Wastelands Stories of the ApocalypseWastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse edited by John Joseph Adams

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsJohn Joseph Adams assembles a wide variety of apocalypse-related fiction in Wastelands. some of which are older than I am, while others are more recent. What you end up with is a diverse anthology covering topics such as religion, war, and exploration while containing horror, comedy, and a sense of wonder.

The majority of the stories are easy to get into. Some stories are more subtle than others. Overall, Wastelands is an enjoyable read and the selection seems balanced. Having said that, here are my top three stories:

  • “Bread and Bombs” by M. Rickert is one of the more horrifying stories in this anthology, and this is achieved through her characterization and commentary on society. It’s easy to jump into Rickert’s text and there is a foreboding established early on which rewards the reader by the time they reach the end.
  • “Artie’s Angels” by Catherine Wells is another favorite; the author succeeds in using a first-person narrative to tell another character’s story. Again, characterization is a key strength of this piece and the ending has that perfect combination of hope and complexity.
  • “The End of the World as We Know It” by Dale Bailey is perhaps the post-modern apocalypse story as it’s one-part meta-fictional commentary and one-part anti-thesis to the conventions of the sub-genre.

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse is an interesting ensemble and I enjoyed many of the stories in this anthology. Adams succeeds in providing a diverse array of pieces despite the seemingly specific theme.

FanLit thanks Charles Tan from Bibliophile Stalker for contributing this guest review.

Famine, Death, War, and Pestilence: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the harbingers of Armageddon — these are our guides through the Wastelands… From the Book of Revelations to The Road Warrior; from A Canticle for Leibowitz to The Road, storytellers have long imagined the end of the world, weaving tales of catastrophe, chaos, and calamity. Gathering together the best post-apocalyptic literature of the last two decades from many of today’s most renowned authors of speculative fiction, including George R.R. Martin, Gene Wolfe, Orson Scott Card, Carol Emshwiller, Jonathan Lethem, Octavia E. Butler, and Stephen King, Wastelands explores the scientific, psychological, and philosophical questions of what it means to remain human in the wake of Armageddon.