It’s the end of the world as we know it… Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse

Anthology: 22 short stories

Edited by John Joseph Adams

How will the world finally come to an end? Will it be because of some crazed dictator (who’s probably pretty short) that decides to push that infamous button of nuclear destruction? Or will it be because of some greedy mega-corporation that designs a drug that “accidentally” turns people into zombies (Resident Evil has been warning us for a very long time)? The possibilities are truly endless, and because of that, Michael Bay will probably never run out of material for his next god-awful movie.

Yet what happens after the radioactive dust settles? What happens after the zombies take over the planet? Does anyone survive? And if so, what does one do after the world officially ends?

Since the time of Mary Shelly –the founder of post-apocalyptic fiction–writers have been using their (possibly demented) imaginations to discuss the multitude of scenarios that humanity would possibly face after the mushroom clouds dissipate.  Night Shade Books (a wonderful purveyor of all things zombified and horrific), assembled 22 of those writers and published their thoughts on post-apocalyptic life. Each story focuses not on how the world ended, but instead, focuses on what daily life is like for the survivors. Each one is vastly different from the other, and most of them are remarkably haunting. Some are a bit too much to handle (like Paolo Bacigalupi’s story on how humanity eventually mutates into grotesque insects), but most are deeply engrossing, and well worth a read. To discuss each story (and their unique plots) would probably overwhelm WordPress, but one of my personal favorites is “When Sysadmins Ruled The Earth” by Cory Doctorow. In his short story, sysadmins–the people that basically run the Internet–around the world hold up in their respective network operation center while a series of natural (and possibly manmade) disasters end civilization. Being that the Internet was designed to survive even a nuclear war, the admins are faced with a dire dilemma: with civilization and society gone, what do they do with the Internet?

This anthology is an amazing read and well worth picking up. Besides, it might be nice to have when the Road Warrior comes knocking at your door.

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