This month, we’ve got the theme of the End of the World. This ranges from standing apocalypse to successful invasions. So, shall we crack on? It’s not like there’s much time left…
Removing his bandages, he finds that most of the Earth’s population has been rendered sightless from this so called natural phenomenon, and that they may not have been natural at all – they may have even been part of a plan for a full-scale invasion on the human race.
The Triffids revel in the sightless world and kill humans with their poisonous stings. It seems that nothing will stop them from eradicating the human race.
This is the end of the world as Bill knows it.
The Day of the Triffids is though provoking as well as terrifying. A product of its time, it plays perfectly to world-wide fears of the destruction of the human race – and it shows just how terrible the human race is in the first place. Wyndham write a gripping, scary and bleak future: a future that resonates alarmingly closely to what we fear today.
Arthur Dent wakes up one morning to discover that his planet is doomed. A fleet of enormous spaceships are hovering overhead, announcing that Earth must be demolished to make way for a new hyperspace expressway. The alien fleet is very apologetic about the whole thing, though they’re a little irritated that humanity never submitted their complaints through the proper channels. And with that, the Earth is vaporised, leaving Arthur the only survivor. Then the actual story happens.
So, in its own crazy way, Hitchhiker’s is a post-apocalyptic novel, at least for Arthur. What’s great is how nobody else acts like it’s a big deal. Even Trillian – the only other human in the universe – barely cares that her planet is gone. It’s treated as a normal, unavoidable part of life in the galaxy. Just one of those things, y’know. Nobody cares that corperations and governments will nuke planets without warning because, after all, you’ve got to build hyperspace bypasses somewhere.
We’ve seen apocalypses caused by meteors and demonic forces and nuclear war – we’ve seen zombies overrun the world and aliens conquer it – but only The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy shows us an apocalypse caused by bureaucracy and apathy. And yet, in some ways, it’s an end that seems far more likely.
Apart from being a weighty tome if you get your hands on a physical copy, Cronin’s The Passage has one of the most detailed explorations of an apocalypse I’ve ever seen. It’s a vast novel looking at how one quest for answers basically destroyed the world, serving as a warning against the pursuit of scientific goals without considering the consequences. Not that I completely agree with its anti-science outlook.
Rather than zombies, it’s super efficient vampires (not the Dracula kind though) that are out for blood and ruin the world as we know it, sending it back to a sort of pre-tech age with little to no contact between small outposts of humans. It’s very all encompassing in its scope, and you’re given little room to think things could have gone differently. I would also say that perhaps it does an even more chilling job looking at the foolishness of man than Brooks’ World War Z even managed to achieve.
While the novel does sprawl, if you’re after something that deals with events leading up to an apocalypse and then what happens in a post-apocalyptic world: it’s a fascinating read. Just don’t expect to finish it quickly or ever feel comfortable about going into deserted buildings ever again.
Good Omens tells the story of the Anti-Christ, the child that will signal the end of the world. Now, the end of the world is never an easy concept to sell, but like Douglas Adams before them, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman knew that the best way to make audiences swallow the particular bitter pill of Armageddon was to sprinkle it with comedy. Good Omens is still horrifying in parts (just look at the Four Horsemen or at all the maggots) but it deals with the Apocalypse is such a humorous, heart-warming and whimsically English way that the book is an absolute joy to read.
The book features a cast of brilliantly realised characters and has all the hallmarks of both authors, perfectly blending Gaiman’s macabre visuals with Pratchett’s astute social commentaries. Good Omens is a book written by two of England’s greatest authors, both at the top of the respective games, and works so well because, despite being a book about the end of all things, it is actually a celebration of the normality of life.