Into the Forest – coming of age in the apocalypse

into the forest

Title: Into the Forest
Author: Jean Hegland
Year published: 1998
Genre: Post-apocalyptic, near, psychological.
Threat: Plague, crumbling society.
Two words: Feminist awakening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A story of self-discovery first and apocalyptic themes later, Into the Forest could almost work without the disastrous setting. A début novel that charts the isolation, the conflict, and above all the drive for survival of two sisters, it is a piece of literary fiction, rather than conventional sci-fi – an exploration of psychology and a coming-of-age tale – and along that line it finds both appeal and alienation in the genre. Read more

The most popular post-apocalyptic films of 2014

rover

Showing the continuing popularity of the genre, 2014 saw a number of new post-apocalyptic films being released (and 2015 looks set to have a few more, including the eagerly awaited new Mad Max film, Fury Road). Here’s a few of the most popular films of last year that contain post-apocalyptic or dystopian themes (yet to be added to the film archive on this site), in case you missed them:

darn of the planet of the apes Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

A blockbuster of action and special effects, picking up where the prequel tale of Rise of the Planet of the Apes left off, Dawn sees the world destroyed by a virus and only handfuls of humans struggling to survive. Again set in San Francisco, the humans struggle to live alongside the intelligent apes, who have built their own, new society. Generating human emotions in animals and a political plot, it’s got character and action. Although, perhaps, all a little predictable.

mocking jayThe Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 1

Impossible to miss, the anticipated 3rd film in the series brought back familiar characters and the familiar dystopian setting of District 13. Not necessarily post-apocalyptic, but with all the usual tenets of survival and discord you’d expect. This film was big, and popular, but is really only half there, setting the scene for a grand finale next year. A feature-length set-up.

maze runnerThe Maze Runner

A survival game in the tradition of a group waking up not knowing where they are, except that it’s a hostile environment. A teen adventure, with gripping action and sinister enemies, this sci-fi romp sets out to entertain with no pretensions. The first of a 3 part saga.

young onesYoung Ones

Impressive performances from a primarily unknown cast make this tale of survival in a waterless land stand out. Something subtle and a little different to the above blockbuster fare, although sadly never quite reaching the potential of its story.

roverThe Rover

My personal pick of this list, The Rover is a brooding, dark tale in a grim and unforgiving land. It’s brutal and affecting at the same time, as a lone wanderer does whatever it takes to hunt the men who stole his car. Whether considered dystopian or post-apocalytpic, this film captures exactly the lonely lawlessness we come to expect from the genre, with fine performances from the leads.

Pilgrimage of the Damned: Part 1 (eBook)

online serial apocalyptic

Title: Pilgrimage of the Damned: Part 1
Author: Phil Williams
Year published: 2014
Genre: Post-apocalyptic, near.
Threat: Raging humans.
Two words: Holy quest.

 

 

 

 

 

There’s already an entry here for my online serial, exclusively available on JukePop Serials, but for those who haven’t been following the unfolding story as it happens, or those who want to revisit it in a binge, I’m happy to announce the entire first part of the serial will soon be available in eBook form. Following the unhinged, death-obsessed Burton as he traipses across desolate England, and his abrasive young companion Vita, it tells the tale of a man so thrown by the events of the apocalypse that he believes himself already dead – and interprets everything as a demonic afterlife challenge.

Mixing dark humour, tense violence and sharp dialogue, Pilgrimage of the Damned is an adventurous tale that moves quickly and benefits from many page-turning chapter endings, owing to its online serial origins. Originally available in weekly (or slower!) instalments, the first part will now be available as a complete eBook – absolutely free! The first part is a full 25 chapters of madness, charting our heroes journey from the devastated civilisations around London towards the coast, and hopes of escape from the British Isles.

Watch this space to be the first to lap it up on its release. If you can’t wait until then, though, the whole ongoing tale is available at JukePop, just click the link below. And if you like it, please vote it up.

 

 

Freeway Fighter – interactive fiction

Freeway Fighter

Title: Freeway Fighter
Author:Ian Livingstone
Year published: 1985
Genre: Post-apocalypse
Threat: Deadly plague
Two words: Interactive Apocalypse

 

 

 

 

 

If you grew up in the 1980s, and had any interest in sci-fi or fantasy fiction or gaming, you’d be no doubt familiar with the Fighting Fantasy books. Usually concerning Dungeons and Dragons territory, the series were ingenious single-player games continued in a short piece of literature. Freeway Fighter was a detour from the typical world into a future apocalyptic landscape. A rare post-apocalyptic book where you are the hero!

What’s Freeway Fighter all about?

Taking obvious overtones from Mad Max, Freeway Fighter follows the main character, you branching out across a desert wasteland to connect your tribe of survivors, New Hope, with another. It is a breakneck mission to re-establish civilisation – and, sadly for you, it seems everyone outside these two civilisations is less than a savoury egg. Making life or death choices with every chapter, you have to drive a load of supplies via motorbike gangs and seductive thieves, all the while continually running out of petrol…

 

What’s special about Freeway Fighter?

Freeway Fighter exudes the post-apocalyptic archetype laid out in Mad Max, from the motor-punk setting to the weird metal outfits the apocalyptic survivors start donning. It’s full of kitsch artwork celebrating this imagery. A work of deep, thoughtful literature it might not be – but it does have a unique place in our hearts as a gaming book, something where the narrative depends a little on your uninformed choices, and a little on luck. It’s more than a story, it’s an interactive experience, and something of a maze to get through.

Even as a Fighting Fantasy book, it should be noted, this entry was something special. Not only does it deviate from the usual fantasy realms, for the post-apocalyptic setting, but it also gives the player a more developed gaming mechanic, as you have a car to worry about (leading to both regular fights and vehicle combat – what!). For something a bit different, or even just for a bit of nostalgia, it’s well worth revisiting, even 30 years on.

 

Start reading Freeway Fighter

 

The Cleansing by Sam Kates

The Cleansing by Sam Kates

Title: The Cleansing
Author: Sam Kates
Year published: 2013
Genre: Apocalyptic.
Threat: Deadly virus.
Two words: Engineered annihilation.

 

 

 

 

 

With post-apocalyptic fiction such a burgeoning subject in the creative arts, and publishing made so easy (and the stunning example of success that Hugh Howey’s Wool set), the independent book industry is now awash with authors trying their hand at apocalyptic tales. It is always refreshing, then, to find an author who’s done it properly, and professionally – and The Cleansing is a great example of how an independent book can be. With its international tale of a seemingly man-made deadly infection, it’s polished, intriguing and – above all – entertaining. Read more

The Drowned World by JG Ballard

the drowned world JG ballard

Title: The Drowned World
Author: J.G. Ballard
Year published: 1962
Genre: Post-apocalyptic (near).
Threat: Solar radiation.
Two words: Desired destruction.

 

 

 

 

 

Unlike the usual set up for post-apocalyptic fiction, classic sci-fi writer J.G. Ballard took a different approach with the characters’ attitudes to the end of the world when he wrote The Drowned World. Here, catastrophe is welcomed, releasing dormant desires and a dreamlike regression of society. In Ballard’s uniquely surreal style, it is a world of dreamlike imagery, immersing the reader; an exercise in style over plot. Read more

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

The World Without Us

Title: The World Without Us
Author: Alan Weisman
Year published: 2007
Genre: Non-fiction.
Threat: What if humans disappeared?
Two words: Though-provoking.

 

 

 

 

 

Something very different in the world of post-apocalyptic books, The World Without Us is a non-fiction exploration of what would become of the built and natural environment of our world if humanity were to disappear. It does not suppose a disaster, or any major catastrophe, simply asking what if humans were no more – if we all died, but the world as it stands today was otherwise unaffected. How would things change? The result is an excellent thought-exercise. Read more

Metro: Last Light game review –
creeping through the Moscow underground

Metro Last Light

Title: Metro Last Light
Developer: 4A Games
Year released: 2013
Genre: Post-apocalyptic game.
Threat: Nuclear holocaust, monsters.
Two words: Ambient Immersion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are reviews of Metro: Last Light that praise it for its unique take on the post-apocalypse, pitting the user into the Moscow Metro and showing after-the-disaster survival from the Russian perspective. It’s hardly unique in this respect, however, as neither a story nor a computer game. Last Light is merely the latest in a slew of post-apocalyptic adventures that have rolled out of Russia in the last decade or so, and it cannot really hold a candle to the accomplishments of the vast Stalker series. It is, however, an enjoyable and immersive game in its own right. Read more

Extraordinary Popular Delusions: historical prophecies of apocalypse

extraordinary popular delusions

Title: Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
Author: Charles Mackay
Year published: 1841
Genre: Non-fiction, historical.
Threat: Popular perceptions of disaster.
Two words: Apocalyptic realities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1841, a Scottish journalist named Charles Mackay produced a sizeable tome dedicated to chronicling the effects of crowd psychology, and the popular delusions this madness could create. The result was an extensive look at historical events driven by mass fervour, with a vast collection of subject-matter. He covered witch-hunts, the crusades, haunted houses, economic bubbles and plenty more – but for us here probably the most interesting section is that which covers Prophecies. These prophecies, particularly focussed on the 1,000 years prior to the book’s publication, often had to do with the apocalypse, as seen with the recent fears of 2012, Nostradamus and Y2K. Read more

Coming soon: The Rest of the World

apocalypse pulp rest of the world

It’s been two days since they stopped waking up. The whole world has changed.

Coming soon, Post-Apocalypse Pulp Volume 1: The Rest of the World treads the border between apocalypse and post-apocalypse. Picking up a few days after the majority of the world’s population started dying, it looks at insomnia in the extreme: as something’s changed, and those who go to sleep will never wake up again. Read more