Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Apocalyptic Fiction Favorites

Locusts and Honey has listed 3 of his favorite apocalyptic novels:

Earth Abides (1949) by George R. Stewart.

The Last Ship (1988) by William Brinkley.

War Day (1984) by Whitley Streiber by James Kunetka

Commenters are adding their favorites, though I'd never have classified some of them as apocalyptic fiction. From a comment the original blogger has made:
World War Z is not apocalyptic -- or even a zombie apocalypse -- because most national governments continue to demonstrate control over substantial portions of their territory
I see that his definition of "apocalyptic" differs from what I am used to. This is yet another reminder to me of the need to define terms in any discussion of import. Since this is just a list of books I like, and has no import at all, I'm not worrying about it.

As his list is novels I won't name short stories in mine. Here's my list of good books or just fun reads that I think should go on a book shelf devoted to an apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic sub-genre:

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
The Postman by David Brin
The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke
Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson
Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard
The Stand by Stephen King
Mara and Dann by Doris Lessing
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. (the sequel is dreadful)
On the Beach by Nevil Shute
Earth Abides by George Stewart
The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
When Worlds Collide/After Worlds Collide (a pair of novels) by Wylie and Balmer

I have McCarthy's The Road in my TBR stack, but I admit I resent the attention it got in light of the lack of attention given to genre books not written by "literary" authors.

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went--and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires--and the thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings--the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed,
And men were gathered round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other's face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:
A fearful hope was all the world contain'd;
Forests were set on fire--but hour by hour
They fell and faded--and the crackling trunks
Extinguish'd with a crash--and all was black.
The brows of men by the despairing light
Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
The flashes fell upon them; some lay down
And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest
Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smiled;
And others hurried to and fro, and fed
Their funeral piles with fuel, and looked up
With mad disquietude on the dull sky,
The pall of a past world; and then again
With curses cast them down upon the dust,
And gnash'd their teeth and howl'd: the wild birds shriek'd,
And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes
Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawl'd
And twined themselves among the multitude,
Hissing, but stingless--they were slain for food.
And War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again;--a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;
All earth was but one thought--and that was death,
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails--men
Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
The meagre by the meagre were devoured,
Even dogs assail'd their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famish'd men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lured their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answered not with a caress--he died.
The crowd was famish'd by degrees; but two
Of an enormous city did survive,
And they were enemies: they met beside
The dying embers of an altar-place
Where had been heap'd a mass of holy things
For an unholy usage; they raked up,
And shivering scraped with their cold skeleton hands
The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath
Blew for a little life, and made a flame
Which was a mockery; then they lifted up
Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld
Each other's aspects--saw, and shriek'd, and died--
Even of their mutual hideousness they died,
Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
Famine had written Fiend. The world was void,
The populous and the powerful--was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless--
A lump of death--a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes, and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirred within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropp'd
They slept on the abyss without a surge--
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The moon their mistress had expir'd before;
The winds were withered in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perish'd; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them--She was the Universe.

No comments:

Post a Comment