Well. End of Times, eh? I mean, we were all braced for it sometime between 2050 and 2080, what with climate change, Skynet and the oncoming zombies, but hey ho, 2016 it is.
So in honour of humanity’s rapid descent into crazy land, here are the finest apocalyptic novels, as chosen by you.
The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick
Recommended and reviewed by Peter Y Chuang
The Nazis have finished off everyone in Africa, “most of the really great comedians”, and the publishing industry in New York. This, according to Philip K. Dick, is the alternative world where Nazi Germany and Japan have won the Second World War. As far-fetched and horrifying as it sounds, The Man in the High Castle has a certain degree of realism to it, given what we know about the most traumatic events of the 20th century. But as we meet Hawthorne Abendsen, whose novel within the novel depicts an alternate reality where Nazi Germany and Japan have actually lost, we are left wondering: have they won the War?
Writers’ HQ Sieg Heil terror score: FULL TRUMP
The Country Of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman
Recommended and reviewed by Poppy O’Neil
Ice Cream is a fifteen-year-old girl in a crumbling post-apocalyptic Massachusetts where no-one lives far beyond their 18th birthday. She and her tribe – the Sengles – embark on a journey through vividly drawn city-states, nightmarish wastelands and ruined landmarks to find a cure for the mysterious epidemic that cuts their lives short.
What makes this my absolute favourite apocalyptic novel is the language. Newman has crafted an entire dialect for the Sengles, which Ice Cream’s first-person narration sustains throughout its 600-odd pages, and it’s pure poetry: “We flee like dragonfly over water, we fight like ten guns, and we be bell to see. Other children go deranged and unpredictable for our love.”
Writers’ HQ post-apoc wasteland terror score: RENEGING ON THE PARIS AGREEMENT
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Recommended and reviewed by Sarah Lewis
It’s a classic. You know the drill: darkly secretive sect take over America, force the few remaining fertile women to conceive and carry babies for the monied elite. Forget for a moment just how motherfricken good this book is purely as an object of readerlust. The speed at which we’re hurtling towards Gilead is at once startling and terrifying. Staged Islamic terrorist attacks leave the Government in disarray; completely digital financial records leave the general public vulnerable; and women’s bodies are controlled, blamed and used. WAIT WHAT WE’RE ALREADY THERE?
Writers’ HQ uterine terror score: DO NOT GRAB MY PUSSY
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Recommended and reviewed by Jo Gatford
If you like your dystopian fiction meta as fuck then welcome to the shitshow. A character writing about the end of the world meets the children of a man who helped build the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, and who are in possession of his final legacy – an isotope that would solidify every molecule of water on earth if it were released. You can kinda see where this is going. But before the end of the world there’s time for a gloriously ridiculous and horrifyingly hilarious see-saw between religion and science. Read it and weep, and then convert to Bokononism, whose central tenet is that its religious teachings are based entirely upon lies – but if you believe and adhere to those lies, you might just find peace of mind.
Writers’ HQ push the red button terror score: KEEP THOSE CODES OUT OF HIS TINY LITTLE HANDS