u.s. post-apocalyptic fiction and cultural production
The most striking thing about looking at
the bibliography of U.S. post-apocalyptic fiction seems to be also the most
banal. What catches the eye is that the number of volumes released during what
I’m calling the contemporary (2002 to 2013) phase of
post-apocalyptic fiction is greater than those released from
1946-2001. I’d like to briefly suggest that this detail doesn’t tell us as much
about the changing nature of our fears or our dreams as one might expect from a
spike in the production of stories about surviving the end of the world;
instead, I think this intensification reveals something about how cultural
production remains underpinned by the a logic of growth and can be explained,
in part, through what Chris Anderson has dubbed the long tail.[i]
That U.S. post-apocalyptic titles more than
doubled in the last decade is surely a sign that niche publishing has continued
the growth of markets for the book industry, even if those measures of growth
(1% in revenues) don’t match standards in other industries. The long tail, a
term discussed heavily in conversations about Amazon.com around marketing
smaller items to specialist audiences, proposes that it is better to have many
smaller scale products that interest a variety of different consumers than have
one or two mega commodities that everyone would buy. A prime example of this
are publishers like Permuted Press, which published post-apocalyptic and
zombie fiction, especially successful fan fiction, and whose slogan is “Enjoy
A broader cultural explanation for the
proliferation of post-apocalyptic fiction hinges on the increasing demand from
niche markets, on the one hand, and their correspondence with the direction of
marketing and publishing towards user-generated content, on the other. None of
this is meant to imply that there aren’t ideological explanations for the spike
in production of end of the world scenarios. Indeed, what I am trying to point
to here is that conditions seem perfect for precisely this type of writing. Put
another way, cultural production, rather than something like a collective
apocalyptic imagination, it seems, is a powerful place to start addressing the questions:
“why post-apocalyptic fiction” and “why now”?
I have separated this bibliography into
discrete periods based on perceptible shifts in form or style and historical
changes. For instance the long fifties
1946-1964 is the age of the bomb, with many titles bearing the impact and
anxieties of the nuclear age, while the rise of feminist and new wave sf 1965-1978 responds to generic shifts in science fiction and suggests a
correlation between post-apocalyptic fiction and other genres. That the
contemporary moment contains the greatest number of titles and widest range of
concerns is undeniable. I hope that readers of Deletion find this bibliography useful, and I welcome feedback and
the pre-fifties texts
Balmer, Edwin and Phillip Whylie. After Worlds Collide. New York: Paperback Library, (1934) 1963.
---. When Worlds Collide. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, (1933) 1999.
Donnelly, Ignatius. Caesar’s Column. LaVergne: BiblioBazaar, 2010.
England, George Allan. Darkness and Dawn. Auckland: Floating Press, (1914) 2009.
London, Jack. The Scarlet Plague. New York: The Macmillan Company, (1912) 1915.
---. The Iron Heel. London: Journeyman Press, (1908) 1974.
Serviss, Garrett P. The Second Deluge. Berkshire: HardPress Publishing, (1912) 2010.
the long fifties 1946-1964[iii]
Leigh. The Long Tomorrow. New
York: Ballantine, (1955) 1986.
William. Nova Express. NY:
Grove P, 1964.
Phillip K. Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb. New York: Ace Books, 1965.
---. The Penultimate Truth.
New York: Bluejay Books, (1964) 1984.
---. Vulcan's Hammer. New York: Ace Double, 1960.
---. The Man Who Japed. New York: Ace Books, 1956.
---. The World Jones Made. New York: Ace Book, 1956.
Daniel F. Lords of the Psychon.
New York: Bantam Books, 1963.
Robert A. Farnham's Freehold.
New York: Signet, 1964.
Richard. I Am Legend. Garden
City: Nelson Doubleday, 1954.
Merril, Judith. Shadows on the Hearth. Garden City: Doubleday, 1950.
Jr., Walter. A Canticle for
Leibowitz. New York: Bantam Books,  1997.
Norton, Andre. Starman's Son or Daybreak 2250 AD. Del Rey, (1952) 1985.
Robert. Journey Beyond Tomorrow.
London: Gollancz, (1962) 1985.
George R. Earth Abides. New
York: Random House, 1949.
Wilson A. The Long Loud Silence.
New York: Rinehart, 1952.
the rise of feminist and new
wave sf 1965-1978
Suzy McKee. Walk to the End of the
World. New York: Berkeley, (1974) 1978.
Rob. The Star-Crowned Kings.
New York: DAW-Books, 1975.
Thomas M. The Genocides. New
York: Books, 1965.
Harry. Make Room! Make Room! New
York: Ace, (1966) 1979.
Gil. Blackmark. New York: Bantam
Stephen. The Stand. New York:
Signet, (1978) 1991.
Norman. The Iron Dream. New
York: Avon, 1972.
Kate. Where Late the Sweet Birds
Sang. NY: Harper & Row, 1976.
the late cold war 1979-1989
Paul. In the Country of Last Things.
New York: Penguin Books, 1987.
Greg. Blood Music. New York:
Arbor Press, 1985.
Mitch. Time Capsule. New York:
Ballantine Books, 1988.
Steven R. Ariel. New York: Ace
David. The Postman. New York:
Bantam Books, 1985.
William. The Last Ship. New
York: Viking, 1988.
Octavia. Clay's Arc. New York:
St. Martin's P, 1984.
John. Engine Summer. New York:
Suzette Haden. Native Tongue.
NY: Daw Books, 1984.
James D. Doomsday Plus Twelve.
New York: Scribner, 1984.
Frank. The White Plague. New
York: Putnam, 1982.
James and Whitley Strieber. Warday. New
York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1984.
Sterling, E. Hiero's Journey.
Radnor: Chilton Book Co., 1983.
Tourette, Aileen. Cry Wolf.
New York: Random House, 1986.
Louise. Children of the Dust.
New York: Harper & Row, 1985.
Bernard. God’s Grace. NY:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983.
Graham Dunstan. Time-Slip. New
York: Harper Collins, 1986.
Robert R. Swan Song. New York:
Pocket Books, 1987.
James. This is the Way the World
Ends. New York: Henry Holt, 1985.
Larry and Jerry Pournelle. Lucifer’s
Hammer. New York; Del Rey, 1985.
David R. Emergence. Toronto:
Gary. The Transall Saga. New
York: Delacorte P, 1988.
Fredrik and Jack Williamson. Land’s End. New York: Tom Doherty and Associates, 1988.
William. Trinity's Child. New
York: Putnam, 1983.
Kim Stanley. The Wild Shore. New
York: Orb, (1984) 1995.
Robert. At Winter's End.
Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1988.
Sheri S. The Gate to Women's Country.
New York: Foundation Books, 1988.
Guin, Ursula. Always Coming Home. Berkeley: U of California P, (1985) 2001.
Vonnegut, Kurt. Galápagos.
NY: Delacorte P, 1985.
Paul O. The Fall of the Shell.
New York: Ballantine Books, 1982.
Gene. The Island of Dr. Death and
Other Stories and Other Stories. New York: Orb Books, (1980) 1997.
the long nineties 1989-2001[iv]
Kevin J. and Doug Beason. Ill Wind.
New York: Forge, 1995.
Will. Shadow Hunter. New
York: Pocket Books, 1993.
---. Star Beast. London: Hodder &
LeVar. Aftermath. New York:
Octavia. Parable of the Sower.
New York: Aspect, 1995.
---. Parable of the Talents. New York :
Gordon R. Wolf and Iron. New
York: T. Doherty Associates, 1990.
Eric L. Arc Light. New York, Simon
and Schuster, 1996.
Cynthia. In the Heart of the Valley
of Love. NY: Viking, 1992.
Marilyn. The Return. New York:
Avon Books, 1999.
---. The Convergence. New York: Avon Books,
---. The Vanishing. New York: Avon Books,
Tim & Jerry B. Jenkins. Left
Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days. Carol
Stream: Tyndale House,
Jonathan. Amnesia Moon. San
Diego: Harcourt and Brace, 1995.
Jack. Eternity Road. Norwalk:
Easton Press, 1997.
Jr., Walter. Saint Leibowitz and the
Wild Horse Woman. New York: Bantam Dell Publishing Group, 1997.
Marge. He, She, and It. NY:
Fawcett Crest, 1991.
Starhawk. The Fifth Sacred Thing. New York:
Walter John. The Rift. New York:
Harper Collins, 1999.
M. K. A Gift Upon the Shore. New
York, Ballantine Books, 1990.
the contemporary 2002-2013
Chris. The Children's Hospital. San Fransisco: McSweeney's, 2006.
Marcus. The Oblivion Society. Permuted P, 2007.
Amsterdam, Steven. Things We Didn’t See
Coming. New York: Pantheon, 2010.
Paolo. Ship Breaker. New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 2010.
Windup Girl. San Francisco: Nightshade Books, 2009.
John. Directive 51. New York: Ace Books, 2010.
Boyett, Steven R. Mortality Bridge. New York; Subterranean Press, 2011.
---. Elegy Beach: A Book of the Change. New York: Ace Books, 2009.
Bradley, Darin. Noise. New
York: Spectra Ballantine Books, 2010.
Braziel, James. Snakeskin Road. New
York: Bantam Books, 2009.
---. Birmingham, 35 Miles. New York: Bantam Books, 2008.
Max. World War Z. New York: Crown, 2006.
Brown, Eric. Guardians of the Phoenix. Oxford: Solaris, 2010.
Mark. Clade. New York: Bantam Books, 2003.
Jeff. Plague Year. New York: Ace Books, 2007.
War. New York: Ace Books, 2008.
Zone. New York: Ace Books, 2009.
Collins, Paul. The Skyborn.
New York: Starscape, 2005.
Justin. The Passage. New York: Ballantine Books, 2010.
Twelve. New York: Ballantine Books, 2012.
Alan. Total Oblivion, More or Less. Spectra: 2009.
Jeanne. The City of Ember. New York: Random House, 2003.
People of Sparks. New York: Random House, 2004.
Diamond of Darkhold. New York: Random House, 2008.
Hiroki. Eden. Vol. 1, It’s an Endless World. Milwaukie: Dark Horse,
Evenson, Brian. Immobility. New
York: Tor Books, 2012.
William R. One Second After. New York: Forge, 2009.
Gischler, Victor. Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse.
NY: Touchstone Books, 2008.
Mark. The Afterblight Chronicles: America. Oxford: Abaddon, 2011.
Marcus Alexander. The Oblivion Society Edition 2.0. Permuted Press,
Lesley. Nomansland. New York: Henry Holt, 2012.
Heller, Peter. The Dog Stars. New
York: Knopf, 2012.
Hugh. Wool. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2013.
Theodore. Fitzpatrick's War. New York: DAW Books, 2004.
Paul. Arrowhead. Oxford: Abaddon, 2008.
Christopher and Johnathan Rand. Pandemia. Topinabee Island: AudioCraft,
Dani & Eytan Kollin. The Unincorporated Man.Tom Doherty, 2009.
James. The Witch of Hebron. New York: Grove Press, 2011.
Made by Hand. New York: Atlantic Monthly P, 2008.
Ardath. The World Ends in Hickory Hollow. Garden City: Doubleday,
Cormac. The Road. New York: Vintage, 2006.
Will. Soft Apocalypse. San Francisco: Night Shade Books, 2011.
Weston. Blood Ocean. Oxford: Abaddon Books, 2012.
Susan Beth. Life as We Knew It. Orlando: Harcourt, 2006.
Dead and the Gone. New York: Random House, 2008.
John. The Last Centurion. Baen Books, 2008.
Kim Stanley. Sixty Days and Counting. London: Harper Collins, 2007.
Degrees Below. London: Harper Collins, 2006.
Signs of Rain. London: Harper Collins, 2004.
of Rice and Salt. New York: Bantman Books, 2002.
Sagan, Nick. Idlewild. New York:
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2003.
---. Edenborn. New York: G.P.
Putnam’s Sons, 2004.
---. Everfree. New York: G.P.
Putnam’s Sons, 2006.
Matthew. Jamestown. Orlando: A Harvest Book, 2007.
Brian Francis. Liberation: Being the
Adventures of the Slick Six After the Collapse
of the United States of America.
New York: Tor, 2008.
Rawles, James. Founders: A
Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse. Berkeley:
Ulysses P., 2012.
Survivors: A novel of the Coming Collapse.
New York: Pocket Books, 2011.
---. Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming
Collapse. Berkeley: Ulysses P., 2009.
Wilson, Robert Charles. Julian Comstock: A
Story of 22nd-Century America. New York: Tor,
Winters, Ben. The Last Policeman.
Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2013.
Colson. Zone One. New York: Doubleday, 2011.
[ii] I haven’t included many
of their titles in this bibliography, but those interested should visit: http://permutedpress.com/.
[iii] The long fifties is a term for a period taken from Keith M Booker's
excellent book: Monsters, Mushroom
Clouds, and the Cold War: American Science Fiction in Novel and Film, 1946-1964
(Westport: Greenwood P, 2001).
[iv] The long nineties is a term for a
period taken from Phillip Wegner's excellent book: Life between
Two Deaths 1989-2001: U.S. Culture in the Long Nineties (Durham: Duke UP, 2009).