread. =)

Date Posted: 5/30/2008 9:32 PM ET
Member Since: 1/5/2008
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you mention the day of the triffods, which TERRIFIED me as a kid (i walked in on my dad watching that) and it freaked me out!

Date Posted: 5/30/2008 9:40 PM ET
Member Since: 5/5/2008
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One of my favorite post-apocalyptic books is Emergence by David R. Palmer.  It's out of print now, but if you can find a copy, definitely read it. It follows a gifted eleven-year-old girl through the aftermath of a nuclear attack; despite the age of the main character, it's not a kids' book. It can be slow going at first, because of the style - it's written as a journal, with some words left out - but it's surprisingly easy to adjust.

Last Edited on: 5/30/08 9:42 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/30/2008 10:24 PM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2007
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Alas Babylon was a great read...

Date Posted: 5/31/2008 12:09 AM ET
Member Since: 7/2/2005
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Another nod to Alas Babylon. I read it every few years since we had to read it in 11th grade.

Date Posted: 5/31/2008 12:50 AM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
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Oh yes, I got Alas, Babylon recently through PBS and really enjoyed it!

Thanks for the Earth Abides recommend, Lester. I love early sci-fi movies but I haven't read as many early sci-fi books as I'd like. I've ordered a couple of Philip Wylie books today (that was what spawned this thread, actually.)

Keep the recommendations coming, this is great! :-)


Date Posted: 5/31/2008 6:54 AM ET
Member Since: 3/10/2006
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I would say so far it's King's The Stand.

I just finished McCarthy's The Road.  I liked it but didn't love it.  The sparseness was both effective but it also left me a bit cold.  What really, really bugged me was McCarthy's choice to not use apostophres for words like "didn't" and "don't."   Strange and distracting.

I have Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake on my TBR, heard it's pretty good.  Also Will Self's The Book of Dave.

Date Posted: 5/31/2008 10:06 AM ET
Member Since: 6/28/2007
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I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman, translated by Roz Schwartz. 

Date Posted: 5/31/2008 11:12 AM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
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 Alas Babylon---I just re-read it, and although it was written quite a few years ago, in the early 60s I think, it is STILL extremely relevant and stands up well.

"The Road" was also good.

   But there are surprisngly few books in the genre; so many seem more like horror or science fiction to me.

Date Posted: 5/31/2008 11:40 AM ET
Member Since: 5/2/2008
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My absolute favorite is Jeff Long's "Year Zero." Robert McCammon's "Swan Song" and Stephen King's "The Stand" are also great, as others have mentioned, but I thought they were a little too similar to try and read back to back.

Suzanimals, I know exactly what you mean about Cormac McCarthy's writing style. I'm trudging through his "Border Trilogy" now ("The Crossing" being infinitely better than "All the Pretty Horses"), and the only punctuation you'll find in any of these three books are the periods at the end of each paragraph-long sentence.

Date Posted: 5/31/2008 11:57 AM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2007
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The Stand is probably one of my all time faves!  I also love the Left Behind series!

Date Posted: 5/31/2008 12:01 PM ET
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_i am legend_ by robert matheson is a classic and really good.

Date Posted: 5/31/2008 2:22 PM ET
Member Since: 8/19/2007
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The End of the Dream by Philip Wylie

One bizarre environmental catastrophe after another, all sequelae of our own treatment of the planet. Fascinating book. He also did a nuclear apocalypse book set in the USA called Triumph. For science fiction, both books have a terrifying reality to them. Lisa

Date Posted: 6/3/2008 9:23 AM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
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 I just got the unedited version of Stephen King's "The Stand," whic he released several years ago with all the parts that he had to cut from the first version, added back.

 I am not liking it, although I did like the first one very much. This version has way too much "backstory," giving the life story of several characters, which has very little to do with the situation at hand (the end of the world because of a fast-acting deadly and incurable plague). I can see why it was edited out the first time!

I'm skipping over many pages, mostly because they do not appear to be relevant, and not very interesting, and it's just too much! (the book is 1,130-odd pages long now).

  Any others have this reaction?

Date Posted: 6/3/2008 12:25 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
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I had the opposite reaction the to the extended version of The Stand. For me, the extended version was better for all the backstory. 

Loved Swan Song and World War Z, but I'm really surprised to see no mention of On the Beach by Neville Shute or A Canticle for Lebowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.  These were the first two post-apocalyptic novels I ever read.

edited because I misspelled an author's name.  Bad reader, bad!

Last Edited on: 6/4/08 11:42 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/3/2008 12:39 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
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I think the only one I've read is The Stand but I enjoyed it. I also think I read the extended version, and did like it.

Date Posted: 6/3/2008 4:50 PM ET
Member Since: 9/7/2007
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THANKS YALL!!! The long version of The Stand has been on my bookshelf collecting dust for years and there's been a bit of dread attached to the thought of reading it (b/c I read the short version and don't like to re-read).  I think I'm gonna do it though.  I'll pull it out and put it on my bedstand to read next.


Date Posted: 6/3/2008 4:53 PM ET
Member Since: 4/21/2008
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I haven't read many about the  apocalypse  but the one I did read that was good was  Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer .  It is a young adult book and it just came out with another book that is not exactly a prequel or a sequel but it takes place the same time just with a different character's point of view.  The second book is called The Dead and The Gone.

Date Posted: 6/3/2008 11:19 PM ET
Member Since: 3/15/2008
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Where to start? There are hundreds...here are a few I've read...

Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle - giant meteroite strikes Earth. Also by those two, Footfall - aliens try to take over.  Excellent suggestions for The Stand, Emergence, Earth Abides, Alas Babylon.  A real classic is Kate Wilhelm, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang.  Ursula K. LeGuin did The Lathe of Heaven and Always Coming Home.  Dreamsnake by Vonda McIntyre, although in this one the disaster is long past. Marta Randall wrote Those Who Favor Fire (on my bookshelf, btw, although they've typoed the title as Those Favor Fire). Can't forget On the Beach, the ultimate nuclear disaster novel, by Nevil Shute. Kim Robinson's The Wild Shore, one of the 3 of his California novels. And A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter Miller. Malevil, by Robert Merle. Ah...Robert Heinlein, Farnham's Freehold. Suzy McKee Charnas, Walk to the End of the World. David Brin, The Postman. Paul O. Williams, seven books in The Pelbar Cycle. And maybe Connie Willis's The Doomsday Book would fit too, the apocalypse there is the Black Plague of the 1300s.

I could go on and on, that's just a start. 

Date Posted: 6/4/2008 8:48 AM ET
Member Since: 1/7/2008
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I went through the whole Left Behind Series and really enjoyed that. 

I too have The Stand Uncut, but only made it a quarter of the way through.  I just got it a few weeks ago to try once more at it.  I remmber it  was GOOD the last time, but I got pregnant and became too Weepy to read about the apocolypse!  (problem is.... I'm pregnant again, so I supposse it will hang out on my shelves for another several months!!

Date Posted: 6/4/2008 6:09 PM ET
Member Since: 2/9/2008
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Ooooooh, Jenny!  I ADORE I WHO HAVE NEVER KNOWN MEN, and very few people have ever heard of it.  It's definitely among my top ten favorites books, as is THE STAND and Margaret Atwood's THE HANDMAID'S TALE.  I'm clearly a big fan of this type of novel.

I also really enjoyed THE ROAD (but I'm not sure I can stomach the movie version).  ORYX & CRAKE was a bit of a let-down for me.  LOVED SWAN SONG, but hated the Left Behind series. 

I'm off to put YEAR ZERO, ALAS BABYLON, EMERGENCE and DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS on my wish list!

Date Posted: 6/4/2008 6:31 PM ET
Member Since: 3/10/2006
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I can't believe I forgot The Handmaid's Tale  (Thanks Erin.)  I said The Stand earlier, but now it's definitely Handmaid's.

Date Posted: 6/4/2008 6:37 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
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I also loved The Handmaid's Tale. I'm taking notes on some others listed here. I tried reading Year Zero and got about 50 pages in and had to give up--the writing style just bugged me and it was boring!

I would include Terry Brooks' newest series, Genesis of Shannara in with the post-apocalyptic genre too--but it is melded with fantasy. The first is called Armageddon's Children and the second is The Elves of Cintra. It's basically merging his world of his Shannara series with the Word and the Void series and the setting is a slightly futuristic, scorche/polluted Earth. Loved those first two and looking forward to The Gypsy Morph coming out in August.