Apocalypse & After

Mary Shelley  The Last Man (1826)

The Purple Cloud (1901, revised 1929) by M. P. Shiel

Jack London The Scarlet Plague (1912)

H. G. Wells The Time Machine (1895) and The War of the Worlds (1998).

John Wyndham The Day of the Triffids (1951), The Kraken Wakes (1953) and The Crysalids (1955)

Walter M. Miller Jr.‘s A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959).

The apocalypse was also a major theme of the science fiction New Wave of the Sixties and early Seventies. J. G. Ballard made consistent use of apolcalyptic themes in his early novels The Wind From Nowhere (1961), The Drowned World (1962), The Burning World (1964, expanded as The Drought, 1965) and The Crystal World (1966), in which the catastrophes mirrored the psychological states of his alienated protagonists.

Brian Aldiss also made notable contributions with Greybeard (1964) and the psychadelic Barefoot in the Head (1969).

Notable American stories of this period include Harlan Ellison‘s satirical novella A Boy and His Dog (1969) and Roger Zelazny‘s Damnation Alley (1969), both of which were filmed.

Robert Clouse‘s film The Ultimate Warrior (1975)

George Miller‘s Mad Max (1979) portrays a near future society on the brink of social collapse; the subsequent sequels, Mad Max 2 (1981) and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985) take us fully into the post-apocalyptic future.

Luc Besson‘s Le Dernier Combat (1983).

Russell Hoban Riddley Walker (1980).

Helliconia Winter (1985), the concluding volume of Brian Aldiss‘s epic Helliconia Trilogy, is an allegory of the Nuclear Winter.

The plot of Greybeard was lifted by P. D. James for her novel The Children of Men (1992) which was filmed (and vastly improved) by Alfonso Cuarón as Children of Men (2006)

Will Self The Book of Dave (2006) riffs on both Hoban’s Riddley Walker and Walter M. Miller Jr.’ A Canticle for Leibowitz.

The most powerful post-apocalyptic novel of recent years is Cormac McCarthy‘s The Road (2006)

Zombie Apocalypse

George A. Romero‘s Night of the Living Dead (1968) reinvented the zombie movie. Although Romero’s film dated from the late-Sixties it wasn’t until Romero’s first sequel, Dawn of the Dead (1979) that the first zombie boom really took off. Romero completed the trilogy with the even darker Day of the Dead in 1984. Romero returned to the zombie movie with Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead.

Dawn of the Dead inspired a series of cash-ins by other directors, notably Lucio Fulci’s Zombie Flesh Eaters ()

Romero’s co-writer John A. Russo took the zombie movie in his own direction with Return of the Living Dead.

  • Aldiss, Brian (1962) Hothouse
    • (1964) Greybeard
    • (1969) Barefoot in the Head
    • (1985) Helliconia Winter
  • Ballard, J.G. (1961) The Wind From Nowhere
    • (1962)  The Drowned World
    • (1964)  The Burning World (expanded as The Drought, 1965)
    • (1966)  The Crystal World
    • (1969) The Atrocity Exhibition
    • (1973)  Crash
    • (1974)  Concrete Island
    • (1975)  High Rise
  • Christopher, John () The Death of Grass
  • Ellison, Harlan (1969) A Boy and His Dog
  • London, Jack (1912) The Scarlet Plague
  • Miller, Walter M. Jr 
  • McCarthy, Cormack (2006) The Road
  • Pardey, James (Undated) Landscapes From a Dream: How the Art of David Pelham Captured the Essence of J G Ballard’s Early Fiction”
  • Self, Will (2006) The Book of Dave
  • Shelley, Mary (1826) The Last Man
  • Shiel, M. P. (1901, revised 1929) The Purple Cloud
  • Wells, H.G. (1895) The Time Machine
  • Wyndham, John (1951) The Day of the Triffids
    • (1953) The Kraken Wakes
    • (1955) The Crysalids
  • Zelazny, Roger (1969) Damnation Alley
  • Boy and His Dog, A
  • Damnation Alley
  • Dawn of the Dead (George A Romero)
  • Day of the Dead (George A Romero)
  • Le Dernier Combat (Luc Besson, 1983)
  • Diary of the Dead (George A Romero)
  • Land of the Dead (George A Romero)
  • Mad Max (George Miller, 1979)
  • Mad Max 2 (George Miller)
  • Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (George Miller)
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • Sean of the Dead
  • Survival of the Dead (George A Romero)
  • Ultimate Warrior, The

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