Archive for Apocalyptic

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 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

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

Shift: Hugh Howey’s worthy continuation to Wool

shift hugh howey

Title: Shift
Author:Hugh Howey
Year published: 2013
Genre: Post-apocalyptic, near and far, sci-fi.
Threat: Nano-technology.
Two words: Bleak centuries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sequel to the incredible Wool omnibus, Shift had a lot to live up to. Hugh Howey has changed the landscape of publishing with his ongoing silo series, and with all eyes on the regularly released shorter component stories, this has been something akin to the Dickensian serials of centuries ago. Consumed eagerly by readers in small chunks before being combined in this collection of three stories, like Wool before it, Shift is a compendium of tales designed to keep bringing readers back to the bleak world it explores. It piles on the claustrophobic underground confinement, destructive apocalyptic conspiracies and a general overwhelming sense of misery. And you still can’t get enough of it.

What Hugh Howey’s Shift is all about

Where Wool revelled in the desperately narrow vision of Silo 18’s isolated existence, Shift flips the story around to show us the people in charge of the project. Split over three parts, divided by centuries, we are given an insight into the other silos in the time leading up to Jules’ escape in the first novel. There’s Silo 1, where the overseers keep an eye on the ongoing project, Silo 17, where a chaotic uprising leads to decades of isolation for a sole survivor, and Silo 18 itself (much earlier), where a lowly porter finds himself at the heart of a civil war. These tales all share one through-line, as the characters managing the whole affair take centuries long naps in cryogenic pods.

Alongside all this action, we get an insight into the ugly truths of where the silos came from, why they were built and what drove people into them.

Why you should read this book

If you’ve read Wool, you’ll already be familiar with this unique world of Hugh Howey’s, and his ability to capture its brutally lonely atmosphere in an eminently readable way. Like the first book, Shift is so engaging it’s difficult to put down. By expanding the scope of the tale, it loses a little of the claustrophobic grimness of Wool, but it’s a worthy continuation of the tale, and is sure to leave you wanting for more. And you’re in luck there, as the final book in the trilogy, Dust is already available.

If you haven’t read Wool…it’s best to go here and correct that now.

 

 

The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion

the conversation of eiros and charmion

Title: The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion
Author:Edgar Allen Poe
Year published: 1839
Genre: Apocalyptic
Threat: Comet
Two words: Prophetic pulp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the 1830s, a man named William Miller was causing as stir, much like gripped the world in the millennium, and again for 2012. And about once every other year or so now. An American Baptist preacher, he spread a message of the Second Coming of Christ (and ultimately the arrival Judgement Day), which another preacher announced would come on October 22nd, 1844. With the benefit of hindsight, his movement is perhaps better known, now, as The Great Disappointment. The existence of The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion is evidence of how much momentum Miller’s influence gained, however: written to cash in on that popular idea of the apocalypse, the great American literary icon Edgar Allen Poe wrote a short story about what would happen at the end of days. Read more

The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion (part 2)

the conversation of eiros and charmion

Title: The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion
Author:Edgar Allen Poe
Year published: 1839
Genre: Apocalyptic
Threat: Comet
Two words: Prophetic pulp.

 

 

 

 

 

The second part of Edgar Allen Poe’s apocalyptic short story goes into further detail of how the world ended. If you’d like background details, the first part of the story, or a PDF download, please click here:

Otherwise, continue reading… Read more

Cat’s Cradle: Vonnegut’s inimitable style

cats cradle book

Title: Cat’s Cradle
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Year published: 1963
Genre: Apocalyptic, satire.
Threat: Ice 9.
Two words: Amusing apocalypse.

 

 

 

 

 

Kurt Vonnegut’s inimitable style hinted towards apocalyptic plots on numerous occasions – a sci-fi writer at heart, he dabbled in themes of crazy invention, alternative time-lines and space travel, against otherwise contemporary stories. Cat’s Cradle actually reaches a kind of full destruction (which is, I’m afraid, something of a spoiler), and is a great example of one simple experiment can bring about global destruction. The book itself uses this theme as an overall allegory for human stupidity, with the result that’s it’s as affecting as it is enjoyable.

What’s Cat Cradle all about?

The rather hapless narrator, John, is conducting research into what famous people were doing on the day of the Hiroshima bombing. This leads him to looking into a scientist called Felix Hoenikker, who helped design the atomic bomb, and takes John on an eventual journey to the fictional tropical island of San Lorenzo. On the way, and whilst there, John meets the Hoenikker children and gradually learns about a substance called Ice 9. Something that turns any body of water it touches instantly to ice, at any temperature.

Why you should read it

Vonnegut was one of America’s great 20th Century writers because his style was at once unique and incredibly readable. He brilliantly combines satirical humour that harks back to the irreverence of Mark Twain with exciting sci-fi and adventure themes. Those themes often go nowhere, compounding the satire of his writing, but in this case they reach an apt apocalyptic conclusion, that is more or less brushed off as an ‘Oh well.’ moment. It’s a light look at the disasters mankind can cause without even meaning to, and a fine addition to any library, apocalyptic or not.

 

 

What makes the post-apocalypse so popular?

why is the post-apocalypse popular

Answering the question of just why the apocalypse is so popular in modern culture…

 

 

 

In both fiction and film, the post-apocalypse has always been a popular subject, and with numerous recent releases for both it’s here to stay. The burgeoning communities of fans, and different interpretations of the genre, are evidence of that. This is not a mere modern fascination, though – it’s been a theme in literature for centuries. Why? Because there are many universal themes of heroism and the ordinary becoming extraordinary in these survival settings. Read more

The Passage: a tale of two novels

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Title: The Passage
Author:Justin Cronin
Year published: 2010
Genre: Post-apocalypse (near/far), thriller/horror.
Threat: Vampires.
Two words: Long term.

 

 

 

 

 

Justin Cronin’s dabble with the apocalypse has met with wide critical celebration, as he blended numerous genres: starting out as a thriller, it progresses to some sort of action horror when transported to its post-apocalyptic adventure resting place. Wedging together the ever-popular theme of genetically modified vampires (thanks, I Am Legend) with wasteland survivors and a prodigal child with superpowers, it’s a recipe for epic adventure. And you’d think it a very impressive thing for an author to pull off. But does he? Read more