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After the Apocalypse

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  2,239 ratings  ·  361 reviews
The apocalypse was yesterday. These stories are today.

Following up on her first collection, Story Prize finalist Maureen F. McHugh explores the catastrophes, small and large, of twenty-first century life—and what follows after. What happens after the bird flu pandemic? Are our computers smarter than we are? What does the global economy mean for two young girls in China? Ar
Paperback, 188 pages
Published November 8th 2011 by Small Beer Press (first published October 24th 2011)
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 ·  2,239 ratings  ·  361 reviews

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Mar 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hey-shorty
when this came into the store, i thought "huzzah" because i already own two of her other books that looked really good. of course, i have not read them. this is the way i operate - i buy books and i squirrel them away until it feels right to read them, frequently owning several books by a single author who looks good to me, without having anything upon which to base that is a very peculiar kind of madness. but then mike reynolds reviewed this book,and he specifically recommended it ...more
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spaghetti code that made no sense. BHP DMS made a Microsoft operating system look elegant and streamlined, but it could do some amazingly complex stuff.

Great characters, good stories, not a feel-good vibe in the lot. I usually finished each one wanting to know more.
Manuel Antão
Oct 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Phildickian SF: "After the Apocalypse" by Maureen F. McHugh

This kind of book epitomizes the reason why I prefer SF above anything else, reading-wise.

In my last book review ("The Burning Room" by Michael Connelly), I ranted about the likeness of (some) novels in the SF field.

Most of the novels of today are dull, uninspired, lifeless and more-of-the-same. This is the state of the art nowadays. And then there are short stories…

If book
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

I’m not sure why I haven’t read more of Maureen McHugh’s stories. She has a subtle, quiet style and writes with a graceful economy of language that is powerful but not overwhelming. There is no filler here, no unnecessary words or overly descriptive scenes. What these haunting stories have in common is their exploration of various ways in which the world could fall apart and how humanity copes. I loved these wonderfully character-driven stories and am thrilled I was able
McHugh is a fabulous writer. In just a few spare words, she creates a story, an alternate world, and multi-dimensional characters that evoke an emotional response. She has a marvelous skill at developing a story and organically taking it in an unexpected direction, all without employing typical surprise endings.

The Naturalist: After the zombie apocalypse, zombies are largely eradicated from the cities, but remain at prison encampments. One of the prisoners starts wondering about zombies. To the
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Maureen McHugh has a knack—and I say 'knack' because it's even more elusive and intuitive than a talent—for investing each of her short stories with an immediately recognizable humanity, even when trafficking in genre tropes or the wantonly fantastical. In the premiere story 'The Naturalist,' the trappings of a traditional zombie story are elevated by an eminently human protagonist named Cahill whose thoughts and concerns aren't those of a caricatured horror movie hero—caught in a dumbshow of hi ...more
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Joshua Nomen-Mutatio by: Ceridwen Sock Puppet
Despairing about the proliferation of the generally repetitive short story collection? Fear and tremble not, for After the Apocalypse is here to save the day.

Maureen F. McHugh’s collection continually conjured up the word "solid" and not in a patronizing way that one might use that word to politely describe an artistic effort that follows all the rules yet fails to captivate one’s attention or stimulate any of the other nerves in want of stimulation from art—but in the sense that it was taken i
Paquita Maria Sanchez
I've been reading a lot of short story collections lately. The three I've consumed over the last week or two have been pretty thematically cohesive for pots of author stew, this one most of all. Though not every or even most of these stories are plague-ish tales, there's a thread running through them that is basically, I dunno, doom? The sad, scrambling beginnings after sobering ends? Whatever it was, this broad framework made it easier to not feel so guilty about or flummoxed by reading them in ...more
Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent collection, without an ounce of filler. The stories are all loosely post-apocalyptic, but each is defined by a different type of cataclysmic event: a zombie apocalypse, a couple of different viruses, etc. I always appreciate the chance to choose between cataclysms. Is it odd to feel safer after reading a book like this because some cataclysms are clearly preferable to others? In any case, while the settings are themed, what really sells the collection is the excellent charac ...more
Dec 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing

Maureen McHugh hasn't published anything since Mothers and Other Monsters in 2005 and hasn't published a novel since Nekropolis in 2001 and for a while it seemed like she has abandoned fiction entirely to write online alternate reality games, and so when I saw that she had published a new collection of short stories I kind of lost my shit with excitement. I don't understand why Maureen McHugh doesn't get more acclaim. Like, I respect Ursula K. Leguin's work, and
Ani Lacy
Jan 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-52-books
Lots of short stories about different people living in various post-apocalyptic societies. There isn't enough time to develop characters so I didn't find it very entertaining. The worlds are adequately painted though and you get a sense of what the author is trying to convey.
Sep 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I normally don’t read short stories. I feel that the characters just don’t have enough time to develop in a short story compared to a full length novel. But this weekend, as I was reading A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin, I had a sudden urge to read something that doesn’t have to be 1000 pages long. I had to read around 50-100 pages just for Tyrion Lannister to appear again (Jon, Arya and Theon Greyjoy are also cool though).

Anyway, so as I said earlier, reading something short really appe
Didn't love this as much as the rest I've read of her so far, but all the stories were good. They just didn't grab me emotionally as much.

The best one to me was the last one, "After the Apocalypse", because I like my dystopian stories to make me uneasy and kick my in the butt.
Aug 30, 2016 rated it liked it
This should more accurately be shelved as speculative fiction. Much of it didn't have anything to do with science nor were many of the stories post apocalyptic on anything save a personal or small scale. Some were just economic bumps. She's good at setting a mood & characters, but seemed to lack a point too often.

Table of Contents:

The Naturalist was a true tale of horror with zombies. Very well done even though that subject wore out for me years ago. 4 stars

Special Economics was OK. Didn't seem
I have a love/hate relationship with short stories.

I love how much originality it requires to write a really good short story. Character development, scene development, all of it has to take place so quickly, and just when you get comfortable, the story is over. That is also why I hate short stories. Sometimes, the sign of a good short story is that I would drop everything to read a novel that took place inside the story. That is exactly what happens in After the Apocalypse - I wanted more than
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I first read the title story in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume 6, and that's when I knew I had to read more. Then McHugh's After the Apocalpyse was one of the nominees on the Philip K. Dick Award list, which gave me another excuse.

As in most short story compilations, a few of these didn't do it for me, but I like her perspective of these post-apocalyptic stories. The naturalist view of zombies, drug testing in a new millennium, and the ethics of survival... plus people w

You can take these 1.5 rounded up to two stars as the average score of the nine stories, with 'The Kingdom of the Blind' getting a solid 4.5 stars, a couple others getting threes, and the rest a mix of ones and twos. A reiteration of the usual excuse of my not being a fan of short stories goes here, along with the acknowledgement that I'm simply too sensitive to prose to be able to excuse a poor show of it if the narrative(s) don't excel in other respects. Otherwise, I'm just rather sick of
Yanique Gillana
I loved everything about this collection. Maureen McHugh delivers again.

This is a very different look at the post-apocalyptic story. We often read about the devastating apocalypse that we were ill equipped to handle and the strife that follows. This collection; however, was filled with stories following apocalyptic events that were not as immediately catastrophic, how daily life was changed because of them and how people are moving on with their lives. I loved the selection of locations globall
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Survivors
Recommended to Alan by: Previous work and a killer cover
Maureen F. McHugh doesn't really publish all that frequently—her standalone bibliography consists of just four novels and two short-story collections—but it's a real treat whenever she does. After the Apocalypse, one of those two collections, contains just nine short stories in one slim trade paperback, and six of them have already appeared elsewhere... but sometimes, as they say, good things come in small packages.

Its deceptively simple cover is the first indication that what's within might be
Oct 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: shorts
Highlights: The Naturalist (sociopathic survivalist placed in zombie-ridden city as alternative to prison in near future), Honeymoon (woman engages in medical studies to make ends meet and save up for a trip to Cancun, is nearly ruined by a Phase I drug trial gone terribly wrong), The Effects of Centrifugal Forces (Avian Prion Disease has and will decimated the meat-eating population, affecting billions...including one lesbian, her hoarding girlfriend, and angsty teenage daughter).

Some short st
First Second Books
I like that in Maureen McHugh’s short stories, there’s frequently a child who seems very nice and parents who are like, ‘I just don’t think I’m any good with kids and this kid is not specifically interesting to me at all, perhaps I should abandon her to deal with the apocalypse herself and she’ll probably get along better than with me.’

And I don’t know – if your parents had that attitude towards you when you were a kid, maybe you’d want to be abandoned, even if it was the apocalypse?
The Naturalist - 4/5 stars
Special Economics - 4/5 stars
Useless Things - 3/5 stars
The Lost Boy: A Reporter at Large - 3/5 stars
The Kingdom of the Blind - 3.5/5 stars
Going to France - 3/5 stars
Honeymoon - 4/5 stars
The Effect of Centrifugal Forces - 2/5 stars
After the Apocalypse - 4/5 stars
This falls exactly in between two of my strongest reading preferences:
apocalypse, yay! and short stories, boo!
and therefore it was a definite three-star book for me. So...there you go.
Sue Burke
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Full disclosure: Maureen F. McHugh was one of my teachers at the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop in 1996. I still use the method she taught to critique stories. She showed us, among other things, how to use significant details to make settings feel realistic.

Beyond that, I heard her read aloud one of the stories in this collection, “The Kingdom of the Blind,” at a Wiscon science fiction convention, and I loved it. I enjoyed the chance to read that story again in this antholo
David H.
By the end of this book, I was left with mostly a befuddled look. Most of these stories had relatively unsatisfying endings which was disappointing.

I think my favorites were "Special Economics" (one of the ones with the most plot aside from the zombies in "The Naturalist"), and I did like "Useless Things" and "The Kingdom of the Blind," which were good grasps of people and their interactions. "The Effect of Centrifugal Forces" and "After the Apocalypse" unfortunately felt a little too real in th
Brevity is the soul of wit... and the Achille's heel of most writers.
I don't read many short stories because I have found few authors who are able to write satisfying ones. This collection was a pleasant surprise. McHugh can successfully create a full world in 20 pages or less through character interaction, reaction, and attitudes - not the dreaded expository info drop. She tells tales set in very real (and omnious) potential futures.
Althea Ann
Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I held off on reading this collection, knowing that eventually it would undoubtedly be a selection for my post-apocalyptic book club. And it came up this month… now I’m back to having read all of McHugh’s published books.

"The Naturalist" – This was a second-read – it’s included in Strahan’s ‘Best SF&F of the year #5.’ As I said last time I read it: A good, nasty zombie story, with shades of 'Escape From New York.' You can read this for free, online:

There's nothing terribly interesting in this collection, to my mind. The writing isn't bad, but it's kind of bland. In some places, that felt intentional, but the tone was just too consistent. The first story was sort of interesting, the straightforward, dispassionate recounting of the "experiment", which made it that bit more horrifying because you know, it involved living people. But for the other stories, that didn't work as well, and it just wasn't particularly interesting -- these ideas hav ...more
Feb 19, 2012 rated it liked it
I love short story collections AND I love apocalyptic tales so I couldn't wait to dig into this one. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed. I thought a couple of the stories were really excellent and they will stick with me but the rest were just OK...nothing particularly special. (And...a pet peeve of mine...finding typos in a book bugs me and this one had a few...editor please.) Ms. McHugh writes a heck of a sentence though so I will be interested in reading her future stories/novels.
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
dang. i just love maureen mchugh; her books always feel like they're written exactly for my demographic in a way that i almost never experience. this collection would be a good introduction to her stuff.
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Maureen F. McHugh (born 1959) is a science fiction and fantasy writer.

Her first published story appeared in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine in 1989. Since then, she has written four novels and over twenty short stories. Her first novel, China Mountain Zhang (1992), was nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula Award, and won the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. In 1996 she won a Hugo Award for h

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