Home « Forum « Story Discussion and Feedback

Forum: Story Discussion and Feedback

first Post-Apocalyptic story you ever read? Your favorite?

Wheezer

The first one I ever read was "Earth Abides" by George R. Stewart. It was first published in 1949 and I discovered it in my public library some time in the middle 1960s when I was a young teen. It had a profound effect on me and cemented my love of the genre. It remains my favorite, although "Lucifer's Hammer" takes a close second place. :D

BlinkReader

My first was "Day of Triffids", from John Wyndham.
Even today love to read it :)

My favorites are "Lucifer's Hammer" from Larry Niven, earlier mentioned Day of Triffids", "The Postman" from David Brin and "Aftermath" from All Steiner

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@BlinkReader

My first was "Day of Triffids", from John Wyndham.


ditto, also agree with the others you list. I'd also add Niven's Footfall as being worth a read.

Dicrostonyx

It depends a bit on how you define "post-apocalyptic". I first read de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall when I was about 10 or 11; it was one of the first books I read that wasn't Hardy Boys or equivalent.

Whether that counts as PA though is open to interpretation. It's an alternate history/ time-travel in Rome after the fall, but de Camp wrote the invaders as benevolent overlords. Plus, having re-read it more recently, I'm pretty sure that I missed a lot of the subtext on my first read.

Discounting Lest Darkness Fall, my first would probably be Wyndham's The Crysalids, which I would have read in school around 12 or 13.

The other PA books I recall from my early teens are The Song of Phaid the Gambler, by Mick Farren, some of Philip K. Dick's short stories, H.G.Well's The Time Machine and War of the Worlds, Heinlein's Farnham's Freehold, Gerrold's War Against the Chtorr series (or at least the first one), and a couple of Vonnegut.

I know there were a few others; I can recall bits of plot or character and some scenes, but not recall author or title. There were a couple of telepathy-apocalypse titles that I remember fairly clearly, for example.

ustourist

I was required to read Farenheit451, The Crysalids and War of the Worlds as part of English Literature when in secondary school (along with Shakespeare), so was put off them for a while. As Dicrostonyx says, it depends on the definition of post-apocalyptic, but the one I enjoyed most was set in London post-blitz, possibly because I could recognize and relate to the locations and descriptions at such a young age. Unfortunately, I can't clearly remember who the author was - possibly C Day-Lewis? - though that seems unlikely.

Replies:   Wheezer  Crumbly Writer
Wheezer

@ustourist

I was required to read Farenheit451

That's more Dystopian than Post-apocalyptic as the world is still populated - just under the heel of ruthless tyranny.

For purposes of definition, let's keep it to stories of a world where civilization has collapsed or is about to collapse due to some disaster that kills off or is about to kill off a large part of the earth's population.

ian181

I have read most of the books mentioned,but my favorite is Getting By http://storiesonline.net/s/51121/getting-by right here on SOL.

tppm
Updated:

Took a while thinking and I think it might have been H.G. Welles 'The Time Machine." Very long post apocalyptic. (The future with the eloi and the morlocks.)

Crumbly Writer

@ustourist

Farenheit451, The Crysalids and War of the Worlds

I'm sorry, but I'd classify "Farenheit 451" as "Dystopian" and "War of the Worlds" as "Alien Invasion", which are both distinct sci-fi genres. PA isn't just when a particular country/society dissolves (ex. Rome, Ancient/Modern Egypt or Modern Syria), but when ALL society rules collapse (i.e. there is no government whatsoever, and it's every man for himself).

I searched Wikipedia's list of PA movies, trying to find my first, and the majority of their listings I would not list as PA films either ("Dr. Strangeglove" and "The Dalecks"???). They also included every single Zombie movie ever made as PA stories.

I never found the first one I saw. I love "A Boy and His Dog", though (which was much later).

Replies:   tppm  Wheezer  Dicrostonyx
tppm

@Crumbly Writer

I searched Wikipedia's list of PA movies, trying to find my first, and the majority of their listings I would not list as PA films either ("Dr. Strangeglove" and "The Dalecks"???). They also included every single Zombie movie ever made as PA stories.


Any Daleck story set on Skaro would be post apocalyptic.

Wheezer

@Crumbly Writer

I never found the first one I saw. I love "A Boy and His Dog", though (which was much later).


That was a GREAT movie. Loved the ending. :D

lee6643

The first one I read was "Alas Babylon" by Pat Frank. I'd say the one that I enjoyed the most was "Aftermath" by Al Stiener. Not only did I enjoy it but was one of the main reasons I became a fan and member of SOL.

BlinkReader

Oh,

When you mentioned a film (or movie for you barbarians), I haven't seen any real good post-apocalyptic worth mentioning - each and every of them is good idea or novel turned in a terrible mess, or propaganda of studio, actor(s) or even worse - propagnda of somebody's way of living (like american or russian path, bljakkk) :(

Dicrostonyx
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I'm sorry, but I'd classify "Farenheit 451" as "Dystopian" and "War of the Worlds" as "Alien Invasion", which are both distinct sci-fi genres.


As a general rule, genres aren't exclusive. Many books and films belong to multiple genres, or belong primarily to one genre but include elements from others. Additionally, many people confuse genre with setting, at least in casual discussion.

Overall I do tend to agree that War of the Worlds probably doesn't count as post-apocalyptic, now that I've had time to consider, but not because it includes aliens. It's not PA because it depicts the apocalyptic event itself, rather than the aftermath or rebuilding. So it's the post- that's the issue.

Of course, the same issue could apply to a lot of books that are generally considered to be PA, which illustrates one of the common problems with any discussion of genre. While genres are important, they also need to be flexible; trying to define genre too finely can cause you to spiral down a rabbit hole into smaller (and sillier) definitions.


PA isn't just when a particular country/society dissolves (ex. Rome, Ancient/Modern Egypt or Modern Syria), but when ALL society rules collapse (i.e. there is no government whatsoever, and it's every man for himself).


That's a very modern definition. Today, most people tend to think globally. We hear about news from around the world almost instantly, have access to shared resources, corporations span multiple continents, and so on. Even within the lifespan of people on this board, though, that wasn't always true. I lived in Peru in the '70s and Ghana in the '80s, and we couldn't make international phone calls with any consistency; we kept in touch with family in Canada by recording audio cassettes then mailing them, and it took months for them to arrive.

So when a person has the world at their fingertips, any apocalypse which isn't global can be worked around. Prior to the 21st century, though, an apocalypse could be as small as a village. If everyone you've ever met or loved died, and you had no way of going anywhere other than walking, how could that not be apocalyptic, even if it's only a few hundred people in one valley?

@BlinkReader


I haven't seen any real good post-apocalyptic worth mentioning - each and every of them is good idea or novel turned in a terrible mess


I take, then, that you've never seen any of the Mad Max films? Nor anything from the Terminator or Matrix franchises. Planet of the Apes is based on a novel, but some of the films are still quite good.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is based on a comic, but both comic and film were written by director Hayao Miyazaki. Silent Running, The Quiet Earth, and Snowpiercer are all pretty entertaining. Even some films based on books are good, though certainly many aren't. That's just Sturgeon's Law, though.

odave44

This is by far my favorite genre, although I kind of include the "dying guy made whole and sent to a parallel world" too, because they all involve survival. My first read was also "Alas Babylon". It was a more realistic approach, except of course for the fact that fallout would have killed everyone and everything in Florida no matter how remote your location. But in 1959 I'm not sure people knew that.

Crumbly Writer

@Dicrostonyx

So when a person has the world at their fingertips, any apocalypse which isn't global can be worked around. Prior to the 21st century, though, an apocalypse could be as small as a village. If everyone you've ever met or loved died, and you had no way of going anywhere other than walking, how could that not be apocalyptic, even if it's only a few hundred people in one valley?

Again, it's largely a matter of terminology. A story about the fall of Rome wouldn't be considered post-apocalyptic, because one form of government replaces another (the invaders won). Instead it would be cataloged as "Historical fiction" or "Survival" (in the case of someone surviving a Vesuvius type volcano). Or, using another famous example, Albert] Camus' the Plague. That was portrayed as a political dissection of modern society, rather than a post-apocalyptic story of medieval Europe.

I'd also argue that "Planet of the Apes" is not post-apocalyptic, as one society (ape based) replaces another (human based), and is more about societal expectations rather than societal breakdown and the struggle to survive that breakdown (the movies, typically, takes place hundreds of years after society breaks down, then travels back--in the sequels--to detail how it occurred, making them extensions, rather than a new PA genre.

BlinkReader
Updated:

@Dicrostonyx

Ohh...

"Mad Max" - it's all about running around in some kind of vehicles. OK - number 1 has some appeal because it was fresh and from "down under" but this is not real post-apocalyptic - there is still civilization there. Other parts of this series "don't have it" (something there is just missing for me and part III is made just so somebody could earn a lot of money).

"Terminator" series is just another series of Hollywood high tech special-effect show junk like too much others - and without soul. Another in this category is "I robot" - film in flashy wrapper that totally degraded Asimov's work.

"Planet of apes" - typical american hero is saving apes from them self? Please didn't you learn anything from Goebles and Beria or your "marketing gurus" ???

"Postman" as film is putting me in apoplexy by destroying fantastic story in foul film, and there are lot more films like this where good story is degraded and made in poor, foul film (Like "I hero" in both versions I saw, and many others) ...

Only one from your list I haven't seen - Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.

But it's manga in soul :) and thank you for putting my eyes in this direction.

kimlsevier

Alas Babylon was my first.

BlinkReader

@kimlsevier

I think that's real reason behind this forum - to point us to works we have not known, that we have maybe read a looooong time ago (and have forgotten about it).

Kimlsevier, thank you very much for pointing me to another good read :)

PotomacBob

Wudda thought any story that ended modern life as we know it would count as PA. That would include the excellent Aftermath on SOL, which does have a local surviving government. Alas, Babylon is PA, even though the story begins before the apocalyptic event. On the Beach is PA - at least for a while. I wudda thot Zombie stories would be a genre of their own, and not be PA. But whatta I know? I'm just a reader.

Capt Zapp

I think the first PA book I ever read was 'Level 7' by Mordecai Roshwald. It's about how WW-III takes place, all 2 hours and 58 minutes of it, and what the survivors go through. It ends with an interesting twist.

demonmaster62

@kimlsevier

This was my first as well! Required reading in Lit. class. I have to say though, that even to this day at 53 years of age, it is still in my top 5 of favorite books of all time. It vies with the top spot on how I feel on any given day, with "The Vampire Lestat" (Best book of the series!) and "The Hobbit" (He should have stopped there! To this day, still can't read the trilogy)

I think my fondness of "Alas Babylon" is partly due to living so close to where town was supposed to be in the book. Though it has a fictional name in the book, there is no doubt that it is Christmas, Florida. (Yes there IS A town in Fla named Christmas.)

My favorite scene is the one in the telegraph office (the only means of communication after the bombs have been dropped) and the guy is trying to get a message to family in Jacksonville. There's a bright flash, the answer from Jacksonville stops mid sentence. After a couple of tries with no luck, the operator says to the guy, "I'm sorry Sir, Jacksonville doesn't seem to be there anymore."

That struck me hard as a teen, and still does.

Fia1
Updated:

Silent Endings - New Beginnings.... By Lazlong was my first AP story, although it was never finished, I still go back and read it every now and then!

Back to Top