I hope you're not implying that I would say anything derogatory?
John Christoper wrote "A Wrinkle in the Skin" about the earth undergoing another major mountain-building period (earthquakes, changing geography, etc) which I found very good, though I have not read it for years. He wrote a lot of what I call "Social science fiction" as opposed to the "bug-eyed monster" genre - more about people and their reactions to events. "Death of Grass" and "Pendulum" were another two.
It's amazing how much you forget until someone "tweaks" you -- I read both "A Wrinkle in the Skin" and "Death of Grass", both of which were excellent (I don't remember "Pendulum").
Actually they made a film about "Death of Grass" in the UK (a low-budget affair). It was set in the Lake District as I recall -- one of my friends got a bit part (girl in Red Sweater shouting something like "Mommy" :-)
As I recall "Pendulum" was merely about society falling apart, no scientific cause like earthquakes etc. I remember it gave me a very real dread of the future at the time, which the way mankind has changed since has not dispelled much. I'd like to read it again.
i remeber seeing it on the telly. it was called "no blade of grass". I was only young; it scared the hell out of me (a senstivie kid). I think Roger Whittaker sang the theme tune (like you say, funny what you remember).
Here's a rather obscure one: "Wizards" (the 1977 Ralph Bakshi version). I saw it in a double-feature with Phantom of the Paradise (another obscure film) back when it was new. It's animated, some by hand and some by rotoscope. As with "A Boy and His Dog", this might not appeal to everyone.
I'm not actually sure that this qualifies as best, but I found it very different and intriguing. I love the ending too.
It's a pretty standard good vs. evil plot. Humans were all exploded in (what else? a nuclear war) and ancient races have come back to populate the earth. The respective good hero and evil antagonist are twin wizards, one trying to save the Earth and the other, destroy it.
"The Chrysalids" by John Wyndham, 1955.
The story is about a young lad growing up in a community in Labrador, Canada, one of many pockets of human culture several hundreds or thousands of years after a devastating world-wide nuclear war. Their society has re-invented stationary steam power and guns, but cannot understand the mutations to their crops, animals, and humans due to radiation still drifting from the south. Their religion is very strict as to destroying or sterilizing and banishing mutants who do not fit the definition of what is 'proper'. Some of the youngsters develop telepathy but must keep it hidden lest they too be judged as mutants. Salvation comes from New Zealand whose people escaped most of the effects of radiation and were able to recover technology much sooner.
John Wyndham writes a very interesting story around small community religion, politics, bigotry, heresy, and human nature. A good read.
Arrggghhh -- this is one of the ones that "popped into my head" while I was writing the blog and then it popped out again when I received a non-maskable interrupt (like my wife calling :-)
But you are right -- this was a fantastic story...
Two more post-apocalyptic tales by John Wyndham were "The Day of the Triffids" and "The Kraken Wakes" ... I think I will re-read all of these when I've caught up with the current pile of books I have (a) on the go and (b) waiting for for me in the wings...
Have to look for "The Kracken Wakes", and my ex lent away my copy of the "Triffids". I had to wonder in the Triffids when they were holed up on the farm behind the electric fence why he ran a gas-powered generator rather than salvaging a bunch of automobile batteries and wiring them in series to power the fence. Then they would only have needed occasional charging from the generator for leakage. Other than this, good story.
Other post-apocalyptic suggestions are "Farnham's Freehold" by Robert.A. Heinlein, and "The Songs of Distant Earth" by Arthur C. Clarke.
A really horrifyingly post apocalyptic book is
"After the flood", by P.C Jersild.
It takes place like 30yrs after a global nuclear holocaust, in what used to be the Nordic countries. (mainly sweden). It's a great book, but boy what a downhill ride it is. It is even more gloomy than "The road".
I nominate the "Jericho" TV series for your "best TV program" ranking: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jericho_(TV_series)
(Jericho is one of the very few TV series I ever got hooked on... Unfortunately, CBS axed the show when it didn't receive good enough ratings on the Nielsen box. Fans blamed the poor ratings on Jericho airing at the same time as American Idol or some other reality TV show... CBS actually produced a 2nd short season because of the outcry from the fans.)
I .LOVE. post apocalyptic fiction, keep the suggestions coming!
I have no idea how this can be, but I have never heard on this. I'm downloading the Pilot Episode to my iPad as we speak -- I've also added the complete series (seasons 1 and 2) to my Amazon "Wish List" -- if I like the Pilot as much as the reviews suggest I will then I'll see if I can get the boxed set of DVDs for Christmas :-)
I started watching the pilot last night while walking on my treadmill -- it's not 100% grabbed me yet, but it's early days and it's good enough that I've downloaded the second and third episodes -- after that I'll make up my mind as to whether to watch the whole thing (that will keep me walking)
Oh, I remember that one! So at least two of us watched it ...
There was also a similar series on Showtime, Jeremiah, with Luke Perry (of '90210' fame). But that setting was after a virus wiped out much of human civilization.
Another one I'd forgotten is Riddley Walker by Russel Hoban. As I recall, this is set about 1000 years in the future -- a post nuclear war world (the war took place around our time) where people are struggling to rediscover the technology of today, but have not yet reached the level of gunpowder.
The author took an existing dialect from a small corner of England and then "evolved" it by 1000 years. The result is a bizarre pidgin English. When you first start reading the book, it's difficult to understand anything ... by about 1/3 of the way through you are reading it without any problems at all ... at which point you really need to start again at the beginning (grin)
This book takes a bit of effort, but it's an incredibly rewarding read.
PS Now I come to think about it, I saw the stage play in Manchester, England, sometime around the mid-1980s.
I just watched the first few minutes -- I'll watch the rest when I have enough free time...
... I just looked this up on the Wikipedia -- I had no idea that the 2007 "I am Legend" film came from the 1954 book called "I am Legend" -- or that this was adapted to film as "The Last Man on Earth" (1964) and "The Omega Man" (1971) ... of that the original book was the inspiration behind the film "Night of the Living Dead" (1968)...
... you learn something new every day...
Great discussion, Max,
What kind of post-apocolyps are you into? take your pick. . .
Gloomy: The Road, Cormac McCarthy; book or film - they're almost identical.
really gloomy: Threads, a BBC Docu-drama from 1984. Scary at the time.
Hopeful: Wall-E, of course! actually can't think of any other hopeful ones.
Ooooh - that's a tricky one. I didn't like "The Road" -- way too realistic and too sad.
Also I don't like it when folks get hurt -- particularly kids.
The problem is that the nasty guys would be left along with the nice guys -- and without the police around the nasty guys could bet to be real nasty.
Another point is that I think we tend to have a "romantic view" of a post-apocalyptic world -- by which I mean we think things like "well, I wouldn't have to do my boring job anymore" and "it would be great just to take what food and clothes I need from the stores" ... but what we don't think about is what life would be like without air conditioning and hot and cold running water ... just the fact that you would have to stay near a water supply -- and what about things like parasites (like worms) and stuff...
One type of scene I like to visualize is when people in the post-apocalyptic future are walking through old cities -- imagining how they would view something like a deserted New York, for example...
Hmmm, I'll have to think about this one...
You are right -- I just did a search -- apparently it was a Television Film on Showtime in 2000 -- I didn't know they'd remade it -- I only knew about the 1959 version.
I remember this as being in black-and-while -- but that may be because we only had a black-and-white television when I was younger ... do you recall if the film was in B&W or in color?
Someone just reminded me about the book Eon by Greg Bear (I LOVED this book -- I wish they would make a film about it).
Although it comes across as a bit of a side issue, there is in fact a global nuclear exchange between the Russians and Americans caused by the appearance of the asteroid...
I'm not sure if it counts or not -- but the prospect scares me -- I plan on being around in 2050 (I'll be 93 years old -- just getting my second wind) by which time there are expected to be 9+ billion people on the planet ... scary...
Soylent Green was a good film, I seem to remember Max remarking on the bit where Sol dies (to films of Earth when it was beautiful, and Beethoven's "Pastoral" - I liked that too but the way things are going I can see us ending up in something similar. I think SG was based on a Harry Harrison story called "Make room! Make room!" - Yes it was, just wikipedia'd it....
When you say book -- are you actually talking about the TV Series / DVDs? If So, I have the first season sitting in my office -- just waiting for me to catch up with the other things I have on the go -- I've heard so many good things about this that I can't wait...
Gee, I'm surprised no one mentioned "Alas Babylon", by Pat Frank. A blacker and more recent version is "One Second After", by WILLIAM R. FORSTCHEN. It made me seriously "think" about buying some firearms and stocking food in my basement.
I hadn't heard of either of these -- but checking up on Amazon "Alas Babylon" has really high reviews -- and "One Second After" looks pretty good also...
... I just added them both to my Amazon Wish List...
two of my favourites: "Hothouse" by Brian Aldiss, about a far distant future where humans have devolved into small green people who live in a world-spanning banyan tree.
Or "Battlefield Earth" by Ron Hubbard. Unfortunately Hollywood completely ruined this with their version of the movie.
A Canticle for Leibowitz is a great book, and I am surprised more people have not heard of it.
There is a great passage where monks are copying over Blueprint, and do not realized that the white portion is the information.
Another one that just sprung into my mind is "The Journey of Joenes" by Robert Sheckley
Also, I just read a recent (2011) release called "Robopacalypse" by Daniel H Wilson -- now I want to get his other book called "How to Survive a Robot Uprising" :-)
Max, how could a savant of Commonwealth background such as yourself forget the BBC series "Survivors" from the 1980's? It was shown on SF Bay Area PBS TV in the 90's if memory serves me correctly. I used to have the entire series taped off the air on VCR cassettes and loaned it out many times to rave reviews! One aspect of the series I appreciated was that the apocalypse was a bio-engineered virus so there were not a lot of pseudo-science based "radiation" problems or incidents. In my mind clearly the best and most realistic post-apocalyptic series ever, at least of the ones I've seen.
You mentioned Harlan Ellison, which reminded me of one of the most powerful short stories I have ever read - "I have no mouth and I must scream". Search for it online and you'll find a complete version somewhere (no idea whether this is a legal copy or not so I won't post a link). Tells the story of the last surviving humans, who live under the rule of a self-aware computer which hates them, tortures them and will not let them die. The story is utterly harrowing and brilliant. I have never forgotten it since coming across it in an anthology years ago.
I know the name but I don't think I ever read it ... I just checked it on the Wikipedia and it sounds pretty gruesome ... but also something that deserves to be read ... I'll keep my eyes open for an anthology containing it...
Oh -- yes -- I remember this one (now I just looked it up on the Wikipedia) -- I read it when I was a young lad and it really made me think...
Strange to relate the story itself popped into my mind a week or so ago ... but I couldn't remember the title or who had written it, so thanks for reminding me