My Top 10 Post Apocalyptic Novels:The Strange Apocalypse

9 03 2012

There are a lot of traditional causes for the end of the world in apocalyptic literature. There is war, plague, alien invasion, asteroid strikes and even zombies. Yet, every once in a while you come upon an Apocalyptic novel where the means of our destruction is just weird. Also, sometimes the causes are traditional, it’s the results that are just out there. From weird machines collecting the bodies of compelled suicide victims, to a really strange trial of one of the last man on earth, there are some really weird apocalypses. Today’s Welcome to the Apocalypse will feature 10 of the strangest, yet most enjoyable post apocalyptic scenarios I have encountered. The end is here, and it ain’t exactly typical.

The Suicide Collectors by David Oppegaard

The Despair has swept the land, sending people into utter depression, and leading almost the entire worlds population to suicide. Norma has struggled to keep himself sane in this new world, where a mysterious group called The Collectors are taking the bodies of the victims for some unknown reasons. Normal travels from Florida to Seattle, trying to avoid the Collectors, in search of a cadre of scientist who may be working on a cure. The Suicide Collectors is a strange, dark vision of a Post Apocalyptic America.

Audiobook Version: There is an audiobook version from Books n Tape, read by Robertson Dean.

This is the Way the World Ends by James Morrow

When George Paxman signed a contract admitting his culpability in any potential nuclear obliteration due to his passivity, he had no idea it would be used against him in a trial held by all the souls of those who will never live. James Morrow creates a blackly comedic metaphysical Apocalyptic scenario that at times can be quite frightening.

The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

When you die, you are transported to the City, where you live until all those who you interacted with, and remember you on earth are dead. While The City used to be quite populated, a Pandemic is sweeping through earth, eventually leaving only on person left on earth, a women isolated in Antarctica, left with dwindling supplies. As she deteriorates, her memories fade, and one by one the last denizens of The City disappear. A Brief History of the Dead is melancholy, and mesmerizing account of death and dying.

Audiobook Version: There is a audiobook version of this novel from Recorded Books read by Richard Poe.

The Conqueror Worms by Brian Keene

One day the rain starts, and it just never stops. This Deluge makes things hard, by the creatures it releases from deep within the planet makes things even harder. Two elderly West Virginian men must deal with giant worms, other survivors, and their own aging bodies to survive this Apocalyptic onslaught. Full of Keene’s typical dark humor, and Lovecraftian images, The Conqueror Worms is Apocalyptic pulp fiction at its best.

The Lizard War/The Helvereti Invasion by John Dalmas

The Lizard War series is a alternate history Apocalyptic novel. In 1983 World War III breaks out, leading to nuclear and biological devastation. After the War, some intervening force, believing that Nationalism led to the War, shuffled the inhabitants of the earth, fussing their minds making them forget the past. In this chaos, a Lizard like alien force invades the World. A small group of survivors quest through a strange new version of America to take on the evil Lizard Alien invaders.

Stranger by Simon Clark

Stranger is one of most overlooked Post Apocalyptic novels out there, yet I love it.Part of the problem with Stranger is that in many ways, it’s three very differing scenarios combined into one strange but highly readable novel. Part plague tale, part zombie thriller, with a creepy suburban bunker thrown into the mix, Stranger will never leave you comfortable about what you will find on the next page. If you can suspend disbelief for a bit  you’ll enjoy this disquieting and schizophrenic Apocalyptic journey.

The Snow by Adam Roberts

When the snow first started falling, people were happy. But then it just kept snowing. Now the snow is 3 miles think encircling the entire Earth, and only 150,000 people remain. The first part of the novel follows the Survivors as they deal with the snow, creating tunnels, and examining the inhabitants left behind. The second novel explore the strange, dystopian ruling system set up by the Survivors of this strange Apocalyptic setting.

Idlewild by Nick Sagan

Idlewild is a strange vision of an apocalyptic future where the earth’s last hopes are put into the hands of eight strange people, being raised to survive the plague in a virtual reality world. When one of these people awake, with no memory in a strange world he must figure out who he is, and who is trying to kill him. Idlewild is a brilliantly strange Apocalyptic tale.

Audiobook Version: There is an audiobook version of Idlewild narrated by Clayton Barclay Jones for the Highbridge Company.

Vanishing Point by Michaela Roessner

One day, 90% of the people of the world just disappear. Those left behind, with no explanation of what happened, now live in their grief. With roving religious zealots plague the land, a small group makes a decent do of it in California, working together and investigating The Disappearance. The answers they find come off a but pat, but with an interesting sort of new physics behind it just weird enough to put it on this list.

The Wind from Nowhere by JG Ballard

One of the strangest apocalyptic novels I have read just happens to be JG Ballard’s first novel The Wind from Nowhere. It starts as a stiff breeze but everyday it gets a bit stronger. No scientist can explain it, but can only study and measure it, which in the end is an exercise in futility. As the winds continue to increase, at a rate of 5 MPH a day, people must learn to adapt, or become literally blown away. In his early years Ballard put together a bunch of strange apocalyptic and dystopian novels, and this one is easily his strangest.

Welcome to the Apocalypse Panel Picks

Now that you’ve heard from me, it’s time for some better opinions. Our “Welcome to the Apocalypse” Panel offers their own picks for the Apocalypse of the Stange.

Jacob Kier is the publisher of Permuted Press, one of my favorite publishing companies, which specializes in Post Apocalyptic and Zombie fiction. Their recent deals with Audible has brought some of their top Zombie fiction to the Audiobook world. Check out the Permuted Press Facebook Page, or follow them on Twitter @PermutedPress. His choice for strange Apocalypse is another excellent Simon Clark novel.

Blood Crazy by Simon Clark

One of my favorite “Strange Apocalypses” takes place in Simon Clark’s Blood Crazy. Everyone over 18 goes insane and attacks the children.  It’s a bit like 28 Days Later crossed with Lord of the Flies and it’s fantastic.  In fact I credit it with being one of the novels that inspired the start of Permuted Press.

Tim aka Fear Death by Water runs the Post Apocalyptic Blog Cozy Catastophe and is an Apocalyptic superfan whose Post Apocalyptic reading list eclipses my own. You can find him on twitter at @CosyCatastrophy. His choice is not only a very strange Apocalypse, but one that scared the crap out of me.

The Nature of Balance by Tim Lebbon

Have you ever had that dream where you are falling? General consensus/scuttlebutt says that if you don’t wake up you die. What if the myth were true? What if one night everyone had the falling dream at the same time but weren’t able to snap themselves out of it? The only way to survive would be to somehow wake yourself up or to land in something soft.

Blane is such a person. He awakens to a world much reduced in population, one with bedrooms filled with shattered, flattened corpses that to all appearances fell from an incredible height. He is man more comfortable with the natural world than with the world of man but now he has to come to terms with a natural world that has rejected humanity.

Clemens P. Suter is the author of the apocalyptic Novel Two Journeys. You can find his at his blogs Two Journeys or his personal blog. You can also find him on Facebook or on Twitter @two_journeys. His choice today, is also one of my all time favorite Post Apocalyptic novels.

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

The Day of the Triffids is a post-apocalyptic novel about aggressive plants taking over the world, published in 1951 by the English science fiction author John Wyndham. The story is indeed a weird one, with plant-like creatures, engineered in a Russian laboratory, blinding and finally exterminating mankind. We now know that Wyndham’s novel made the author famous, and that it is regarded as a classic piece of literature; but if you would be unaware of that fame, the synopsis sounds like something out of a B-movie and can only make you go “duh?”



One response

9 03 2012

I’ve only read The Conqueror Worms by Keene and agree it’s great pulpy fun. It looks like I have a bit of catching up to do!

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