Apocalyptic Appendages
Post-apocalyptic disaster stories and nuclear nightmares


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Earth Abides
by George R Stewart (1949)


Classic disaster story in which most of humankind is wiped out by a virus. Isherwood Williams, a survivor living in California, finds a mate and goes about helping to repopulate the earth. He becomes the last vestige of the old civilisation. The character's name paid homage to Ishi, a famous California Native American. A good read.





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The Chrysalids [vt Re-Birth]
by John Wyndham (1955)


Following a nuclear war genetic mutation runs rife and the chances of breeding pure are less than half. Mutants are hunted and destroyed as abominations of true humanity, despite the fact they may hold the key to saving the race. A wonderful book by English writer Wyndham and easy to read - so much so that it is a popular school text in many countries.





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On the Beach
by Nevil Shute (1957)


Classic post-apocalyptic soap that remains popular thanks largely to a star-studded Hollywood feature film based on it. Nuclear war breaks out accidentally and all that is left is Australia. With a deadly radioactive cloud on the way some choose suicide while others party it up. Don't expect a literary masterpiece, but still a good read.





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Alas, Babylon
by Pat Frank (1959)


A man living in a sleepy Florida town gets tipped off by his brother of an impending nuclear war. When the apocalypse comes, the town's infrastructure falls apart and people have to learn to survive in a whole new type of world. Frank's only novel of note is on the comeback trail owing to terrorism and renewed feelings of insecurity in America.





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A Canticle for Leibowitz
by Walter M Miller Jr (1959)


A nuclear holocaust sees the people turn against the technocrats they hold responsible for the disaster. Centuries later the Catholic monks of the Order of Leibowitz work to preserve the knowledge of the ancients. The theory that history runs in cycles is given an engaging theological slant told with delightful warmth and humour.





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Dhalgren
by Samuel R Delany (1975)


Bestselling campus favourite that has been alternatively hailed as both a masterpiece of avant-garde and one of the worst sci-fi books ever written. A cataclysm has distorted the space-time continuum in the near-future city of Bellona. The young hero arrives and there's lots of violence, sex & philosophy - and he writes Dhalgren.





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The Postman
by David Brin (1985)


Unfortunately, Hollywood and Kevin Costner may have set this uplifting tale of survival and hope back a notch or two. A man survives the Doomwar and fraudulently (at first) becomes a postal inspector in the Restored United States. His journey of self-discovery leads him to help rebuild a better future. A fine novel from one the 80s' best.





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The Road
by Cormac McCarthy (2006)


Already touted as McCarthy's masterpiece, a father and son trudge across a bleak post-apocalyptic landscape that is the "ashes of the late world". With most life on earth annihilated, the protagonists endure predation from bands of cannibals on their survival trek to warmer climes. Hauntingly grim, it is difficult not to be touched by the pure humanity of McCarthy's cautionary dissertation.


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