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Dr_Dredd's avatar

Do you know of any "after-the-fall-of-civilization" books?

Asked by Dr_Dredd (10528points) April 2nd, 2010

For instance, in Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series, mention is made of an Age of Legends when technological marvels such as “sho-wings” (airplanes) were commonplace. During the time of the books themselves, the Age of Legends civilization has fallen.

Another example is the Obernewtyn series, by Isobelle Carmody. The books take place long after an apocalypse called the Great White. The Oldtimers who lived just before the Great White possessed technology such as airplanes and underwater cities.

A third example is Joan D. Vinge’s Snow Queen series, which takes place long after a civilization called the Old Empire fell into ruin. Old Empire science included an immortality virus and a galaxy-spanning computer network using human beings as dataports.

Does anyone know of any other examples of books describing the aftermath of fallen high-technology civilizations? Did you like them? Why or why not?

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19 Answers

mrentropy's avatar

The Ice Schooner by Michael Moorcock. Loved it.

Trillian's avatar

Dreamsnake by Vonda N. Mcintyre. I loved it. The concept of using snake venom by altering it to treat tumors or whatever was woven very well into the story along with some other cool concepts.

TexasDude's avatar

The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

It’s bleak and depressing, but it’s a good read.

Nullo's avatar

Asimov’s Foundation trilogy follows the demise and resurgence of Galactic society.

Clarke’s Against the Fall of Night is set at the “creepy desolation” end of the far future, when there’s just a single city left on all of Earth.

The Lord of the Rings follows a period very similar to the Age of Legends, though in a land trapped in Medieval stasis.

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jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

The Gunslinger by Stephen King.

Frankie's avatar

I recently read Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler for a literature class. It’s somewhat post-apocalyptic (I say somewhat because there wasn’t some definitive, huge, “catastrophic” event that destroyed life as we know it, and there was still government and city-states, although they were completely corrupt and ineffectual), and I really enjoyed it. She’s written a whole series of books like that apparently, though I haven’t read any others.

cbloom8's avatar

Stephen King’s The Stand. One of the best post-apocalyptic/apocalyptic transition books I’ve ever read and one of his best books. It tells the story of the deaths of millions from a Super Flu virus and the survivor’s travels, finding each other and eventually forming two opposing post-apocalyptic societies. Absolutely fascinating and very detailed. It might not quite fit the bill of being after the fall of civilization, as civilization soon picks up, but it nevertheless has a similar affect.

Trillian's avatar

Riverworld – Philip Jose Farmer

Arisztid's avatar

I am very fond of ‘The Postman’ by David Brin.

‘I am Legend’ by Richard Matheson is a classic as is “Planet of the Apes.” I second recommendations for The Stand and the Gunslinger saga by Stephen King. I am a huge fan of the Gunslinger (Dark Tower) saga.

I am trying to remember one that I liked very much… it was some 700 pages. If I can remember the title I shall comment again.

laureth's avatar

I’m a big fan of S.M. Stirling’s “Change” series. This is the first one. Some unknown thing (I could tell you, but they only discuss it later in the series) takes out electricity, internal combustion and firearms, taking us back to swords and horses. As you might imagine, current people are woefully unprepared. ;) Rennies, Wiccans and survivalists do surprisingly well.

Shuttle128's avatar

I read a very good (but dated) short story by Arthur Clarke that sort of follows that theme (though maybe not—it’s still good).

Rescue Party

semblance's avatar

An oldie but goodie is “Earth Abides” by George Stewart. Very ecologically based.

I also really liked:

“Recall not Earth” by C.C. McApp
“This Immortal” by Roger Zelazny
“The Moon Men” and “Beyond Thirty”, both by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Supacase's avatar

I think The Hunger Games would fall into this category.

Rarebear's avatar

On the Beach by Nevil Shute
Earth Abides by George R. Stewart
Alas Babylon by Pat Frank
The Stand by Steven King
The Postman by David Brin

Do I like them? I’m a sci-fi nut and those 5 are still among my favorites.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

“Lucifers Hammer” by Niven and Pournelle, “A Canticle for Liebowitz” by Walter Miller. The “Gaea” series (“Titan”, “Wizard” and “Demon”) by John Varley is about a living planet breaking down in old age.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I’m getting a depressing idea of where you’re going with this Q. I’ve been thinking for much of the past 30 years that I should stock up on these books. But now I’m thinking I may not have to worry about living through the fall. But I still like seed catalogs…

Several of Robert A. Heinlein’s works deal with “before the start of civilization” societies. That is, pioneering on new worlds or new regions of unexplored worlds, which is another aspect of the same ‘lack of civilization’ theme, I think.

PattyAtHome's avatar

@semblance – Earth Abides was a great book. I remember at the end of the book, the new generation had grown considerably, but the heros efforts to maintain literacy had failed. It was kind of cool how the new society was already morphing his life, and ideosynchosies like always carrying that sledgehammer, into a legend. You can just imagine another generation or two he will be the basis of a Thor type god in a new mythology.

semblance's avatar

@PattyAtHome – I agree. The two things I liked most about the book were:

1) It is the first book I know of that really comes to grips with the fact that people are ultimately at the mercy of their environment and nature, just as much as animals are. It is amazing that Stewart thought this through decades before the environmental consciousness movement even started.

2) I reallly enjoyed the little passages that were not really part of the main story, but related to it. For example, there was a page or two about what would happen to the dogs, who were not wiped out by the virus or whatever-it-was that killed off the people. Another on horses, etc., strewn through the book. He was wrong about the sheep, though, I think. He predicted that they were too domesticated to survive. Years after reading the book I was at a zoo and I came across some animals called Barbados Sheep. They were descended from ordinary domesticated sheep but had run wild on Barbados and other Caribbean islands and had reverted to their primitive type. They were long of leg, fleet of foot, and armed with impressive horns and just as competent, I think, as they’re truly wild Big Horn Sheep cousins that we have in the Rocky Mountains.

Thanks for sharing your comments on the story. It is probably my favorit “after the fall” book of all time.

PattyAtHome's avatar

@Trillian – Riverworld is more of an alternate afterlife story more so than post-apocalypse.

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