I love reading science fiction books and watching science fiction films and TV programs. Earlier this year I posed a question as to what’s was the best time-travel book/film ever (Click Here to see that column). This was followed by my meandering musings on what trade goods would one take if one were to have the ability to travel through time (Click Here to see that blog).
Actually, while I’m thinking about it, let’s not forget my article about Zombie Tales for People with Brains (Click Here to peruse and ponder on this little beauty).
Well, now I have another question for you to consider – in your opinion, what would be the best post-apocalyptic book, film, or TV program?
What? You want to know what I think? How flattering and how very kind of you. Well, a couple of examples that immediately pop into my mind (more are popping as I pen these words) are as follows:
Book: Star Man’s Son (Click Here to see it on Amazon)
This was one of the first books by Andre Norton that I ever read, and I loved it. I think I once heard that this was one of the first stories that was totally based on a post-apopolytic theme, and that it provided the inspiration for many other authors in this genre.
The original hardback release in 1952 was targeted at a younger
audience, but the book proved to be so popular that in 1954 it was
retitled Daybreak 2250 A.D. and reissued in paperback for adults.
The action takes place in a United States devastated by the effects of nuclear war. Fors, the main character, is a teenager who is a member of a clan that concerns itself with recapturing the knowledge and skills of their ancestors. The gatherers of information are known as "Star Men" (we don’t discover why until the very end of the book). For reasons too complicated to go into here, Fors sets off on a trek that takes him through deserted cities and devastated countryside.
I recently picked up a secondhand copy of this little rascal and devoured it from cover-to-cover. Actually, when I say “devoured”, that provides an incredibly appropriate segue into the following offering…
DVD: A Boy and his Dog (Click Here to see it on Amazon)
This is closely adapted from the acclaimed novella by Harlan Ellison. I remember reading the story as a youngster, but it was only recently that I discovered they (whoever “they” are) had made a film about it.
The action takes place in the year 2024. Most of the Earth's nations have been demolished by yet another world war (the latest being WWIV). In this post-apocalyptic world, slow-witted survivor Vic (Don Johnson) forages through the ruins for food and women with the help of his faithful dog, Blood (voiced by Tim McIntire), with whom he is able to communicate telepathically.
I now discover that this film, which was released in 1975, quickly became a cult favorite. I recently purchased a copy for the DVD from amazon and I must admit that I enjoyed watching it, but it has to be said that this might not appeal to everyone…
Books and TV: The Tripods (Click Here for Amazon)
Written by John Christopher, the Tripod series is not actually post-apocalyptic in the typical sense; it's actually more of an alien invasion story. Originally this was a trilogy: The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, and The Pool of Fire.
The action in these three books takes place circa 2100. Humans now live in small towns and villages and are ruled by aliens (although the people don’t really understand the concept of aliens per se). The aliens travel in enormous three-legged mechanical transports that we know as “Tripods”.
At the age of 13, each kid goes through a rite-of-passage in which a mind-controlling “cap” (that looks a bit like a cobweb) is attached to his or her head. After this ceremony people go about their everyday activities, but with a slavish devotion to the Tripods. What we don’t discover (until the second book) is that the aliens are waiting for additional supply ships to arrive, at which point they intend to change the Earth’s atmosphere into one they can breathe but that is poisonous to us).
The hero of the story is a boy called Will, who is having misgivings about his forthcoming capping, especially since his best friend has become “different” since he was capped. In the first book – The White Mountains – Will learns of a human stronghold unaffected by the Tripods and he and his friends set out to find them. In The City of Gold and Lead, Will and two companions manage to make their way into one of the alien covered cities, at which point they discover the fate the aliens have planned for us. In The Pool of Fire, we take the fight to the aliens and attempt to destroy their three cities before their reinforcements arrive.
This also appeared in the form of a TV series in the UK. Sad to relate, this was never made available in American format…
The first book in the original trilogy was published in 1967. I only recently became aware that in 1990, John Christopher wrote a fourth book called When the Tripods Came, which is based in “our time” and explains how the whole story started…
I personally love these books, even if they are written with a younger audience in mind. Perhaps it’s because I just started my second (or third) childhood – or maybe it’s because they take me back to my youth… But the bottom line is that I would still recommend them to anyone.
But wait, there’s more…
Good grief – I could go on and on and on. Some of the post-apocalyptic books that I would HIGHLY recommend for a more adult audience are Swan Song by Robert McCammon, The Passage by Justin Cronin, Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, and – of course – The Stand by Stephen King.
Meanwhile the post-apocalyptic TV series du jour is The Walking Dead. Season 1 is available on DVD, while Season 2 only recently started on TV (I’m downloading Season 2 onto my iPad and saving it to watch on my next plane journey to the UK).
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