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Genre Exposure: Post Apocalyptic Fiction

Updated on April 25, 2012

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An Intro to Post Apocalyptic Fiction

What is a Genre Exposure?
Genre Exposure is a new set of hubs designed to help potential readers reach out into new genres. Some may have read a book or two in the genre and are seeking new entries for their collections. Others may simply be looking to expand their reading repertoire into a genre they don't have previous experience with. Or, maybe you just want to find some fun books to pass the time. In any event, read on for more information!

What is Post Apocalyptic Fiction?
Post Apocalyptic Fiction is a branch of Science Fiction that describes the destruction of civilization and/or the aftermath of those events. Some books deal directly with the end times, perhaps a meteor strike or a plague or even zombies. Other stories examine a distopian future where society has degraded. The key difference between classic science fiction and post apocalyptic fiction, is that the former highlights the advances of mankind, the leaps in technology and space travel, while the latter deals with the eventuality that everything mankind has build will one day implode on itself. Post Apocalyptic Fiction tends to be set in dark futures and usually include a great deal of violence and savagery. This is not a genre for the feint of heart, but it does include some great adventures for those brave enough to embark on the journey.

My Recommendations of Post Apocalyptic Fiction:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games is the series that his been on the tip of everyone's tongues in the past few months. While the books were written for a primarily young adult audience, which is traditionally about 12 - 18, the savage violence and authoritarian, post apocalyptic setting, have made the book perhaps one of the more controversial entries into the genre. The Hunger Games involves numerous elements found in post apocalyptic fiction. The book features elements found in classic science fiction literature, such as the overbearing Capitol city which controls the outlying districts and is constantly watching the residents of the nation (see 1984 by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley).

Dies the Fire by S. M. Stirling: Dies the Fire is an exploration into Post Apocalyptic Fantasy. While books like The Hunger Games deal with the idea of a future civilization, Dies the Fire looks at the actual apocalyptic event and the direct aftermath of it. The event in question mysteriously renders all internal combustion and solid state electronic useless, almost like the ultimate electromagnetic pulse, and effectively throws the world back into the dark ages. It is a story of modern people forced to adapt to new lives living much as they would have had they been born in the 12th century. This is a recommendation for anyone who already reads classic fantasy (Tolkien, Jordan, Feist, Martin).

Way of the Wolf by E. E. Knight: Way of the Wolf is an entry into Post Apocalyptic fiction that give a nod to military fiction. Fans of Tom Clancy and Dale Brown might be interested in starting out here in your journey through the post apocalyptic world. Way of the Wolf is also a great starting point for fans of supernatural fiction. The book, and those in the series after it, tell the story of an earth invaded by an alien force of vampires who suck the life forces from the humans over whom they rule. Small pockets of free humans dot the world and the story follows a protagonist in his fight against the alien vampiric overlords. This is a very dark series and the book are littered with gory fights to the death, cross country chases, and plenty of dismemberment and blood.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy: The Road is a literary piece of post apocalyptic fiction. While the three previous books are fast and action packed, The Road is a decidedly more sedate story that follows a man and his young son in their journey down the east coast of the United States following an apocalyptic disaster. The Road is a book that deals mainly with the internal human struggle to survive in a landscape no longer hospitable to life. While there are encounters with several other along the way, the book deals more with the psychological effects of solitude, responsibility, loss, and love. It is a very dark book and, at times, can feel very depressing, but it is also the kind of book that will likely be added to high school reading lists for future generations. This is a must read for anyone wanting a deeper glimpse into post apocalyptic fiction.

Wrap Up: Post Apocalyptic Fiction is a rapidly growing sub genre that is likely to see continued growth and mainstream coverage. The books listed above only represent a small slice of what's available in the genre and if you find yourself liking one of them, I would highly encourage you to reach out and explore other books in the genre. Watch for more Genre Exposure hubs, coming soon for Science Fiction, Fantasy, Alternate History, and Young Adult!

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