Friday Favourite: 7 Great Post-Apocalypse Books

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on December 6, 2013

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From November 2, 2012, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: 7 Great Post-Apocalypse Books.

What does a nuclear war, a plague, zombies, and robots all have in common? They could all lead to the apocalypse and bring about the end of the world. In fact some of the best works of fiction are part of the sub-genre the deals with the aftermath of a disaster that nearly wipes out the human population. In each of these tales the apocalypse serves as the back-drop for a survival story. The best stories don’t spend too much time focusing on the cause of the disaster and instead explain who survived and how they survived. In each story unlikely heroes emerge and try to put back the pieces of the shattered world that they once knew. I always find it fascinating to discover that it’s usually a combination of luck and preparation that keep people alive when the world comes to an end.

With the recent success of NBC’s new show Revolution (Wikipedia |, the post-apocalyptic survival genre is reaching a wider and more main stream audience. So for everyone who enjoy Revolution and is looking for more of the same we’ve got plenty of good recommendations for you. At first glance it may not seem like these books could all possibly share anything in common, but in each case the world ends and a select few are left to pick up the pieces.

Post-apocalyptic survival stories are defiantly one of my favourite genres. Any time I hear about a new story in this vein I immediately check it out. More and more of these stories are becoming movies, but in some cases the transition is an apocalypse in and of itself (The Postman, we’re looking at you!). So do yourself a favour and pick up some (or all) of these books before they’re stripped down and streamlined for the big screen.

These are definitely (in my opinion) the best examples of the post-apocalyptic survival genre. This is certainly not an exhaustive list but these are the ones that are most likely to get new readers hooked on the genre. If you’ve got any recommendations of your own please leave them in the comments below.

Dies the Fire
S. M. Stirling
What happens when an EMP-like phenomena blankets the Earth leaving all electronics forever useless? Just to make things more interesting what if this same phenomena rendered all explosives (including gun powder and nuclear devices) useless as well? You’d have people who have become utterly dependent on modern technology thrust into the dark ages without any warning or preparation. Only the strong and smart will survive, while the physically powerful attempt to exert control the old-fashioned way. The author spends no time trying to explain why things changed, you just accept that they have and we move on from there. Fans of the NBC series Revolution will likely find this series fascinating and familiar.
10 on a d10
World War Z
Max Brooks
Mankind has survived the Zombie apocalypse. The story follows a U.N. investigator who is trying to piece together a complete picture of what happened and how things every got as bad as they did. The story is told through flashbacks as survivors recount their personal experiences during World War Z. This one should appeal equally to zombie fans and post-apocalyptic survival fans alike.
10 on a d10
Daniel H. Wilson
Much like World War Z this story begins at the end. Humans have defeated the robots who tried to destroy mankind. One of the resistance fighters finds a data capsule in the aftermath and using the information contained within pieces together the rise and fall of the machines. This story takes place in the not to distant future where machines and robots are even more integrated into society and our everyday lives than they already are. Reminiscent of SkyNet from the Terminator franchise a machine gains sentience and decides to destroy mankind and free the robot race.
10 on a d10
The Stand
Stephen King
A plague is accidentally released from a military research station and kills all but the 1% of people who have a natural immunity. The survivors are guided through dreams to join one of two saviours in Boulder, Colorado or Las Vegas, Nevada. As the two factions reestablish order it becomes clear that one camp is good and the other evil. When the two become aware of each others existence there is a final showdown – the stand – for control of the new world.
8 on a d10
The Postman
David Brin
Forget everything you’ve seen or heard about the Kevin Costner movie of the same name. The book is very different and way better. The world has suffered a nuclear war and the survivors live in isolated communities. A drifter wearing an old postal carrier’s uniform (which he found and wears only to keep warm) bluffs his way into a community by claiming to be a Postman delivering messages as part of the Restored United States of America. As he exploits his Postman role it inadvertently brings hope to the people. When the Postman finds scientists desperately trying to protect and repair technology he becomes an unintentional hero who helps them defend the treasures of the past from those who world rather rule by force and never look back.
8 on a d10
The Road
Cormac Mccarthy
In this grim and often depressing tale we follow a father and his son as they struggle to survive in the world after a nuclear war. This is one of the most realistic books on the list and makes no attempt to glamourize the world that remains. The main characters, identified only as man and boy, are in a constant struggle to survive the harsh and unforgiving world. Despite the book’s often depressing events, there is a loving bond between the father and son that compels you to read on. As if to mirror the world where there is never a safe place to rest, the book has no chapter breaks.
9 on a d10
The Passage
Justin Cronin
After a medical experiment goes awry, vampire-like creatures begin destroying civilization as we know it. The only survivors live in fortresses where artificial lights run 24/7. Things get really interesting when the power starts to fade and the safety of the lights begins wavering. This is the first of three novels, the second of which – The Twelve – was just released.
9 on a d10

Note: I’ve intentionally excluded comic books and graphic novels from this list, but if that’s your preferred medium I recommend The Walking Dead (Wikipedia | AMC) and Y: The Last Man (Wikipedia).

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1 Lucas December 6, 2013 at 12:35 pm

If comics are your think you should look at Wasteland – another great post-apocalyptic tale.

2 Patricia December 15, 2013 at 11:06 pm

I like One Second After by William R. Forstchen. It follows a man and his family and his town as they try to survive after an EMP event. So much of it is based in actual facts and figures that are estimated would happen if this occurred, it even includes an afterword by US Navy Captain William Sanders regarding the reports from the US EMP commission about how likely a scenario it is. It’s well-written and chillingly believable.

Apparently Warner Brothers had the rights to make this a film but they lapsed, and since 2011 it has been in negotiations for a different company to buy the film rights.

3 TMan December 16, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Another I’d recommend:
Wastelands – various authors; short story collection

Each story is different but pretty uniformly good work.

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