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January 14, 2008

Apocalypse Watch, a reading resolution

Whilst there seems to be a large crowd gathering to read The Baroque Cycle, I've done that, so I thought I needed a new year reading resolution.

The resolution is called Apocalypse Watch. Spurred on by how much I'm enjoying Jericho (even though I feel like I shouldn't be), I've decided to read some apocalyptic books.

Here's what I have so far:

  • Alas, Bablyon - Pat Frank
  • The Road - Cormac McCarthy
  • Earth Abides - George R Stewart
  • On The Beach - Neville Shute
  • Dr. Bloodmoney - Philip K Dick
  • The Postman - David Brin
  • Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter M., Jr. Miller
  • The Last Man - Mary Shelley
  • The Stand - Stephen King
  • Summer Of The Apocalypse - James Van Pelt
  • Oryx And Crake - Margaret Attwood
...and last but not least...

  • Wastelands : Stories of the Apocalypse, edited by John Joseph Adams. (I used its online associated reading list to give me some ideas).

The first three were Christmas presents, I don't own any of the others... yet.

There are some books I want to read but aren't available (except for £100 on ebay), notably Leigh Brackett’s The Long Tomorrow, John Christopher’s No Blade of Grass and Wilson Tucker’s The Long Loud Silence.

What have I missed? Or what shouldn't I bother with?


Ooh, good resolution. I'd add something by John Wyndham -- The Kraken Wakes for choice, but Day of the Triffids would do. Possibly something by Ballard, too?

£100? Check Amazon or ABE Books--used copies of those three should be plentiful there, I imagine--for a few bucks each, at least for the first two you mention. After some looking, I assume the Christopher is the one you're having a hard time finding affordable prices on. Funny, I don't remember paying that much for mine a few years ago. If it helps, No Blade of Grass is a/k/a The Death of Grass.

It's really baffling to me that all three of these (Grass especially) are all out of print. Why hasn't someone reissued them, I wonder?

I second Niall's rec of Wyndham--I'd say Day of the Triffids or The Chrysalis (a/k/a The Rebirth). But it's hard to go wrong with Wyndham. For apocalyptic Ballard, I like The Drowned World.

Hope you enjoy Wastelands when you get around to it.

Also, for things you maybe missed: Octavia Butler's work. For apocalyptic, probably the best (or at least most focused on the apocalyptic elements) is the Parable duology.

Now that John's mentioned it, actually, I'm wondering whether The Chrysalids wouldn't be the better Wyndham pick. I really like The Kraken Wakes, but in many ways it's just Day of the Triffids redone (better, I think, but others disagree), whereas The Chrysalids is a different story. It's also post-apocalyptic, rather than apocalyptic, which would make for more interesting comparisons with some of your other choices, and gave me one of the defining hits of sensawunda of my teenage years.

I certainly am flattered that you've included Summer of the Apocalypse in the list, but if you only could read one, I'd go with Earth Abides. It shook my world when I read it the first time.

Well I'd suggest Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. It's YA, but I found it to be a really great story about a family surviving a bitter, horrible winter resulting from an asteroid impact on the moon that pushes it into a closer orbit.

Oryx & Crake is a great book... loved that one!

If you are still looking, Amazon have Death of Grass as a Penguin Modern Classic for £4.99.

How about Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban?