I’ve collated 5 classic post apocalyptic novels that have survived the test of time, and entered into the public domain. That means that each of these fantastic novels is available to download, keep and read, all for the low, low price of nothing.
I’ve written a brief synopsis of each, and included a free download link courtesy of Project Gutenberg, where you can download your own copy of the book in any format you fancy – including EPUB and Kindle!
1) The Poison Belt – Arthur Conan Doyle
The Poison Belt follows on from Conan Doyle’s epic story The Lost World. When three of the book’s characters are summoned to the home of Professor Challenger, they’re tasked with an unusual request: to bring with them canisters of oxygen.
When the protagonists arrive in London, they’re ushered into a sealed room, and told that the Earth is about to move through a belt of poisonous ether, with humanity expected to suffocate as a result. Safe in their hermetically sealed room, the five watch the destruction of the world unfold around them.
2) The Last Man – Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley’s (yep – author of Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus) classic novel tells the story of a lethal plague that eradicates humanity, down to, you guessed it, the last man.
First published in 1826, The Last Man is often regarded as one of the first books in the post apocalyptic genre. As you might expect from a novel that dates back to the 19th century, it offers a slightly confused mix of styles: elements of the era’s romantic literature are heavily present throughout, and the story veers from its heading pretty radically at one point.
Though it’s a long (and somewhat difficult) read, if you’re interested in the origins of post apocalyptic literature, The Last Man is a worthy read.
3) Darkness and Dawn – George Allan England
Darkness and Dawn is a compilation of three novella, dating back as far as 1912. As you might expect from a collection of stories over a century old, elements of the plot feel dated, and in some instances, downright bizarre.
However Darkness and Dawn is redeemed by its inventive take on the apocalypse: the story starts with the protagonists waking up to find the world around them has miraculously aged a thousand years (with one character waking up to her typewriter having literally dissolved to dust). As the story unfolds, the novel’s handful of survivors begin to realise that they aren’t alone on this new earth – and a new race of humans has usurped their place in society.
4) The Lost Continent – Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Lost Continent (also known as Beyond Thirty – it’s original title prior to publication) is a short novel from Edgar Rice Burroughs, a man best known for the creation of Tarzan and Mars adventurer John Carter.
Burroughs’ story follows a company of submariners that find themselves isolated on the shores of a forbidden and inhospitable part of the world: England. After global warfare caused the Americas to sever contact with the rest of the world, the country’s inhabitants have descended into savagery, and live out primitive lives alongside descendants of the country’s escaped zoo animals.
Offering an insightful look into the zeitgeist of post-World War One America, The Lost Continent is a quirky, engaging read – and well worth the few of hours it takes to finish.
5) This Crowded Earth – Robert Bloch
This Crowded Earth is a post apocalyptic novel from Robert Bloch – a mentoree of the legendary H.P. Lovecraft, and the author of the classic novel Psycho (and the book which inspired Hitchcock’s classic film).
Despite it’s age, the apocalypse featured in This Crowded Earth strikes a particularly resonant note with modern readers, as scarce resources and swelling cities force the Earth’s ruling forces to take drastic measures to solve the population crisis. Filled with some scarily prescient predictions (and a few more ridiculous plot elements), This Crowded Earth is a worthwhile read for any fans of the apocalyptic and post apocalyptic genres.
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