Welcome to the Library at the End of the World!

Posted on: January 15, 2010

I welcome you to the Library at the End of the World. Here, I will be reviewing books (fiction and non-fiction), movies, TV shows, and other media related to survival, emergency preparedness, and all things post-apocalyptic. I will also from time to time be interviewing authors well-known for their contributions to the post-apocalyptic genre.

I started reading end of the world fiction back about 25 years ago. I was in fifth grade and came across a stash of old Boy’s Life magazines in my classroom. In those battered and well-worn pages, I found monthly installments of a comic strip adaptation of John Christopher’s Tripods trilogy. For those not familiar, the story takes place in the future, decades after aliens had conquered Earth. Most of humanity were essentially slaves due to these wire mesh caps they wore once they became young adults. A small group of people had managed to avoid the “capping” and were working toward overthrowing the aliens.

I was hooked from the first page I read. People in the story lived in small villages outside ruined cities. Will, the protagonist, was taken in by one of the resistance members and given directions to their hideout in the White Mountains. To get there, he and a couple friends had to make their way through bombed out rubble, sometimes finding relics that were immediately recognizable to the reader but that baffled the characters. Just great, great stuff.

My school library didn’t have any of the Tripods books but they did have a copy of Empty World by John Christopher. That story took place in England after a worldwide pandemic had killed the majority of adults. It was a plague that only killed those who had reached puberty, not unlike the much later TV show Jeremiah. Again, I was riveted by this story. In my young mind, I could think of nothing greater than being given free reign to do as I pleased, take whatever I wanted from stores, and live in virtually any home I wished.

Look, I was all of 11 years old, cut me some slack here, ok?

It was also right around this time I saw The Road Warrior for the first time. I was predictably enthralled with Mad Max and his adventures in this flick. I went so far as to, when playing with my friends in the woods, carry around a stick I had whittled and pretending it was a sawed off, double barrel shotgun.

From those early experiences, I was absolutely hooked on all things post-apocalyptic.

It wasn’t too long after seeing The Road Warrior that I came across a book entitled Life After Doomsday by Dr. Bruce Clayton. I saved up my allowance and bought it, devouring it in a day or two. Quite a bit of it was over my head but I slugged my way through it. I still have that book on my shelf at home and have reread it dozens of times.

During my formative years in the 1980s, post-nuclear-war books became rather popular, beginning with Jerry Ahern’s series The Survivalist. I snapped up every book I could find that somehow fit into this genre, trading them back and forth with a couple buddies. In addition to The Survivalist, there was The Warlord, The Outrider, Traveler, and many, many more.

Today, I have several hundred volumes in my home library. The bulk of those books, in one way or another, circle back to my interest in all things concerning the end of the world. Some are stories set after some type of societal collapse. Others are how-to books concerning skills one might need after a real world disaster. Still others are related to prophecies and predictions.

I also have a collection of movies and TV shows from the post-apocalyptic genre. Everything from Jeremiah to Jericho, Mad Max to The Survivalist.

I call it a hobby. Others less generous might call it an obsession.

Please feel free to utilize the comments section below each blog entry. Let me know what you think of my ramblings. Give me suggestions of books or movies to review in the future. While I have a fairly lengthy list of titles already earmarked for review, I’m always on the lookout for more. I look forward to hearing from you!

4 thoughts on “Welcome to the Library at the End of the World!

  1. do you have a recommendation for a medical reference books (smaller than the physicians desk reference!!) that would be appropriate for someone who is already a medic? more of a treatment than identification of the medical issues when there are no more hospitals or pharmacies? all of the ones that i have seen are more for the layperson…

  2. I also read Life After Doomsday (had a big mushroom cloud on the book jacket cover, if I remember right) back when I was in Junior high. Pretty impressive book (and I might still have it kicking around, either with me or at my father’s house). I remember it had a ton of great articles, although I believe there was on in there on the “survivalist’s arsenal” that read not unlike the arms locker for your average Delta Force team, i.e., a little extreme.

    Still, a very interesting read. I might have to dig my post-apoc/survivalist reference library out of the shelves again and give some of them a flip-through for old times’ sake.

  3. Jim,
    I, like you, have devoured TEOTWAKI fiction and how-to books for years and am always on the lookout for word of any I may have missed. I will await your reviews with gleeful anticipation. 🙂

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