Since the dawn of time, humanity has had a death-wish, a fascination for the morbid. Don’t believe me? Good. Let me alter that doubt riddled thought of yours. Read some religious books and you will be subjected to themes ranging conveniently from love to death to destruction. These books were written eons ago and yet they have a touch of macabre. Modern literature too loves romanticizing the notion of an apocalyptic future where the human race is doomed.
Now how do you make death alluring? Very difficult eh? Apparently not that hard of a task for certain writers. These authors have taken the concept of apocalypse and somehow managed to morph it into something intriguing and fanciful. Read these books and lose yourself to a world of misery and yet come out wiser :
The Last Man
When the book was first published in 1826, it was recieved with heavy criticism. Reviewers went as far as to calling this Mary Shelley’s work a product of ‘diseased imagination’. But great works cannot be suppressed by mere condemnation. Due to the blooming interest in the notion of human isolation, the book was re-published in 1965. The novel imagines a decaying world overrun by plague. It tells the story of Lionel, who is the last human alive at the end of the 21st century.
Dark is a meek word to describe Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. The story follows a dying father, and his son as they make their way across a landscape decimated by an unknown cataclysmic event. It’s a world ruled by fear, where only the ruthless will survive, where humans are slowly turning towards cannibalism as food grows scarce. The book is achingly beautiful.
The World Without Us
Have you ever imagined what would happen if humans were to disappear from this planet? Well this is exactly what journalist Alan Weisman does. This book is a collecton of hypotheses that were derived while interviewing evolutionary biologists, archaeologists and other scientists to find out what Earth would look like if such an incident were to transpire. You will be amazed with the findings. For starters, life will go on.
World War Z
World War Z is a documentary style first-person account of a global clash with the undead. Max Brooks does a commendable job of painting a vivid picture of a broken world, coping with loss and mayhem. This book has been written so craftly, that at times it feels less like a work of fiction and more like a lost piece of history.
A Canticle for Leibowitz
This novel has never been out of print. That fact alone bears testimony of its greatness. And also it won the 1961 Hugo Award for best science fiction novel, furthering its legacy. The book’s three parts, Fiat Homo, Fiat Lux and Fiat Voluntas Tua, chronicle a new found society across two millenina, as they journey from the era of Simplification to Renaissance to yet another age of nuclear weapons. Guess history does repeat itself.
The Drowned World
This 1962 science-fiction novel tells the tale of a team of biologists and scientists sent to survey the cities of northern Europe and America. These regions have terraformed into tropical lagoons as a result of radiation and the melting of the polar ice caps. The most enthralling part of it all is that the characters are perversely charmed by this shattered world.
These books are a profound study on human nature and the possibilities of how our race will reluctantly embrace calamity. Even in all their darkness, these novels will compel you to introspect your very nature and make you ask yourself the hard question, ‘What would you do to survive?’