Apocalypse Books and Games Guide
by Ren Bail
On the Beach, by Nevil Shute - A nuclear war has devastated most of the Earth, with the only safe spot being the far south country of Australia. The fallout continues to drift slowly onwards, however, and the survivors must find a way to cope with it. This book is a very serious look at the consequences of nuclear war.
Forge of God, by Greg Bear - After the disappearance of one of Jupiter's moons, two groups of aliens land on Earth - one claiming to be ambassadors of peace, the other claiming that the ambassadors are really here to consume the planet. The military makes its own plans to destroy both spaceships, but doom slowly approaches despite humanity's plans. A very somber book with many heavy themes, it still is not without hope.
The Stand, By Stephen King - A plague wipes out most of humanity, but the ones that survived aren't out of the woods yet, as good and evil struggle to take control of what's left. A very long, dense book, but worth the time it takes to read it, especially if you are a King fan.
Job: A Comedy of Justice, by Robert A. Heinlein - Alexander Hergensheimer, a devout preacher from a very Victorian, steam punk version of our modern world, is suddenly whisked through a variety of parallel universes. As he encounters people and circumstances that challenge his view of reality, he becomes more and more certain that he's seeing signs that no matter what universe, Armageddon is close at hand. A very funny and satirical book.
War of the Worlds, by HG Wells - This classic book details the sudden invasion of Martians and the effect of their far superior technology has in decimating a late 19th century Earth. Although the concept seems laughably dated now and the language is archaic, the tale is truly suspenseful and even horrifying.
The Tripods Trilogy & When the Tripods Came, by John Christopher - This YA book series starts out seeming to be an odd sort of fantasy, where human beings are controlled by a mysterious race via 'caps', devices placed on the head as a coming of age ritual, binding their wills to the mysterious Tripod masters. However, the series is really a dystopian vision of a human race enslaved to an alien will, and follows the travels of a boy as he sets out with a friend to free humanity. The books (which owe a big debt to HG Wells in concept) are well-paced and full of adventure, if extremely misogynistic in their portrayal of women. The prequel, When the Tripods Came, answers many unanswered questions left by the series, and is best read last so as to not spoil the rest of the books.
I Have No Mouth Yet I Must Scream, by Harlan Ellison (appears in a short story collection of the same name) - In a world post-World War III, the last five survivors of the human race struggle to survive against the machinations of the sentient computer, AM. These survivors are terrorized by AM, who was designed to hate and exact revenge, who manipulates them in horrible ways to satisfy its psychosis. Dramatic and intense, this story will play with your sense of reality. Not for people easily depressed by stories.
Wasteland (PC) - This ancestor to the Fallout series is set in post-nuclear apocalypse California and casts the player as a band of Desert Rangers, a group bent on returning some semblance of order to the world. While the graphics are dated (as this is a DOS-era game circa 1989) the gameplay is true RPG style, with endless amounts of character customization and development. The game can be downloaded at http://www.the-underdogs.org/game.php?id=2425.
Fallout (PC) - Nuclear war has devastated the country, and those who could afford it went underground into Vaults to await the return of the earth to livability. However, the water chip that sustains Vault 13 has mysteriously broken, and you are sent out to find a way to fix it. A true RPG, with your stats influencing the reactions of other characters and your dialogue choices and many different ways to finish individual quests and the game itself, as well as a highly strategic turn-based combat system. Often funny, but many mature themes are involved.
Fallout 2 (PC) - 80 years after the events in Fallout, you are the ancestor of the savior of Vault 13. Many people are beginning to reclaim the wasteland, but your village will falter and die if you don't find the Garden of Eden kit to restore it. Even more open-ended than the first game, with the same excellent combat system.
Chrono Trigger (SNES, PSX) - After a device made by Crono's friend Lucca unveils a hole in time, Crono and his friends go on many adventures through time, only to find the future is a wasteland, caused by a creature erupting from the planet's surface nearly 1000 years after their own time. With a runaway princess, these teenagers take it upon themselves to save their world from certain apocalypse and the eventual untimely death of all life on their planet. Despite the apparent cheesiness of some of the story line, it manages to be funny, touching, and serious and have a great storyline. Even the SNES-era graphics are pleasing to the eye, and the music is excellent throughout the game.
Final Fantasy series (NES-PS2) - Each and every game in the Final Fantasy series eventually deals with saving the world, or sometimes just the people of the world, from destruction, as its major goal. This is the main uniting theme of all of the games, however, as each game has its own unique sub-themes, characters, and quests. The games are mostly very linear, especially those on the PSX and PS2, but each features characters that people fall in love with, especially in the now-classic Final Fantasy 6.
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