A round-up of the latest, and the greatest, in post-apocalyptic fiction. The links below will take you to lists of books under each genre, with more information available.
Post-apocalyptic fiction covers a range of genres, as any fan of the bleak and desolate landscapes of the post-apocalypse are also likely to find its appeal in dystopian or ‘punk’ subculture fiction. The following selection of books therefore spans a wide variety of topics and genres, roughly divided into their most appropriate categories:
When the world is about to end, or in the throws of ending: the apocalyptic genre is one where characters face enormous change and unfathomable peril. Everyone is likely to die, so who can possibly survive? Modern examples include World War Z and The Age of Miracles.
Society as we know it is over. Everyone you once held dear is dead. Survival is the first order of business now; then we start to rebuild. Classic examples include The Day of the Triffids The Stand and The Road.
The world has changed. Everything we know to be normal and true is gone, and something alien has risen in its place. Barbaric wastelands and ignorant civilisations pervade, the strange world that came before the disaster a distant memory. Classic examples include Riddley Walker and A Canticle for Leibowitz.
Society has changed, or even been rebuilt, but it’s not as it should be. Gross imbalances in class or culture make this a world to be despised. What can be done to change a world rife with abuse. Classic examples include 1984 and Brave New World.
Various sub-genres are also typical in apocalyptic and dystopian books, usually relating to ‘punk’ themes. These are typified by highly original technology, subversive cultural groups and, often, very dreary states of society.
Often recognisable as ‘high tech, low life’, cyberpunk looks to futures where people have come incredibly advanced but have lost some sense of societal order or civilisation. The genre is rife with the moody noir-style detective thrillers. Classic examples include Neuromancer and Snow Crash.
The loving combination of steam technology and a mismatched society. Often reflected a wasteland within a fully functioning society, innovation and archaic technology combine to make something new and wholly different. Classic examples include The Difference Engine and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.