Fictional accounts about environmental apocalypses

What can go wrong when nature conspires against our survival? Dust? Air? Water? or the earth beneath us? When an apocalypse is real, nothing is fiction. These books will make you believe that.
Earth Abides
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Earth Abides

by George R. Stewart

About the book:  In this profound ecological fable, a mysterious plague has destroyed the vast majority of the human race. Isherwood Williams, one of the few survivors, returns from a wilderness field trip to discover that civilization has vanished during his absence. Eventually he returns to San Francisco and encounters a female survivor who becomes his wife. Around them and their children a small community develops, living like their pioneer ancestors, but rebuilding civilization is beyond their resources, and gradually they return to a simpler way of life.

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The Death of Grass
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The Death of Grass

by John Christopher

About the book:  At first the virus wiping out grass and crops is of little concern to John Custance. It has decimated Asia, causing mass starvation and riots, but Europe is safe and a counter-virus is expected any day. Except, it turns out, the governments have been lying to their people. When the deadly disease hits Britain they are left alone, and society starts to descend into barbarism. As John and his family try to make it across country to the safety of his brother's farm in a hidden valley, their humanity is tested to its very limits. Includes an introduction by Robert Macfarlane.

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A Canticle For Leibowitz
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A Canticle For Leibowitz

by Walter M. Miller Jr.

About the book:  The HUGO AWARD-winning novel of Earth after the apocalypse In the depths of the Utah desert, long after the Flame Deluge has scoured the earth clean, the rediscoveries of science are secretly nourished by cloistered monks dedicated to the study and preservation of knowledge. By studying the Holy Relics of the past, the Order of St Leibowitz hopes to raise humanity from its fallen state to one of grace. But is such knowledge the key to salvation? Or the certain sign that we are doomed to repeat our most grievous mistakes ... ?

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The Wind from Nowhere
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The Wind from Nowhere

by J. G. Ballard

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The Drowned World
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The Drowned World

by J. G. Ballard

About the book:  When London is lost beneath the rising tides, unconscious desires rush to the surface in this apocalyptic tale from the author of ‘Crash’ and ‘Cocaine Nights’.

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The World in Winter
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The World in Winter

by John Christopher

About the book:  Penguin reissues a classic work of science fiction from the author of The Death of Grass - now with a new introduction by Hari Kunzru One year the UK suffers a terrible, harsh winter: rivers freeze solid, food and fuel run low, the whole of Europe lies under snow. As months pass and the arctic weather remains, it becomes clear that the world's climate has changed permanently. Now, humanity must adapt to survive in the brutal new conditions. As the northern hemisphere nations fall into chaos and barbarism, with packs of men roaming like wolves through the frozen wastelands, citizens flee south to Africa and South America. Journalist Andrew Leedon is one of the lucky ones who escaped in time - swapping London for the white refugee slums of habitable Nigeria. Horrified by conditions and determined to act, Leedon makes a desperate plan to return and reclaim the dangerous wilderness of his abandoned country... The World in Winter is part of the Penguin Worlds classic science fiction series

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Earthworks
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Earthworks

by John Beardsley

About the book:  'No way of solving these problems exists any more. The conventions collapsed like old bridges. On the one side of the gulf is the mind, eternal and untouched - on the other, the body, running, jumping, bleeding ... The mind can take care of itself, as it has had to from the very beginning; it's not as smart as the body, but it can survive.' The future Earth of Brian Aldiss's Earthworks is a moribund ecological disaster, ruined by poisons, greed, unsustainable development and overpopulation. Mankind is broken, starving, wracked with disease and divided by bitter social injustice. Our window into this terrible world is the dangerous, crazed Knowle Noland, whose destructive impulses threaten to upturn the wreckage of civilization, either to redemption or final catastrophe. Rarely do Science Fiction works stand well the test of time as their suppositions are out-dated and superseded; Brian Aldiss's vision is remarkable for having come closer to reality decades after he conceived of this terrible future.

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The Sheep Look Up
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The Sheep Look Up

by John Brunner

About the book:  Nebula Award Finalist: A prophetic look at the potential consequences of the escalating destruction of the Earth In a near future, the air pollution is so bad that everyone wears gas masks. The infant mortality rate is soaring, and birth defects, new diseases, and physical ailments of all kinds abound. The water is undrinkable—unless you’re poor and have no choice. Large corporations fighting over profits from gas masks, drinking water, and clean food tower over an ineffectual, corrupt government. Environmentalist Austin Train is on the run. The “trainites,” a group of violent environmental activists, want him to lead their movement; the government wants him dead; and the media demands amusement. But Train just wants to survive. More than a novel of science fiction, The Sheep Look Up is a skillful and frightening political and social commentary that takes its place next to other remarkable works of dystopian literature, such as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and George Orwell’s 1984.

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Timescape
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Timescape

by Gregory Benford

About the book:  The year is 1998, the world is a growing nightmare of desperation, of uncontrollable pollution and increasing social unrest. In Cambridge, two scientists experiment with tachyons - subatomic particles that travel faster than the speed of light and, therefore, according to the Theory of Relativity, may move backwards in time. Their plan is to signal a warning to the previous generation. In 1962, a young Californian scientist, Gordon Bernstein, finds his experiments are being spoiled by unknown interference. As he begins to suspect something near the truth it becomes a race against time - the world is collapsing and will only be saved if Gordon can decipher the message in time. Winner of the Nebula Award for best novel, 1980 Winner of the John W. Campbell Award for best novel, 1981 Winner of the BSFA Award for best novel, 1980

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The Sea and Summer
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The Sea and Summer

by George Turner

About the book:  Francis Conway is Swill - one of the millions in the year 2041 who must subsist on the inadequate charities of the state. Life, already difficult, is rapidly becoming impossible for Francis and others like him, as government corruption, official blindness and nature have conspired to turn Swill homes into watery tombs. And now the young boy must find a way to escape the approaching tide of disaster. The Sea and Summer, published in the US as The Drowning Towers is George Turner's masterful exploration of the effects of climate change in the not-too-distant future. Comparable to J.G. Ballard's The Drowned World, it was shortlisted for the Nebula and won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best novel, 1988

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A Journal Of The Flood Year
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A Journal Of The Flood Year

by David Ely

About the book:  In a near-future, half-flooded world governed by technobureaucracy and ultraconformity, where human contact is abhorrent and passion unheard of, William Fowke already has a reputation as a trouble-maker. And now he insists that the Wall - the engineering marvel that keeps what remains of America's East Coast from being inundated by the Atlantic Ocean - is leaking. Convicted of sedition and 'excluded', Fowke begins a horrific, thrilling odyssey through a nether world of gulags. With the exception of agent Julia Keller, who arrested him, everyone is hostile, including his former bosses and fellow prisoners, leaving Fowke excluded even by the excluded. And desperate to get back to his threatened Wall to sound the alarm ...

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The Ice People
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The Ice People

by Maggie Gee

About the book:  It's the middle of the twenty-first century, and the next Ice Age has suddenly sent global warming into reverse. Saul is one of the Ice People, the threatened peoples of the northern hemisphere, who, watching their world freeze over, try to move south towards the equator... 'Excellent ... intelligent, driven, imaginative, obsessive yet still gracious, one of our best ... Exciting stuff.' Fay Weldon 'Ambitious and subtle... She writes elegantly, unsentimentally, expertly... The Ice People works persuasively as science fiction, and is truthful about our emotional lives.' Independent 'Infused with poetic intensity ... this is a gripping fictional realisation of what we fear: the death of civilisation. Maggie Gee achieves her apocalyptic vision without the clank of hardware and intergalactic wars. Her detail is precise and controlled and her beautifully orchestrated whisper of redemption is rooted in eternal myth.' Elizabeth Buchan The Times 'An intriguing novel of ideas, fully fleshed out ... Classy science fiction.' Mail on Sunday 'A remarkable novel... up there with Orwell and Huxley.' Jeremy Paxman 'A gem of a book.' Rose Tremain 'A rattling good page-turning yarn.' George Melly 'A fantastic book' Mariella Frostrup

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Forty Signs of Rain
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Forty Signs of Rain

by Kim Stanley Robinson

About the book:  In the first installment of a trilogy of eco-thrillers set in Washington, D.C., environmental aide Charlie Quibler is frustrated in his attempts to prove to a distracted government that global warming has reached cataclysmic levels, a situation that is complicated when a promising technology is exploited for private interests. Reprint.

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I Have Waited, and You Have Come
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I Have Waited, and You Have Come

by Martine McDonagh

About the book:  The world has been ravaged by climate change and Rachel is left to fend for herself. Living amid a clutch of disparate communities whose inhabitants she chooses to avoid, she rarely ventures beyond the safety of the storm wall. But when Jez White disturbs her twilight existence, Rachel finds herself in a murky territory somewhere between stalking and being stalked. A story of survival and obsession, this is a complex psychological portrait framed by compelling drama. It is by turns sensual, poignant and sinister.

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The Road
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The Road

by Cormac McCarthy

About the book:  A father and his young son walk alone through burned America, heading slowly for the coast. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. They have nothing but a pistol to defend themselves against the men who stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food – and each other.

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The Carhullan Army
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The Carhullan Army

by Sarah Hall

About the book:  The world has changed. War rages in South America and China, and Britain - now entirely dependent on the US for food and energy - is run by an omnipresent dictatorship known simply as The Authority. Assets and weapons have been seized, and women are compulsorily fitted with contraceptive devices. This is Sister's story of her attempt to escape the repressive regime. From the confines of her Lancaster prison cell she tells of her search for The Carhullan Army, a quasi-mythical commune of 'unofficial' women rumoured to be living in a remote part of Cumbria . . .

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The Pesthouse
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The Pesthouse

by Jim Crace

About the book:  A devastated America exists in an imagined future. Its technologies are forgotten, its communities have splintered and its refugees, reversing the course of history, travel eastwards in search of safety and a new start. Among them are Franklin and Margaret, young, bereft, forced together by circumstance; but finding that love, courage and determination can endure even as a country breaks slowly apart.

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Last Light
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Last Light

by Terri Blackstock

About the book:  A terrifying apocalyptic thriller from the one of the brightest stars of the genre... It seems to be a very normal Monday morning. But in the space of only a few days, the world's oil supplies have been severed and at a horrifying pace things begin to unravel everywhere. And this is no natural disaster: someone is behind this. Jenny is stuck in Manchester, fighting desperately against the rising chaos to get back to London, where her children are marooned as events begin to spiral out of control: riots, raging fires, looting, rape and murder. In the space of a week, London is transformed into a lawless and anarchic vision of hell. Jenny's estranged husband, oil engineer Andy Sutherland, is stranded in Iraq with a company of British soldiers, desperate to find a way home to his family, trapped as transport links and the very infrastructure of daily life begin to collapse around him. And against all this, a mysterious man is tracking Andy's family. He'll silence anyone who might be able to reveal the identities of those behind this global disaster. It seems that the same people who now have a stranglehold on the future of civilisation have flexed their muscles before, at other significant tipping points in history, and they are prepared to do anything to keep their secret - and their power - safe.

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Man in the Holocene
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Man in the Holocene

by Max Frisch

About the book:  Frisch charts the crumbling landscape of an old man’s consciousness as he slips away from himself toward death and reintegration with the age-old history of our planet. A “luminous parable...a masterpiece” (New York Times Book Review). Translated by Geoffrey Skelton. Illustrations. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

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1: The Carbon Diaries 2015
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1: The Carbon Diaries 2015

by Saci Lloyd

About the book:  It's January 1st, 2015, and the UK is the first nation to introduce carbon dioxide rationing, in a drastic bid to combat climate change. As her family spirals out of control, Laura Brown chronicles the first year of rationing with scathing abandon. Will her mother become one with her inner wolf? Will her sister give up her weekends in Ibiza? Does her father love the pig more than her? Can her band The Dirty Angels make it big? And will Ravi Datta ever notice her? In these dark days, Laura deals with the issues that really matter: love, floods and pigs. The Carbon Diaries 2015 is one girl's drastic bid to stay sane in a world unravelling at the seams.

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