– by Michael Ritchie –
It’s been a rough year all round, but hey, at least it’s not the end of the world. Here are five books in which it is, and one that will help you through, should that occur. Maybe they’ll make you feel better about your present circumstances or at least prepare you for the worst. If nothing else, you can escape this world for a little while.
Nod by Adrian Barnes
Cause of apocalypse: pandemic
In Southern Canada, Paul has a good night’s sleep while his girlfriend is unable to drop off for even a moment. After a day at work, they find the truth: almost no one slept last night. The next night, the same thing happens. After the third globally sleepless night, society begins to collapse. This is a novel that covers a rapid doomsday scenario that shows just how important sleep is to us and how quickly things can fall apart under the right circumstances. It’s altogether creepy and endlessly haunting as Paul struggles to hide his rare ability among a world of people becoming crazier by the day.
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
Cause of apocalypse: birth of the Antichrist
The demon Crowley and the angel Aziraphale have a slight issue – the end of the world is coming and they’ve misplaced the Antichrist. While the angels and demons prepare themselves for battle, one of the last witches teams up with one of the last witchfinders to find out what’s happening in an ancient book of prophecies. Meanwhile the four bikers of the apocalypse are making their way to the small English town of Lower Tadfield, where the end of the world is due this Saturday. A hilariously funny book from two of the most genius writers of modern times, Good Omens is full of irreverence and yet still manages to be dark and compelling.
Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
Cause of apocalypse: pandemic
Twenty years after a pandemic spread through the globe wiping out the vast majority of the population, society is slowly rebuilding. Kirsten is part of a group of travelling actors who go from tribe to tribe of what was North America and perform Shakespeare plays to the survivors. The book contains many flashbacks and cuts to various other characters struggling to cope with this new way of living. It’s full of hope, and is especially beautiful in its focus on helping people try and retain their humanity through the work of the greatest writer in history.
Flood, by Stephen Baxter
Cause of apocalypse: natural disaster
Sea levels have begun to rise at unprecedented rates, and there is nothing humanity can do to halt it. When oceanographer Thandie Jones discovers that the seabed has cracked and oceans beyond the ocean floor are now pouring more and more water up into the seas, it becomes a race against time for humans to find a way to survive on a planet that will be entirely submerged in just a few decades. Another one that details humanity’s will to survive, the book is heavy on the science, but engaging and full of surprises and wonder.
The Last Policeman, by Ben H. Winters
Cause of apocalypse: breakdown of societal law caused by impending asteroid impact
Hank Palace has always dreamed of being a police officer, but after holding down the job for just two years, it looks like it’s all about to be over. An asteroid is on its way to Earth and there’s no chance it can miss. Civilization crumbles and people all quit their jobs to either kill themselves early or complete their bucket lists. Hank, however, is more concerned about a dead body that’s been found. While everyone else is prepared to write it off as another suicide, Hank is convinced that there’s foul play afoot, and the end of the world isn’t going to stop him from doing his job properly. This book is breathtaking and humbling, showing humanity at both its worst and best in the face of certain death.
The Knowledge, by Lewis Dartnell
This is a nonfiction book that helps you prepare for one of the aforementioned (or any other) apocalyptic scenarios. Never mind iPhones, you don’t even have medicine anymore. The book teaches you the principles behind all the stuff we take for granted and is split into chapters that will teach you how to restart agriculture, create power, mine for metals, make clothes, instigate chemical processes and rebuild the calendar. Vastly interesting and easy to read, the book makes you proud of how far humans have come and also makes you appreciate what we have and how little we now understand of it. The world hasn’t ended yet, but it’s still useful and interesting stuff to know. And just in case, it’s never leaving my side again.