I’m having an apocalyptic phase.  Generally, I’m a cheery person who took her Cure albums off continuous play a long time ago, but the need to read doomsday literature hits me every five to ten years.  Today’s mass media is not helping me break this cycle. Last time it was Y2K, which had me rereading King’s The Stand.  Today I blame the Mayans. So what will do us in come 2012? Looking  on the library shelves, a partial list of possibilities include:

Zombies—see World War Z by Brooks, Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, and State of Decay by Knapp

Vampires—see The Strain by del Toro and I am Legend

Climate—see Far North by Theroux, The Day after Tomorrow and Category 7

Disease—see Sleepless by Huston, Genesis by Beckett and The Children of Men by James

Nuclear—see One Second After by Forstchen and Alas, Babylon by Frank

Space—see Impact by Preston, 2012 by Streiber and Life as We Knew It by Pfeffer

War—see Without Warning by Birmingham and On the Beach by Shute

All of the Above—see Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse

Most anxiety inducing of all are the books that show a slow build up to an inevitable end.  While your typical zombie lacks the mental capacity to really scare me, Margaret Atwood’s linked novels The Year of the Flood and Oryx and Crake gave me genuine pause.  Combined, they vividly show how genetic engineering combined with sheer greed could easily bring about a “waterless flood” sweeping most of us away. Unless I’m suddenly able to read Nicholas Sparks without falling asleep, I’ll just have to weather this phase by humming REM and staying away from the Sci-Fi channel.

Am I the only one with this depressing habit?

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9 Responses

  • Bryan Posted March 22nd, 2010

    Ooh, great piece– I love a good zombie book. I can verify that World War Z was fantastic. And I’ll add one that didn’t make your list: Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry. I simply could not put this book down!

    Joe Ledger is the protagonist here; think of him as paperback fiction’s Jack Bauer. Up against a virus curated by Middle Eastern terrorists that threatens all of Western civilization, he is equally effective dispatching zombies with his bare hands as he is with a weapon. Although the book has its fair share of action, there is quite solid accompanying character and plot development. This gives the reader enough stake in both the good guys and the bad guys to ensure she’ll be turning pages at a furious rate!

    Of special note for readers in this area is the book’s local flavor. Joe Ledger is ex-Baltimore PD, and much of the book is set in eastern Maryland. Elkton even gets mentioned by name! Other notable scenes occur in Claymont, DE and Philadelphia.

    Weaving apocalyptic doom, counter-terrorism, government-agency intrigue, detailed action sequences, love stories of varying degree, psychoanalysis of all of the above, a home-town feel, and best of all, ZOMBIES, he created a thrill-ride I didn’t want to get off. Highly recommended.

  • Tim Posted March 22nd, 2010

    You forgot McCarthy’s the mega-hit “The Road” now a major motion picture. There sure have been a lot of “everyone in the world is dead or dying except me” type books recently.

  • Tony Posted March 23rd, 2010

    I just finished reading “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, by Philip K. Dick (which is the novel that the movie Bladerunner was based off of). It takes place in a future that’s been decimated by nuclear war, and is good for a little bit of apocalyptic reading.

  • Leah Posted March 23rd, 2010

    Great review, Bryan! I’m pretty sure that a “24 meets zombies” would be pretty fantastic. I love that kind of stuff. I can’t believe a book mentions Elkton. Crazy.

  • EJ Posted March 23rd, 2010

    Per your recommendation, I just watched Shaun of the Dead – very entertaining.

  • anonymous Posted March 24th, 2010

    Zombieland was hilarious.

  • Ashley Posted March 24th, 2010

    Maybe something a little more lighthearted amidst the threat of apocalypse? “Generation Dead” by Dan Waters is a silly little love story… with zombies! The end may be near, but we might as well laugh a little!

  • David Posted March 24th, 2010

    There’s also an interesting DVD series called “Life After People” that we have here at the library. Want to see Manhattan overgrown with trees and vines? Pretty cool.

  • Monica Posted March 25th, 2010

    My personal favorite is Death from the Skies: These are the ways the World will End by Philip Plait. Its a nonfiction book but Plait (an astronomer and the author of the website badastronomy.com) offers a side splitting narrative about the many, many, many, many ways the human race could disappear from the earth. From tempature extremes (think a’la The Day After Tomorrow) to supernova explosions in deep space this book definately had me thinking about 12/21/2012!