One of the most anticipated movies of the year is World War Z. An adaptation of Max Brook’s 2006 horror novel of the same name, World War Z has once again focused the spotlight on post-apocalyptic literature. Here are three must-read novels that don’t have much hope for humanity’s future.
Lucifer’s Hammer, Larry Nirven & Jerry Pournelle
Very often, science-fiction is not so grounded in actual science. As authors take liberties and sacrifice scientific principles, the end result veers more towards fantasy than sci-fi. Lucifer’s Hammer is one of the few science-fiction novels out there that does not overlook science. The plot of Lucifer’s Hammer revolves around the appearance of a comet (dubbed “The Hammer” by the media), the impact with Earth, and the quest to survive in this new apocalyptic world. The novel primarily focuses on the reaction, pre and post impact, of the Los Angeles social scene. First published in 1977, Lucifer’s Hammer would go on to win the 1978 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
The Children of Men, P.D. James
Authors have presented us with a variety of post-apocalyptic scenarios; some very plausible, while others only possible in the realm of fiction. However, P.D. James provided readers with a different view of a dystopian future ravaged by disease. It isn’t some disease that creates mutants or zombies, but is perhaps more chilling in many ways: infertility. The year is 2021 and, for some unknown reason, the human race is sterile; unable to reproduce. The Children of Men places the reader in the United Kingdom, where the youngest person in the world, i.e. the last person ever born, is killed in a pub brawl. The central character is Theo Faron and the novel focuses around his adventures as he navigates the turmoil between egalitarians and a group of dissidents. The novel was adapted into a movie in 2006, though many aspects were heavily altered. The Alfonso Cuaron directed movie is highly-critically acclaimed and introduced a whole new generation to the novel.
When it comes to post-apocalyptic novels, authors mostly tend to focus on the political, social and cultural fallout of a cataclysmic event, while intertwining the psychological implications across a range of characters. However, what about the readers who prefer a bit of action in their novels? Surely, there is no harm in mixing a bit of post-apocalyptic warfare with the struggle for survival. In Metro 2033, author Dmitry Glukhovsky paints a grim picture in post-apocalyptic Moscow, a result of global nuclear holocaust. The reader follows the adventures of Artyom, born just after the nuclear fallout and never knowing another world besides the underground tunnels of Moscow where people have taken refuge since the year 2013. The action-packed 2033 is a roller coaster ride that keeps readers guessing with every turn of the page. In many respects, the pacing of the storyline and attention to detail in Metro 2033 is quite reminiscent of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell. Although it received a lukewarm response upon its initial release, its popularity skyrocketed after Microsoft adopted it into a first-person shooter for Windows and the XBOX 360.
There is a fair share of novels out there in which the future of mankind is doomed, either through natural events, disease, or war. However, these 3 novels definitely should be at the top of the list for anyone seeking out good post-apocalyptic fiction.