I’ve neglected this challenge for several months now. After reading On the Beach by Nevil Shute I needed a break. For those who don’t remember, this is my own personal challenge to read classic post-apocalypse fiction (pre-1970s).
This is my list as it stands today. Books in red, have been read. Blue ones, I’m reading now and those with a strike-through, I gave up reading. Mini reviews/explanations at the bottom.
Mary Shelley – The Last Man 1826
H.G. Wells – The War of the Worlds 1898
Jack London – The Scarlet Plague 1912
George R. Stewart – Earth Abides 1949
Richard Matheson – I am Legend 1954
Nevil Shute – On the Beach 1957
Pat Frank – Alas, Babylon 1959
Walter M. Miller Jr. – A Canticle for Leibowitz 1959
J G Ballard – The Drowned World 1962
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep 1968 (filmed as Blade Runner)
I added Matheson’s I am Legend to the list since it fits with the theme. I read it several years back and it’s on my top ten of the best vampire and post-apocalyptic books. If you’ve seen the movie, but not read the book you are sorely missing out.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep was such an odd book, but I couldn’t help but get sucked into the bizarre post-apocalyptic world Philip K Dick created. I’ve read elsewhere how this book relates in no way to the movie (Blade Runner) except in character names. I disagree. Yes, in many ways it’s a far cry from the movie, but the I could see the core plot alive and well.
The Last Man by Mary Shelley… Ugh… I could not stay awake to read this book. Sentences that went on and on — paragraph sized sentences!! The book was so wordy my brain felt like I was trying to say tongue twisters over and over. I’m sorry Mary Shelley, but I can’t read your book for fear of brain hemorrhage.
On the Beach was a harrowing journey into the minds of a community who knew their days were numbered. I had to put the book down about three quarters of the way through–I couldn’t go any further. The pain, the denial, the heartache and the multitude of other feelings swirling through its pages make it stand out as one of the best in classic post-apocalyptic literature. Shute’s vision of the last days–how we might all react and cope–is chilling.
Earth Abides and A Canticle for Leibowitz were read before I realized I was going to search out and read these classics. Both books are five star reads for incredible writing and depth of vision.
Next of the List:
The Drowned World by JG Ballard. I’ve found a copy of The Drowned World and The Wind from Nowhere through our library system, and I’ve put it on hold. There is a website for Ballard, but I prefer his Wikipedia page (for curious minds like mine).