Top 10 End of the World Novels — TopTenzNet

Top 10 End of the World Novels — TopTenzNet

Top 10 End of the World Novels 10. Earth Abides by George R. Stewart (1949) How The World Ends: Super epidemic wipes out
most of humanity, leaving only very scattered survivors. Scenario: The protagonist tries to maintain
the memory of civilization as the leader of a tiny post-plague community. Coolness Factor: Despite being over 60 years
old, Earth Abides holds up very well as a work of post-Apocalyptic science fiction.
The story begins as a last man alive tale, and turns more philosophical once the protagonist
begins to assemble a band of survivors who scratch out a living among the ruins of San
Francisco. Likelihood of Scenario Coming True: 3 out
of 10. A worldwide pandemic is among the more plausible doomsday scenarios, and Stewart’s
observations of the tribalism that would likely arise among the survivors are chillingly realistic. 9. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
(1951) How The World Ends: A mysterious comet passes
by Earth, leaving nearly all of humanity blinded in its wake. Scenario: One survivor who retains his sight
battles for survival in a world rapidly being overrun by mobile, man-eating plants called
Triffids. Coolness Factor: The opening sequence, in
which the protagonist wakes up in a deserted hospital, was chillingly reproduced in the
movie 28 Days Later and the television series The Walking Dead. This is British sci-fi at
its best–who would have thought that a bunch of plants could be so badass? Likelihood of Scenario Coming True: 0 out
of 10. Since there is no such thing as Triffids, I think we can sleep soundly knowing this
book, while a great read, is not a prophecy of our collective fate. 8. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (1954) How the World Ends: An epidemic of rampaging
vampirism. Scenario: The last man alive is under siege
in Los Angeles and is barricaded in his house every night, venturing out only during the
day to forage for supplies and kill vampires in their sleep. Coolness Factor: Hollywood absolutely loves
this story, having made it into three major motion pictures starring Vincent Price, Charleston
Heston and most recently (and regrettably), Will Smith. The book is far superior to all
three, especially the ending, which twists the reader’s perception of who really is
the monster. Likelihood of Scenario Coming True: 0 out
of 10. To the disappointment of millions of Twilight fans everywhere, there is no such
thing as vampires. 7. Summer of the Apocalypse by James Van Pelt
(2006) How The World Ends: After a pandemic kills
off most of humanity, leaking radiation from abandoned nuclear power plants begins to finish
the job. Scenario: A story told in two parts, the protagonist
is a teenager when the epidemic hits and an old man in a small community of survivors
as it reaches its climax. Coolness Factor: The author effortlessly weaves
the two ends of the story together throughout the book. Plenty of action combines with moments
of quiet philosophical rumination and an emotionally charged ending. Likelihood of Scenario Coming True: 4 out
of 10. I give this book kudos for recognizing, five years before the Fukushima catastrophe,
that the world’s nuclear power plants represent a dire potential long-term threat to humanity’s
survival. 6. Sleepless by Charlie Huston (2010) How The World Ends: An epidemic of insomnia
is slowly consuming humanity. Scenario: A dedicated undercover cop and an
ice-cold, aging hitman barrel towards confrontation in a slowly imploding Los Angeles during the
year 2010. Coolness Factor: Sleepless, as the mysterious
disease is called, is actually a metaphorical stand-in for a number of maladies afflicting
mankind today. Sleepless, the novel is an action packed thrill ride with plenty to say
about the likely near-term future of humanity. Likelihood of Scenario Coming True: 5 out
of 10. It’s not that an epidemic of insomnia is imminent or even a realistic possibility—it
is rather that author Charlie Huston’s vision of the near term future as society breaks
down is realistically scary and plausible. 5. Random Acts of Senseless Violence by Jack
Womack (1993) How The World Ends: Not really specified but,
in America, massive civil unrest and economic collapse swirl in the background and eventually
envelope the main characters. Scenario: A 12-year-old girl begins writing
in a diary just as the world begins to fly apart around her. Coolness Factor: Lou Reed used to crab about
the condition of New York City, but he never saw anything like this. The first person narrative
is as gripping as it is harrowing, and the ending is as dark as it is grittily realistic. Likelihood of Scenario Coming True: 5 out
of 10. Like Sleepless, author Jack Womack’s vision of the near term future as society
breaks down is downright scary in its utter plausibility. 4. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006) How The World Ends: Not specified, but probably
a nuclear war. Scenario: A father and his young son follow
the road trying to find a place where the landscape is not utterly barren and forlorn. Coolness Factor: The most “respectable”
doomsday novel out there, likely because of McCarthy’s stature as an author and a prominent
endorsement from Oprah Winfrey. This is the one apocalypse book most people have read
if they have read any at all. Likelihood of Scenario Coming True: 4 out
of 10. Just because the Cold War is over does not mean the threat of a nuclear conflagration
has ended. 3. World War Z by Max Brooks (2006) How The World Ends: Zombie outbreak, baby! Scenario: In the wake of the worldwide zombie
war, the narrator travels from country to country interviewing the survivors. Coolness Factor: Best. Zombie. Novel. Evah.
Brooks’s globetrotting faux oral history is simply brilliant, packed full of humor,
action and social commentary. The “Battle of Yonkers” scene is the most badass living-versus-dead
confrontation you’ll ever read. Likelihood of Scenario Coming True: 0 out
of 10. Well, it is a zombie outbreak, after all. 2. On The Beach by Nevil Shute (1957) How The World Ends: Nuclear war destroys the
Northern Hemisphere, and the survivors in the Southern Hemisphere await the arrival
of the radiation clouds that will ultimately spell their doom. Scenario: How would you prepare to die? How
would you live out your last months on Earth? Coolness Factor: This is the dean of all classic
nuclear war novels. The ending is perhaps the all-time best for end-of-the-world fiction.
A timeless classic that is no less moving or powerful today than when it was written. Likelihood of Scenario Coming True: 4 out
of 10. If humanity destroys itself, nuclear war still remains the most likely cause. 1. The Stand by Stephen King (1978, 1990) How The World Ends: Superflu epidemic, and
then an epic clash of good versus evil among the survivors. Scenario: In a sweeping tale, King describes
the breakdown of civilization as the plague sweeps across America and then slowly builds
up the suspense to the final confrontation. Coolness Factor: This was King’s magnum
opus, his best and most memorable novel and one he’s never managed to top. The 1990
version restores an incredible 500 pages deleted from the initial publication, and yet doesn’t
seem bloated despite its length. The Stand has had arguably had the greatest cultural
impact of any doomsday novel.

100 thoughts on “Top 10 End of the World Novels — TopTenzNet

  1. Life as we knew it?
    The maze runner? SPOILER ALERT.

    Solar flares are very plausible , as is the government creating a super virus for population control.

  2. Great list, Simon! Loved you put 'The Stand' first. One of my fav's! I also read 'I am Legend'. Great read!

  3. Since you've recently been on the topics of apocalypse maybe top 10 ways the world could end? Or top 10 movies/books that realistically portray what an apocalypse would be like if it happe ed today?

  4. Thanks for all the book recommendations! World War Z is one of my favorites, well written and easy to get lost in. the movie though… 😐

  5. I like this video but you got the science of radiation and the dangers of nuclear power plants very wrong.

  6. The Road is not about nuclear war, that wouldn't explain the large ears coast quakes. It was maybe a supervolcano according to this McCarthy quote, but I also remember him saying something about comets or asteroids.

    The last time the caldera in Yellowstone blew, the entire North American continent was under about a foot of ash. People who’ve gone diving in Yellowstone Lake say that there is a bulge in the floor that is now about 100 feet high and the whole thing is just sort of pulsing. From different people you get different answers, but it could go in another three to four thousand years or it could go on Thursday. No one knows.

  7. Number of people killed at Fukushima = 0 Environmentalists are freaked out by nuclear power because it's clean except the fuel rods and provides cheap energy that is actually efficient. Point at Chernobyl instead. But that's not done much because a leftist gov. screwed that pooch.

  8. I was hoping you actually wouldn't mention The Purple Cloud by M. P Sheil just so I could feel smug about mentioning it.


    The 'last man on earth' ends up travelling the world and setting fire to a city due to insanity. They loosely made a fantastic film based on it called 'The World, the Flesh and the Devil' and I suspect the Australian film 'The Quiet Earth' . If I had ever gotten my arse in gear, I would have loved to have directed another film version of this. Still time I suppose, I just got a bit jaded at my peers stealing my ideas over a pint in the pub. I was probably too meek and polite for the film industry. Ho-hum.

  9. I've not read any of these books so thanks for the vid. Please do more like this regarding books since so few people read at all. You  can also do one, Classic  Books that are really worth reading.

  10. I skip zombies, too silly for me. The worst part of "On the Beach" is calling a submarine a ship. I loved knowing the background of SUMMER OF THE APOCALYPSE.

  11. read "Earth Abides" in college, 1970. The best, in my humble opinion. One of the first to tackle race issues without the reader even realizing it. I have re read the book a half dozen times, will read again soon. Read "Day of the Trifids around the same time. While not plausible, it is still chilling, you become one with the characters.

  12. Even though it is not as world ending as some of the others, how about "Cell"? It is another Stephen King book. Link to the wikipedia page about the book provided.

  13. I was about to tell you that you'd lost all credibility for leaving off "The Stand," but then there it was at #1. Nicely done.

  14. Maybe, but I really have not seen the end of The World in my visions yet. Maybe some day, but I won't be around.

  15. Great video! I'm 65, grew up in south Florida, remember the Cuban Missile Crisis. For me, "On The Beach" was the future.

  16. ah they've got many bases covered, flu epidemics, HPV, AIDs, SARS, Swine Flu, drones, MidEast Crisis, racism, religion, big and small conflicts and patriotism as a way to kill people esp. overseas, veteran suicides, chemtrails, organ donor abductions and executions, smoking, drug abuse, vaccination, Roundup, GMO foods, Fluoridation, nuclear threats, nuclear powerplants, pesticides, HAARP, refugee hate killings, financial downturn suicides, So many creative ways to pop people off…

  17. Nuclear power plants represent a real tiny portion of the world's surface and the great proportion of them would auto-shutdown in instance of pan-epidemic and lead to great lumps of concrete and steel with unusable radioactive elements as local power production is used- management failure leads to that. Fukushima was totally different- it had electrical failure

  18. you got the wwz one wrong. in the book, the outbreak is caused by china's massive organ trading, with forced executions happening around the clock to satisfy the organ demand. though there isn't anything as a zombie virus (yet), china's massive organ trading operations is very very very true.
    did you know: in the book, it's china who did the organ trading, while in the film, , though originally shot with china doing the organ trading, it was digitally altered to show north korea instead of china. this is done to not piss off the chinese censors as the CCP only allows like 38 (or sth) foreign films to enter its territory each year

  19. I love the glasses, Simon. I'm a die hard Stephen King fan (kinda) but I'd never read The Stand. I'm getting myself a copy right now!

  20. +TopTenz……I'm curious. Did you read all of these or did you just research them? I loved "I Am Legend" the movie and must read the 1990 version of "The Stand". Post Apocalyptic novels aren't my thing usually but Stephen King's The Stand was amazing. I read the 1878 version, obviously.

  21. that thing about nuclear power plants, have you seen the area around chernobyl? animals are not exactly having a hard time living there.

  22. Dies The Fire by S.M Stirling is also quite good! Imagine that: some magical event altered the laws of physics and all the technology that came after the invention of black powder (itself included) simply ceases to function. It's awesome!! The world just devolves into a dark age nightmare!!

  23. Captain Trips. I read the Stand when I was a kid. Every time they highlight a new virus on the news, I always go back to Captain Trips.

  24. maybe 10 methods of recruitment?

  25. Here are two books of transformation chaos that's not as bad."There Will Be Dragons"  by John Ringo.  It takes place in a possible future when computers, technology, effect biology and tons of futuristic enhancements but, one day the internet crashed due to an attack which killed many and the survivors had to figure out how to do without it."Dies the Fire: A Novel of the Change" by S. M. Stirling  It takes place in the semi-modern era when there was a blackout so bad, that not even battery powered stuff or guns work.  Which cause was unknown.  So the survivors had to figure out how to do without it.

  26. TeopTenz/Simon, an awesome list, which gives those who would like to read maybe more 'doomsday' fiction a real chance to dig a bit and uncover some gems that have been hidden until now. Well done, and totally agree with number 1!

  27. Okay, A.) The Dark Tower is Kings magnum opus.
    B.) The Dark Tower is miles better than the stand, being a vast, beautiful example of distant post-apocalypse conataining even a second instance of societal breakdown. It is by far his greatest story. ´The man in black fled into the desert, and the gunslinger followed´ One the best full circle ended novels ever. To claim anything else as his magnum opus is absurd since his own website claims it as his magnum opus (

  28. Alas Babylon by Pat Frank stands right up there with On the Beach. Alas, it is not a full-on TEOTWAWKI novel, as it describes survivors in a limited nuclear war – they only THINK it's TEOTWAWKI (short for The End Of The World As We Know It).

  29. My top ten: Earth Rise/Death Day William C. Dietz, Andromeda Strain and PREY by Michale Chrichton, Arthur C Clarke 3001 odessy 4, Dream Catcher by Stephen King (WAY BETTER than movie!), Templar One an EVE online novel by Tony Gonzales, Hammer Of God by Arthur Clarke, And last 2 I'd recommend for a good read regardless: Timeline by Michale Chrichton and lastly Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy books 1-6 Douglas Adams.

  30. The video's author should correct his statement "there is no such thing as vampires" for number 8 – I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (1954) to " it's my opinion that there is no such thing as vampires".

    If he wants to have a rational and factual based clip.
    Since he has no proof that undead vampires don't exist, rationally and intellectual he cannot state that vampires don't exist. There has been a number of intriguing evidence publicly supplied however for the existence of undead vampires over the centuries and decades. In order to state that something does not exist, you need evidence that that something does not exist, otherwise it remains an open supposition. No scientists or researchers are matter of factly stating that vampires don't exist.

    Also I am Legend and connected literature and films do not feature zombies or vampires in any way. They are infected humans.

  31. I like Stephen Baxter's book Manifold: Time because it ends the world (in fact the universe) on a happy note. It starts 10^120 years in the future where entropy has pretty much won. What's left puts together a time machine to back to our time. They start a chain of events they know will trigger a false vacuum which. While this does destroy Earth and everything else it does create an uncountable number of new universes where life can continue.

  32. Fantastic list! Does a great job of explaining what makes them great without giving too much away. Happy to see so many more suggestions in the comments too!

    2 more:
    "Lucifer's Hammer" by Larry Niven (mentioned by somebody else as well). Haven't read it in 20 years ago not sure how it holds up against these, but it was impactful and scenes keep coming back to me to this day.
    "Robopocalypse" similar to WWZ in concept and style, not quite as well done, but worthwhile nonetheless.

  33. Fantastic list! Does a great job of explaining what makes them great without giving too much away. Happy to see so many more suggestions in the comments too!
    2 more:
    "Lucifer's Hammer" by Larry Niven (mentioned by somebody else as well). Haven't read it in 20 years ago not sure how it holds up against these, but it was impactful and scenes keep coming back to me to this day.
    "Robopocalypse" similar to WWZ in concept and style, not quite as well done, but worthwhile nonetheless.

  34. Alas babylon. BEST POST APOCALYPTIC NOVEL EVER. but I will conceed that that's my opinion. but I'm still right hahaha

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