The results are in for the Apocalyptic Fiction Poll 2: “What is your favorite apocalyptic tv series ?” Jericho is the clear winner with a total of 230 votes! The Walking Dead came in a distant second place, followed by Falling Skies, Survivors and The Colony. It seems that people were not ready for Jericho to be cancelled. In fact, there is a large movement to revive the show and apparently Netflix is in negotiations right now with CBS to bring back some new episodes. If you want to support the effort to bring this excellent show back on tv, follow Jericho Rising on Facebook. Thanks to everyone that voted and left comments in last week’s Apocalyptic Fiction Poll!
With a number of new apocalyptic television series coming out this year, including NBC’s Revolution, I thought I would run a poll to get a general consensus of what people think is the best apocalyptic television show. This poll includes some of the better known past and present apocalyptic tv shows. Please vote below. If you don’t see your favorite show listed, please write it in a comment. Thanks for participating!
Survivors is a post-apocalyptic BBC television series spanning two seasons from 2008-2010 that follows a group of people struggling to stay alive after a pandemic kills 99% of the human population. I was able to watch the entire series for free when I signed up for a one month trial membership on Amazon Prime. The virus has spared a select few, with little regard to the moral standing of its victims. The main characters, brought together by chance, have diverse backgrounds, ranging from an escaped prisoner to a previously care free heir to a Kuwaiti oil fortune. This small group of survivors struggles to define their moral boundaries in their quest to stay alive. The necessity of violence is constantly in question. Most of the characters are willing to accept that sometimes violence is necessary, at least in the defense of the innocent. On some level, as humans, aren’t we all complicit to the unspeakable acts that have occurred in the defense of the lives of our ancestors? In Survivors, violence is not a forgone conclusion though, as is often the case. Through their hostile encounters with others, it becomes clear that they will need to fight to survive. Survivors is gentler in a number of ways compared to some of the other apocalyptic fiction that I have reviewed. It is “civil” in many aspects. For instance, there are minimal displays of violence. While danger is always present, violence is used sparingly and not gratuitously. The formation of relationships between the characters remains the focus throughout the development of Survivors. I would recommend the Survivors series. While it is not without its flaws, especially in terms of its realism, I found the characters and their relationships to be interesting and story to be very entertaining.
The Undisputed King of Nothing is a fascinating new post-apocalyptic comic series by Paul Stapleton. The comic follows a man as he grapples with being the last known survivor of a pandemic that wipes out the world’s human population. Due to his unique immunity to the virus, the protagonist becomes “The Undisputed King of Nothing”. Being the King of Nothing is not easy. The struggle to survive on a practical level is hard work. The loneliness is almost unbearable. Left alone with his endless thoughts, he struggles with his sanity. The Undisputed King of Nothing is survival from a British perspective. You could almost hear Pink Floyd playing in the background, “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way”. The dire nature of the situation is tempered with a dry, witty humor that is quite enjoyable. The Undisputed King of Nothing is a thinking man’s apocalypse. In terms of enemies, zombies and violent raiders pale in comparison to a ruminating mind left alone in an empty world.
Apocalypse Law by John Grit is a very entertaining story about a man and his son struggling to survive on a small farm after an influenza strain kills a large part of the human population. After the last few books that I have read, it was truly fun that the main character in Apocalypse Law, Nate, is a retired Army Ranger that can kick some major ass! (what can I say, sometimes I get tired of the bad guys running the show!:) Naturally, some unsavory types make their way past the farm in the period following the outbreak and Nate is willing and able to defend himself and his son. Apocalypse Law reads more like an action movie. It is fast paced and full of suspense. This is a good book to read after you finish The Road by Cormac McCarthy. You could argue that The Road may be more realistic but Apocalypse Law sure is a lot more fun!
Swan Song by Robert McCammon is a chilling story that takes place following an all out nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union (The book was released in the late 1980’s, near the end of the Cold War). The earth is plunged into a nuclear winter and is a complete wasteland, devoid of plant life. The story is told through a number of unique characters ranging from a New York City “bag lady” to a pro wrestler and changes perspectives frequently as they struggle to survive. Good verses evil is a strong element throughout and the evil is certainly abundant. The bad people in this book are really bad…like Stephen King bad…in fact, one of the characters is the devil himself. Swan Song delves a little more into “supernatural” territory than I like and it is also a little on the long side but it is definitely exciting. While Swan Song wouldn’t be at the top of my list of good apocalyptic fiction, it is certainly worth reading and will provide hours of entertainment.
The Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 7, Pretty Much Dead Already. “The Barn is full of walkers”. Now that everyone knows that the barn is full of walkers, a choice must be made: Do the survivors live in denial and pretend that they are safe within the confines of the farm and ignore the fact that there is a barn full of bloodthirsty zombies living in their midst? Or do they blow open the barn doors and accept the ugly reality of their situation? An interesting choice, perhaps reminiscent of the choice we all are facing with the world as it is today. By the end of this episode, the choice is clear, although it is far from a unanimous decision.
The Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 6, Secrets explores the dynamics between a number of characters in this group of survivors in the post-apocalyptic, zombie infested world. Human relationships sure do get complicated, especially when secrets are kept and this show holds nothing back. Shane sets the tone for this show when he reminds Dale that the world is no longer a place to make casual threats when he says “…if I would shoot my best friend, imagine what I would do to someone that I don’t even like…” Tailgaters beware: if civilization ever deteriorates to this point, we all better be careful with our words and actions.
Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse, written by James Wesley Rawles tells a story about a group of people struggling to survive a drastic collapse in the financial system which leads to the worst depression in history. JWR is certainly one of the pioneers in economic collapse fiction and is perhaps one of the best known “preppers” in America. In some ways, Patriots is used by James Wesley Rawles as a pulpit where he is able to express his views on issues such as gun control and organized militias. However, if you can get past the long legal/political rants throughout the book, there is a good deal of useful information. In fact one of the criticisms about the book is that the characters are constantly going into great detail about the weapons and equipment that they use. If you approach this book with the intent to learn something about how to prepare for a disaster, you will get more out of it than if you are looking for a work of fine fiction. The characters in Patriots are developed on a very shallow level and lack any depth whatsoever. I would recommend this book only to those that are looking for information on ways that they could prepare for a disaster. The lack of character depth and the extensive politcal ranting left me less than satisfied in terms of entertainment value and fictional merit.
The Passage is an ambitious apocalyptic novel written by Justin Cronin that begins in the near future and spans almost one hundred years into the future. It is similar to Stephen King’s The Stand in that a virus that is being engineered in a secret government lab is released into the world. The government is working with a newly discovered virus trying to create “super soldiers”. This virus is unique in a number of different ways and takes on a life of its own through the death row inmates that are used as “guinea pigs” in the experiments. Obviously, the plan to create these “super soldiers” goes awry and the virus actually turns the victims into powerful, vampire like creatures that feed on the blood of other humans and animals. These vampire like creatures are responsible for both the spread of the virus and the destruction of the human population. The Passage is a haunting story that definitely left an impression in my mind. It is difficult to forget the armored steel passenger trains that are built during the crisis to transport survivors to safety. The Passage is a long story that is well worth the time. While some of the creations in The Passage are not new, Justin Cronin’s depiction of vampires versus survivors in a post apocalyptic world is entirely unique and satisfying.
Rick Grimes loses loses some blood in this episode called “Bloodletting” as some new characters are introduced and previous characters are developed. “Bloodletting” has a little less action than normal but I guess the more that you “know” the characters, it’s more exciting when they are getting chased by man eating zombies!
One is an interesting post-apocalyptic novel written by Conrad Williams and released in 2009. The cause of the disaster in One remains a mystery although its effects are devastating and kill most of the people on earth. The main character, Richard Jane, is a deep sea diver that works on oil rigs and happens to be deep under water when the incident occurs. Presumably, the mass of water above him shields him from the devastation. The story follows Richard in his search for his five year old son that was living in London at the time of the disaster. The world that Richard finds is a desolate, dreary place that has become overridden with zombie type creatures that are “stealing” female survivors for some mysterious, horrifying reason. One has an “extraterrestrial” feel to it. It leaves you wondering if the entire incident was some type of an alien attack and that the aliens are intent on reproducing and populating the earth. This was a dark tale of survival. It reminds me of a dream where you decide to fight against what is trying to “get you” even though you know you are going to die. One offers little in the way of practical tips for preparation for disaster but it does provide an interesting and entertaining perspective on the apocalypse.
Lights out, written by David Crawford, follows a group of survivors in Texas after the electric grid goes down. This book was originally released one chapter at a time via the internet, through message boards. Now that the book is available all in one place, you can follow Mark Turner, otherwise known as “Karate Man”, as he struggles to protect and provide for his family in a post-electric world.
The story describes the decline of civilization following an unknown event that disables almost every modern device and shuts down the electric grid. Presumably some type of electromagnetic pulse (emp) event is to blame.
Throughout his book, Crawford illustrates our dependence on electricity and shares a wealth of practical information for those that want to prepare for a disaster event. Lights Out is a highly entertaining story and is must read apocalyptic fiction!
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As I go over the list of fiction that I have enjoyed lately, AMC’s, The Walking Dead is definitely at the top of that list, especially with the release of season 2 coming up Sunday October 16. ( The Walking Dead: Season 2 Trailer ) I actually stumbled upon this show when AMC was doing a marathon showing its first season. Fans of the “end of the world” type of fiction will most definitely enjoy this show! The Walking Dead takes place in the present time when a pandemic kills most of the humans on earth and turns most of the survivors into zombies. It is based on a comic book series that was started in 2003 by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore. The story follows Rick Grimes, who is a small town police officer and a small group of other survivors as they try to stay alive in a world that has been overrun with zombies.
The writers/ directors do a great job of developing the characters and it is easy to relate to them and their experiences. The Walking Dead is great entertainment and I highly recommend it to those that enjoy apocalyptic fiction and would even recommend it to anyone that enjoys good drama with some edge.