Imagining Life, Post-Pandemic

There was a time – two months or so ago – when readers flocked to dystopian fiction so that they might imagine  what strange, dark days might lay ahead. Now that we’re all living through something that feels a bit like sci-fi itself, futuristic fiction is still there to help us envision and contemplate the way forward.

In Mike Chen’s Beginning at the End, it felt pretty apocalyptic when the viral epidemic known as MGS wiped out 70% of the world’s population. But the world didn’t end, and six years later we join three residents of San Francisco as they emerge from social isolation into a city and a world that is different, yet in many ways still the same. Rob’s young daughter doesn’t yet know that her mother has died. Struggling former wedding-planner Krista escaped her own abusive family under cover of the plague, and now counsels traumatized survivors. Former pop star Moira’s life has been reinvented in surprising ways during the epidemic. Chen’s perceptive, empathetic novel helps us to process realities not so very different from our own. Continue reading “Imagining Life, Post-Pandemic”

October Takeover: How to Avoid Becoming a Zombie

~Posted by Carrie M.

Of all the potential “what-if” tragedies that could completely change our lives forever, the most popular by far is the much anticipated zombie apocalypse. With so much “zombie culture” surrounding us today, many people may go into the event feeling overconfident. Sure, you’ve seen The Walking Dead and Z Nation, and maybe you’ve even read a few books like World War Z and Rot and Ruin, but it’s going to take more than your TV knowledge to survive the outbreak of the living dead. Don’t worry! Here at the Seattle Public Library, we’ve got your back with this handy-dandy list of books for all of your zombie needs.  Continue reading “October Takeover: How to Avoid Becoming a Zombie”

The Science Fiction Checklist Challenge: Beginning with Endings

~posted by Lindsay S.

While the words ‘science fiction’ still bring to mind spaceships and alien invaders, the genre has grown over the years. We at SPL have designed a science fiction checklist to help you navigate this expansive genre and all its facets. We hope you’ll explore the many worlds of science-fiction and find a favorite sub-genre of your very own. Continue reading “The Science Fiction Checklist Challenge: Beginning with Endings”

Further down The Road: Dystopian Fiction

image of a street sign in the desert courtesy of moominsean via FlickrIf Cormac McCarthy’s book The Road – or the movie adaptation hitting theaters October 16 – piques your interest in fictional visions of a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world, here are some other books to check out.

There’s been a massive flood and only one family, on an ark, has been saved.  Sound familiar?  The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor isn’t Noah’s story, but instead that of Pa and his three children.  When a stranger washes up on their island, the kids begin wondering how alone they actually are, and exactly what happened before the flood.

Into the Forest centers on two teenage sisters living in the woods of California.  Unlike some other books, Jean Hegland shows us the before, during, and after of the surprisingly calm end of civilization, while asking the question – how long do you wait for things to return to normal?

pesthouseIn The Pesthouse by Jim Crace, an unexplained environmental disaster has dismantled society and sent Franklin trekking towards the east coast and the promise of ships headed to a more bountiful Europe.  Along the way, he meets Margaret.  Part love story, part end-of-the-world road trip, this book vividly portrays the societal relationships that spring up to fill the void. 

I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson, was also recently made into a movie.  Robert Neville may be the only human left alive, but that’s not to say he’s all alone – the virus that obliterated mankind didn’t kill people straight out, it turned them into legions of vampires.  Written in 1954, this is still a great read and has influenced a ton of modern horror novelists.

If you were the last living thing on Earth, would you go insane?  Is that what has happened to the woman in David Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress?  Try to piece it together as you read her stream-of-conscious recollections and commentaries.

For a modern classic, you can’t go wrong with Stephen King’s epic The Stand.  The apocalypse is brought about by a strain of super flu accidentally released from a military base, which wipes out nearly the entire population.  Those that are left divide up into two factions – Good and Evil – and battle it out.

Still looking for more suggestions?  Try A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; or do a subject search for dystopia in the library catalog.