Reading Suggestions

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Post Apocalyptic Fiction

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postapocalyptic

Stories about what happens after the “end of the world”…who is left? How will society survive?  When will mankind start over, if we even can?

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For more dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels in our Young Adult collection, click here

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Douglas Adams.  Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor. Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.  Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? Why do we spend so much time between wearing digital watches? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don’t forget to bring a towel!

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Margaret Atwood.  Oryx & Crake.

As the story opens, the narrator, who calls himself Snowman, is sleeping in a tree, wearing a dirty old bedsheet, mourning the loss of his beautiful and beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake, and slowly starving to death. In a world in which science-based corporations have recently taken mankind on an uncontrolled genetic-engineering ride, he now searches for supplies in a wasteland. Insects proliferate and pigoons and wolvogs ravage the Pleeblands, where ordinary people once lived, and the Compounds that sheltered the extraordinary. As he tries to piece together what has taken place, the narrative shifts to decades earlier. How did everything fall apart so quickly? Why is Snowman left with nothing but his bizarre memories – alone except for the more-than-perfect, green-eyed Children of Crake, who think of him as a kind of monster? He explores the answers to these questions in the double journey he takes – into his own past and back to Crake’s high-tech bubble dome, where the Paradice Project unfolded and the world came to grief.

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Julianna Baggott. Pure.

Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run. Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . . There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her. When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

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Stephen Baxter.  Flood.

Four hostages are rescued from a group of religious extremists in Barcelona. After five years of being held captive together, they make a vow to always watch out for one another. But they never expected this … The world they have returned to has been transformed by water – and the water is rising. As it continues to flow from the earth’s mantle, entire countries disappear. High ground becomes a precious commodity. And finally, the dreadful truth is revealed: before fifty years have passed, there will be nowhere left to run.

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John Birmingham. Without Warning.

When an inexplicable miles-high energy wave wipes out 99 percent of the U.S. population, the survivors struggle to meet the unimaginable challenges–including James Kipper, chief engineer of Seattle; agent Caitlin Monroe, on the trail of a deadly Muslim fanatic; and General Tusk Musso and Admiral James Ritchie, racing against time to preserve world peace.

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William Brinkley.  The Last Ship.

In the aftermath of nuclear war, the Navy destroyer “Nathan James” and its crew–including twenty-six women–searches the seas for a place where survival would be possible.

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Max Brooks.  World War Z.

The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years. Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War. Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?” Note: Some of the numerical and factual material contained in this edition was previously published under the auspices of the United Nations Postwar Commission.

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Octavia Butler.  Parable of the Sower.

In California in the year 2025, a small community is overrun by desperate scavengers, as an eighteen-year-old African American woman sets off on foot on a perilous journey northward.

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Caleb Carr. Killing Time.

The year is 2023. Much of the world enjoys the great wealth generated by the triumph of information technology, but horrifying poverty grips many countries, bitter wars rage over natural resources, and the failure of international regulatory agencies has resulted in an expanding black market in all forms of weapons – including nuclear devices. The staphylococcus plague 2006 wiped out forty million people, the crash of ’07 ruined many national economies, and in America the assassination of President Emily Forrester in 2018 traumatized the nation. The Internet remains the main source of information, bombarding people everywhere with news, rumors, and allegations twenty-four hours a day – and creating enormous possibilities for the manipulation of mankind. New York psychiatrist, criminal profiler, and historian Dr. Gideon Wolfe becomes enmeshed in this world of deception when the wife of a murdered special effects wizard brings him a computer disc containing startling evidence that the now-famous visual record of President Forresrer’s assassination was digitally altered by her husband. Investigating this crime, Wolfe enlists the help of his oldest friend, Max Jenkins, a private detective expert in all forms of information manipulation. When Max, too, is murdered, a stunned and enraged Wolfe sets out to uncover who is behind the Forrester hoax and the killings, a journey that leads him to a secret group of scientific and military experts who – led by an ailing, mysterious young genius and his beautiful, brilliant sister – have undertaken to demonstrate the astonishing degree to which the public can be deceived and manipulated. Seduced in every way, Wolfe joins the team. But are their methods really as noble as their motives?

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Arthur C. Clarke. Childhood’s End.

Without warning, giant silver ships from deep space appear in the skies above every major city on Earth. Manned by the Overlords, in fifty years, they eliminate ignorance, disease, and poverty. Then this golden age ends–and then the age of Mankind begins…

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Ernest Cline. Ready Player One.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.  And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.  For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig. And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

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Matthew Costello.  Vacation.

After a global crisis causes crops to fail and species to disappear, something even more deadly happens. Masses around the world suddenly became predators, feeding off their own kind. These ‘Can Heads’ grow to such a threat that fences, gated compounds,and SWAT-style police protection become absolutely necessary to live. And after one attack leaves NYPD cop Jack Murphy wounded and his partner dead, Jack takes his wife and kids on a vacation. Far up north, to the Paterville Family Camp, a fortress-like compound in the mountains, where families can still swim and take boats out on a lake. At first, it’s idyllic. There’s plenty of food, fun stuff for their children, and another nice young couple with kids of their own. And when the camp suffers a Can Headattack, Jack even helps defend it. He’s immediately offers Jack a job in security. Jack’s family wants to stay. But Jack slowly comes to realize that there’s something else going on at Paterville Family Camp … and when he makes a gruesome discovery, hewill be forced to get his family out, no matter who … or what … stands in his way.

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Justin Cronin. The Passage.

The latest test subject in a covert government experiment, abandoned six-year-old Amy is rescued by an FBI agent who hides them in the Oregon hills, from which Amy emerges a century later to save the human race from a terrifying virus.

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Philip K. Dick. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

By 2021, the World War had killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remained coveted any living creature, and for people who couldn’t afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep. . . They even built humans. Emigrées to Mars received androids so sophisticated it was impossible to tell them from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans could wreak, the government banned them from Earth. But when androids didn’t want to be identified, they just blended in. Rick Deckard was an officially sanctioned bounty hunter whose job was to find rogue androids, and to retire them. But cornered, androids tended to fight back, with deadly results.  The inspiration for the movie Blade Runner.

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Pat Frank.  Alas Babylon.

The survivors of a nuclear holocaust are forced to rely on their own resources as they join together in the struggle for survival amidst the ruins of Fort Repose, a small town in Florida.

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Kathleen Ann Goonan.  Queen City Jazz.

Nanotech plagues have decimated the world after an initial renaissance of utopian nanotech cites. Verity is an orphan raised in isolation but drawn towards the legendary Enlivened City of Cincinnati.

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Stephen King.  Cell.

On October 1, God is in His heaven, the stock market stands at 10,140, most of the planes are on time, and Clayton Riddell, an artist from Maine, is almost bouncing up Boylston Street in Boston. He’s just landed a comic book deal that might finally enable him to support his family by making art instead of teaching it. He’s already picked up a small (but expensive!) gift for his long-suffering wife, and he knows just what he’ll get for his boy Johnny. Why not a little treat for himself? Clay’s feeling good about the future. That changes in a hurry. The cause of the devastation is a phenomenon that will come to be known as The Pulse, and the delivery method is a cell phone. Everyone’s cell phone. Clay and the few desperate survivors who join him suddenly find themselves in the pitch-black night of civilization’s darkest age, surrounded by chaos, carnage, and a human horde that has been reduced to its basest nature … and then begins to evolve. There’s really no escaping this nightmare. But for Clay, an arrow points home to Maine, and as he and his fellow refugees make their harrowing journey north they begin to see crude signs confirming their direction: Kashwak=NO-FO. A promise, perhaps. Or a threat.

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Jeff Long.  Year Zero.

An archaeological manhunt is raging in the holy land – a hunt for the historical Jesus. For Nathan Lee Swift, a young American field researcher and expectant father, the line between noble discovery and the plunder of ruins is sacred until the night he crosses it. At a Roman landfill beneath the crucifixion grounds known as Golgotha, Nathan Lee yields to his professor’s greed and turns common grave robber. His world – his unborn daughter – seems lost to him. Hundreds of miles away, on the remote Greek island of Corfu, a wealthy collector pries open his latest black-market purchase – a fourteen-inch holy relic containing a vial of blood dating back to the first century – and unleashes a two-thousand-year-old plague. As the pandemic explodes from the Mediterranean basin and threatens to devour humankind, Nathan Lee gets a chance at redemption. He embarks on an Odyssean journey back to the United States to find his family.Skirting the edges of the world, Nathan Lee’s path finally leads him to New Mexico, where the greatest minds of science have converged at Los Alamos to find a vaccine. There Nathan Lee meets Miranda Abbot, a nineteen-year-old prodigy. As the cure continues to elude them, Miranda launches a desperate final strategy: the use of human lab rats cloned from the year zero. Nathan Lee, the thief of bones, comes face to face with men made from the very relics he looted, one of whom claims to be Jesus Christ, but may also be Patient Zero.

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Richard Matheson.  I Am Legend.

Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth…but he is not alone. Every other man, woman, and child on Earth has become a vampire, and they are all hungry for Neville’s blood. By day, he is the hunter, stalking the sleeping undead through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn. How long can one man survive in a world of vampires?  The novel is the basis for the movie.

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Robert McCammon.  Swan Song.

An ancient evil roams the desolate landscape of an America ravaged by nuclear war. He is the Man with the Scarlet Eye, a malevolent force that feeds on the dark desires of the countless followers he has gathered into his service. His only desire is to find a special child named Swan — and destroy her. But those who would protect the girl are determined to fight for what is left of the world?and their souls. In a wasteland born of rage, populated by monstrous creatures and marauding armies, the last survivors on earth have been drawn into the final battle between good and evil that will decide the fate of humanity….

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Cormac McCarthy. The Road.

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food – and each other. The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love.

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Paul Meier.  The Third Millennium.

This unusual novel paints a blood-chilling picture of the chaos and confusion of the end times as witnessed by one American family as unforgettably narrated by their guardian angel, Michael.

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Walter Miller.  A Canticle for Leibowitz.

In the depths of the Utah desert, long after the Flame Deluge has scoured the earth clean, a monk of the Order of Saint Leibowitz has made a miraculous discovery: holy relics from the life of the great saint himself, including the blessed blueprint, the sacred shopping list, and the hallowed shrine of the Fallout Shelter. In a terrifying age of darkness and decay, these artifacts could be the keys to mankind’s salvation. But as the mystery at the core of this groundbreaking novel unfolds, it is the search itself—for meaning, for truth, for love—that offers hope for humanity’s rebirth from the ashes. 

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Tom Perrotta.  The Leftovers.

What if—whoosh, right now, with no explanation—a number of us simply vanished? Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside down? That’s what the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, who lost many of their neighbors, friends and lovers in the event known as the Sudden Departure, have to figure out. Because nothing has been the same since it happened—not marriages, not friendships, not even the relationships between parents and children. Kevin Garvey, Mapleton’s new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized community. Kevin’s own family has fallen apart in the wake of the disaster: his wife, Laurie, has left to join the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence; his son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet named Holy Wayne. Only Kevin’s teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she’s definitely not the sweet “A” student she used to be. Kevin wants to help her, but he’s distracted by his growing relationship with Nora Durst, a woman who lost her entire family on October 14th and is still reeling from the tragedy, even as she struggles to move beyond it and make a new start.

K.M. Ruiz. Mind Storm.

Centuries after an apocalyptic nuclear war, the world’s survivors compete for dwindling resources as the wealthy secretly plan to depart for another planet, while soldier-slave Threnody Corwin uses her super-powers to rise against a syndicate that is murdering her fellow psions.

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S.M. Stirling.  Dies the Fire.

When a strange electrical storm over the island of Nantucket suddenly causes all electronic devices–computers, telephones, televisions, radios, engines, and even weapons–to cease to function, the world is faced with an unimaginable transformation, one that is complicated by some individuals’ ruthless quest for ultimate domination.

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Whitley Strieber. The Omega Point.

When a supernova’s energy cloud expands throughout the solar system in fulfillment of 2012 doomsday prophecies, ensuing solar storms and increasing asteroid activity threaten life on Earth until a fated group possessing knowledge of how to save humanity is targeted by good and evil survivors.

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Sheri Tepper.  The Gate to Women’s Country.

After a nuclear war society is rebuilt with womem in control of the world. The men live separtely outside the cities. When boys come of age they are given the choice of leaving the city to join the men or remaining as servants. One young woman takes exception to the system and runs away with her lover setting in motion dire consequences.

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Brian Vaughan.  Y: the Last Man.

When a plague of unknown origin kills every mammal with a Y chromosome, Yorick Brown discovers that he is the only male left and embarks on a transcontinental journey to discover why.

Kurt Vonnegut.  Cat’s Cradle.

A young writer decides to interview the children of a scientist primarily responsible for the creation of the atomic bomb.

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Robert Charles Wilson.  Spin.

One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives. The effect is worldwide. The sun is now a featureless disk – a heat source, rather than an astronomical object. The moon is gone, but tides remain. Not only have the world’s artificial satellites fallen out of orbit, their recovered remains are pitted and aged, as though they’d been in space far longer than their known lifespans. As Tyler, Jason, and Diane grow up, space probe reveals a bizarre truth: The barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time is passing faster outside the barrier than inside–more than a hundred million years per day on Earth. At this rate, the death throes of the sun are only about forty years in our future. Jason, now a promising young scientist, devotes his life to working against this slow-moving apocalypse. Diane throws herself into hedonism, marrying a sinister cult leader who’s forged a new religion out of the fears of the masses. Earth sends terraforming machines to Mars to let the onrush of time do its work, turning the planet green. Next they send humans…and immediately get back an emissary with thousands of years of stories to tell about the settling of Mars. Then Earth’s probes reveal that an identical barrier has appeared around Mars. Jason, desperate, seeds near space with self-replicating machines that will scatter copies of themselves outward from the sun – and report back on what they find. Life on Earth is about to get much, much stranger.

Ebooks:

Philip K. Dick. Total Recall.  Cover of Total Recall

This ebook-only edition of Philip K. Dick’s classic short story tells the story of Douglas Quail, an unfulfilled bureaucrat who dreams of visiting Mars, but can’t afford the trip. Luckily, there is Rekal Incorporated, a company that lets everyday stiffs believe they’ve been on incredible adventures. The only problem is that when technicians attempt a memory implant of a spy mission to Mars, they find that real memories of just such a trip are already in Quail’s brain. Suddenly, Quail is running for his life from government agents, but his memories might make him more of a liability than he is worth. Originally published as “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.”

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James Patrick Riser. Falling Sky.Click this cover for a(n) eBook sample of Falling Sky.

Following a devastating world war, the surface of the planet has been covered in a substance called Dust, a weapon that can break down the physical make up of entire cities, reducing them to rubble and preventing citizens from rebuilding their lost metropolises for several years. In order to survive, humanity has taken refuge in crowded, underground cities.Ian Blum is a 15 year old boy living in one such city. His crippling social anxiety confines him to a solitary life at home, while his parents are away at their jobs. The person he interacts with the most is his home school professor, Michael Wasley. One night, Ian is visited by a mysterious figure in a dream. The man warns Ian of a great earthquake that will destroy the cities, killing all of the inhabitants. The man charges Ian with the task of getting everyone out.Soon after, Ian finds out that he isn’t the only one who has had this dream and reluctantly joins a group of rebels who has made it their mission to drive everyone from the cities for their own safety, however, no one believes in the stranger’s prophecy. Ian and the rebels must find a way to get the people to safety at any cost.

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One thought on “Post Apocalyptic Fiction

  1. Pingback: Welcome to Dystopia | Reading Suggestions

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