The best post-apocalyptic adventure books that showcase humanity’s drive to survive

Who am I?

I am a lifelong fan of all things post-apocalyptic. Books, movies, television, games – I have enjoyed all of it. I knew I wanted to write post-apocalyptic fiction before I was ten years old. I had to wait almost three decades before life gave me the opportunity to do it. I’ve always been fascinated by the many different ways people can survive these kinds of catastrophes. As dark and visceral as the genre can sometimes be, I will always look for the elements of hope.


I wrote...

Search for Haven

By Justin Oldham,

Book cover of Search for Haven

What is my book about?

As she celebrates her 16th birthday in the post-Collapse world, Dar is ready to take her exams and prepare to enter a nearby school. What should be a special day takes an unexpected turn into the surreal when her family’s farm is attacked by marauders bent on taking their land. As the dust settles, she must decide what path she will take—face the attackers in an effort to keep what her family has worked so hard to build or try to find sanctuary and live to fight another day.

In her travels, Dar learns some of her family’s history and its surprising connection to the myth of Haven. Can she survive long enough to reach her destination and begin to make her future?

The books I picked & why

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Farnham's Freehold

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Book cover of Farnham's Freehold

Why this book?

I read this novel decades before I ever heard the term “prepper.” I particularly enjoyed the survival elements of the story. I can’t help noticing that the plot holds up, even today. The idea that someone could predict that war was coming from simply paying attention to the news and things going on around them fostered my own interest in keeping up with current events. Ultimately, the story is all about making the best of a bad situation. Even today, I still enjoy the inherent optimism of that sentiment.

Farnham's Freehold

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Farnham's Freehold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Heinlein, Robert A.


Logan's Run

By William F. Nolan, George Clayton Johnson,

Book cover of Logan's Run

Why this book?

This book embodies many of my favorite features of post-apocalyptic fiction—everything from rogue AI and hazardous underground encounters to trekking across devastated hellscapes. The concept of “Sanctuary” and its mythical connotations made a significant impression on me. The idea that there was a safe place, regardless of how bad things got, appealed to my sense of fairness in the universe and reinforced the idea that there is always hope.

Logan's Run

By William F. Nolan, George Clayton Johnson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Logan's Run as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling dystopian novel that inspired the 1970s science-fiction classic starring Michael York, Jenny Agutter, and Richard Jordan.

In 2116, it is against the law to live beyond the age of twenty-one years. When the crystal flower in the palm of your hand turns from red to black, you have reached your Lastday and you must report to a Sleepshop for processing. But the human will to survive is strong—stronger than any mere law.
 
Logan 3 is a Sandman, an enforcer who hunts down those Runners who refuse to accept Deep Sleep. The day before Logan’s palmflower shifts to black,…


Damnation Alley

By Roger Zelazny,

Book cover of Damnation Alley

Why this book?

This might be the ultimate post-apocalyptic road trip. I enjoyed the fast pacing and irreverent humor. The urgency of the task at hand is there from start to finish. I liked the plot and the pacing. This story made me appreciate the lighter side of the genre. Even though the world has gone to pot, people are still people, and fun is part of the human experience.

Damnation Alley

By Roger Zelazny,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Damnation Alley as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hell Tanner isn't the sort of guy you'd mistake for a hero: he's a fast-driving car thief, a smuggler, and a stone-cold killer. Facing life in prison for his various crimes, he's given a choice: Rot away his remaining years in a tiny jail cell, or drive cross-country and deliver a case of antiserum to the plague-ridden people of Boston, Massachusetts. The chance of a full pardon does wonders for getting his attention. And don't mistake this mission of mercy for any kind of normal road trip-not when there are radioactive storms, hordes of carnivorous beasts, and giant, mutated scorpions…


The Postman

By David Brin,

Book cover of The Postman

Why this book?

I enjoyed the scope and scale of this epic story. I found the author’s portrayal of an ordinary person doing extraordinary things inspiring. Humanity is connected, and relies on that network of relationships to survive. The metaphor of The Postman reestablishing those links is still one of my all-time favorite depictions of that concept.

The Postman

By David Brin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Postman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE • “A moving experience . . . a powerful cautionary tale.”—Whitley Strieber

He was a survivor—a wanderer who traded tales for food and shelter in the dark and savage aftermath of a devastating war.  

Fate touches him one chill winter’s day when he borrows the jacket of a long-dead postal worker to protect himself from the cold. The old, worn uniform still has power as a symbol of hope, and with it he begins to weave his greatest tale, of a nation on the road to recovery.

This is the story of a lie that…


Pilgrimage To Hell

By James Axler,

Book cover of Pilgrimage To Hell

Why this book?

This is the first volume in the long-running Deathlands series, penned by many ghostwriters. If you can find all of the volumes, you’ll be treated to the most extravagant post-apocalyptic story arc that I’ve ever seen. I enjoyed the larger-than-life heroes and heroines, who blazed their trails across a detailed landscape. This series inspired me to think bigger about life and the things that I could do with it.

Pilgrimage To Hell

By James Axler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pilgrimage To Hell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On a crisp January day, a Presidential inauguration day, a one-megaton blast ripped through the Soviet embassy in Washington, D.C.

Subsequent explosions around the globe changed the face and the shape of the earth forever. Out of the ruins emerged Deathlands, a world that conspired against survival.

In the blasted heart of the new America, a group of men and women plan desperately to escape the eerie wastes and mutated life forms of their nuclear hell. Three warriors—the tough, intelligent Ryan Cawdor, an enigmatic beauty called Krysty Wroth and the armorer J.B. Dix—set out on a harrowing journey to find…


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