‘World Made by Hand’ is the first book in a series of novels set in a post-apocalyptic world, beginning an unspecified number of decades after collapse. The majority of humanity has succumbed to a combo-whammy of terrorist nuclear bombs devastating major US cities, global pandemics, resource wars and climate change. Small surviving communities have regressed to simpler means, living off locally-grown food and relearning skills of self-sufficiency and home production – the central character was once a business executive but now plies his trade as a carpenter.
Some of the best novels relating to the themes of post-apocalyptic survival and restarting from scratch were published over a century ago – this is not a new genre. This means that they are now in the public domain and can be downloaded as free books. Project Gutenberg (named after the fifteenth-century inventor of the moveable type printing press, as explored in chapter 10 of The Knowledge) is a superb on-line resource that offers access to tens of thousands of books in the public domain. Here below are direct links to the Project Gutenberg entries for relevant novels that you can download as free books to your Kindle or other e-book reader. Also see The Knowledge list of the very best post-apocalyptic books and the best films.
There are few books I’ve waited for the delivery of as eagerly as this. Henry’s Quest by Graham Oakley is absolutely charming, with a wonderfully imaginative storyline and gorgeous illustrations. This children’s book is set in a post-apocalyptic future, a world without fossil fuels where society has regressed to a medieval subsistence. Henry is a young shepherd, and in order to win the princess’s hand in marriage he goes on a quest to capture the mythical beast PETROL.
There is a rich and satisfying seam of sci-fi novels whose core themes overlap with those of The Knowledge. Here are the very best post-apocalyptic books, as well as other stories involving the exploitation of expertise for rebuilding civilisation, such as by time-travellers thrown far into either the past or future. I’ve listed my favourites below, including a selection of the very best top reads (but not dystopian fiction in general). Clicking the book covers or links will allow you to pick-up these novels yourself. If you’d like to explore this genre of literature further, see this list of post-apocayltpic book clubs around the worldwhere you can discuss your thoughts on different books over a drink with new friends. Also see The Knowledge’s selection of the Best Post-Apocalyptic Movies, Best Post-Apocalyptic Games and Best Post-Apocalyptic Apps.
Post-apocalyptic fiction is a very popular genre, and there are a number of dedicated post apocalyptic book clubs around the world. These are very friendly and informal gatherings, often occurring monthly, where you can discuss what you think about different novels over a drink with new friends. Here is a list of the ones I’m aware of – please do add others you know about to the discussion page and I’ll include them here.