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Post Apocalyptic Books

Updated on November 21, 2013

Post Apocolyptic Fiction

Post apocalyptic fiction is an exciting sub genre of science fiction that speculates how life as we know it may end. Bombs and pandemics, asteroids and earthquakes, zombies and economic collapse. If you can imagine the world ending, or society collapsing in some way, it's almost certain that someone has written about it. Just because the "world" has ended, though, doesn't mean that everyone is dead, just that life in the way that they knew it is over for a time, and they have to struggle with their new existence. It's this struggle that draws many people to the genre. Overcoming the odds and making a success in the new normal makes heroes out of every day people who are just trying to stay alive and perhaps even true to themselves.

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Mushroom Cloud
Mushroom Cloud

Nuclear War

This sub-sub genre deals with the different ways that The Bomb could end life as we know it. The timeframes of these stories can range from dealing with the actual event and immediate aftermath right through to tales of centuries later. Visions dealt with in books about nuclear war range from the realistic to the far-fetched, from radiation sickness to nuclear winter to giant radioactive insects and mutants.

Some books with this theme are:

Deathlands by James Axler

On the Beach by Nevil Shute

Alas Babylon by Pat Frank

Down to a Sunless Sea by David Graham

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

One Second After by William R. Forstchen

Dystopian Society

In this vision of the future, something has happened, either an economic collapse, or a radical shift governement leadership that has created a society very alien to what we know. Sometimes the rules are entirely different from the society we know, but often the rules of today are twisted darkly into something sinister. This style is frequently used for social commentary.

Some examples of this type of book include:

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

1984 by George Orwell

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Natural Disaster

Whether earthquake, global warming, man eating plants or something more exotic, there are a huge number of ways that authors have invented for the world to come to an end using natural disasters. With much of the world eliminated, the survivors usually struggle in a now unfamiliar world.

Some examples of this type are:

Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

8.4 by Peter Hernon

Asteroid Strike

What happens when instead of a "Near Miss" we have an impact event? If the moon is destroyed by an asteroid, what happens? Will the tsunamis generated by an impact in the water swamp the cities on the seaboards? These are the questions explored by books in this sub-sub genre.

Some books with this theme are:

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Lucifer's Hammer by Jerry Pournelle

Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

Impact by R.V. Fodor and G.J. Taylor

Shiva Descending by Gregory Benford and William Rotsler


If it causes illness, this is where it belongs. Flu, plague, zombies, naturally occurring, man made, intentionally released, accidentally breached... All of these occurrences in post apocalyptic fiction belong under the pandemic tag.

Some examples of this type of literature are:

The Stand by Stephen King

The Last Man on Earth by Mary Shelly

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Do you have an opinion on a post apocalyptic book? Please share it with us. Mini reviews are welcome, as are any other comments you may have. If you have something to say, this is the place to do it.

Post Apocalyptic Comments

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    • boneworld profile image

      Jackson Thom 3 years ago from West of Left South Lucky

      some of my favs in that list above. Great lens!

    • Shanna Redwind profile image

      Shanna Redwind 5 years ago

      @BenJacklin LM: I loved that one as well. Give it and the others you liked a vote on the Plexos if you want to move it toward the top.

    • BenJacklin LM profile image

      BenJacklin LM 5 years ago

      I am legend is my favourite :)