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Royal Rother

It's the end of the world as we know it

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A genre that I (much to my wife's distress!) find fascinating and offering some great novels.

 

Strangely I have never read perhaps the most famous, "On The Beach" by Neville Shute, but that's probably because I've seen the film.

 

"The Rift" by Walter J Williams is about the effects of a series of Earthquakes in the Mississippi valley. It wasn't exactly apocalyptic but a superb read with widescale devastation across the whole of America (and beyond I think, can't remember fully to be honest).

 

"Swan Song" by Robert McCammon is about the struggle for survival and good -v- evil in the aftermath of a massive nuclear war. Somewhat similar to Stephen King's "The Stand" also a great read, but better IMHO.

 

"Earth Abides" by George R Stewart - there are only a handful of survivors after a worldwide plague. This is about their struggle to rebuild a form of civilisation. I loved the descriptions of the empty cities, and the gradual decay over a 60 year period of everything that civilisation had constructed. A fascinating read (written in the 40s I think) that really makes you think.

 

I am currently reading "Lucifer's Hammer" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle - a comet smashes into Earth and causes devastation on a massive scale. Tsunami wipes out evrything in its path, all across the globe.

 

Any recommendations for me? And have any of you read these? (I know Just RY has because he recommended them to me in the first place.)

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Hope you don't mind me butting in - but can you explain what the attraction of this genre is? I guess I tend to find the whole idea too depressing to make me even want to start reading.

 

Genuinely interested to understand why they appeal so much....

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On another thread earlier today, someone described why they enjoy fantasy books so much - and I think the attractions are similar. I would love to expand on this, but I have a train to catch (and Stephen Donaldson's latest book to entertain me on my journey back to Sussex).

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I would add to that list "Final Impact" by Yvonne Navarro, if you can find it. Not a bad book, similar to Lucifer's Hammer, but the characters have some 'unique' abilities. On the whole a good book.

 

One novel that often appears on "End of the world" lists is (I think), the last ship. Basically a destroyer that survives a nuclear holocaust. I found it a bit simple, and would not recommend it.

 

I think the reason people enjoy this genre is because don't we all want to know how we would survive (or not as the case may be)? The world will end one day, it may either be gradual, or as a relut of a man made or natural catastrophe. It may or may not be in our lifetime, so as far as I am concerned, it isn't really science fiction in its truest sense, but more of a "what if". As for this type of book being depressing, an understandable reaction perhaps, but more often than not, there is always at least one survivor..........

 

Oh, and RR, read Shute's book, a classic of the genre, and so much better than the movie.

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Claire poses a question that I find difficult to answer really. I suppose there must be a "proper" reason, and I am usually quite good at getting deep about my stuff but this one's a toughie. I feel I should have a go though!

 

Actually I don't think it's especially deep in my case - I just enjoy peace and tranquility and there'd be plenty of that if I was a survivor!

 

You don't have to tell me how far off base that is, as in reality it would be hell on Earth, but I think that's the root of it.

 

The bits I enjoy most are the descriptions of how the devastation occurs, (particularly good in "Swan Song" and "The Rift"), the rebuilding of mini-communities, and the tumbleweed effect in big cities. Sometimes when I'm driving and there's not a sign of a soul or a light anywhere I daydream briefly that I am alone, really ALONE....

 

As a (single digit) kid, I used to fantasise about my school being under 50' of water and having to dive down to rescue stuff from the playground, so maybe it's always been with me...

 

If I sound weird, do let me know! :)

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Well - maybe a little wierd ;) Interesting answers, though - thank you.

 

(I used to fantasise I could fly around the school playground - and I used my amazing ability for nothing better than to win games of hide and seek by hiding on the classroom roof :rolleyes: )

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I'm a big fan of disaster films but haven't read that many books of the same subject apart from John Wyndham and John Christopher which I suppose counts. I love "The Stand" so "Swan Song" sounds very appealing - this book group has opened my eyes to so many different books, its fantastic!

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Every time I see the title of this thread, I think:

 

It's the End of the World as we Know it....but I Feel Fine

 

Can anyone place where that comes from? - it's bugging me.

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Any recommendations for me? And have any of you read these? (I know Just RY has because he recommended them to me in the first place.)

 

*****************

 

Do you read fantasy at all?

 

The Thomas Covenant double trilogy? It is not this world but an imaginary one and the story and the characters are great. There are six books in all and a seventh has just been published recently. I read the books a long time ago and have reread them several times. They are good but I would say "dark", which sounds like it might be right up your alley.

 

Trudy

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I haven't although a friend has recommended them to me before and I think they have been referred to on other threads in this website as being a good read. I'll have to put them on my list. Thanks.

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Yes, I take every opportunity I can get to mention the Thomas Covenant books! "Dark" is as good a word as any, I guess, although "heavy" would prabably do. Somehow, though, they are addictive, and I'm enjoying book 7 more than I did the first 6.

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I really enjoy the End of the World books as well, don't know why, not the happiest of subjects.

 

"Down to a Sunless Sea" by David Graham, is a very good example of this genre. It is another nuclear war themed book, but is about a passenger airplane trying to find a safe place to land during a nuclear holocaust. It's a very good read, but pretty depressing. It's a few years since I have read it, but will have to wait for my brother to finish reading it before I can read it again. It has become a bit of a family favourite, it's my Dad's book, and both my brothers and I love it! Strange family.

 

I would also recommend some of J.G.Ballard's earlier works if you like this genre. "The Drought", "The Wind from Nowhere" and "The Drowned World" are different workings of the the world as we know it ending. I think reading some of his more recent novels, "Cocaine Nights" and "Millennium People", that Ballard has a fairly poor opinion of the human race!

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Whether or not it counts as the end of the world, and I know its natural home is more likely to be on the horror threads, but World War Z by Max Brooks I found to be a compelling read.

 

It takes a long term view of the old film chestnut of zombies taking over the earth. I felt that the way the author had thought through the problems posed by different environments and situations and how people react was excellent. Plus he painted some amazing pictures in my mind.

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Whether or not it counts as the end of the world, and I know its natural home is more likely to be on the horror threads, but World War Z by Max Brooks I found to be a compelling read.

I enjoyed World War Z too. "Did exactly what it said on the tin." So to speak.

I read Cat's Cradle (Vonnegut) recently too. It is about the end of the world but, unusually, that isn't the main focus of the book. It's character driven. You learn more about the characters that cause the devastation more than the actual event itself.

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Not quite on the subject, but Time by Stephen Baxter features the end of the universe part way through - the world having (implicitly) ended some time previously. It does mention this in the blurb on the back so not really a spolier.

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This is still a genre I "enjoy" reading. I am currently half way through "On the Beach" by Nevil Shute and it is compelling reading. I will have to track the film down as well.

 

I recently read "Children of the Dust" by Louise Lawrence. This is a teenage fiction take on life after a nuclear holocaust and for the subsequent generations. There are some fairly realistic descriptions of radiation poisioning in the first part but the book gradually becomes more optimistic.

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i think the second chance given those who survive and live to carry on the human race (obviously much much wiser for having gone through the end of the world as we know it) is a very appealing aspect. most end of the world books include great hope - the uniting of what's left of mankind to overcome great odds; to perservre and rebuild; to learn to cooperate and become better people ... that's appealing.

 

that.... and a lot of great action!! it is interesting to see how end of the world novels have changed over the years. we went from nuclear holocaust / meteors from outer space to biological and environmental disasters.

 

i too really like 'The Road' which was mentioned in an early post. the writing is cut-to-the-bone sparse much like the landscape the father and son walk through. there are no answers, no explanations for what has happened; not much hope for the future either ... but while the story may be grim, the writing is just top notch.

 

another one to add to your list is Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake. it was up for the Booker prize the year it was published.

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