Wednesday, July 11, 2007

There's a Humongous Among us!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I offer you the Blogpocalypse post-apocalypse film and/or novel survey. I want to know everyone's favorite and or "important" post-apocalypse novel or film. I asked some pals to offer some suggestions to get us started, but I don't think the list is complete by any means ... so join in, you mofos.

My picks: I was tempted to say Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank since it seems to be one of the grand-daddies of nuclear holocaust novels, but instead I'm going to pick Lucifer's Hammer by Niven and Pournell. The authors do one hell of a job of not only depicting the disaster itself (a comet putting the smackdown on Mother Earth) but also of depicting the aftermath. Cool stuff.

Here's what others have offered:

David Brin's "The Postman" is a favorite of mine.(Ignore the Kevin Costner film, although it's not as bad as you might have heard.) A book about hope and the search for meaning in life, "The Postman" might be a little too corny for some, but it worked for me.
David J. Montgomery

Ha, great idea. I should probably say something cool like Escape from New York or The Stand, but the post-apocalypse film I think everyone should pay attention to is the direct to video Left Behind: The Movie.Who wouldn't love Kirk Cameron as a cheesy pilot turned missionary after all of the "good christians" have been whisked away in the Rapture? The book are horrible and leaden and preachy, and so is the movie, but it has a level of cheese that elevates it to high art.
Bryon Quertermous


A couple of years ago a woman who'd never read any SF got interested, for some reason, in post-apocalypse novels. She asked me if I could give her the names of a few. The ones that came to mind were of course the ones that had most affected me when I was a beginning SF reader long ago. She'd heard of all those but one: George R. Stewart's Earth Abides. After she read it, I got an e-mail from her thanking me profusely for the recommendation. She couldn't believe she'd never heard of such a wonderful novel. Probably not too many people have, these days. It was written in the late '40s, Stewart didn't write any other SF novels (but lots of other stuff), and it's not spectacular in the Mad Max way. It's very quiet. Very powerful, too, and still as relevant now as it ever was. Jim Sallis wrote a great column about it in the Boston Globe. I'd put it at the top of my list, along with A Canticle for Leibowitz and On the Beach.
Bill Crider


I suck at this. But two come to mind. The hoopla over The Day After, that made for TV movie in the 80's detailing what happens in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. I saw it as an adult and cried buckets, because at one time it *did* seem we were headed toward total annihilation. Plus, we live in the largest concentration of nuclear missile silos in the world, and B-1's were stationed at Ellsworth Airforce Base and we were #4 on the hit list for nuclear attack.

The other one is more urban. JD Robb writes futuristic, the "In Death" series set in 2054. There are heli-cars, penal colonies out in space, other planets which are mini-cities. It's set mostly in NY after the "urban wars." What I love about it, besides Eve Dallas being a kick-ass, totally righteous cop (and it is a romance series, so the relationship stuff with her husband Roarke is killer too) is that it shows the more things change, the more they stay the same. The reasons for greed don't evolve. Since she's 24 books into the series, the character arcs are amazing.
Lori Armstrong


I have to say The Road Warrior because, well, it's the motherfucking Road Warrior. I realize that hardly makes me look like Cool Apocalypse Guy (TM), since it's sort of the obvious choice. But I don't care. That movie had all the elements of perfection: a razor-edged boomerang, human bonfires, Alpo as gourmet grub, a character listed in the credits as "Feral Kid," a compound guarded by warrior women wielding flamethrowers, creepy rapist torture-bikers, a villain called The Humongous, and an anti-hero riding the last of the V-8 Interceptors straight to hell. All back in the days when Mel Gibson seemed like a pretty cool guy. How could you lose?
Marcus Sakey


Leigh Brackett's The Long Tomorrow (1955) is an out-of-print and overlooked post-apocalyptic novel. It takes place a couple of generations after "The Destruction." Technology is outlawed, as are any towns larger than (if I remember correctly) a few thousand people. Everyone lives in fear. The book was a reflection of its time, but it still holds up well. Brackett was one of my favorite of the classic SF writers. She worked on the screenplays for The Big Sleep, Rio Bravo and The Empire Strikes Back.
Patrick Shawn Bagley


At the risk of causing Ray Banks instant heart failure: CHILDREN OF MEN (2006), a movie which I watched last week. Adapted from the novel by P D James, which I haven't read. The movie is a work of art. The premise is fairly straightforward: it's 2027 and women have stopped having babies. There are some nice little surprises along the way, but essentially this movie's so damn good largely due to the brilliant directing and excellent script, which together with one or two standout performances generate some really powerful emotions. The bastarding thing'll make the most hardboiled of individuals weep. I tell you, if Michael Caine's performance as Jasper isn't utterly heartbreaking, it's stone you've got there, mate. Fuckin' stone. There's an astonishing chase scene where the camera wanders all over the place inside the car whilst all around is mayhem. You're right there with the passengers. Terrified. Bleedin' genius, innit. But there's so much else to commend it. Go on, go watch it and if you don't like it you can pull my finger. As Jasper would say.
Allan Guthrie


Blogpocalypse pal Duane Swierczynski offers this:


What, like THE ROAD?

I choose McCarthy's THE ROAD... unless, you know, I'm misunderstanding the question. In which case, my answer is... THE RESTAURANT AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE.

Or maybe that should be my first answer?

What the hell is wrong with me, Gischler?

Oh, and as far as a film... nothing comes close to A BOY AND HIS DOG.

When I was working for Don Johnson, I never asked him about VICE, or Jennifer Connelly's breasts... I was always asking about A BOY AND HIS DOG.

Maybe that's why Don and I don't work together anymore...

Paul Guyot


The Rift by Walter J. Williams. A massive earthquake along the Mississippi destroys the U.S. heartland. The social commentary gets to be a bit much, but the story is pretty cool.

Jeff Shelby


Okay. people ... let's hear it .....


Anonymous said...

I haven't read too many post-apocalyptic books, but Richard Matheson's I Am Legend was cool.

And movies? Here are a few of my favorite post-apocalyptic flicks:

The Road Warrior
Land of the Dead

The Omega Man (based on I Am Legend)

Also, here's a couple good "pre-apocalyptic" movies:
Mad Max
Soylant Green

Victor Gischler said...

"Pre-apocalyptic." I like it. Good thinking, John. Anyone should feel free to toss in their favorite dystopia film/book too.

Blade Runner? Where would that one fit?

p.s. Soylent green is people!


Ellen Clair Lamb said...

I'll second I AM LEGEND.

Dystopia? Neil Stephenson's SNOW CRASH.

And is it too pseudo-intellectual to say Walker Percy's LOVE IN THE RUINS?

Graham Powell said...

I'll offer a couple of short stories here: "The Defenders", by Philip K. Dick - one of his few optimistic stories - and Harlan Ellison's "A Boy and His Dog", which was very good and, for Ellison, rather understated.

Anonymous said...

The original GODZILLA film and BAREFOOT GEN, the manga.

Anonymous said...

How about Life During Wartime, the Talking Heads? Books are long (although the book version of Children of Men is worth it), so a post-apocalyptic song instead. Where's a post-apocalyptic game-show when you need one?

Brian Lindenmuth said...

The greatest post-apocolyptic novel of all time is Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban.

After a nuclear attack England is reduced to the a iron age social system.

The whole book is written in this reduced, broken, devolved language.

Randy Johnson said...

The Last Man On Earth(based on I Am Legend) with Vincent Price. I saw it young and much later. Of course it was much cheesier from an adult perspective; but still fun.

Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned Blade Runner, but it's only the original novel that's post-ap.

Soylent Green I'd pick, but that's a different kind of ap (not nuke ap).

Dr. Bloodmoney by PKD
(wikipedia link)

I don't know why, but Dangerfield in that orbiting station keeps reminding me of Rush Limbaugh. Now how's that for a thought to make you NOT want to survive the ap?

Upstate Crippler said...

My favorite in this genre is a book called The Return by Richard Maynard. It is about a group of astronauts that return to Earth farther into the future than they expect. They must learn how to survive in a world that has reverted to almost prehistoric times. The style is very reminiscent of I Am Legend. A very enjoyable read.