Here’s a chart of the top Post-apocalyptic science fiction books, and when they were published.
In the 1950s, people worried about communism and nuclear war, and science fiction reflected those concerns. Around 1980, it was plague and danger from space, and science fiction reflected those concerns. In a ruined and toxic future, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep.
A high-altitude nuclear bomb detonates above the US, and the resulting electromagnetic pulse (EMP) fries the entire power grid and nearly every electronic device. A nameless son and father wander a landscape blasted by an unspecified cataclysm that has destroyed most of civilization and, in the intervening years, almost all life on Earth. An indie (read: self-published) list entry, The Atlantis Plague is actually book two of a series, but its popularity and reviews are strong enough to warrant inclusion. Some reviewers have complained about Howey’s over-complicated plots, stereotypical femme fatales, and long-suffering housewives. Instead of fencing off his world and characters, Hugh Howey has actively encouraged fans to write and publish their own fan fiction. When a nuclear holocaust ravages the United States, a thousand years of civilization are stripped away overnight, and tens of millions of people are killed instantly. John Lennon was given a copy of Alas, Babylon in 1965 and spent all night reading the book, fueling his anti-war fervor and causing him to envision the people of the world attempting to crawl their way back from the horrors of a nuclear catastrophe.
It does, however, feature the effects of genetic engineering, climate change run wild, and primitive semi-humans. Earth Abides tells the story of the fall of civilization from deadly disease and its rebirth. Stephen King has stated that Earth Abides was an inspiration for his post-apocalyptic novel, The Stand (which almost made it on this list, but just wasn’t science-fictiony enough).
Unfortunately, the book dates itself with references to hippies, Black Panthers, and Women’s Libbers, and by not liking any of those groups of people. Like all the best post-apocalypse stories, the famous and well-respected On the Beach examines ordinary people facing nightmare scenarios. Sequel to fellow list-member Oryx and Crake, in The Year of the Flood, the long-feared waterless flood has occurred, altering Earth as we know it and obliterating most human life. Reviewers have noted that while the plot was sometimes chaotic, the novel’s imperfections meshed well with the flawed reality the book was trying to reflect. The Day Of The Triffids is a classic, one of the cornerstones of the post-apocalyptic genre. Emergence is one of the overlooked gems of science fiction with a small but passionate following whose glowing reviews nudged this relatively unknown book onto this list.
It follows a remarkable 11-year-old orphan girl, living in a post-apocalyptic United States.
Author Hoban was known more for his children’s books when he published Riddley Walker. I loved World War Z by Max Brooks (son of comedian and filmmaker Mel Brooks), but there wasn’t enough science in the fiction to warrant inclusion. Firelance by David Mace, I shall await your reading of such, and watch for a review….
Someone realy should have the Deathlands series on this list author James Axler, we love these books.
I’ve included a few of these in my own round-up, and it’d be great if you could check it out and let me know what you think!


Just read Wool on your recommendation and loved it and am now getting ready for Shift and Dust!!! Since I couldn’t find one, I just snagged your book NXY on my Kindle as the only means that I could find of repaying you.
Things can always be worse and you can rely on novelists to put that phrase into cold, hard words on the page.
The enduring Cold War tensions ensured these novels kept on coming but the last 10 years has also seen notable novels like The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and the popular City of Ember young adult series by Jeanne DuPrau. The concept of the apocalypse and what comes after is not limited to make-believe and pretend, either - several non-fiction books predicted a global catastrophe in December 2012 when the Mayan calendar came to an end. More apocalyptic than post-apocalyptic, this catastrophe novel is so significant because it was written in a world lacking nuclear power, atomic bombs and other man-made methods of mass destruction.
Famous for his nature writing, Jefferies penned this early science fiction novel where an unknown disaster has decimated England’s population and nature reclaims the land amid the chaos and conflict. This novel crosses into several genres (including zombies and vampires) but its protagonist, Robert Neville, appears to be the sole survivor of a viral pandemic that turns humans into vampires.
Fifty years old and still going strong, Alas Babylon is a post-nuclear war novel about the struggle for survival in a small Florida town called Fort Repose. The Devil’s Children is the third book in a trilogy where a strange noise causes humanity to hate and destroy machinery and technology with society reverting to pre-industrial times. In a post-apocalyptic world, a drifter called Gordon Krantz discovers and starts wearing a US Postal worker uniform. The vessel is USS Nathan James, a warship on patrol in the Barents Sea, and the catastrophe is a full-scale worldwide nuclear war. This lengthy novel concerns a huge earthquake that hits America causing widespread destruction and misery. Ember is the only city in a world of complete darkness and Ember’s power supplies are running low.
Bizarrely, an Oprah Book Club pick in 2007, this novel describes the journey of a father and son after some unknown disaster has destroyed the majority of life on this planet. Set in the years following a terrible global flu outbreak, this novel centers around the survival homestead of two men, and a dog named Jasper. An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy—abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions.
I'd imagine that Time wants to make sure that all post-apocalyptic fiction is either completely irrelevant or something published 50 years ago.  That's the only way to explain this list. Hey, if you like post-apoc fiction, check out my book "The Walker in the Dust" on Google Books.It's about one man who searches for meaning in the wasteland after the death of his wife. Not even during the Cold War were science fiction books about the apocalypse and life afterward so popular.
There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. But for one small town in Florida, miraculously spared, the struggle is just beginning, as men and women of all backgrounds join together to confront the darkness.
No nuclear war, no bizarro plague, no surly computers, and no genetic experiment gone haywire. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed humanity had the tools for global self-destruction. Even Oprah Winfrey turned her legion of followers on to post-apocalyptic fiction when she named The Road as a book club pick in 2007.
Firstly, lights from a meteor shower blind anyone who watches it (and that’s most people) and the visionless society completely breaks down.


The monks in a Catholic monastery in an American desert are attempting to preserve books that could save humanity. The Weathermonger (1968) and Heartsease (1969) complete the trilogy, which was written in reverse chronological order.
Left without a home, the ship and its crew explore the world’s devastation and encounter a nuclear winter, but they also struggle with internal strife as the pressure builds upon the sailors. A nuclear holocaust destroys life and two female survivors in Oregon struggle on amid the nuclear winter and plagues.
Saramago’s acclaimed story deals with an epidemic of blindness, like Day of the Triffids, in a single unknown city and how everything swiftly falls to pieces. The two men, Hig and Bangley, are an unlikely pair, certain to never mix in the world before the pandemic. But it turns out to be at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Written in vignettes as a journalistic study of the aftermath of The Great Panic (and zombie war), the book explores every aspect of survival from military tactics via land, air and sea, to personal, intimate stories of escape, to stories of humanity both triumphing and crumbling, to unusual tactics such as using the seasons against the undead. Education, food, and basic means of survival are the province of a chosen few, while the majority of the island residents must struggle to stay alive.
All that remain are a few survivors who roam the bleak landscape in search of warmth and food. The 1950s was a decade where the end of world could be found on the end of our bookshelves. Isherwood Williams, an ecologist, is one of the survivors and the novel examines how several generations adapt. Written before radiation sickness was properly understood, the book does show a functioning government attempting to help survivors. Miller was part of a bomber crew that helped destroy the Monte Cassino monastery in Italy during World War II and that experienced served as an inspiration. Small enclaves of survivors are established – some seeking to hold civilized society together and others completely abandoning it for mayhem. The survivors make a number of cross-country journeys, and camps of good and evil are established. The plot does not paint a heroic picture of the survivors and even blames them for preventing recovery from the disaster.
The inspiration for the book was the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes that rocked Louisiana with a so-called Mega Quake. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the elusive Oryx whom they both loved. Post-apocalyptic stories often take place in an agrarian, non-technological future world, or a world where only scattered elements of technology remain. I’ve recommended it many times, often loaning out my ragged personal copy, and the reviews have been utterly singular in their ringing praise. The characters exhibit acceptance of their fate – suicide is preferred to the desperate bid for survival seen in most post-apocalyptic fiction.
The book is divided into three parts – the virus which is called Captain Trips, the journeys and the final confrontation.
There is a considerable degree of blurring between this form of science fiction and that which deals with dystopias.



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