The best classic apocalyptic fiction novels showing human determination to survive in the face of doom

Why am I passionate about this?

My imagination has always been captivated and fired up by reading traditional myths and fairy tales, as well science fiction. Growing up in the ’80s, I was particularly steeped in cinematic masterpieces such as Bladerunner and The Road Warrior, but I also loved reading classic sci-fi, as well as British literature, particularly the Brontes and Jane Austen. I enjoy and write speculative fiction because I believe it offers some of the best, creative ways to explore the timeless, universal truths underlying the human experience. Whether that exploration happens in subtle scenes of interpersonal interactions, or in the epic events woven in threads of dark and light across the tapestry of history, it’s all valuable and relevant.


I wrote...

Echoes Through Distant Glass

By S. Kirk Pierzchala,

Book cover of Echoes Through Distant Glass

What is my book about?

Tasked with investigating a narco-terror plot against a weakened United States, law enforcer Owen MacIntyre becomes involved with a powerful and ruthless corporate family, and is nearly killed for his efforts. But his enemies discover they have created a cyborg adversary detemined to bring their illicit biotechnology to light. Will MacIntyre’s quest for justice threaten his own humanity?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Last of the Winnebagos

S. Kirk Pierzchala Why did I love this book?

I really loved Willis’ multilayered presentation of the narrator’s past and present. Masterfully, Willis creates a deceptively simple, haunting setting, where the common but painful event of the loss of a pet becomes a symbol for the banality of extinction itself—whether of a species or entire culture. Made me think about how, even though inevitable, loss never gets easier.

Book cover of The Prophet of Yonwood

S. Kirk Pierzchala Why did I love this book?

This YA story deals with the threat of apocalyptic destruction, and shows how easily a vulnerable population can be manipulated by fear and uncertainty with only a few rumors. These themes are just as valid today as ever. I like the way DePrau’s protagonist, Nickie, is a relatable character caught in a frightening situation, but trying to make the best of it by forming bonds in her community, as they all face a terrifying future. The haunting sense of dread that permeates this simple novel has stayed with me for years.

By Jeanne DuPrau,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Prophet of Yonwood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

A prequel to the modern-day classic The City of Ember. This highly acclaimed adventure series has captivated kids and teachers alike for almost fifteen years and has sold over 3.5 MILLION copies!
 
Nickie will grow up to be one of the first citizens of the city of Ember. But for now, she’s an eleven-year-old girl whose father was sent away on some mysterious government project.
 
So when the opportunity to move presents itself, Nickie seizes it. But her new town of Yonwood, North Carolina, isn’t what she’d anticipated. It’s a place full of suspicion and mistrust, where one person’s visions…


Book cover of The Children of Men

S. Kirk Pierzchala Why did I love this book?

I was really drawn into James’ dark but believable premise, concerning a depopulated Earth, and the resulting instability and hopelessness of such a societal crisis. The dreariness of her depiction of a childless world is sobering and timely. The plot is not complex, but is very absorbing and fast-paced. The fact that the novel ends on a note of hope and second chances is one of the things I especially liked about it, and makes it well worth an occasional re-read.

By P. D. James,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Told with P. D. James's trademark suspense, insightful characterization, and riveting storytelling, The Children of Men is a story of a world with no children and no future. The human race has become infertile, and the last generation to be born is now adult. Civilization itself is crumbling as suicide and despair become commonplace. Oxford historian Theodore Faron, apathetic toward a future without a future, spends most of his time reminiscing. Then he is approached by Julian, a bright, attractive woman who wants him to help get her an audience with his cousin, the powerful Warden of England. She and…


Book cover of A Canticle for Leibowitz

S. Kirk Pierzchala Why did I love this book?

This novel is a serious, sprawling epic that, over stages, takes the reader hundreds of years into a future where the United States is recovering from the effects of a massive nuclear war. Although I didn’t find the characters especially relatable, it was still a very engrossing read that gave me a lot to think about, as it explores the cycles of civilization, war, decay, and rebuilding, that are continually reoccurring in our species’ history.

By Walter M. Miller, Jr.,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked A Canticle for Leibowitz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the depths of the Utah desert, long after the Flame Deluge has scoured the earth clean, a monk of the Order of Saint Leibowitz has made a miraculous discovery: holy relics from the life of the great saint himself, including the blessed blueprint, the sacred shopping list, and the hallowed shrine of the Fallout Shelter.

In a terrifying age of darkness and decay, these artifacts could be the keys to mankind's salvation. But as the mystery at the core of this groundbreaking novel unfolds, it is the search itself—for meaning, for truth, for love—that offers hope for humanity's rebirth…


Book cover of Lord of the World

S. Kirk Pierzchala Why did I love this book?

Literally one of the most ‘apocalyptic’ stories ever penned, this unusual tale follows the main character of a priest as he navigates a hostile secular culture and investigates what might finally be the arrival of the long-predicted Antichrist. The story is prescient in its predictions about technology, as well as political and cultural trends. The un-ironic steampunk vibes (which would have been cutting edge at the time of writing), are a fun plus.

By Robert Hugh Benson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lord of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Benson's dystopic vision of a near future world in which religion has, by and large, been rejected or simply fallen by the wayside. The Catholic Church has retreated to Italy and Ireland, while the majority of the rest of the world is either Humanistic or Pantheistic. There is a 'one world' government, and euthanasia is widely available. The plot follows the tale of a priest, Percy Franklin, who becomes Pope Silvester III, and a mysterious man named Julian Felsenburgh, who is identical in looks to the priest and who becomes "Lord of the World".


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The Strange Case of Guaritori Diolco

By Bill Hiatt,

Book cover of The Strange Case of Guaritori Diolco

Bill Hiatt Author Of Different Lee

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Insatiable reader English teacher Life-long learner Hiker Webmaster

Bill's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Guaritori awakens from a coma to find that he's lost twenty years--and his entire world.

Fiancée, family, and friends are all missing, perhaps dead. Technology has failed, and magic has risen, leaving society in ruins. Most survivors are at the mercy of anyone who has strong enough magic. Guaritori has none. He finds a protector, but his troubles are far from over.

The new society in which he finds himself is superficially friendly but surrounded by enemies and full of secrets. Guaritori doesn't know it yet, but the biggest secret is his. If his protector knew who he truly was, she would kill him.

The Strange Case of Guaritori Diolco

By Bill Hiatt,

What is this book about?

Coming out of a coma after twenty years, Guaritori--Garth to his friends--discovers that the world he knew no longer exists.

Advanced technology has failed. Magic, which he didn't know even existed, has become much more powerful. Supernatural groups battle for supremacy, forcing human beings to seek shelter wherever they can find it.
Garth's only hope for survival lies with a varied group including a shape-shifter, an alchemist, a tarot card reader, a blacksmith with a flaming sword, and others. But a prophecy foretells that he will bring about the downfall of their leader, the mysterious Ms. M.

Even worse, Garth…


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