Post-Apocalypse
The unveiling of the deeper self of humanity
- Barbara Marx Hubbard


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The Chrysalids
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 'cosy catastrophe' writer John Wyndham and easy to read - so much so that it has been 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 version. 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. On the Beach is a remarkably convincing portrait of how ordinary people might face the most unimaginable nightmare.





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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. An interesting take on the theory that history runs in cycles. Winner of the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel and widely considered one of the classics of speculative fiction.





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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, it ravages the United States, a thousand years of civilization are stripped away overnight. People have to learn to survive in a whole new type of world. The novel is on the comeback trail owing to terrorism and renewed feelings of insecurity in America.





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The Drowned World
by J.G. Ballard (1962)


Ballard was the New Wave master of post-disaster surrealism. This one kicked off a trio of books on the theme, which also includes The Burning World (1964) and The Crystal World (1966). Drowned sees solar activity melt the polar ice caps, turning cities into swamps in the process. A group sets out to discover their distant past. An early treatise on environmental collapse.





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Dreamsnake
by Vonda N. McIntyre (1967)


Set after a nuclear holocaust, explorations of gender abound in this story of a healer who uses medicinal snakes to treat her patients. Her prized alien dreamsnake gets killed and she sets off to look for another one. Ursula Le Guin notes that, "Merideth is the first non-gendered non-alien character I ever met in fiction." Most of us didnít seem to notice.





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Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
by Kate Wilhelm (1976)


The spellbinding story of an isolated post-holocaust community determined to preserve itself, through a perilous experiment in cloning. Sweeping, dramatic, rich with humanity, and rigorous in its science, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang is widely regarded as a high point of both humanistic and hard sci-fi, winning the Hugo Award and Locus Award on its first publication.





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Lucifer's Hammer
by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle (1977)


Earth is on a collision course with a huge comet. For millionaire Tim Hamner, the comet he helped discover is a ticket to immortality. For filmmaker Harvey Randall, it's a chance to redeem a flagging career. And for astronauts John Baker and Rick Delanty, it's a second chance for glory in outer space. There is a nice bit of US/USSR cooperation when China launches a nuclear attack on Russia.





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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 bring hope to others fending off a hypersurvivalist army and help rebuild a better future.


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