You can’t read or watch science fiction without coming across the ‘post apocalypse’ part of the genre. I wouldn’t say that it’s a favourite of mine, but you can’t avoid it. It pops up time and time again in different guises. But the same premise is there, that at some time we humans have mucked up planet earth, most people have perished, but a few survive to start again. It seems to me that there was a crop of it in the late 50’s and 60’s (with a few hang overs into the 70’s) at the time of the cold war i.e. science fiction expanding on the worries of the day. I believe that Ray Bradbury’s ‘Martian Chronicles’ is set after a nuclear war, not that I remember it that way (I read them a long time ago). And now we seem to be seeing a new wave of stories, again perhaps reflecting the current problems and instabilities in the world. Anyway here are some of my favourites:
The film (from the original 1967 novel by William F Nolan and George Clayton Johnson) was released in 1976 and probably the first piece of post apocalypse fiction I remember. I had read Asimov’s ‘Foundation and Empire’, series (a must read at that time for anyone interested in Sci-fi), but hadn’t thought of it as post apocalypse which I now guess it is, just on a galactic scale. I watched Logan’s run again recently and it’s still a good story even if some of the tech doesn’t stand up (well it wouldn’t). There was supposedly a TV series, which I can’t remember. Also there was supposed to be a remake on the cards, but I don’t know what happened to that.
Water World (Kevin Costner)
I know this wasn’t a critics favourite if I remember rightly, but I enjoyed it. A flooded world with people defending floating fortresses (perhaps a touch of Mad Max on water). For me it was that bit different as the genre goes. Looking back its more climate change apocalypse than the standard blowing everyone up in a nuclear free-for-all, although I suppose it could have been the result of the latter. I can’t remember the actual premise (can anyone remind me?).
Jon Shannow, David Gemmell
If you read my Inspiration page you’ll see I’m a fan of David Gemmell and I’ve read everything he’s written. For me, as well as the stories, it’s the way they are written, something he shares with Bernard Cornwell – they gallop along carrying you with them. For some reason having read all the Drenai series (Waylander, Druss the Legend etc.) and the rest I was reluctant to read the three Jon Shannow novels, maybe it was because the covers at that time reminded me more of ‘cowboy’ novels, not what I considered David Gemmell stories. But, how wrong was I, these are great post-apocalypse stories.
I know Hugh Howey is a bit of a hero in the indie author world. But I did read the series back to back, I thought it was that good. It’s set in a ‘bunker’ style existence for the survivors. Not only is it well written, but for me it’s again a bit of a different take on the theme. I won’t spoil it for those that haven’t read them, however when you get to it, it’s even a bit more sinister than the more standard reasons for the ‘apocalypse’.
Steam punk – Romulus Buckle, Richard Ellis Preston jr.
I’m new to ‘Steam Punk’, never really seeing it as science fiction. I read a mediocre book a few years ago and perhaps that put me off. I certainly didn’t appreciate the post apocalypse nature of the premise (but maybe that was down to my bad experience). Anyway, I’m delighted to say that I am thoroughly enjoying my second venture into the steam driven post-apocalyptic world of Romulus Buckle. I will read the rest of the series and perhaps seek out some more. If anyone can suggest good examples let me know.
So these are some of my favourites. I am always open to suggestions for others. I even allude to a possible post apocalypse scenario in my own book ‘Project Noah.’
As always comments welcome.