Monday, December 28, 2015

The End Has Come, edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey

Find this book
(SF Post-Apocalypse) This third volume of the Apocalypse Triptych comprises twenty-two stories set in post-apocalyptic worlds. Eighteen of them continue stories begun in the earlier volumes. (123,852 words; Time: 6h:52m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆, Average

"The End Has Come," edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey, published on by .

A Good Collection of Post-Apocalypse Stories, Readable By Itself

The End Has Come includes a wide variety of end-of-the-world stories, which helps a lot if you decide to read it straight through. There's little or no repetition. Civilization gets destroyed by:

  • Impact from Space (5)
  • Superhumans (4)
  • Plague (4)
  • Unknown causes (2)
  • Aliens (2)
  • Zombies (2)
  • Climate change (1)
  • Noise (1)
  • Nanotech (1)

Lack of variety is not a problem.

Nor is it a problem that this is the third book of a set. I read and reviewed the stories without having read the earlier books. Then I went back and read a few of them from the first volume, just to see if I'd missed a lot in the process. The truth is, no. In some cases, the stories involve different characters (e.g. because so much time has passed). In other cases, the earlier stories provide interesting background information, but were in no way necessary to appreciate the stories in this volume.

In particular, of the four outstanding stories in the book, none had any significant connection to the earlier volumes.

Of the 22 original works, we gave four of them four stars or more, which is near the average (3.7). We gave eight of them two stars or fewer, which is also average (7.6).

The fanzine, A Dribble of Ink, did interviews with the authors of The End Has Come.

Specific Recommendations

Five-star Stories
Blessings, by Nancy Kress, describes a world about 100 years after visiting aliens distributed "The Blessing," which ended war by making people non-violent. Unfortunately it also trashed civilization, and the survivors live in small settlements. They're trying to rebuild, but it's not as easy as it looks.

Bannerless, by Carrie Vaughn, takes place in a post-apocalypse US, in which resources are scarce, people have to work hard, and pregnancies have to be earned. This story stands alone--it doesn't continue from the previous volumes--but it's set in the same universe as Amaryllis and Astrophilia, which are also excellent stories.

Bannerless (not just an excerpt) is available for free at Wired.

Four-star Stories
In Goodnight Earth, by Annie Bellet, an augmented human in a post-apocalypse America delivers suspicious passengers up the Mississippi. Full of action and tension, this story also manages to tell us all about the world the characters are in without ever resorting to an infodump.

Prototype, by Sarah Langan, is full of surprises. It merits rereading to be sure you understood everything that happened. The narrator is a recluse who lives with his dog, but today he's delivering a new sandsuit design to a colony in what used to be Las Vegas.

Other Reviews: Search Web, GoodReads.com

5- & 4-Star Stories: 4;  Estimated Time: 1h:09m (21K words)
Recommended By Stories: 5;  Estimated Time: 1h:32m (28K words)
Total Stories: 22;  Estimated Time: 6h:52m (124K words)
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Rating: 5 -> Hugo-worthy

Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn  Time: 24m (7K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(SF) In a post-apocalypse US, Enid investigates a household that is reportedly hosting an unapproved pregnancy. Note: This story stands alone; it is not part 3 of anything.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [5]  Recommended By: RSR:5 GDozois NClarke
Blessings by Nancy Kress  Time: 16m (5K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(Hard SF) About a century ago, aliens distributed "the Blessing," which ended war by making people less violent. But civilization collapsed, and it's proving difficult to rebuild.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [5]  Recommended By: RSR:5

Rating: 4 -> Recommended

Goodnight Earth by Annie Bellet  Time: 15m (5K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
An augmented human in a post-apocalypse America delivers suspicious passengers up the Mississippi.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4
Prototype by Sarah Langan  Time: 13m (4K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(SF) The narrator is a recluse who lives with his dog, but today he's delivering a new sandsuit design to a colony in what used to be Las Vegas.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4

Rating: 3 -> Average

Agent Neutralized by David Wellington  Time: 27m (8K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(SF Zombies) In a US trying to recover from a zombie epidemic, Whitman ferries two passengers through lawless territory from Atlanta to a camp in Florida.
Carriers by Tananarive Due  Time: 19m (6K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(SF) Decades ago, when plague ravaged the US, carriers like Nayima were exiled. Things are changing now, but at her age changes are hard to accept.
Dancing With A Stranger In The Land Of Nod by Will Mcintosh  Time: 15m (5K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(SF) Following a plague that paralyzed most of the population, Teale takes her family out of what's left of Denver to find a better place to care for them.
Heaven Come Down by Ben H. Winters  Time: 15m (5K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(SF) Teenage Pea has survived the deaths of everyone else on her colony, and now she's starting to hear the voice of God.
In The Valley Of The Shadow Of The Promised Land by Robin Wasserman  Time: 26m (8K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(SF) After the skyfall, Isaac lead "The Children" to a place of safety, and later created a theocracy. But now he's dying, and he struggles to preserve his legacy.
Like All Beautiful Places by Megan Arkenberg  Time: 13m (4K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(Hard SF) Grecia survived the destruction of San Francisco, and she works with Lena to make a simulation of the city for posterity.
Margin Of Survival by Elizabeth Bear  Time: 22m (7K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(SF) After the collapse of civilization, Yana sneaks into a military base to hunt for food. Not that the folks in the base will be willing to share.
Resistance by Seanan Mcguire  Time: 26m (8K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(SF) Megan has survived the grey mold created in her lab which has destroyed most of the world. She's ready to die, but other survivors are looking for her.
The Last Movie Ever Made by Charlie Jane Anders  Time: 20m (6K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(SF) A weapon malfunction has left the whole world deaf, but teens Rock and Sally are still determined to make another independent movie to post online.
The Uncertainty Machine by Jamie Ford  Time: 11m (3K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(Steampunk) Phineas used a mysterious machine to predict that Halley's Comet would wreck the Earth in 1910. Now he's trapped in his underground bunker. Can the machine help him get out?

Rating: 2 -> Not Recommended

Acts Of Creation by Chris Avellone  Time: 09m (3K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(SF) Agnes interviews Reeves,  one of the "sensitives," whose uncontrollable psionic abilities have nearly destroyed civilization.
In The Woods by Hugh Howey  Time: 22m (7K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(SF) April and Remy wake up long after the apocalypse should be over, and they find they have a mission to complete.
Jingo And The Hammerman by Jonathan Maberry  Time: 20m (6K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(Zombie) Zombies pile up at the fence that protects the survivors' colony, and Jingo and Moose work together dismembering them assembly-line-style. They philosophize while they work.
The Gods Have Not Died in Vain by Ken Liu  Time: 23m (7K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(SF) In the wake of a war fought against uploaded humans who called themselves "gods," teenage Maddie is approached by an AI claiming to be her "sister."
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [2]  Recommended By: NClarke
The Happiest Place by Seanan Mcguire  Time: 19m (6K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(SF) After a plague kills 80% of the population, employees at Disneyland struggle to keep the dream alive.
The Seventh Day Of Deer Camp by Scott Sigler  Time: 18m (6K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(SF) In the aftermath of an unsuccessful alien invasion, George fights to keep a small group of surviving alien children alive.
Wandering Star by Leife Shallcross  Time: 11m (3K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(SF) Patches on a quilt commemorate the final events before the destruction of Australia by an asteroid.

Rating: 1 -> Needs Improvement

The Gray Sunrise by Jake Kerr  Time: 21m (6K words)  IssueThe End Has Come 
(SF) When news arrives of an imminent asteroid strike on North America, 45-year-old Don Willis and his apathetic teenage-son set off together on his yacht.

Rating: Not Rated

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