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August 27, 2009

Wastelands: Stories Of The Apocalypse Edited by John Joseph Adams

I've been meaning to read Wastelands since it was first released. It inspired my Apocalypse Watch reading list, but unfortunately failed to materialise into my hands due to Amazon UK selling out repeatedly at inopportune moments (birthday and Christmas) and unfortunately ordering from Nightshade books directly in the UK is three times as expensive as Amazon. However it finally arrived a few months ago, and it was worth the wait. It's a truly excellent collection of apocalyptic stories, with a handful I really loved a lot, only a few I disliked, and everything else being quality stories that I liked a lot.

I highly recommended it. Here's a bit more detail on the individual stories.


Introduction - John Joseph Adams

A page and a bit setting the scene.


The End Of The Whole Mess - Stephen King

I haven't read any Stephen King, not being a fan of horror (although The Stand is sitting on my shelf). This story has a great readable style, with an interesting SF idea about changing the human mindset and some really touching moments. I tore through it an wanted more. Loved it.

Salvage - Orson Scott Card

A flooded Salt Lake City and a young man searching for something more. It has a nice apocalyptic setting and an easy style, with a surprisingly thoughtful ending. Liked it.

The People Of Sand And Slag - Paolo Bacigalupi

A crazy future with new style people who can fix themselves. Or something. They find a dog. It's bonkers and yucky. Liked it, but gross.

Bread And Bombs - M. Rickert

A touching, thoughtful, sad and very clever tale of what life could be like living in the shadow of constant fear of terrorism. It's a generational rift tale and great Science Fiction. Loved it.

How We Got Into Town and Out Again - Jonathan Lethem

Probably the most Mad Max setting of any of the stories, except with Virtual Reality. And no fighting. It's a bit of a rant against VR, but the apocalypticness raises it above the standard anti-tech rant. Liked it.

Dark, Dark Were The Tunnels - George R.R. Martin

This story was written in 1973, and it feels like. To me it seemed old fashioned, predictable and I felt like I'd seen it all before. I can't even imagine it being cutting edge three decades ago. Disliked it.

Waiting for the Zephyr - Tobias S. Buckell

A lovely atmospheric story set in a remote town. It's really the standard story of teenage rebellion and escape, but the setting is great and the story left me wanting more. Wind turbines, desert, teenage angst. Liked it.

Never Despair - Jack McDevitt

A couple of post apocalyptic explorers find an old Hologram in a dead city. Moody and atmospheric. Liked it.

When Sysadmins Ruled The Earth - Cory Doctorow

The end of the world viewed from Sysadmins in a locked in a data centre. The story gets better as it progresses and I  loved the ending which is touching and hopeful. Liked it.

The Last of the O-Forms - James Van Pelt

A weird mutant circus in a world of increasing mutants. Oddly uncomfortable. Liked it.

Still Life with Apocalypse - Richard Kadrey

A nice description of apocalypse, but just a vignette. Liked it.


Artie's Angels - Catherine Wells

The story of Kid biker courier gang in dome that’s fending off an apocalyptic outside and losing population to a better offworld. Loved it.


Judgement Passed - Jerry Oltion

Religion, apocalypse, cliché. Space travellers return to find that the rapture has happened. Disliked it.

Mute - Gene Wolfe

A random dream like haze. Didn’t feel like there was any story. Hated it.

Inertia - Nancy Kress

A disfiguring disease results in ghettos and isolation. Touching with an interesting intellectual idea. Liked it.


And the Deep Blue Sea - Elizabeth Bear

Starts off as a cool cyberpunky take and turned into bad Crossroads story. Disliked it.


Speech Sounds - Octavia E. Butler

Probably the best SF idea in the collection: people have lost the power to speak or understand.Very clever with plenty of emotion. Liked it.


Killers - Carol Emshwiller

The story of hiding away from a terrorist style apocalypse in a mountain village. Discussing what it means to be the enemy. Liked it.

Ginny Sweethips' Flying Circus - Neal Barrett, Jr.

A Robot butler and woman selling fake sex in a Mad Max-ish future. Witty. Liked it.

The End Of The World As We Know It - Dale Bailey

A deconstruction of apocalypse stories. Clever, relevant and depressing. Loved it.


A Song Before Sunset - David Grigg

The story of a musician in a post-apocalyptic world. Sad piano man story. Liked it.


Episode Seven: Last Stand Against the Pack in the Kingdom of the Purple Flowers - John Lanagan

A response to Dale Bailey’s story. Two people flee for their lives across a dead city. Clever, exciting, touching, hopeful. Loved it.


For Further Reading - Big list of books. Of which I am working my way through!


I've been meaning to pick up a copy of this one for ages as well. Definitely re-inspired now.

Sounds extrememly interesting - the premise described from the story Speech Sounds makes me want to check this out.