Survivalist Forum - Reply to Topic
Survivalist Forum

Advertise Here

Go Back   Survivalist Forum > > > >
Articles Classifieds Donations Gallery Groups Links Store Survival Files


Notices

Advertise Here
Thread: If you were to recommend 5 classic "apocalypse" books to read Reply to Thread
Title:
  
Message:
Post Icons
You may choose an icon for your message from the following list:
 

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Survivalist Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:
Gender
Insurance
Please select your insurance company (Optional)

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



Additional Options
Miscellaneous Options

Topic Review (Newest First)
11-25-2017 09:50 PM
JOracle One Second After, Forstchen
Lucifer's Hammer (Niven, Purnelle)
Hatchet Series, Paulsen
Patriot Series, Rawles
Going Home, A. American
04-06-2017 03:22 PM
aus_sprite
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mudwall View Post
Nobody else could stop at five books, so why should I? Just counting books I have actually read:
I found your recounting of your booklist highly entertaining (it made me laugh more than once) and well written. Thanks so much for sharing your views on these books
10-10-2016 09:06 PM
Uncle Ethan Well, I went through the whole thread and listed the books I hadn't read yet. I just read a book I had stuck back on the shelf. Not worth the read. "False Dawn" by Yarbro. Written around the early to mid seventies with all the destruction of the ecosystem stuff. Don't read it unless you need a downer. Thanks to everyone for the info on the books I can now find and enjoy.
08-04-2016 12:28 PM
Mr Joe By The Waters of Babylon. Can be downloaded for free. Gutenberg Canada, has the book. At Gutenberg/ca
06-30-2016 10:10 AM
rctreadaway Really can't wait to dig into a few of these books! I haven't read much lately and I've finally got some free time on my hands.
06-20-2016 09:04 AM
Wryter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mudwall View Post
Nobody else could stop at five books, so why should I? Just counting books I have actually read:

After London; or Wild England - Richard Jefferies
Something went wrong in England and it has reverted to a low-density, rural place. A man decides to go exploring. This was written in the early 20th Century, so the style is odd but it holds up acceptably well.

After the Bomb - Gloria Miklowitz
Marketed to Young Adults, but very readable, a boy survives a nuclear attack and goes searching for his mother.

After the Rain - John Bowen
Why is so much British survival fiction so bad? Talk, talk, talk, and apathetic characters who meekly succumb to authority. The cover picture of people trying to avoid the flood by using the Statue of Liberty, though, is bit chin', and even better, there are two different versions of the cover!

Alas, Babylon - Pat Frank
Everyone has read this classic, and if you haven't, stop wasting your time reading this and buy a copy! Nuclear war in Florida, just a stone's throw from where I grew up. Some folks find it hopelessly dated but I think the characters' reactions are most realistic.

Another Place to Die - Sam North
Starts off with a bang, with a pandemic forcing a family to bug out to the Canadian Pacific Northwest, but soon devolves into typical lone-scientist-saves-the-world garbage.

The Apocalypse Reader - ed. Justin Taylor
A bunch of apocalyptic stories packed into one volume. Great idea, right? Nope. This is just a bunch of very old stories without much to tie them together.

Beyond Armageddon - ed. Walter M. Miller, Jr. and Martin H. Greenberg
A bunch of apocalyptic stories packed into one volume. Great idea, right? Yep. It's worth the price of admission just to read the disturbing story "Lot's Daughter".

Blindness - Jose Saramago
Almost all P-A fiction strives to be called "chilling", but I reserve the word for books that send chills down my back. This book about everyone going blind is chilling.

"A Boy and His Dog" - Harlan Ellison
May not qualify as a novel due to its length, but it's well worth reading, if only for the ending. The TV adaptation is surprisingly good.

Brother in the Land - Robert Swindells
This "juvenile" book is not for juveniles. A British boy tries to protect his brother after a nuclear war. Well written but grim.

The Burning World - J. G. Ballard
More subpar British P-A, which is a bit surprising given Mr. Ballard's reputation. Something prevents seawater from evaporating, so everybody goes to the seashore. Why? I don't know and neither do they, but they talk a lot about it.

A Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter M. Miller
Not really a survivalist story as it is a how-life-changes-after-a-catastrophe story, but it's so darn well written that I have to include it. This book left a strong impression on me.

Damnation Alley - Roger Zelazny
Utter garbage. Yes, I know Zalazny won six Hugo awards, but not one of them was for this forgettable Mad Max-ish effort. I'm told that the movie was no better.

Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham
The term "cozy catastrophe" was coined by JG Ballard to dismiss this book, but he missed the mark. This is a gritty story of survival from both blindness and walking poisonous plants, and I recommend it. The British TV adaptation is worth watching too.

The Day the Earth Caught Fire - Barry Wells
What have I said about British P-A?

The Day the Oceans Overflowed - Charles Fontenay
Despite being British, this one isn't too bad. I did enjoy the scene where the heroes are driving a zillion miles per hour through the North Carolina hills trying to outrun a tsunami.

The Death Of Grass (aka No Blade Of Grass) - John Christopher
Another exception to the British rule. John Christopher has destroyed the world in more ways than one can count. This time he does it by wiping out grass. No big deal you say? Don't forget that wheat, corn, rice, and oats are all members of the grass family.

Deep Winter - Thomas Sherry
A family tries to survive a winter in Washington state after a devastating earthquake. Not a bad story, but the book has all the hallmarks of being self-published, including my personal peeve, poor editing.

Deluge - S Fowler Wright
Another very old book where England is inundated by water. Despite its age, it deals frankly with death and a love triangle.

Dies the Fire - SM Stirling
I promised I would only talk about books that I have read but sue me. I wanted to like this book. I tried. I overlooked the magic ... I mean science ... that does away with electricity, gunpowder, and other concentrated energy (but not the Sun. Why not?) but it became clear several chapters in that the author simply wanted to create a situation where members of the Society for Creative Anachronism would transform from nerds to rulers. Caveat emptor.

Down to a Sunless Sea - David Graham
I hate books that have contrived situations. So there's this American airplane full of men, see? And a Russian airplane full of women, got it? So the world ends and guess what? They find each other! Yay.

Earth Abides - George R. Stewart
A much under appreciated classic. A pandemic has wiped out so many people that the hero thinks he's the only one left for a hundred pages. He decides to monitor the changes in the natural world while attempting to prod the few survivors into rebuilding civilization. Spoiler: they aren't interested. Some readers believe the book is too slow, but that's the whole point; the world is a more pastoral place.

The End of the Dream - Philip Wylie
Don't waste your time. The earth is dying from every cause you can imagine and governments of the world spasmodically try to do something.

"Ersatz" - Henry Slesar
A short story with something missing from most P-A fiction: humor.

Fallout - Gudron Pausewang
This book fits my definition of "chilling", even though it's supposedly written for Young Adults. A nuclear power plant problem causes a girl to evacuate with her little brother. The problems she encounters are difficult to read about and the reaction she gets from family members who weren't there to help her but expected her to have done better caused me some anger. Recommended if you can take it.

Far North - Marcel Theroux
An outstanding book. The main character lives in Siberia, which is very cold despite the global warming in the story. The writing is great, the character interactions are believable, and there is an enexpected plot twist that does not come at the end. Recommended.

Farnham's Freehold - Robert A. Heinlein
Only the first half of this book and the final page fit the definition of "survival", but Heinlein gives lots of practical advice on how to build and stock a bomb shelter, as well as dealing with the human problems that come from living in one. Based on his experience of building a bomb shelter during the Cold War.

Few Were Left - Harold Rein
Don't bother. Survivors of some forgettable catastrophe take to the New York subway tunnels and bad things happen.

The Folk of the Fringe - Orson Scott Card
Not so much a novel as a collection of related novelettes, the theme of this excellent book is that Mormons are better prepared to survive a nuclear war, but not perhaps the ones to run things afterwards. Mr. Card knows how to develop characters and he does so here.

The Gas - Charles Platt
I'm not sure if I should include this one. The book is less survival from a weaponized gas, than it is hard core pornography. Really hard core. I'm not kidding. If there is anything anything at all that would make you draw the line and say "too much", then this book isn't for you. You Have Been Warned.

A Gift Upon the Shore - MK Wren
There are far too few survival type books written by women, which is a shame because they bring such a different outlook to the genre. Although there are some problems plot wise (I don't like "we must save Knowledge for the future generations" stories), the book is so well written that I recommend it anyway.

The Girl who Owned a City - OT Nelson
And now for something different. Grown ups have been exterminated and only children remain. The heroine is a disciple of Ayn Rand and builds a civilization based on private property. Looking back, I don't know how the author pulled it off.

Greener Than You Think - Ward Moore
This darkly humorous book is the opposite of "The Death of Grass". An incompetent door-to-door salesman applies an all too effective fertilizer to a suburban lawn and the grass eventually takes over the world, while the salesman becomes rich and powerful by recommending useless strategies to fight it.

"I Am Legend" - Richard Matheson
I'm sure you've seen the movie with Will Smith. The last man in the world fights zombies. I believe this was the first attempt to write a story where zombies have a scientifically based problem instead of just being supernatural.

The Incredible Tide - Alexandar Key
Rising sea levels inundate the world. I don't mind dated books (this one is old) and I don't mind slow books, but this one was too old and slow for me.

Into the Forest - Jean Hegland
Another strong female writer. The story is about two sisters left to themselves in a house in the woods following a pandemic and other unspecified problems. This book is so well written that I choose to ignore the frustrating and illogical ending. Read it anyway.

The Kindling - Jennifer Armstrong
A book for children about a few very young children being the only survivors of a virus. It's interesting because the children are so young they don't remember their names but have somehow worked out a family system based on what they do remember of their former lives. There are sequels.

The Lake at the End of the World - Caroline MacDonald
Disappointing. Stories with villains seem like a cop out to me. For Young Adults.

The Last Day - Helen Clarkson
This book is an American version of "On the Beach", so much so that the characters spend several pages discussing it. That means you know what's coming (hint: look at the title). Too slow moving even for me, and I found the science regarding fallout to be faulty.

The Last Ship - William Brinkley
Alternately rewarding and frustrating, this book tells the tale of the last surviving ship in the US Navy after a nuclear war. Rewarding because Mr. Brinkley's vocabulary is expansive and impressive, but frustrating due to inexplicable actions of the characters. For example, if you want to destroy your remaining weapons, just dump them into the sea. There's no need to detonate them. And who believes that all of the remaining women would get together and agree on a rotating sex schedule so all men are treated fairly?

Level 7 - Mordecai Roshwald
This is the diary of a man who lives in an impregnable underground Cold War bunker with hundreds of others who are tasked with starting World War 3 if required. Of course, it is required. Strictly speaking, this is not a survival book, but what was most interesting to me was that I read it three times before I realized you could not tell if the bunker and its inhabitants were Russian or American.

Life As We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer
Pretty good tale of a girl and her family attempting to survive societal breakdown when the Moon shifts its orbit and causes earthquakes and tsunamis. I enjoyed reading it despite technical flaws like running a fuel oil furnace all winter without electricity. Sequels are available.

Lights Out - David Crawford
Everybody has read this one, right? An ordinary man rebuilds society after EMP destroys it. Mr. Crawford tries hard to avoid evil FEMA guys and evil UN guys, but he can't help including evil Mutant Zombie Bikers.

The Long, Loud Silence - Wilson Tucker
Not many people know this book about a biological attack on the eastern US. Everything east of the Mississippi River is quarantined and our hero wakes up from a bender to find himself on the wrong side. A good read.

The Long Winter (aka The World in Winter) - John Christopher
Christopher does it again, this time decreasing the sun's output just enough to freeze Europe and turn Africa into the new temperate zone. It's not much of a survival story but more of a vehicle for exploring race relations.

Lucifer's Hammer - Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Do I need to explain this one? A comet strikes the Earth and California tries to survive. Although dated politically and socially, it remains very popular among survivalists.

The New Madrid Run - Michael Reisig
Utter drivel. I wrote a long excoriation of this book elsewhere and refuse to revisit it. TL;DR Laughably stereotypical characters, impossible coincidences, idiotic pseudoscience. If you see this book in a store, just shoot yourself. You'll thank me.

On the Beach - Nevil Shute
A true classic. Of course, few have read it, but some have seen the original movie or the remake. It's not a spoiler to say that everybody dies at the end. The story is how everybody deals with it.

One Second After - William Forstchen
This is The favorite book today among preppers and survivalists. EMP does little physical damage but destroys society and a small North Carolina town tries to react. A very good story but Mr. Forstchen's editor deserves to be waterboarded.

"A Pail of Air" - Fritz Leiber
A short story where Earth has been torn away from the sun and is so frozen that the atmosphere has liquified, hence the title. A single family has survived due to the father's ability to come up with makeshift solutions. An outstanding story.

Patriots - James Wesley Rawles
Unfortunately, this book has had more influence on the prepper community than any other. What a pity, since there are so many better candidates. I've reviewed this book elsewhere. TL;DR The book is fundamentally flawed by trying to be both a novel and a how-to guide. The characters do not even reach the level of "cardboard", so I can't tell one from the other, not that it matters because I just don't care about them. They do unrealistic things like wear fatigues at all times, shutter their house so they live without sunlight, move from the city and immediately grow enough to food to eat, worry more about car repair than burying their friends, shoot strangers without warning before heading to church, and defeat a mechanized army while suffering few casualties. My favorite characters are the Maoist hippie cannibals and the rape-loving Belgian UN officer. Sequels are available, but God knows why.

Pendulum - John Christopher
Teenage gangs get so out of hand that they take over. Not so much a survival book as social commentary, but a good read.

Plague Year - Jeff Carlson
This one starts well, with a laboratory virus that slowly eats you up. Fortunately, it can't live above 10,000 feet, but unfortunately it's not easy for humans to, either. The cold is vividly described. Eventually, the book turns into a routine thriller involving conspiracies and space shuttles before it mercifully ends.

The Postman - David Brin
I don't hate the movie like everyone else, but the book is definitely different. A wandering survivor finds an abandoned postal carrier's uniform and ultimately helps reunify the Pacific Northwest, which was devastated by an unexplained disaster.

Pulling Through - Dean Ing
Like "Patriots", this is a combination novel and how-to-survive manual, and it suffers from some of the same problems. The story itself is much better written, but it would have been even better if the author had refrained from including a pet cheetah and a personal hover car.

The Ragged Edge (A Wrinkle in the Skin) - John Christopher
Mr. Christopher is busy again, this time destroying the world with earthquakes. A surprisingly gritty depiction, it includes several scenes that were difficult to read. Not bad.

The Road - Cormac McCarthy
Yeah, you've seen the movie, but have you read the book? It's actually quite lyrical, but I predict that many will set it aside because of its stream of consciousness style.

Shadow on the Hearth - Judith Merril
A nuclear war survival story written in the 1940s. Ms Merril conducts a balancing act between presenting a classic family of the times when told to evacuate, the first thing the housewife thinks of is that she and her two daughters can share a single brush and comb and a realistic (at the time) description of what an attack on New York by atom bombs would be like. There was also a very faithful TV adaptation.

Some Will Not Die - Algis Budrys
Politics and civil war after a nuclear war. Don't bother.

The Stand - Stephen King
I'm torn on this one. It starts off fine with some well-written (hey, it is Stephen King) reaction-to-the-disaster stuff until the Mysterious Woman (hey, it is Stephen King) magically calls our heroes west. It reverts to a solid rebuilding-society story until it goes off the rails with a man who is also a crow. That's when I checked out. A pity, because I really enjoyed some of the story and Mr. King knows how to write.

Summer of the Apocalypse - James Van Pelt
This great book is two stories in one. As a boy, the protagonist bugs out with his family to escape a pandemic and struggles against many travails. The second story, which is interlaced with the first, occurs decades later when the now old man decides to retrace his steps but the world has changed mightily in that time. Recommended.

Survivors - Terry Nation
I expected very little from this novelization of a UK TV series, but it was an acceptable read.

Things We Didn't See Coming - Steven Amsterdam
I enjoyed this book but remember little of the actual story, which means it's time to read it again. Not your usual survival stuff.

The Tide Went Out - Charles Eric Maine
British P-A fiction. Don't make me say it.

Tomorrow! - Philip Wylie
A must read book about twin cities that undergo nuclear attack. One city has a robust civil defense system and the other doesn't see the need. Guess what happens. Mr. Wylie scores points for preparedness while describing in detail the gruesome effects (as known at the time) of the brand new H-bomb.

Triumph - Philip Wylie
A few years after writing "Tomorrow!", Wylie decided that civil defense was useless and switched from teaching Americans to protect themselves to scaring the pants off of them. In this story, the entire northern hemisphere is wiped out in wave after wave of attacks except for a millionaire and the accidental inhabitants of his supershelter. Way too much talking and discussion of class structure.

Two Journeys - Clemens Suter
Beautifully written story of a man who is on business in Japan when a pandemic kills even more people than in "Earth Abides". He fights cultural issues along with the usual suspects of loneliness, hunger, limited mobility, and raiders while making his way home to Germany.

The Walk - Lee Goldberg
An almost tongue in cheek description of a man walking home after the Big One hits. You may feel that the twist ending either improves or ruins the story. Worth reading either way.

Walkabout - James Vance Marshall
Two children survive a plane crash in the Australian Outback. Although intended for children, this is poignant and well done.

Warday - Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka
Not so much a survival story as a purported government report of the condition of the US after a very limited nuclear war. While the physical damage was limited, the country collapsed and is now dominated by the UK and Japan. This book caused me to completely reassess my view of world politics.

When the Wind Blows - Briggs, Raymond
This graphic "novel" follows a well-intentioned but hopelessly out of touch older English couple who attempt to survive a nuclear war using their government's written instructions. What starts comically quickly turns grim. Sobering. A very good TV adaptation is available.

The Wild Shore - Kim Stanley Robinson
I'm currently reading this one. No report available yet.

The World Ends in Hickory Hollow - Ardath Mayhar
There are disaster books that paint the incident as horrifying, pretty awful, not too bad, and occasionally for the better, but nothing tops the palpable glee expressed by Ms Mayhar as she depopulates the world of practically everybody except for hard working farm folk, their obedient children, and surprisingly healthy oldsters. Don't get me wrong, this book is worth reading, and I especially liked the gang of female raiders, but odd plot holes (would most people in the country flock to the nuked cities to search for their relatives?) keep it from being top shelf.

World Made by Hand - James Howard Kunstler
I like Mr. Kunstler as a writer. I like his slow moving pastoral post-apocalyptic society. I like small things like the fact that the son's fate is never explained. The turn to supernatural at the end did not sit well with me, but this is still an excellent story, well told. Sequels available.

World War Z - Max Brooks
I don't like zombie stories but I liked this one. How the author convinced me to read this is beyond me, but I'm glad I did. Skip the movie, it's only loosely based on the book.

Z for Zachariah - Robert C. O'Brien
It's a shame that this book is doomed to the end of the alphabet because it is the best Young Adult P-A novel out there. The scientific premise is somewhat doubtful, but the description of the heroine living alone in a small pocket of non-radiation and simultaneously dealing with a stranger and unpleasant memories of growing up is superb.
To this most excellent list I would add:

Hatchet - Gary Paulsen
A 14 year old boy is the lone survivor of a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness. Though geared for the YA crowd it's a terrific read for anyone interested in survival techniques. It was good enough to make me read all his other books.

The Dying Time: Impact - Raymond Dean White
A large asteroid slams into the Earth off the east coast of the US. Very well researched in terms of the effects of an impact on everyone, but especially on the Preppers who survive. Memorable characters and really good battle scenes. Michael and Ellen Whitebear are just the kind of people I'd want beside me when TSHTF. As a bonus this book has a couple of Prepper information rich appendices at the back.
06-20-2016 08:51 AM
Wryter
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4norsemen View Post
Robert R. Mcmammon. He wrote several good horror books. Swan Song I read twice. After the first time I read Swan Song I read The Stand. I thought The Stand was a bad knock off of Swan Song until I found out The Stand was written first.
Just so you know, it's McCammon.
06-05-2016 09:59 AM
Stinky We knew they were coming.
06-05-2016 09:58 AM
Wryter Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
One Second After by William Forstchen
The Hermes Fall by John Baxter
and here's a couple for younger readers thought still good for us oldsters
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Star Man's Son by Andre Norton
06-02-2016 07:57 PM
StarWatcher I still love 'I Am Legend' by Richard Matheson - it's better than any of the 4 (yes, four) movies made that are based on it.
06-02-2016 07:38 PM
tc556guy Op, you said "classic", so my suggestions are all at least 25 years old.
Plenty of newer options
I've been reading post-apoc lit for 30-plus years now

Malevil by Robert Merle
A Gift Upon the Shore by M.K. Wren
Wolf and Iron by Gordon R. ****son
Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
A canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M Miller Jr
05-03-2016 01:41 PM
jlively
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bazooka Joe View Post
You forgot to say "sequel available."


I'll add one to the negative.

Directive 51 by John Barnes
This story actually starts out pretty well and is well written. A "back to simplicity" eco-terrorist sort of organization decides to destroy modern society. The method is science fiction writing, but hey that's okay. When a robotic, EMP missile launching factory starts lobbing EMP bombs down upon anyone who turns on a radio, it jumped the shark and became unreadable. Plus the government people are more or less the heroes of the story.
I would agree. I made it through book 1 and it was pretty much torture. When the second book started with more of the same from the first, it was time to move on. Much better books to spend your time and money on.
05-03-2016 01:17 PM
9mmMike Hmmm...maybe those zombie books aren't all that far out there after all...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2...aking-project/
05-02-2016 12:50 PM
mdeb484290
Family Reunion

Oh, and I forgot to mention this one. It follows a large family's efforts to reunite after the apocalypse begins... full disclosure. I wrote it.
04-27-2016 08:28 PM
KelleyT
Some newer ones I read and liked

Sedulity.
Day of Wrath.
Both by David P Forsyth.
04-27-2016 06:49 PM
Bazooka Joe
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mudwall View Post
A Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter M. Miller
Not really a survivalist story as it is a how-life-changes-after-a-catastrophe story, but it's so darn well written that I have to include it. This book left a strong impression on me.
You forgot to say "sequel available."


I'll add one to the negative.

Directive 51 by John Barnes
This story actually starts out pretty well and is well written. A "back to simplicity" eco-terrorist sort of organization decides to destroy modern society. The method is science fiction writing, but hey that's okay. When a robotic, EMP missile launching factory starts lobbing EMP bombs down upon anyone who turns on a radio, it jumped the shark and became unreadable. Plus the government people are more or less the heroes of the story.
04-26-2016 07:13 PM
scorpio948 I liked the Morningstar Strain trilogy by Z. A. Recht.

Yes, it has zombies, but the way it goes about the story is the best I have every read.

The virus comes out of Africa (like so many other deadly pathogens) and infects the people, making their brain pretty much cook and drive them mad to their base instincts (chasing prey, and they can sprint). These infected can be killed like a normal person, but if the brain/brainstem remains undamaged, the virus takes control of the body and shambles the rotting flesh around trying to move to a new host.
It definitely makes you think about the possibility of something similar happening.

All a pathogen wants to do is spread to a healthy host and reproduce. If you think about it many pathogens also control people. The flu, which is airborne, makes you cough and sneeze. Ebola, spread by contact, makes you bleed and ooze.
04-26-2016 06:45 PM
PhatForrest Just finish Going Home. It's a good book, but a little heavy on the gear queer side of things.

And I just found out that a SB member wrote it, thank you for the literature!
04-26-2016 09:03 AM
mdeb484290 The Stand, it is the book that got me interested in the Post Apocalypse genre
04-15-2016 10:39 AM
Mudwall Nobody else could stop at five books, so why should I? Just counting books I have actually read:

After London; or Wild England - Richard Jefferies
Something went wrong in England and it has reverted to a low-density, rural place. A man decides to go exploring. This was written in the early 20th Century, so the style is odd but it holds up acceptably well.

After the Bomb - Gloria Miklowitz
Marketed to Young Adults, but very readable, a boy survives a nuclear attack and goes searching for his mother.

After the Rain - John Bowen
Why is so much British survival fiction so bad? Talk, talk, talk, and apathetic characters who meekly succumb to authority. The cover picture of people trying to avoid the flood by using the Statue of Liberty, though, is bit chin', and even better, there are two different versions of the cover!

Alas, Babylon - Pat Frank
Everyone has read this classic, and if you haven't, stop wasting your time reading this and buy a copy! Nuclear war in Florida, just a stone's throw from where I grew up. Some folks find it hopelessly dated but I think the characters' reactions are most realistic.

Another Place to Die - Sam North
Starts off with a bang, with a pandemic forcing a family to bug out to the Canadian Pacific Northwest, but soon devolves into typical lone-scientist-saves-the-world garbage.

The Apocalypse Reader - ed. Justin Taylor
A bunch of apocalyptic stories packed into one volume. Great idea, right? Nope. This is just a bunch of very old stories without much to tie them together.

Beyond Armageddon - ed. Walter M. Miller, Jr. and Martin H. Greenberg
A bunch of apocalyptic stories packed into one volume. Great idea, right? Yep. It's worth the price of admission just to read the disturbing story "Lot's Daughter".

Blindness - Jose Saramago
Almost all P-A fiction strives to be called "chilling", but I reserve the word for books that send chills down my back. This book about everyone going blind is chilling.

"A Boy and His Dog" - Harlan Ellison
May not qualify as a novel due to its length, but it's well worth reading, if only for the ending. The TV adaptation is surprisingly good.

Brother in the Land - Robert Swindells
This "juvenile" book is not for juveniles. A British boy tries to protect his brother after a nuclear war. Well written but grim.

The Burning World - J. G. Ballard
More subpar British P-A, which is a bit surprising given Mr. Ballard's reputation. Something prevents seawater from evaporating, so everybody goes to the seashore. Why? I don't know and neither do they, but they talk a lot about it.

A Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter M. Miller
Not really a survivalist story as it is a how-life-changes-after-a-catastrophe story, but it's so darn well written that I have to include it. This book left a strong impression on me.

Damnation Alley - Roger Zelazny
Utter garbage. Yes, I know Zalazny won six Hugo awards, but not one of them was for this forgettable Mad Max-ish effort. I'm told that the movie was no better.

Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham
The term "cozy catastrophe" was coined by JG Ballard to dismiss this book, but he missed the mark. This is a gritty story of survival from both blindness and walking poisonous plants, and I recommend it. The British TV adaptation is worth watching too.

The Day the Earth Caught Fire - Barry Wells
What have I said about British P-A?

The Day the Oceans Overflowed - Charles Fontenay
Despite being British, this one isn't too bad. I did enjoy the scene where the heroes are driving a zillion miles per hour through the North Carolina hills trying to outrun a tsunami.

The Death Of Grass (aka No Blade Of Grass) - John Christopher
Another exception to the British rule. John Christopher has destroyed the world in more ways than one can count. This time he does it by wiping out grass. No big deal you say? Don't forget that wheat, corn, rice, and oats are all members of the grass family.

Deep Winter - Thomas Sherry
A family tries to survive a winter in Washington state after a devastating earthquake. Not a bad story, but the book has all the hallmarks of being self-published, including my personal peeve, poor editing.

Deluge - S Fowler Wright
Another very old book where England is inundated by water. Despite its age, it deals frankly with death and a love triangle.

Dies the Fire - SM Stirling
I promised I would only talk about books that I have read but sue me. I wanted to like this book. I tried. I overlooked the magic ... I mean science ... that does away with electricity, gunpowder, and other concentrated energy (but not the Sun. Why not?) but it became clear several chapters in that the author simply wanted to create a situation where members of the Society for Creative Anachronism would transform from nerds to rulers. Caveat emptor.

Down to a Sunless Sea - David Graham
I hate books that have contrived situations. So there's this American airplane full of men, see? And a Russian airplane full of women, got it? So the world ends and guess what? They find each other! Yay.

Earth Abides - George R. Stewart
A much under appreciated classic. A pandemic has wiped out so many people that the hero thinks he's the only one left for a hundred pages. He decides to monitor the changes in the natural world while attempting to prod the few survivors into rebuilding civilization. Spoiler: they aren't interested. Some readers believe the book is too slow, but that's the whole point; the world is a more pastoral place.

The End of the Dream - Philip Wylie
Don't waste your time. The earth is dying from every cause you can imagine and governments of the world spasmodically try to do something.

"Ersatz" - Henry Slesar
A short story with something missing from most P-A fiction: humor.

Fallout - Gudron Pausewang
This book fits my definition of "chilling", even though it's supposedly written for Young Adults. A nuclear power plant problem causes a girl to evacuate with her little brother. The problems she encounters are difficult to read about and the reaction she gets from family members who weren't there to help her but expected her to have done better caused me some anger. Recommended if you can take it.

Far North - Marcel Theroux
An outstanding book. The main character lives in Siberia, which is very cold despite the global warming in the story. The writing is great, the character interactions are believable, and there is an enexpected plot twist that does not come at the end. Recommended.

Farnham's Freehold - Robert A. Heinlein
Only the first half of this book and the final page fit the definition of "survival", but Heinlein gives lots of practical advice on how to build and stock a bomb shelter, as well as dealing with the human problems that come from living in one. Based on his experience of building a bomb shelter during the Cold War.

Few Were Left - Harold Rein
Don't bother. Survivors of some forgettable catastrophe take to the New York subway tunnels and bad things happen.

The Folk of the Fringe - Orson Scott Card
Not so much a novel as a collection of related novelettes, the theme of this excellent book is that Mormons are better prepared to survive a nuclear war, but not perhaps the ones to run things afterwards. Mr. Card knows how to develop characters and he does so here.

The Gas - Charles Platt
I'm not sure if I should include this one. The book is less survival from a weaponized gas, than it is hard core pornography. Really hard core. I'm not kidding. If there is anything — anything at all — that would make you draw the line and say "too much", then this book isn't for you. You Have Been Warned.

A Gift Upon the Shore - MK Wren
There are far too few survival type books written by women, which is a shame because they bring such a different outlook to the genre. Although there are some problems plot wise (I don't like "we must save Knowledge for the future generations" stories), the book is so well written that I recommend it anyway.

The Girl who Owned a City - OT Nelson
And now for something different. Grown ups have been exterminated and only children remain. The heroine is a disciple of Ayn Rand and builds a civilization based on private property. Looking back, I don't know how the author pulled it off.

Greener Than You Think - Ward Moore
This darkly humorous book is the opposite of "The Death of Grass". An incompetent door-to-door salesman applies an all too effective fertilizer to a suburban lawn and the grass eventually takes over the world, while the salesman becomes rich and powerful by recommending useless strategies to fight it.

"I Am Legend" - Richard Matheson
I'm sure you've seen the movie with Will Smith. The last man in the world fights zombies. I believe this was the first attempt to write a story where zombies have a scientifically based problem instead of just being supernatural.

The Incredible Tide - Alexandar Key
Rising sea levels inundate the world. I don't mind dated books (this one is old) and I don't mind slow books, but this one was too old and slow for me.

Into the Forest - Jean Hegland
Another strong female writer. The story is about two sisters left to themselves in a house in the woods following a pandemic and other unspecified problems. This book is so well written that I choose to ignore the frustrating and illogical ending. Read it anyway.

The Kindling - Jennifer Armstrong
A book for children about a few very young children being the only survivors of a virus. It's interesting because the children are so young they don't remember their names but have somehow worked out a family system based on what they do remember of their former lives. There are sequels.

The Lake at the End of the World - Caroline MacDonald
Disappointing. Stories with villains seem like a cop out to me. For Young Adults.

The Last Day - Helen Clarkson
This book is an American version of "On the Beach", so much so that the characters spend several pages discussing it. That means you know what's coming (hint: look at the title). Too slow moving even for me, and I found the science regarding fallout to be faulty.

The Last Ship - William Brinkley
Alternately rewarding and frustrating, this book tells the tale of the last surviving ship in the US Navy after a nuclear war. Rewarding because Mr. Brinkley's vocabulary is expansive and impressive, but frustrating due to inexplicable actions of the characters. For example, if you want to destroy your remaining weapons, just dump them into the sea. There's no need to detonate them. And who believes that all of the remaining women would get together and agree on a rotating sex schedule so all men are treated fairly?

Level 7 - Mordecai Roshwald
This is the diary of a man who lives in an impregnable underground Cold War bunker with hundreds of others who are tasked with starting World War 3 if required. Of course, it is required. Strictly speaking, this is not a survival book, but what was most interesting to me was that I read it three times before I realized you could not tell if the bunker and its inhabitants were Russian or American.

Life As We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer
Pretty good tale of a girl and her family attempting to survive societal breakdown when the Moon shifts its orbit and causes earthquakes and tsunamis. I enjoyed reading it despite technical flaws like running a fuel oil furnace all winter without electricity. Sequels are available.

Lights Out - David Crawford
Everybody has read this one, right? An ordinary man rebuilds society after EMP destroys it. Mr. Crawford tries hard to avoid evil FEMA guys and evil UN guys, but he can't help including evil Mutant Zombie Bikers.

The Long, Loud Silence - Wilson Tucker
Not many people know this book about a biological attack on the eastern US. Everything east of the Mississippi River is quarantined and our hero wakes up from a bender to find himself on the wrong side. A good read.

The Long Winter (aka The World in Winter) - John Christopher
Christopher does it again, this time decreasing the sun's output just enough to freeze Europe and turn Africa into the new temperate zone. It's not much of a survival story but more of a vehicle for exploring race relations.

Lucifer's Hammer - Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Do I need to explain this one? A comet strikes the Earth and California tries to survive. Although dated politically and socially, it remains very popular among survivalists.

The New Madrid Run - Michael Reisig
Utter drivel. I wrote a long excoriation of this book elsewhere and refuse to revisit it. TL;DR Laughably stereotypical characters, impossible coincidences, idiotic pseudoscience. If you see this book in a store, just shoot yourself. You'll thank me.

On the Beach - Nevil Shute
A true classic. Of course, few have read it, but some have seen the original movie or the remake. It's not a spoiler to say that everybody dies at the end. The story is how everybody deals with it.

One Second After - William Forstchen
This is The favorite book today among preppers and survivalists. EMP does little physical damage but destroys society and a small North Carolina town tries to react. A very good story but Mr. Forstchen's editor deserves to be waterboarded.

"A Pail of Air" - Fritz Leiber
A short story where Earth has been torn away from the sun and is so frozen that the atmosphere has liquified, hence the title. A single family has survived due to the father's ability to come up with makeshift solutions. An outstanding story.

Patriots - James Wesley Rawles
Unfortunately, this book has had more influence on the prepper community than any other. What a pity, since there are so many better candidates. I've reviewed this book elsewhere. TL;DR The book is fundamentally flawed by trying to be both a novel and a how-to guide. The characters do not even reach the level of "cardboard", so I can't tell one from the other, not that it matters because I just don't care about them. They do unrealistic things like wear fatigues at all times, shutter their house so they live without sunlight, move from the city and immediately grow enough to food to eat, worry more about car repair than burying their friends, shoot strangers without warning before heading to church, and defeat a mechanized army while suffering few casualties. My favorite characters are the Maoist hippie cannibals and the rape-loving Belgian UN officer. Sequels are available, but God knows why.

Pendulum - John Christopher
Teenage gangs get so out of hand that they take over. Not so much a survival book as social commentary, but a good read.

Plague Year - Jeff Carlson
This one starts well, with a laboratory virus that slowly eats you up. Fortunately, it can't live above 10,000 feet, but unfortunately it's not easy for humans to, either. The cold is vividly described. Eventually, the book turns into a routine thriller involving conspiracies and space shuttles before it mercifully ends.

The Postman - David Brin
I don't hate the movie like everyone else, but the book is definitely different. A wandering survivor finds an abandoned postal carrier's uniform and ultimately helps reunify the Pacific Northwest, which was devastated by an unexplained disaster.

Pulling Through - Dean Ing
Like "Patriots", this is a combination novel and how-to-survive manual, and it suffers from some of the same problems. The story itself is much better written, but it would have been even better if the author had refrained from including a pet cheetah and a personal hover car.

The Ragged Edge (A Wrinkle in the Skin) - John Christopher
Mr. Christopher is busy again, this time destroying the world with earthquakes. A surprisingly gritty depiction, it includes several scenes that were difficult to read. Not bad.

The Road - Cormac McCarthy
Yeah, you've seen the movie, but have you read the book? It's actually quite lyrical, but I predict that many will set it aside because of its stream of consciousness style.

Shadow on the Hearth - Judith Merril
A nuclear war survival story written in the 1940s. Ms Merril conducts a balancing act between presenting a classic family of the times — when told to evacuate, the first thing the housewife thinks of is that she and her two daughters can share a single brush and comb — and a realistic (at the time) description of what an attack on New York by atom bombs would be like. There was also a very faithful TV adaptation.

Some Will Not Die - Algis Budrys
Politics and civil war after a nuclear war. Don't bother.

The Stand - Stephen King
I'm torn on this one. It starts off fine with some well-written (hey, it is Stephen King) reaction-to-the-disaster stuff until the Mysterious Woman (hey, it is Stephen King) magically calls our heroes west. It reverts to a solid rebuilding-society story until it goes off the rails with a man who is also a crow. That's when I checked out. A pity, because I really enjoyed some of the story and Mr. King knows how to write.

Summer of the Apocalypse - James Van Pelt
This great book is two stories in one. As a boy, the protagonist bugs out with his family to escape a pandemic and struggles against many travails. The second story, which is interlaced with the first, occurs decades later when the now old man decides to retrace his steps but the world has changed mightily in that time. Recommended.

Survivors - Terry Nation
I expected very little from this novelization of a UK TV series, but it was an acceptable read.

Things We Didn't See Coming - Steven Amsterdam
I enjoyed this book but remember little of the actual story, which means it's time to read it again. Not your usual survival stuff.

The Tide Went Out - Charles Eric Maine
British P-A fiction. Don't make me say it.

Tomorrow! - Philip Wylie
A must read book about twin cities that undergo nuclear attack. One city has a robust civil defense system and the other doesn't see the need. Guess what happens. Mr. Wylie scores points for preparedness while describing in detail the gruesome effects (as known at the time) of the brand new H-bomb.

Triumph - Philip Wylie
A few years after writing "Tomorrow!", Wylie decided that civil defense was useless and switched from teaching Americans to protect themselves to scaring the pants off of them. In this story, the entire northern hemisphere is wiped out in wave after wave of attacks except for a millionaire and the accidental inhabitants of his supershelter. Way too much talking and discussion of class structure.

Two Journeys - Clemens Suter
Beautifully written story of a man who is on business in Japan when a pandemic kills even more people than in "Earth Abides". He fights cultural issues along with the usual suspects of loneliness, hunger, limited mobility, and raiders while making his way home to Germany.

The Walk - Lee Goldberg
An almost tongue in cheek description of a man walking home after the Big One hits. You may feel that the twist ending either improves or ruins the story. Worth reading either way.

Walkabout - James Vance Marshall
Two children survive a plane crash in the Australian Outback. Although intended for children, this is poignant and well done.

Warday - Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka
Not so much a survival story as a purported government report of the condition of the US after a very limited nuclear war. While the physical damage was limited, the country collapsed and is now dominated by the UK and Japan. This book caused me to completely reassess my view of world politics.

When the Wind Blows - Briggs, Raymond
This graphic "novel" follows a well-intentioned but hopelessly out of touch older English couple who attempt to survive a nuclear war using their government's written instructions. What starts comically quickly turns grim. Sobering. A very good TV adaptation is available.

The Wild Shore - Kim Stanley Robinson
I'm currently reading this one. No report available yet.

The World Ends in Hickory Hollow - Ardath Mayhar
There are disaster books that paint the incident as horrifying, pretty awful, not too bad, and occasionally for the better, but nothing tops the palpable glee expressed by Ms Mayhar as she depopulates the world of practically everybody except for hard working farm folk, their obedient children, and surprisingly healthy oldsters. Don't get me wrong, this book is worth reading, and I especially liked the gang of female raiders, but odd plot holes (would most people in the country flock to the nuked cities to search for their relatives?) keep it from being top shelf.

World Made by Hand - James Howard Kunstler
I like Mr. Kunstler as a writer. I like his slow moving pastoral post-apocalyptic society. I like small things like the fact that the son's fate is never explained. The turn to supernatural at the end did not sit well with me, but this is still an excellent story, well told. Sequels available.

World War Z - Max Brooks
I don't like zombie stories but I liked this one. How the author convinced me to read this is beyond me, but I'm glad I did. Skip the movie, it's only loosely based on the book.

Z for Zachariah - Robert C. O'Brien
It's a shame that this book is doomed to the end of the alphabet because it is the best Young Adult P-A novel out there. The scientific premise is somewhat doubtful, but the description of the heroine living alone in a small pocket of non-radiation and simultaneously dealing with a stranger and unpleasant memories of growing up is superb.
This thread has more than 20 replies. Click here to review the whole thread.

Posting Rules
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:24 PM.


Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimisation provided by DragonByte SEO (Lite) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Copyright © Kevin Felts 2006 - 2015,
Green theme by http://www.themesbydesign.net