Best Postapocalyptic Worldbuilding

K. Noel Moore

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I'm currently about halfway through Deadline by Mira Grant and I am loving the worldbuilding in the Newsflesh series. The concept of a world that simply adjusts and attempts to keep functioning as normal after an apocalyptic event (whether they succeed being another matter entirely) is something I've been fascinated with and wanted to explore in my own writing for a long time, and Grant pulls it off beautifully. I want to know, what are other postapocalyptic books with great worldbuilding, and what (in your mind) makes them great?
 

biodroid

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The Stand by Stephen King, it's very epic with a handful of characters trekking across USA. SK builds a fantastic world before and after the Superflu. Huge atmosphere.

Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon. Nuclear assault on the USA and how people come to terms with the apocalypse. More suspension of belief required for this one but still a very good book. A lot of people have compared it to The Stand in scope and atmosphere.
 

Rodders

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Stephen King's uncut edition of The Stand remains my favourite example of Post apocalyptic world building, followed perhaps by Robert McCammon's Swan Song.
 

picklematrix

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The Passage by Justin Cronin springs to mind.
It only explores a fairly small portion of the world, but it does feature multiple communities and characters, and some well fleshed out lore.
 

hitmouse

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The Drowned World by JG Ballard (or The Drought, or The Crystal World, or by extension High Rise, Super Cannes, Cocaine Nights)

Ballard was a specialist in a type of post-apocalyptic story, where the protagonists are curiously drawn to the heart of the problem (in the last 3 listed, which are about the beginning of a collapse, the main protagonist is an active participant.)
The Drowned World is set in a near future Earth where the sun has heated up, the polar icecaps have melted, and the scene is a flooded, decaying tropical city, gradually being swallowed by jungle. Very atmospheric and affecting.
 

dannymcg

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The novelisation of Star Trek: First Contact.

We've got the survivors of a world war nuclear exchange scrabbling for their existence in Montana.
Zefram Cochrane is amongst them but he, with his scientists, is building Earth's first warp drive.
 

farntfar

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I would like to suggest the Crysalids by John Wyndham.

Not for creating a world that is very different from our own; indeed, the world created is rather a world that has regressed to a pre-industrial state; but because of the way he has described the apocalypse itsself in so few words, as seen from the viewpoint of the surviving population some generations later.

It preceeds most of the books so far mentioned by a considerable time, having been first published in 1955.
A puritanical vision of the "Tribulation", as it is known here, is hardly unknown to us now, but at that time it must have been a fairly new idea. (I now await 50 examples that you all know of that precede it. :D)

Why is it that, in all these stories, the Bible is the only book that ever survives a nuclear war? :)
 

dannymcg

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(I now await 50 examples that you all know of that precede it. :D)
Yeah ok!, first example, the same author with Day of the Triffids four years earlier.
By the end of the book they're rebuilding a somewhat different society on the Isle of Wight and are conducting research into ways to counter the walking veggies
 

Justin Swanton

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I would like to suggest the Crysalids by John Wyndham.
It preceeds most of the books so far mentioned by a considerable time, having been first published in 1955.
A puritanical vision of the "Tribulation", as it is known here, is hardly unknown to us now, but at that time it must have been a fairly new idea. (I now await 50 examples that you all know of that precede it. :D)


The Time Machine?
 

farntfar

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Yeah ok!, first example, the same author with Day of the Triffids four years earlier.
Did the Triffids (or indeed the time machine) suggest that the apocalypse was a God-invoked tribulation? (The trope of which I was speaking)
I thought the suggestion was that the problem was man made, both by genetic engineering of the triffids and the blindness-inducing break up of a satellite.
 

dannymcg

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Did the Triffids (or indeed the time machine) suggest that the apocalypse was a God-invoked tribulation? (The trope of which I was speaking)
I thought the suggestion was that the problem was man made, both by genetic engineering of the triffids and the blindness-inducing break up of a satellite.
Fair enough, you went out from apocalypse to God's punishment!
 

dannymcg

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Another one where the world has rebuilt society following WW3 is 'Ballroom of the skies' (1952) by John D McDonald.
Now the superpowers are Brazil, India and Iran
 

dannymcg

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Maybe 'Pebble in the sky' by Asimov from 1950?

A man is slammed 50,000 years into the future. Earth is a galactic backwater ravished by long ago nuclear war, society has mandatory death at age sixty and secret police to ensure this happens
 

dannymcg

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Anyways, gonna jump back a few decades now to 1912 and The Scarlet Plague by Jack London.
Most of the population is dead, a generation or two later the survivors society is mainly Hunter Gatherers.
Grandfather protagonist passes nuggets of wisdom and memories to descendants but it don't impress them much.
 

-K2-

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I'm enjoying the thread and have a lot to read. Currently, I've developed my own post-apocalyptic near-future Earth for what I'm working on. It's fun to do... destroying worlds and all that ;)

K2
 
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