28 March 2012

The World Ends on Wednesday #2 - Oldies but Goodies

Apocalypses, zombies, dystopias are all hot property right now and cross all genres - romance, YA, horror, literature. But some of my favourite TEOTWAWKI books weren't written recently - in fact the 1950s and 1960s inspired dozen of books based on the nuclear threats of the Cold War and still have relevance in post-apocalyptic fiction today.
The first post-apocalyptic stories I read were some of those modern classics, and today I'm going to share with you two of my personal favourites:

Earth Abides by George R. Stewart

Originally published: 1949 (63 years ago)

Pages: 345

A disease of unparalleled destructive force has sprung up almost simultaneously in every corner of the globe, all but destroying the human race. One survivor, strangely immune to the effects of the epidemic, ventures forward to experience a world without man. What he ultimately discovers will prove far more astonishing than anything he'd either dreaded or hoped for.

Imagine coming back from your relaxing weekend away and finding out that pretty much everyone has died from a nasty disease....which is exactly what happens to the main character in Earth Abides. More focused on the 'after' than the 'during', the main character, Ish, eventually gathers together a few survivors and sets out rebuilding his own little society. With some topics that would be more controversial today than at the time of publication, this book also poses some interesting questions about humanity.

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

Original Publication: 1959 (53 years old!)

Pages: 312

The classic apocalyptic novel that stunned the nation with its vivid portrayal of a small town's survival after nuclear holocaust devastates the country.

Alas, Babylon reads like a 1950's serial drama - and feels like it too - which I don't mean in a negative way at all, because it adds to the realism of the story. Told partly before and partly after a nuclear war, a small town struggles to survive when the rest of the world, apparently, no longer exists.
What's your favourite classic? Recommend something!

4 comments:

  1. Earth Abides sounds pretty innovative for it's time!

    ♥ Melissa @ Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

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    1. The first time I looked at the originally publication date I was shocked! Although it doesn't feel like it was written yesterday, it certainly doesn't read like it was published 63 years ago!

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  2. I agree that these are classics!

    Lately I've had The Handmaid's Tale on my mind a lot... too often... too close, but it is just an important dystopian read.

    I also loved the Octavia Butler Parable books, The Stand by Stephen King, and the MaddAddam (yet unfinished) trilogy by Margaret Atwood. Ooh also 1984, a classic, and Huxley's Brave New World.

    This is my favorite subgenre, can you tell?

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    Replies
    1. I own all of those books, but have only read The Stand and 1984 (the shame of it!).

      Also my favourite subgenre so we are in good company ;-)

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