Apocalyptic books are those that concern the actual events of the apocalypse. Usually this means pitting a group of characters against an unavoidable catastrophe, with everything they one knew facing destruction.

There is some overlap between this genre and post-apocalyptic fiction concerned with the immediate aftermath of the apocalypse, such as Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, which takes place before, during and after the end of life on Earth. Such work is more accurately concerned with post-apocalyptic trials, so this page is just for the books that lead up to the disaster.

apocalyptic booksTitle: World War Z
Author: Max Brooks
Year: 2006
Threat: Zombies
What it’s all about: A collection of chronicles of the ascent of a zombie uprising, as Max Brooks presents a collection international accounts of how it happened. Now a major motion picture, the book’s available here.
book listTitle: The Age of Miracles
Author: Karen T. Walker
Year: 2012
Threat:  The world stops spinning
What it’s all about: At the same time an apocalyptic novel about young Julia dealing with a rapidly changing world, and a coming-of-age tale as she reaches womanhood. What happens when the world stop turning?
cat's cradleTitle: Cats Cradle
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Year: 1963
Threat: Ice 9
What it’s all about: A satirical study of science, technology, the arms race, religion, and human stupidity. This light-heartedly presents an invented island with a group unwittingly approaches the apocalypse. Courtesy of a rather unique man-made weapon.
book listTitle: The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion
Author: Edgar Allen Poe
Year: 1839
Threat:  Comet
What it’s all about: Edgar Allen Poe’s short story built on the 1830s fervour caused by William Miller, this describes the destruction of Earth after the strike of a comet. With all the hallmarks of a good apocalyptic yarn. Available for free.
book listTitle: Shift
Author: Hugh Howey
Year: 2013
Threat:  Nano-technology / mankind
What it’s all about: The dramatic sequel to Wool, as society struggles to survive in enormous underground silos. Shift harks back to 2007, and introduces the apocalypse that brought this disaster on, raising the question of what could cause men to choose an apocalypse.
book listTitle: The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion
Author: Sam Kates
Year: 2013
Threat:  Deadly virus
What it’s all about: A shady group of internationally dispersed people start unleashing a suspicious substance that causes a vicious disease. Shown simultaneously through the eyes of those orchestrating the plot, and those falling victim to it, the result is a rapidly climbing body count and an intriguingly dramatic conclusion.