Famine, Death, War, and Pestilence: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the harbingers of Armageddon — these are our guides through the Wastelands... From the Book of Revelations to The Road Warrior; from A Canticle for Leibowitz to The Road, storytellers have long imagined the end of the world, weaving tales of catastrophe, chaos, and calamity. Gathering together the best post-apocalyptic literature of the last two decades from many of today’s most renowned authors of speculative fiction, including George R.R. Martin, Gene Wolfe, Orson Scott Card, Carol Emshwiller, Jonathan Lethem, Octavia E. Butler, and Stephen King, Wastelands explores the scientific, psychological, and philosophical questions of what it means to remain human in the wake of Armageddon.
This harrowing reprint anthology of 22 apocalyptic tales reflects the stresses of contemporary international politics, with more than half published since 2000. All depict unsettling societal, physical and psychological adaptations their authors postulate as necessary for survival after the end of the world. Keynoted by Stephen King's "The End of the Whole Mess," the volume's common denominator is hubris: that tragic human proclivity for placing oneself at the center of the universe, and each story uniquely traces the results. Some highlight human hope, even optimism, like Orson Scott Card's "Salvage" and Tobias Buckell's "Waiting for the Zephyr." Others, like James Van Pelt's "The Last of the O-Forms" and Nancy Kress's "Inertia," treat identity by exploring mutation. Several, like Elizabeth Bear's "And the Deep Blue Sea" and Jack McDevitt's "Never Despair," gauge the height of human striving, while others, like George R.R. Martin's "Dark, Dark Were the Tunnels," Carol Emshwiller's "Killers" and M. Rickert's "Bread and Bombs," plumb the depths of human prejudice, jealousy and fear. Beware of Paolo Bacigalupi's far-future "The People of Sand and Slag," though; that one will break your heart.
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Good Themed Anthology by Master Editor
This anthology assembled by master editor John Joseph Adams is themed around the aftermath of the apocalypse. We rarely see in the stories the end itself; instead we view the results of what happened on our characters and the world around them. My favorite story ended up being “Ginny Sweethips' Flying Circus" by Neil Barrett, Jr., a well published author I had never read before. The image of the genetically modified sentient animals like Possum Dark, who really likes shooting up the landscape when he gets a chance, really stuck with me. Like any anthology, some stories will be more to the readers taste than others, but overall I found these well chosen, and worth reading. There are some entries by major authors here, and authors you might be unfamiliar with. Each story has a nice introduction, which provides a bit of background on its writer as well.