I’m back with more apocalypses. Be sure to check out part one if you haven’t already. It’s full of great recommendations, and here are some more. Though these are world-ending scenarios of the weird variety.
Bird Box by Josh Malerman. This one got a great deal of hype last year, and this is a rare case where it was deserved. The scenario here is that creatures, coming from who-knows-where, are among us. Looking at one of these creatures results in instant psychosis. It can cause you to hurt yourself or others, and this phenomenon is spreading like an epidemic. The story bounces back and forth between when this first began and a point in the future where our main character is trying to take two children down the river to a safer place. Blindfolded.
This is the most claustrophobic book, as you can well imagine. It’s people trapped in a house where they can’t even look out the window. Going outside, and they sometimes have to, becomes an incredible ordeal. More importantly, as with any book of this nature, they’re trapped with each other. The tension builds to a crescendo that is shattering. Just this one time, listen to the hype.
Demons by John Shirley. I may end up being the only one to truly love this bizarre masterpiece, but I feel it’s worth a shot to share it. On the surface, this one is simple. We get something like a Biblical apocalypse, and I say “something like”, because mainly that means just what it says on the tin: demons. Crazed, violent demons of a few, strange varieties appear and start to, well, kill people. Horribly. And they’re everywhere. It’s gruesome, and the recommendation definitely applies to you if you’re a horror fan.
The story is told in two parts. That initial touchdown of the demons and how they’re dealt with. Then a second part where a man gets involved in such a weird way that I don’t dare spoil it. Please read it. If you’re like me, and you want books off the beaten path with stories that you didn’t think anyone would have the nerve to write, read this book. Read anything by John Shirley really, but this one especially. The climax in the second half of the book is something I will never get over. And I mean that in the best way possible.
Dr. Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick. Now I am allowed the incredible privilege to talk about Philip K. Dick. He’s always written about broken societies and imperfect futures, but this one really is about a world that has ended and is limping back to life. Typical of any PKD book, trying to summarize this is going to be almost impossible. There’s a bomb that goes off, and several, disparate characters are affected. There’s a blending of their stories, and each of them is unlike anyone you’ll ever read about.
We get the initial incident, and then the rest of the story is concerned with how they survive after that. They rebuild and form a community. But don’t think for a second this is by the numbers, because things get so very weird. Thanks mostly to the presence of a character named Hoppy, a mutant with mind powers. Like Demons, this needs to be experienced to be believed.
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. We open with a man with bandaged eyes waking up with the feeling that something has gone terribly wrong. The night before, there was a meteor shower that blinded everyone who looked at it, which was most people. So Bill Masen is now a man with sight in the world of the blind. The really unfortunate thing is, in this world, there are also Triffids. Plants that can walk, sting, and kill. When you have sight, they’re fairly easy to avoid. But now the Triffids have the advantage.
I didn’t expect what this book delivered. First off, what a different scenario, am I right? The combination of a random epidemic of blindness and these sentient plants was pure magic. Wyndham also writes beyond that, with all those survival trappings about helping others and when you have to run instead of help. How to repopulate the earth, which becomes a tough conversation about monogamy and survival and choice. There’s a lot here to absorb in a short space, and I can promise it will surprise you.
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. Like PKD, Vonnegut wrote a lot about the end of the world or our inevitable terrible future. This particular one is about ice-nine, created by Dr. Felix Hoenikker. It can turn water into an irreversible solid. So if dropped in the wrong place, it could destroy the entire world’s water supply. He’s put it in the hands of his unstable children, which means we’re probably all goners.
Like all of Vonnegut’s work it’s an eccentric fable, a satire told with humor but holding a kernel of sad horror within it. It’s considered one of his best, and I won’t argue with that. It’s definitely one of his most popular. If you wanted to get into his work in general, this would be an excellent place to start. Or end. Get it? Bad joke. I’ll stop now.
Five more books for your end-times needs. If you want to support this blog, check out my Redbubble Shop. As always, happy geeking!