The Postman by David Brin
Yes the movie was not good. But the book was
Earthling by Tony Daniel
I'm a zombie guy so some of these may not ring your bell.
The Stand - many others have noted this one. I saw a new paperback version in stores the other day. I bet it was released with a new cover to take advantage of the zombie craze thanks to Walking Dead. Classic book and my favorite King.
Day by Day Armageddon by JL Bourne which is probably my favorite zombie book. Tons of gun porn if you are into that stuff.
Stephen Baxter's Evolution may seem an odd choice but the later part of the book is very post apocalyptic.
World War Z by Max Brooks. More zombies but an excellent read.
Lucifer's Hammer - Larry Niven. Good solid sci-fi tale.
Swan Song by Robert McCammon is a lot like The Stand but it's still a classic.
That's a lot of books I wasn't aware of, thank you very much.
Regarding The Stand: I think my main issue with the work were the religious influences and the stupid end. The stupid end. The stupid end.
King = stupid ends.
Holy shit, this is amazing.
The Last Ship:
Let's get graphical.
So, nobody has actually recommended The Walking Dead. That's a little weird. I mean, I run hot and cold on it (currently stalled out in the third hardcover), but it's definitely post apocalyptic and at least occasionally pretty good.
Wasteland is a thing. I have all of it that is out in trade and people are fans of it and it's set after an apocalypse. I keep meaning to get around to it, and it certainly looks excellent.
Y: The Last Man is also set after an apocalypse and I think it might be, just maybe, the best comic ever. It certainly has the best start, and maybe the best end. The middle wanders around a little.
David R. Palmer's Emergence is a lost minor classic of 80s SF. The style's love-it-or-hate-it - it's presented as the diary of a hyperintelligent kid who's into linguistic efficiency - but if you can get past that, it's worth a read.
The book is much better than the movie.
Dies the Fire by I M Stirling........great first half. It does slow down towards the end. If you do like it it is the start of a several book series.
It's heavily influenced by the book of Revelation, so the religious stuff is a given. But I agree that the first half of the book, which deals with the apocalypse and its immediate course, is much better. And that's why I recommended the expanded version since there is a bunch of new material in that part of the book.
Adding to the chorus for A Canticle for Leibowitz.
Two others, which are tenuous (at best) in terms of the usual definition, but I can rarely resist an opportunity to plug them:
Eon, by Greg Bear.
The Book of the New Sun, by Gene Wolfe. (Does this count? I'm guessing probably not.)
Also, a pre-apocalyptic short story: "Inconstant Moon," by Larry Niven. :)
Lots of good choices mentioned here.
I got on this kind of a kick a while ago, and here's one that hasn't been mentioned: Earth Abides by George R. Stewart. It was written in 1949 so the storytelling feels a bit dated, but the story is still interesting.
While I was reading it I was very frustrated, because the main character wasn't acting "logically" I thought..... he'd do A and B and I would think "he should have done C and D"...honestly I felt like punching him in the face through the first half of the book. But as I read more and more and got into his mindset I understood where he was coming from, and by the end of the book I actually had come around to understand, and could accept, how he acted. I read a lot of books for entertainment, and many of them you read, and toss on the pile and move on. This book made me think, and so even now it stands out in my mind.
I second this very strongly.
Every page of Earth Abides is chock full of thought-provoking material. On some levels this book, written in 1949, is Life After People, The Novel. Which is to say it's a very well executed thought experiment exploring the consequences of a depopulated world.
The book changes gears several times and each time I was initially disappointed to be leaving behind a formula that was working for me but George R Stewart knows exactly what he's doing and the conclusion he is building towards is well worth the unexpected twists along the way. I found the ultimate message of this book to be very comforting.
I suspect that the sort of person who would be attracted to this book is the sort of person who has a lot in common with the protagonist. Someone who is curious about the world around him and who places a high value on intellect. There is a fascinating and ultimately healthy tension in this book between that intellectual, abstract approach to the world and a more visceral, concrete approach.
That's pretty funny that we posted our opinions within minutes of each other.
I couldn't agree more on the bit that I bolded. This is a book that sticks with you.
Yeah, I really like that comic. Thanks for the link.
I have to disagree about Emergence. I read it a few years ago and was pretty disappointed. It has some of the metaphysical stuff from Canticle mixed with a lot of The Stand, IMHO. I never felt surprised at where the story went, or a connection to any of the characters.
This Immortal by Roger Zelazny
Lucifer's Hammer by Niven & Pournelle
The Postman -Brin
Oh, and Steel Beach by John Varley
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Dies the Fire and the Emberverse series are less post apocalyptic and more "what if there were magic in the US?"
I liked them, but there isn't that much of an emphasis on post apocalyptic aspects.
Same goes for "Julian Comstock" by Robert Charles Wilson, which is more of a 22nd turned back to 19th century story.
Even if you don't like zombies, World War Z is worth reading. It's really genuinely excellent.
Lucifer's Hammer is kinda '70s-ish, and it's as much apocalypse as post-apocalypse, but there's still a lot to like, particularly if you like the whole "rebuilding civilization" theme.
The Postman, while set more post-, is also good at the rebuilding part.
Someone mentioned S.M. Stirling's Dies The Fire et seq, which is an interesting twist in that the apocalypse is "all modern tech stops working." It's an absurd premise that the author handwaves at, but if you just buy that one bit, it's really fun seeing the reinvention of modern low-tech societies. And sort of the flipside of that is his Island In the Sea of Time books, which aren't really apocalyptic at all, but have something of the same "rebuilding" feel -- they feature the island of Nantucket going back in time to the ancient world, and the inhabitants trying to preserve as much of their modern way of life as they can and spread it among the primitive inhabitants of the era.
Can't stand S. M. Stirling, and wouldn't have read much of him if I hadn't held out hope that his solo works would approach his collaborations in quality. If you're the type that has to finish a series once started (like I am), I would strongly suggest finding one of his stand alone books to try first.
Can't believe this one hasn't been mentioned yet:
John Wyndham: Day of the Triffids
It's gender roles may be rather outdated, but it remains a classic and without question one of the most influental books in the genre.
"The Chrysalids" is another John Wyndham book set in a post-apocalyptic setting.