This collection of apocalyptic tales, edited by Martin H. Greenberg, features 19 stories originally published between 1944 and 2007.
The End of the World: Stories of the Apocalypse gathers a wide variety of perspectives on how the world will end, from a bang to a whimper and everything in between. Authors of these tales include Lucius Shepherd, Neil Gaiman, Norman Spinrad, Lester del Rey, Roger Zelazny, Gregory Benford, Michael Swanwick, Orson Scott Card, Nancy Kress, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Silverberg, Poul Anderson and more.
The collection is divided into five sections:
- Bang or Whimper – tales of how the world ends
- The Last Man – tales told of the last survivors
- Life After the End – post-apocalyptic stores
- Dark, Distant Futures – tales of vastly distant times
- Witnesses to the End of World – what a “fly on the wall” at the end would see
What Worked for Me
As dismal at the title would promise the stories to be, I found many of them almost hopeful. Like my favorite line from Jurassic Park (the movie), “life finds a way,” the stories showed us that humanity may or may not be lost, but the will to survive is some form always lives on.
William F. Nolan’s story “The Underdweller” was by far my favorite in the collection. The ending took me by delightful surprise and left me thinking about the story for days. I literally gasped, my hand to my mouth, and then smiled with glee.
Neil Gaiman’s “We Can Get Them for You Wholesale” also had a delightful twist … and a fun, precise voice well-suited to its protagonist.
What Didn’t Work for Me
As with many anthologies, some stories are stronger than others. Some stories suite your tastes, while others don’t. It took me awhile to get through this book because of those stories that didn’t entertain me. This says nothing of the authors … every one in this collection is a talented writer who has earned his or her salt. Just not all the stories in the collection were my cup of tea.
I found Lucius Shepherd’s “Salvador” well-written but uninteresting. Then again, I’m not much for military fiction. Michael Swanwick’s “The Feast of Saint Janis” was, again, well written, but also meandered. I was left at the end wondering what the point of it all was.
All said and done, this collection was pretty good. There were more enjoyable stories than ones I found dull. And event he dull ones made you think a bit about its premise. I’d say this was a pretty good collection, well worth taking along on a vacation to read on the plane and by the pool.
Score: 3 Palm Trees out of 5 Possible
NOTE: Although I received this book free to review, that did not affect my opinion of the book. Read past reviews of books I’ve received for free and you’ll know I don’t hold my punches.