The World After Apocalypse

Alcorn, Alfred. Extinction. Colrain Press, 2011. In 2027 climate upheavals and pollution have reached a crisis..Harvard toxicologist Helen Michaelson works to stem extinctions that are becoming routine. She must decide whether to join or oppose a conspiracy among colleagues to depopulate the world with a deadly pathogen to save what's left of nature. A new direction for Alcorn, a Belmont resident known for his curating mysteries. The Counterfeit Murder in the Museum of Man (2010), The Love Potion Murders in the Museum of Man (2009).

Asimov, Isaac, 1920-1992. I, robot. Bantam Books, 1991, c1950. The development of robot technology to a state of perfection by future civilizations is explored in nine science fiction stories.
I, robot was made into a film in 2004 starring Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Alan Tudyk, James Cromwell, Bruce Greenwood, Adrian Ricard, Chi McBride, Jerry Wasserman, Fiona Hogan.

Atwood, Margaret, 1939-. The Handmaid's Tale.  Houghton Mifflin, 1986. "This visionary novel, in which God and Government are joined, and America is run as a Puritanical Theocracy, can be read as a companion volume to Orwell's 1984-its verso, in fact. It gives you the same degree of chill, even as it suggests the varieties of tyrannical experience; it evokes the same kind of horror even as its mordant wit makes you smile."  E.L.Doctorow.
The Handmaid’s Tale was made into a film in 1990 starring Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway, Aidan Quinn, Elizabeth McGovern, Victoria Tennant, Robert Duvall.

Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker. Little, Brown and Co., 2010.  In a futuristic world, teenaged Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living, but when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl.

Bradbury, Ray, 1920-. Fahrenheit 451. Ballantine Books,1996. A classic novel of censorship and defiance, as resonant today as it was when it was first published nearly 50 years ago. "Fahrenheit 451-- the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns--"
In 1966 Fahrenheit 451 was made into a movie starring Julie Christie, Oskar Werner, Cyril Cusack, Anton Diffring, Jeremy Spenser, Alex Scott.

Brin, David, 1950-. The Postman. Bantam Books,1997, c1985. The dramatically moving saga of a man who rekindled the spirit of America through the power of a dream. He was a survivor--a wanderer who traded tales for food and shelter in the dark and savage aftermath of a devastating war. Fate touches him one chill winter's day when he borrows the jacket of a long-dead postal worker to protect himself from the cold. The old, worn uniform still has power as a symbol of hope, and with it he begins to weave his greatest tale, of a nation on the road to recovery.
The Postman was made into a film in 2009 starring Kevin Costner, Will Patton, Tom Petty, James Russo, Larenz Tate, Olivia Williams.

Burgess, Anthony, 1917-1993. A Clockwork Orange: authoritative text, backgrounds and contexts criticism. Edited by Mark Rawlinson. W.W. Norton & Co., c2011. A terrifying tale about good and evil and the meaning of human freedom, A Clockwork Orange became an instant classic when it was published in 1962 and has remained so ever since. Anthony Burgess takes us on a journey to a nightmarish future where sociopathic criminals rule the night.
In 1971 Clockwork Orange was made into a film starring Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Adrienne Corri, Miriam Karlin.

Card, Orson Scott, 1951-. Ender's Game. Tor, 1992. In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin is drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games.  Scholastic Press, 2008. In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss's skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister's place. First of a trilogy: Catching Fire (2), Mockingjay (3).
The film version of Hunger Games was released in March 2012 starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth.

Dekker, Ted and Tosca Lee. Forbidden. Center Street, 2011. Many years have passed since civilization's brush with apocalypse. The world's greatest threats have all been silenced. There is no anger, no hatred, no war. There is only perfect peace... and fear. But a terrible secret has been closely guarded for centuries: Every single soul walking the earth, though in appearance totally normal, is actually dead, long ago genetically stripped of true humanity. A vial of blood will bring a young man named Rom back to life, but the blood will also resurrect hatred, ambition, and greed.

Dick, Philip K., 1928-1982. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Ballantine Books, 1996, c1968. By 2021, the World War had killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remained coveted any living creature, and for people who couldn't afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep. . . They even built humans. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans could wreak, the government banned them from Earth. But when androids didn't want to be identified, they just blended in.

Fforde, Jasper. Shades of Grey: the road to high saffron. Thorndike Press, 2010. Part social satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, Shades of Grey tells of a battle against overwhelming odds. In a society where the ability to see the higher end of the color spectrum denotes a better social standing. 

Gibson, William, 1948-. Neuromancer. Ace Books, c1984. Here is the novel that launched the cyberpunk generation, and the first novel to win the holy trinity of science fiction: the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Philip K. Dick Award. With Neuromancer, William Gibson introduced the world to cyberspace--and science fiction has never been the same.

Heinlein, Robert A. 1907-1988. Stranger in a Strange Land.  Ace Books, c1991. Winner of the 1962 Hugo Award, this is the story of Valentine Michael Smith, born during, and the only survivor of, the first manned mission to Mars. Stranger became an emblem of the 1960s generation in its iconoclasm and free-love themes.

Huxley, Aldous, 1894-1963. Brave New World. HarperPerennial,1998. Huxley's classic tale shows a futuristic World State where all emotion, love, art, and human individuality have been replaced by social stability. An ominous warning to the world's population, this literary classic is a must-read.

James, P. D., 1920-. The Children of Men. A.A. Knopf, 1993. A story of a world with no children and no future. The human race has become infertile, and the last generation to be born is now adult. Civilization itself is crumbling as suicide and despair become commonplace.
The Children of Men was made into a film in 2003 starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Charlie Hunnam.

King, Stephen 1947-. The Stand: the complete & uncut edition. Doubleday,1990. Here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides -- or are chosen. King's apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil has been restored to its entirety.

LaHaye, Tim F., 1926-. Left Behind: a novel of the earth's last days. Tyndale House Publishers, c1995. Without any warning, passengers mysteriously disappear from their seats. Terror and chaos slowly spread not only through the plane but also worldwide as unusual events continue to unfold. For those who have been left behind, the apocalypse has just begun. This fictional account of life after the Rapture delivers an urgent call to today's readers to prepare their own hearts and minister to others. Christian tribulation theory is played out in a context around the theme of the "Rapture," based on the First Epistle to the Thessalonians.

London, Jack, 1876-1916. The Iron Heel. Empire Books, 2011. One of the earliest dystopian novels, published in 1908. It chronicles the rise of an oligarchic tyranny in the United States. A forerunner of soft science fiction novels and stories of the 1960s and 1970s, the book stresses future changes in society and politics while paying much less attention to technological changes. Wikipedia

Lowry, Lois, 1937-. The Giver.  Houghton Mifflin, 1993.   Since winning the Newbery Medal in 1994, The Giver has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.

McCarthy, Cormac, 1933-. The Road.  Vintage International, c2008. An unflinching meditation of the worst and the best that people are capable of--ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation. 
In 2010 The Road was made into a film starring Viggo Mortensen, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce, Charlize Theron, Kodi Smith-Mcphee.

Miller, Walter M., 1923-1996. A Canticle for Leibowitz.  Gregg Press, 1975, c1959. As 1984 cautioned against Stalinism, so 1959's A Canticle for Leibowitz warns of the threat and implications of nuclear annihilation. Following a cloister of monks in their Utah abbey over some six or seven hundred years, the funny but bleak Canticle tackles the sociological and religious implications of the cyclical rise and fall of civilization, questioning whether humanity can hope for more than repeating its own history.

Murakami, Haruki. 1Q84; translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel. Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell's. 1Q84 is Haruki Murakami's most ambitious undertaking yet; an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination.    

Orwell, George, 1903-1950. Animal Farm: a fairy story. Signet Classic, [1996]. Why should animals work so hard and allow humans to reap all the benefits? The animals rebel, chase the people off the farm, and set up a new society. A clever fable, this is also a bleak picture of a totalitarian society.
The 1999 film version of Animal Farm features the voices of Kelsey Grammer, Ian Holm, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Julia Ormond, Pete Postlethwaite, Paul Scofield, Patrick Stewart, Peter Ustinov.

Orwell, George, 1903-1950. Nineteen Eighty-Four. Plume, 2003.  Thought Police. Big Brother. Orwellian. These words have entered our vocabulary because of George Orwell's classic dystopian novel, 1984. The story of one man's nightmare odyssey as he pursues a forbidden love affair through a world ruled by warring states and a power structure that controls not only information but also individual thought and memory.
The film version of 1984 stars John Hurt, Richard Burton, Suzanna Hamilton, Cyril Cusack. Released in 1984.

Perrotta, Tom, 1961-.  The Leftovers. St. Martin's Press, 2011. What if—whoosh, right now, with no explanation—a number of us simply vanished?  Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside down? That’s what the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, who lost many of their neighbors, friends and lovers in the event known as the Sudden Departure, have to figure out. Because nothing has been the same since it happened—not marriages, not friendships, not even the relationships between parents and children. 

Shute, Nevil, 1899-1960. On the Beach. Ballantine Books, 1974, c1957. A novel about the survivors of an atomic war, who face an inevitable end as radiation poisoning moves toward Australia from the North. “The most haunting evocation we have of a world dying of radiation after an atomic war.” The New York Times.
On the Beach was released in 1959 starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, Anthony Perkins, Donna Anderson.

Stephenson, Neal, 1959-. Snow Crash
. Bantam Books, 2003, c1992.  This novel depicts a twenty-first-century America that has turned into the classic urban jungle, with most people plugged into "virtual reality" simulations. A computer virus threatens the electronics, and a new drug called Snow Crash threatens human health. A maverick hacker calling himself Hiro Protagonist winds up fighting both.

Takami, Koushun. Battle Royale; translated by Yuji Oniki. Haikasoru, 2009. With unemployment at an all-time high and violence amongst school children almost out of control, the Japanese government introduces the "Battle Royale Act." A randomly chosen school class is taken to a deserted island and forced to fight each other to the death. One pupil only is allowed to survive as proof of the lengths to which the government is prepared to go to end the violence.
Battle Royale was made into a film in 2000.

Vonnegut, Kurt, 1922 - 2007. Cat's Cradle.  Dial Press, 2006, c1963. Vonnegut’s satirical commentary on modern man and his madness. An apocalyptic tale of this planet’s ultimate fate, it features a midget as the protagonist, a complete, original theology created by a calypso singer, and a vision of the future that is at once blackly fatalistic and hilariously funny.

Vonnegut, Kurt. Galápagos. Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence, c1985. A small group of apocalypse survivors stranded on the Galapagos Islands are about to become the progenitors of a brave new human race. 

Walker, Karen Thompson. The Age of Miracles. Random House, c2012. Imagines the coming-of-age story of young Julia, whose world is thrown into upheaval when it is discovered that the Earth's rotation has suddenly begun to slow, posing a catastrophic threat to all life. 

Wilhelm, Kate, 1928-. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. Harper & Row, c1976. The spellbinding story of an isolated post-holocaust community determined to preserve itself, through a perilous experiment in cloning. Sweeping, dramatic, rich with humanity, and rigorous in its science, Where Later the Sweet Birds Sang is widely regarded as a high point of both humanistic and "hard" SF, and won SF's Hugo Award and Locus Award on its first publication. 

Winters, Ben H. The Last Policeman. Quirk Books, c2012. When the Earth is doomed by an imminent and unavoidable asteroid collision, New Hampshire homicide detective Hank Palace considers the worth of his job in a world destined to end in six months and investigates a suspicious suicide that nobody else cares about.

Wyndham, John, 1903-1969. The Chrysalids. NYRB classics, 2008. First published in 1955, The Chyrsalids is set in the future after a devastating global nuclear war. It’s a perfectly conceived and constructed work from the classic era of science fiction, a Voltairean philosophical tale that has as much resonance in our own day, when religious and scientific dogmatism are both on the march, as when it was written during the Cold War. 

August 2012
The World After Apocalypse
Belmont Public Library  336 Concord Ave. Belmont, MA 02478   
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