The best books for the end of the world

Kevin A. Muñoz Author Of The Post
By Kevin A. Muñoz

The Books I Picked & Why

Childhood's End

By Arthur C. Clarke

Book cover of Childhood's End

Why this book?

Childhood’s End isn’t a typical post-apocalyptic tale, but it does guide the reader toward the eventual transformation of humanity into something completely other. When I read it as a teenager, it grabbed my imagination and both fascinated and terrified me. What will it be like for humanity to transcend itself? Will we be able to do it ourselves, or will we need influences from outside to make it work?


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Station Eleven

By Emily St. John Mandel

Book cover of Station Eleven

Why this book?

St. John Mandel is interested in the kinds of questions that interest me when it comes to apocalyptic fiction. Not how the world ends, but how the world continues. What kinds of societies will build upon the ruins of the old? What will civilization bring forward, and what will it leave behind?


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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

By Max Brooks

Book cover of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

Why this book?

The journalistic, diarist style of World War Z both sets it apart from the rest of the genre and hearkens back to a style of writing that gave us works like Frankenstein and Dracula. There is a realism that grounds the book, despite the fantastic story being told, and asks you to treat it almost like historical fiction. This is a thing that can happen, because it did, and we are merely recording the event.


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The War of the Worlds

By H.G. Wells

Book cover of The War of the Worlds

Why this book?

I first experienced The War of the Worlds on screen, with the movie from 1953 and then the incredibly obscure TV series in the late 1980s. I didn’t read the book until I was well into my 30s, but when I did, I was captivated. Wells told a story that was so difficult to accept that no one has even tried to accurately represent it on screen. But it’s brilliant: a tale about the horrors of war, written before any of the wars of the 20th century that would make people realize he was right.


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The Postman

By David Brin

Book cover of The Postman

Why this book?

One of Brin’s central concerns throughout his work is how normal, un-heroic people can work together to make positive change in the world. The Postman is entirely about that simple concept, and how something as simple as sending letters can bring a world back from the brink of societal disintegration. If you know the movie adaptation, be prepared: the book’s themes are radically different, and much better (even though I do still like the film…).


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