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Wastelands #2

Wastelands 2: More Stories of the Apocalypse

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Edited by acclaimed anthologist John Joseph Adams, WASTELANDS 2: MORE STORIES OF THE APOCALYPSE is the star-studded follow-up to the 2008 bestselling anthology Wastelands. The first book traced the 21st century resurgence of post-apocalyptic fiction, and while it is considered the definitive collection of its kind, dozens of new stories have been written since it was released. Five of the stories are from the 20th Century, but the remaining twenty-six were all published from the year 2000 onward, and nineteen of those originally appeared in the years since volume one came out.


Foreword - John Joseph Adams (2015)

01 - Paolo Bacigalupi, The Tamarisk Hunter (2006)
02 - Hugh Howey, Deep Blood Kettle (2013)
03 - Seanan McGuire, Animal Husbandry (2009)
04 - George R.R. Martin, "...For a Single Yesterday" (1975)
05 - Lauren Beukes, Chislehurst Messiah (2011)
06 - Rudy Rucker & Bruce Sterling, Colliding Branes (2009)
07 - Jack McDevitt, Ellie (1995)
08 - Ann Aguirre, Foundation (2012)
09 - Cory Doctorow, Beat Me Daddy (Eight to the Bar) (2002)
10 - Christopher Barzak, A Beginner's Guide to Survival Before, During, and After the Apocalypse (2013)
11 - Genevieve Valentine, Wondrous Days (2009)
12 - D. Thomas Minton, Dreams in Dust (2012)
13 - Nancy Kress, By Fools Like Me (2007)
14 - Ramsey Shehadeh, Jimmy's Roadside Cafe (2008)
15 - Orson Scott Card, The Elephants of Poznan (2000)
16 - David Brin, The Postman (1982)
17 - Robert Silverberg, When We Went to See the End of the World
18 - Christie Yant, The Revelation of Morgan Stern (2013)
19 - Megan Arkenberg, Final Exam (2012)
20 - James Van Pelt, A Flock of Birds (2002)
21 - Tananarive Due, Patient Zero (2000)
22 - Milo James Fowler, Soulless in His Sight (2012)
23 - Toiya Kristen Finley, Outer Rims (2011)
24 - Keffy R.M. Kehrli, Advertising at the End of the World (2009)
25 - Rachel Swirsky, How the World Became Quiet: A Post-Human Creation Myth (2007)
26 - Joe R. Lansdale, Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man's Back (1986)
27 - Maureen F. McHugh, After the Apocalypse (2011)
28 - Maria Dahvana Headley, The Traditional (2013)
29 - Junot Díaz, Monstro (2012)
30 - Jake Kerr, Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince (2013)

360 pages, Paperback

First published February 24, 2015

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About the author

John Joseph Adams

307 books907 followers
John Joseph Adams is the series editor of BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY. He is also the bestselling editor of many other anthologies, such as ROBOT UPRISINGS, DEAD MAN'S HAND, BRAVE NEW WORLDS,WASTELANDS, and THE LIVING DEAD. Recent and forthcoming books include WHAT THE #@&% IS THAT?, OPERATION ARCANA, PRESS START TO PLAY, LOOSED UPON THE WORLD, and THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH (consisting of THE END IS NIGH, THE END IS NOW, and THE END HAS COME). Called “the reigning king of the anthology world” by Barnes & Noble, John is a two-time winner of the Hugo Award (for which he has been nominated nine times), is a seven-time World Fantasy Award finalist, and served as a judge for the 2015 National Book Award. John is also the editor and publisher of the digital magazines LIGHTSPEED and NIGHTMARE, and is a producer for Wired's THE GEEK'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY podcast. You can find him online at www.johnjosephadams.com and on Twitter @JohnJosephAdams.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 157 reviews
Profile Image for Jonathan.
692 reviews74 followers
May 28, 2021
Yet another solid collection of post apocalyptic short stories from JJJ. While the first anthology was dark with a hopeful bent overall this one took a decidedly bleaker look at the end of things as we know it. There's some very unique takes in this collection which I really appreciated, whether the uniqueness was in how the story was conveyed or the content itself.

In taking a more final dark look at the subject I found myself on more of an introspective journey than before. What is the draw of such writing for me? Unlike most horror I consider a lot of these themes to be in the realm of possibility. So there's that slight endorphin hit of reality coupled with the fiction, that quiet reminder that should this planet go belly up most of us, myself included, will be scythed blood wheat before the Reaper despite the stories Hollywood feeds us.

Do I hope for these themes to happen? Absolutely not, but one can't help but feel a bit like playing with fire when reading this finely curated collection.
Profile Image for Sonja.
209 reviews
October 8, 2018
It is so hard to rate collections of short stories, especially when it all various authors. Unless I love all the stories or hate them all, I just give a three star.
Some of these stories where really good and sucked me in all the way. Others well; they just weren’t short enough!
Profile Image for Lauren.
65 reviews
October 24, 2015
This collection of short stories was very hit-or-miss, in my opinion. What follows is a short synopsis of each of the stories in turn, as well as a tiny review of what I thought. I want to be clear that, as always in my reviews, I am rating based on how much I liked the story, not on its objective quality. Obviously that plays a part, but there are some stories that I recognize as being well-written that I still hate because I don't like having no one to root for, for instance. Also, while I was searching the stories to remind myself of what some of the earlier ones were about (since I listened to this on audiobook it wasn't simple to go back and skim them again) I found that the great majority of the stories are available to read for free online (20/30 stories can be found online). Where applicable, I've included links to read those stories.

The Tamarisk Hunter, Paulo Bacigalupi
Lolo, a "water tick," scratches out his living by finding and destroying tamarisk patches in a world where the California drought has reached apocalyptic levels, complete with constant National Guard patrols that ensure no one takes any of the water in the river that is legally meant to flow down to be used by the Calis. Very bleak story, lots of focus on governmental injustice and inequality. Can be read here: http://windupstories.com/books/pump-s...
3/5 stars

Deep Blood Kettle, Hugh Howey
Farming family with gross ideas about how their land is so fertile cause they kill lots of animals whenever they plow deal with an alien race threatening to hit Earth with a meteor if Earth doesn't agree to get rid of all weapons and give the aliens half of the land on the planet. I found it both boring and upsetting, but not scary or thought-provoking. Can be read here: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fic...
1/5 stars

Animal Husbandry, Seanan McGuire
A vet travels to Oregon after a plague wipes out almost everyone on Earth, hoping to meet her daughter there. She brings with her a small menagerie of animals - goats, dogs, chickens, horses - and her veterinary philosphy. Very creepy, takes a turn I didn't expect that unsettled me deeply. Can be read here: http://lingualeo.com/pt/jungle/animal...
5/5 stars

...for a single yesterday, George R. R. Martin
Members of a commune survive after a nuclear war. A talented musician keeps up morale with nightly performances, and the commune is managing but aimless until an Army Lieutenant arrives and takes charge with visions of rebuilding. His new ideas cause some friction and pain, but also undeniable progress. Sad, but hopeful. Can be read here: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fic...
3/5 stars

Chislehurst Messiah, Lauren Beukes
Incredibly unlikeable former kept man flounders his way through the apocalypse that has claimed almost all over 20, except our protagonist. His constant stream of sarcasm, contempt, and snobbishness is extremely tiresome. No one here to root for.
1/5 stars

Colliding Branes, Rudy Rucker & Bruce Sterling
Two bloggers try to reach a possibly-made-up "black egg" that will protect them from the end of the universe, while the male blogger rhapsodizes arrogantly about how important he is and how all of his conspiracy theories were proven right, and the female blogger talks about how excited she is that a boy likes her. Very creative story, with characters that were a bit grating.
3/5 stars

Ellie, Jack McDevitt
A traveler seeking shelter for the night is shocked to find his first love. When the man staying with her skips town the next morning, leaving her isolated, our hero thinks this is his chance to finally get the girl. But before he stays, she has to tell him about what's in the basement...dun dun DUN. Creative story, pretty emotionally brutal.
4/5 stars

Foundation, Ann Aguirre
A family moves into a secure bunker to protect themselves from the viruses that are decimating Earth's population. The isolation and boredom wear on them, so they decide to open their hermetically-sealed doors and meet the other residents of the bunker. This book was read by a female narrator, making the "twist" ()obnoxious and difficult to understand. Really poor choice, made me kind of resentful. Probably works better in writing. Also, the ending of the story was ridiculous - ).
2/5 stars

Beat Me Daddy (Eight to the Bar), Cory Doctorow
A ragtag group of survivors after a huge nuclear/bioweapon war have formed a jazz band that plays nightly for the other survivors in their area. One day, a young woman arrives with a plan to plant a garden, which for some reason absolutely enrages the military-type "leader" of the group. This part was really hard for me to understand - why did it make him so furious that they wanted to plant a garden? Why was he so adamant that there be no garden? Why did he trample the garden multiple times, and beat up the gardeners? It's just growing food! Aside from that the story was great, although the ending, while supposedly happy, was a serious case of fridge horror for me.
4/5 stars

A Beginner's Guide to Survival Before, During, and After and Apocalypse, Christopher Barzak
Told in a sort of instruction manual style, this story describes in second person point of view the way a person survived a dystopian social collapse that resulted in an apocalypse. Pretty bleak, and also a bit contradictory.
2/5 stars

Wondrous Days, Genevieve Valentine
A man and woman travel through the post-apocalyptic California landscape. The woman helps the man, but doesn't trust him. Prior to the apocalyptic earthquake events across the globe, a group of scientists had gone rogue and taken control of all nuclear weapons in protest of the Darkroad Project's access to the Pleiades computer. Very, very bleak story, and a bit less clear than I would have preferred. Can be read here: http://www.apex-magazine.com/wondrous...
3/5 stars.

Dreams in Dust, D. Thomas Minton
A member of a Mechanist guild (or possible religious order?) is traveling across the once-ocean with plans for a machine that may be able to bring water back to the Earth. Kind of exhausting. Can be read here: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fic...
2/5 stars

By Fools Like Me, Nancy Kress
In the future, trees are rare and sacred objects. When a child finds a bag of old books washed up on the beach, her grandma decides to read them to her instead of confessing the "sin" they found. This decision has serious repercussions. Interesting and philosophical look at a world that makes sense in context, but is so different from ours.
4/5 stars

Jimmy's Roadside Cafe, Ramsey Shehadeh
After a plague wipes out most of humanity, Jimmy opens a roadside cafe along I-95 in Maryland. His customers all have their own stories to tell, and Jimmy's cafe provides things they didn't know they needed. Weird, weird story - I'm still not sure if Jimmy is insane or what, but I liked it. Can be read here: http://www.strangehorizons.com/2008/2...
3/5 stars

The Elephants of Poznan, Orson Scott Card
After a plague decimates the Earth, the elephants spread out across the planet. This story has one of my pet peeves, which I mentioned before in this review, which is that a young woman who everyone thinks might be the only fertile woman left, is set up as some kind of breeding cow. Each many gets three months with her to have sex as much as they can, and then there's a month off before the next man gets a turn. That way they'll know who the dad is. Does this woman have any meaningful choice in the matter? That's not really mentioned at all. Do the men have a meaningful choice? Also not considered. Anyway, our narrator fathers an elephant-baby with the woman, and it grows so big that the 11-month gestation kills the mother. The elephant-baby runs away to live with the elephants, who Weird, kind of upsetting, liked the elephants cause elephants are great. Can be read here: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fic...
2/5 stars

The Postman, David Brin
I have read the novel based on this short story, and LOVED it. A man wandering solo after the world ends finds a postal worker's body, and takes his uniform and mail bag. He finds that it has an almost magical effect on the people he meets, who desperately need the hope they see in the idea of a postman.
5/5 stars

When We Went to See the End of the World, Robert Silverberg
A group of vacuous couples attend a dinner party and talk about the newest cool thing - taking a time trip to see the end of the world. While they have their superficial conversations, hints are dropped that the world is in truly dire straits. The disconnect between the calamities happening in the world and the lack of reaction or concern from the dinner party guests is really startling. Great concept, but ultimately I hated all these people. Can be read here: http://mreadz.com/new/index.php?id=86075
2/5 stars

The Revelation of Morgan Stern, Christie Yant
"Angels" have come up from the earth, and are taking people. Our narrator is trying to travel to hopefully meet up her lover, while avoiding the angels. Very creative, really creepy. Reminded me of "The Passage." Can be read here: http://www.drabblecast.org/2013/10/11...
4/5 stars

Final Exam, Megan Arkenberg
Creatively formatted short story tells a woman's point of view of some kind of sea monster invasion.
3/5 stars

A Flock of Birds, James Van Pelt
A birder cares for a woman who has become broken by the plague that wiped out almost all humanity. Humanity's near-extinction has provided the environment for a miraculous rebirth of a bird species, giving Carson something special to add to his "life list." Very sweet story, really pretty peaceful. I liked that this world wasn't full of insane people murdering everyone they ran into. Can be read here: http://www.e-reading.club/chapter.php...
4/5 stars

Patient Zero, Tananarive Due
A young boy, the so-called "patient zero" of the plague that is sweeping the world, narrates this story from inside his containment room. We get hints of what's happening outside, but it's from the perspective of a sweet, friendly 10-year-old who has lost his entire family, so we have to piece together the little signs of trouble, like when he mentions off-handedly that most of the doctors have moved inside the hospital. This story is moving and powerful - I loved it. Can be read here: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fic...
5/5 stars

Soulless in His Sight, Milo James Fowler
Ugh. One of the brutal, mean stories I dislike. A young man who is mentally disabled lives with his father, who kills everyone who passes by their house. The father believes his son has no soul, and is killing people in the hopes of finding a soul good enough to get the boy into heaven. One day a motorcyclist comes by while the father's asleep and changes everything. Can be read here: http://www.shimmerzine.com/soulless-i...
1/5 stars

Outer Rims, Toiya Kristen Finley
In a world of rising oceans, a mom takes her two children to the beach one last time before it goes underwater forever. On their way back, they pick up a man whose car broke down, only to discover that what he's carrying is worse than a flood. Bleak, but very good,especially in its examination of the tiny choices we make that can change our lives forever. Can be read here: http://dailysciencefiction.com/scienc...
3/5 stars

Advertising at the End of the World, Keffy R. M. Kehrli
Marie lives in a world in which advertisements are people-shaped. Mechanical androids have taken the place of door-to-door salesmen, and can change their forms and mannerisms to look like people you know, including her dead husband. Her cabin in Montana is overrun by the ads, and Marie finds it curiously hard to destroy the ads that are destroying her garden, now that she's the only person for miles around, maybe even at all. Fascinating concept, and bittersweet. Can be read here: http://www.apex-magazine.com/advertis...

How the World Became Quiet: A Post-Human Creation Myth, Rachel Swirsky
After humans warred with the trees, they combined their DNA with animal DNA as part of the peace treaty. For a while, things were okay, but eventually the crabmen and the sealmen and the insectmen began to war with each other. Creative, but didn't really work for me. I also found it confusing that hybrids of both genders were called crab/seal/butterflymen. Can be listened to here: http://escapepod.org/2008/09/20/ep176...
2/5 stars

Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man's Back, Joe R. Lansdale
Super gory story about a former nuclear-scientist and his wife surviving a post-nuclear-war world. The wife blames her husband for their daughter's death, and he agrees, and every night she tattoos a little more of her daughter's face on his back. Super gross, highly-sexualized, and waaaay too incesty for my liking. Can be read here: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fic...
1/5 stars

After the Apocalypse, Maureen F. McHugh
A mother and daughter are making their way to Canada after some sort of catastrophe. The mother is exasperated with her daugther's weakness, constantly comparing her daughter to herself at the same age. They meet up with a man, and travel together for a while. I liked the portrayal of the mother - it was unusual characterization. Very bleak world.
3/5 stars

The Traditional, Maria Dahvana Headley
Weird story about a couple and the more and more bizarre gifts they give each other on their anniversaries, after getting together on the first night of the plague of worms that have begun eating everyone. Weird, and I didn't like how blue it was, but it was kind of cool at the end. Can be read here: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fic...
3/5 stars

Monstro, Junot Diaz
A young man and his friends hang out and party in the Dominican Republic, while a strange disease that starts as a black fungus-like substance that slowly consumes its victims ravishes Haiti. Just when it started to get really good, the story ended so abruptly I double checked my iPod to make sure it hadn't skipped ahead. Can be read here: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/201...
3/5 stars

Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince, Jake Kerr
Uniquely formatted story that takes the form of a Wikipedia entry about a writer who became famous and lauded for writing about the Meyer impact, which destroyed North America. Can be read here: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fic...
3/5 stars
Profile Image for Bogdan.
844 reviews1 follower
May 22, 2017
I was surprised that I didn`t enjoy so much the works from the "Big" names in this Anthology and the " little" ones have scored a lot more at this chapter.

So, these where the story that I liked:

Seanan MCGuire - Animal Husbandry- A vet travels light with some animals after a strong plague that had ravished the Earth.

Ann Aguire - Fundation - About a group of people that goes undergound in some bunkers after a biological outbreak to emerge some years later in something like a wood age.

Genevieve Valentine - Wondrous Days - A very good story about two survivors of an apocalyptic end that has made the Earth to see only the night. How you could you survive in these condition?

D. Thomas Minton - A interesting combination of an apocalyptic end with steampunk features and a desert as a landscape. SHort and intense story. The water seems to be the big probleme here.

Ramsey Shehadeh - Jimmy`s Roadside Cafe - After the world ended, Jimmy set up a roadside cafe on the road. It was interesting to see what kind of people could come to a place like this.

Christie Yant - The revelation of Morgan Stern - Some dude begins to se Fallen Angels on a scorched Earth.

Tananarive Due - Patient Zero - A kid with a deadly infections is put under strong surveillance and guard. Until the End comes for all the other people.

Keffy R.M. Kehrli - At the end of the world the advertisements made of dead people (this one was a great ideea) invades the privacy of a lone survivor.

Rachel Swirsky - How the world became quiet... A good fantasy story about the decadence of the human civilisation and the transformation in some genetic modified beeings. Great storytelling and good ideeas.

Joe R. Lansdale - Tight little stitches in a dead man`s back - Another good story. This is the second one in a row that I read from Lansdale and I wasn`t dissappointed. Dark fantasy at it`s best.

Overall I guess that there are a lot of good stories that you could enjoy or not, but really the ones that I like made up for the other ones.
Profile Image for Papaphilly.
255 reviews67 followers
February 4, 2017
A great read. Wastelands 2 - More Stories of the Apocalypse is a fine collection of apocalyptic short stories and is every bit as good as the first collection. John Joseph Adams has done an admirable job of combing through genre and putting together a volume well worth reading. He has created a volume that is not all doom and gloom, but you take your optimism where you can find it and it is not always apparent. Most of the authors are newer, but Wastelands 2 - More Stories of the Apocalypse does have a chestnut or two. Just do not expect distant past classics, every story is less than 30 years old. The beauty of this work is that it has something for everyone, from a genre enthusiast to the potential reader thinking about dipping their toe into the waters to test it out. Well worth the time.
Profile Image for Catherine Siemann.
1,117 reviews19 followers
August 20, 2015
Lots and lots of apocalypses. I was looking for patterns in post-apocalyptic stories, and this more than did the trick -- there were a lot of well-written stories, but none of them surprised me. Outstanding work by Junot Diaz, Genevieve Valentine, and others. The collection also includes the novella version of David Brin's The Postman, a work which I for some reason never wanted to read, and am now intrigued by.

But yeah, lots and lots of apocalypses. Apocalypsi?
Profile Image for M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews.
3,995 reviews316 followers
January 21, 2021
Like with the first volume of this collection, the stories were a mix of hit and misses, though more hits than misses. Now, my personal judgment of these stories are doubtless partly a matter of my own personal tastes, but this was a pretty good collection. Among my personal favorites were 'Tamarisk Hunter', 'Animal Husbandry', 'The Postman', 'Outer Rims', and 'How The World Became Quiet'.

If you're a fan of post-apocalyptic stories, you should enjoy this collection.
Profile Image for Gertie.
358 reviews270 followers
Shelved as 'got-it-unread'
June 11, 2016
I have had this audiobook loaded onto my iPod for a year now, and I just can't bring myself to listen to it. Book 1 was just too fucking depressing.
Profile Image for Tomislav.
946 reviews66 followers
June 13, 2022
A couple of years ago, I read and appreciated John Joseph Adams’ (Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse) anthology. This successor anthology with the same theme did not score as well with me. There are big names and accomplished writers here, but for the most part, it is less successful works by them (big exception – David Brin’s The Postman is excellent.) Other stories by lesser-known writers here are some that were first published in Lightspeed, a magazine that John Joseph Adams edits. In the end, it is a mixed bag, as are most anthologies, with some outstanding stories and some turkeys.

I noticed that a lot of the stories seem to deal with apocalypses of the disease and plague variety, rather than alien invasion or nuclear war or asteroids as was popular in earlier decades of science fiction. These were all written before our global covid-19 pandemic, which makes for ironic reading in some cases. For the record, none of these writers accurately predicted the kind of virus we’ve really had. (For a more prescient novel, see Sarah Pinsker’s A Song for a New Day.) I read for concepts, and so the focus became repetitive. I should probably learn to expect that in themed anthologies.

The Tamarisk Hunter, by Paulo Bacigalupi, 2006, ****. In a dry southwestern US, a few individuals survive on the public subsidy of tamarisk removal.

Deep Blood Kettle, by Hugh Howie, 2013, ***. A child explains himself, at a time when aliens have redirected a planet-killing meteor at Earth.

Animal Husbandry, by Seanan McGuire, 2009, ****. After an apocalyptic plague, one surviving veterinarian acts in accord with her sense of compassion.

…For A Single Yesterday, by George R. R. Martin, 1975, **. A commune of former hippies has survived a nuclear war, but can they survive the arrival of a straight? Immersed in now worn-out 60s counterculture references. 1976 Locus Award novelette: 6th place.

Chislehurst Messiah, by Lauren Beukes, 2011 *. A surviving unlikeable bigot in Britain confronts violent gangs of thugs, and finds his new role as their messiah. Nothing there to make me care about Simon.

Colliding Branes, by Rudy Rucker & Bruce Sterling, 2009 ***. In a metaphor for sex, two brane universes collide, which will result in a revision of the physical constants of the universe. Rabbitteen and Angelo, young bloggers, find each other and possibly a way to survive the change. Slapped-together characters adrift in string-theory cosmology. 2010 Locus Award short story: 14th place.

Ellie, by Jack McDevitt, 1995 ***. After years spent wandering a regressed North America, Quincey Marsh enters the still-standing Bolton’s Tower, to find his old flame Ellie tending a secret.

Foundation, by Ann Aguirre, 2012 ***. Robin is a teenager whose parents have moved underground to isolate themselves from a fatal pandemic.

Beat Me Daddy (Eight to the Bar), by Cory Doctorow, 2002 ****. The Eight-Bar Band was formed spontaneously among survivors, playing music on ad hoc instruments, and scraping by. A dancing young woman comes to the area and changes everything.

A Beginner’s Guide to Survival Before, During, and After the Apocalypse, by Christopher Barzak, 2013, **. A formula-following post-apocalyptic plot. The only really unique thing about the story is that it is told from 2nd person perspective.

Wondrous Days, by Genevieve Valentine, 2010, ***. An unmatched pair have survived the terrorist-driven collapse of Earth’s natural biosystems.

Dreams in Dust, by D. Thomas Minton, 2012, ***. An encounter on a dry Atlantic Ocean bed.

By Fools Like Me, by Nancy Kress, 2007, ****. Generations into an eco-apocalypse, an old woman and a young girl form a bond around a discovered artifact of former times. 2008 Locus Award short story: 32nd place.

Jimmy’s Roadside Café, by Ramsey Shehadeh, 2008, ***. Jimmy opens a roadside café in the median of an abandoned freeway where he encounters plague survivors.

The Elephants of Poznan, by Orson Scott Card, 2000, ****. A somewhat magical apocalypse, based on a unique secret history retelling of Genesis. 2001 Locus Award novelette: 5th place.

The Postman, by David Brin, 1982, *****. In post-apocalyptic America, a lone vagrant accidentally falls into a role of greater social significance than he ever imagined. I had forgotten how much of the backstory was dropped or changed when it was adapted for film. Originally published in Isaac Asimov’s SF Magazine, November 1982. Runner-up for 1983 Hugo Award in the Novella category. Expanded into a novel in 1985. Adapted for film in 1997.

When We Went To See The End of the World, by Robert Silverberg, 1972, **. When written, I’m sure the cocktail party trivialization of catastrophic events was making a point about middle-aged surburban values. But now it seems kind of trite. Nominated for 1973 Hugo Short Story and for 1973 Nebula Short Story, but did not win.

The Revelation of Morgan Stern, by Christie Yant, 2013, ***. A teenaged girl heads cross-country to meet up an unnamed romantic interest. As she crosses America, the apocalypse becomes more and more supernature and surreal. Weird, but interesting.

Final Exam, by Megan Arkenberg, 2012, *. Written in the unusual form of a multiple-choice quiz, the story weavers together several strands – a world-wide apocalypse, but also the disintegrating marriage of the main character. The actual stories told in the form were mundane, and unoriginal.

A Flock of Birds, by James Van Pelt, 2002, *****. Another setting of world-wide plague, but the perspective is that of an intelligent and highly introspective birdwatcher. It is filled with the sort of obscure scientific natural factoids that hard sf fans love.

Patient Zero, by Tananarive Due, 2000, ****. Told through the eyes of a highly contagious and containerized child, this is another story of deadly plague. The naïve child perspective gives the narrative a certain poignancy.

Soulless in His Sight, by Milo James Fowler, 2012,**. Told through the eyes of a retarded child survivor, this is set in a formulaic apocalypse, complete with bloodthirsty motorcycle gangs.

Outer Rims, by Toiya Kristen Finley, 2011, ***. A woman foolishly stops to help a stranger during an evacuation from the submerging coast. There is a virus which is spread widely by being contagious before symptomatic (written before the covid pandemic). The decision-making of the authorities is logical but inhumane.

Advertising at the End of the World, by Keffy R. M. Kehrli, 2009, ****. A woman lives on a mountain after the apocalypse. The reason she alone has survived is not clear, but she is subjected to a horrifyingly original advertising technology by autonomous ads that flock to her.

How the World Became Quiet; A Post-Human Creation Myth, by Rachel Swirsky, 2007, ***. A Olaf Stapledon style narrative of the future evolution of humanity. With no actual characters, it is interesting but not engaging.

Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man’s Back, by Joe R. Lansdale, 1986, **. Hopeless survivors are cornered in a lighthouse at the edge of a dried-up sea. The nature of the apocalypse they are in is unrealistically surreal, and there is just too much uncomfortable sexual imagery for my taste.

After the Apocalypse, by Maureen F. McHugh, 2011, *****. A mother with annoying middle school daughter make their way through a post-apocalyptic America, using all the assets she has available. I found the ending unexpected, and therefore powerful. (Well, unexpected the first time I read it in a McHugh collection a few years ago.) It was nominated for Tiptree Award in 2011, and took 11th place for 2012 Locus Short Story.

The Traditional, by Maria Dahvana Headley, 2013, *. I find 2nd-person narratives to be awkward, especially when it describes a person who is not even categorically like myself. A pair of lovers trade parts of themself as anniversary gifts as the world rapidly declines under domination by the Worms.

Monstro, by Junot Díaz, 2012, *****. A story of engaging characters, a couple of whom are Brown University students from the Dominican Republic. They are back on the Island, living lives such 19-year-olds with financial assets do on summer break, when events relating to a mysterious and horrific disease in Haiti spill out. Several threads of plot tension run in parallel to the final reveal.

Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince, by Jake Kerr, ***. A story framed as a Wikipedia entry of a great writer, whose life and works are inspired by the effects of a great asteroid strike on Earth. I usually don’t like stories with creative frames like this, but I found myself drawn into learning about the effects of the asteroid strike on humanity, as shown with believable excerpts from novels and descriptions of future literary movements. I think I would prefer that Jake Kerr actually write Julian Prince’s novels, rather than this Wikipedia entry.
Profile Image for Miloș Dumbraci.
Author 20 books72 followers
January 4, 2023
A highly mixed bag of very good, okay and bad stories. Too mixed and too large for its own good. If half of them had been left out, the other half would have made a great anthology. This is not nearly as good as Wastelands 1, but also not nearly as bad as W3. Otherwise said, not great, not terrible...
Profile Image for Shawnie.
568 reviews40 followers
March 22, 2022
As always with a collection, I enjoyed some very much and some not so much. Most were good!
Profile Image for A~.
307 reviews3 followers
November 18, 2017
Wastelands 2: More stories of the Apocalypse
Edited by John Joseph Adams

I sincerely enjoyed the first collection of apocalypse stories that John put together so I was real eager to read this volume. I have to say it did not disappoint. Like most anthologies there were a few duds, at least they were duds to me, I am sure other people would consider some of my favorites as duds. John's style of editing anthologies is short foreword and a small bit of author info at the end. No stories from the authors of where they were when they thought of this book or a long history of the apocalypse fiction.

The Tamarack Hunter by Paolo Bacigalupi (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paolo_B...)
I don't know what it is about this writer. I love his stories, but always find them a bit off. Maybe because he always writes from a side of a minority and I'm just not reading from that perspective. This story is about a farmer trying to make it in North California. Water is available, but lawsuits have made it illegal for him to use the water in the rivers as it is saved for south California. The Tamarack is a plant that he hunts for a bounty as it is a leach to the rivers. His reward for the plants he kills is an allocation of water. A bit scary as we are starting to see water shortages like this in North America already and I can see lawsuits and laws happening where a situation will result in that people can not use the water that is flowing right by them.

Deep Blood Kettle by Hugh Howey (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Howey) This story is a call out to both how Governments react to a emergency and how American Rednecks do. Aliens have sent an asteroid onto a collision course with Earth. They will stop the asteroid and make it a valuable orbital space station if Earth will give up half of its land. The governments are, of course, spending all of their time arguing over whether to give in and if so whose land gets lost. The family of rednecks in this story are convinced nothing will affect them because they got their guns.

Animal Husbandry by Seanan McGuire (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seanan_...)
I didn't realize this was Mira Grant's real name. I love the Deadline series she writes under the pen name Mira Grant. This story is about a veterinarian who is trying to make it to a safe place with all the animals she can save. Despite as put together as she comes across you realize at the end of the story that the apocalypse has broken her in ways you couldn't imagine.

...for a single yesterday by George R. R. Martin (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_...)
If you do not know who George R. R. Martin is, then you have been living in a cave. This story is about a group of survivors after an apocalypse. One of them has found a way to visit the past.

Chislehurst Messiah by Lauren Beukes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lauren_...) It's the millennials vs the baby boomers. Neither side comes off looking good in this story.

Colliding Branes by Rudy Rucker & Bruce Sterling (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudy_Ru...) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_S...) One of the stories I did not really care for. The ending is a bit cosmic and just sort of out there. The laws of science are breaking down and a couple who met on the internet are hoping to find a safe haven that they also found on the internet.

Ellie by Jack McDevitt (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Mc...) I have read this one before as well. If the apocalypse ever does happen what will happen to all the products of science that we rely on civilization to keep in check. When there is no one to watch the nuclear power plants, when vats of chemicals are left unattended, when a small black hole is being held in check by a atom collider?

Foundation by Ann Aguirre (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Agu...) This story has gay kids coming to age in an underground bunker where their families have taken them to keep them safe from a plague. Unfortunately, someone brought the plague along.

Beat Me Daddy (Eight to the Bar) by Cory Doctorow (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cory_Do...)
I've read this one before, and it was part of a short story collection Cory has done. I like his writing and this story was enjoyable. The weird title refers to a band that plays but has to stop every eight bars because of the sounds of automated bombers flying over them every eight bars.

A Beginner's Guide to Survival Before, During and After the Apocalypse by Christopher Barzak (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christo...) Written sort of in a second person tone, the story is of you, the survivor, and how even when you survive and have safety, are you really the lucky one?

Wondrous Days by Genevieve Valentine (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genevie...) I got a bit lost in this story, but I still like how it ended and enjoyed it. The narrator, however, may not have enjoyed as much.

Dreams in the Dust by D. Thomas Minton (https://dthomasminton.com/) Another story about the world after water starts to run out. This one is more hopeful than the Tamarack Hunter. I think of the two I like this one better because of the hopeful tone.

By Fools Like Me by Nancy Kress (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_K...) Book Burning, nooooooooo. This one is sad because I can easily see people without science going down this road. Heck we have science today and we still have people who do not believe in it. After the apocalypse books are forbidden as they are part of the wastefulness that caused “god” to punish the Earth.

Jimmy's Roadside Cafe by Ramsey Shehadeh (http://doodleplex.com/glassmaze/) Hi, I'm Jimmy. I am not sure if Jimmy is simple or if he is just really messed up from what he has survived. A bit sad.

The Elephants of Poznan by Orson Scott Card (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orson_S...) Fuck this guy...(He hates gay people) The story while nice has been ruined for me now that I see who wrote it.

The Postman by David Brin (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Brin) Yes, this is the story that “The Postman” movie starring Kevin Costner was based on. Do not hold it against it. This is a great story and if you like it, know that he wrote two more stories based on this and eventually combined them all into a novel.

When We Went To See the End of the World by Robert Silverberg (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_...)
I have read this one before and posted about it, it was in Nebula Award Stories 8
A couple hears tales of their friends who all have gone on time travel trips to go see the end of the world many years in the future. An issue arises when each couple describes a different type of world ending event. The last life form dying in a barren world. An asteroid collision with the planet. The sun's heat death. All the futures are far away. Seemingly unnoticed in the background of the story the world in which they currently live in is being torn apart by wars, diseases and natural disasters.

The Revelation of Morgan Stern by Christie Yant (http://inkhaven.net/) A weird one that I can't say I cared for. Out there and a bit confusing for me.

Final Exam by Megan Arkenberg (https://www.meganarkenberg.com/) Written as a final exam with answers at the end. There is a story between all the questions and answers but I feel it was weak and quite possibly why it was written this way.

A Flock of Birds by James Van Pelt (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_V...) Ornithology and the end of the world. Just because the world ends for humans it doesn't mean it's the end of the world for everyone.

Patient Zero by Tananarive Due (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tananar...)
The story is about a young boy who is called the patient zero for a plague that has pretty much killed off everyone. He is in isolation as it has been found out he is contagious, but also the only one who has survived the disease so far.

Soulless in His Sight by Milo James Fowler (http://www.milojamesfowler.com/) The narrator in this book is simple and it reads in some ways like Catcher in the Rye. The young man is considered by his father to be soulless and in order to help him his father has taken to killing survivors and searching for a soul to give his son.

Outer Rims by Toiya Kristen Finley (https://www.toiyakfinley.com/) I wonder how much of this book was influenced by Katrina. Very dark and sad.

Advertising at the End of the World by Keffy R. M. Kehrli (http://www.keffy.com/)
In this story there are robots that can appear as human and who walk door to door to sell things to people. This means that the last few people on earth are in for a lot of advertising.

How the World Became Quiet: A Post-Human Creation Myth by Rachel Swirsky (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_...) It reminded me of Sherri Tepper's book “The Family Tree” but much darker and cynical. Even with help humanity is going to do it's best to destroy the world.

Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man's Back by Joe R. Lansdale (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_R._...) I've read this one. A man spent his whole life working on nuclear weapons and now has to live in a world that his work has caused. Featuring the plants from The Last of Us

After the Apocalypse by Maureen F. McHugh (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maureen...)
I really want to be hard on the protagonist in this story for the decision she makes at the end. But I am here, safe, well fed and do not have to worry about tomorrow. Maybe, I don't like her because I don't want to know what I would decide in the same situation.

The Traditional by Maria Dahvana Headley (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_D...) The third of the duds in this book Very far out there with worms and people developing magic. Bones used as weapons and hair decoration...still a happy ending.

Monstro by Junot Diaz (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junot_D...) I read someone ease's review of this story and they said that they liked it but felt like it was just the introduction for a novel. I agree. However, I must say I like the language and the perspective of it.

Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince by Jake Kerr (http://jakekerr.com/)
Non relevant note, the background of his About Me page is a GIF of puppies sleeping.
The story is in the form of a Wikipedia article about an writer who survived the destruction of North America. Interesting, but the stories described in the article sound more interesting than the one we are reading.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
376 reviews25 followers
March 12, 2017
I read the first anthology of short stories and felt that it was 50/50. With the second anthology, I feel that overall the stories were better, the writing was better. I liked that several of the stories were told from the standpoint of young people, kids. It was refreshing. Personally I don't read a lot of short stories, this was fun. I enjoyed the majority. I would like to see a few of them expanded upon.

The Tamarisk Hunter: I just enjoy this author's point of view.
Deep Blood Kettle: I enjoyed this. Reminded me a little of Footfall.
Animal Husbandry: One of my favorites from this group of stories.
a single Yesterday: Hippie commune survives the end of the world. It was a good story.
Chiselhurst Messiah: It was ok. Poor towards the meh side of ok.
Colliding Branes: It was rather bizarre. It didn't really work for me.
Ellie: It was good. It was on the bleak side of things.
Foundation : it reminded of that one video game....Fallout I think. But I enjoyed the boundaries being pushed and that it was told from a teens point of view.
Beat me Daddy(Eight to the Bar): I loved that there was music. Music seems to be missing in most ends of the world. I would have been there every night.
A Beginners Guide to survival etc etc: This should be expanded upon. Like in diary form.
Wondrous Days: Meh..
Dreams in Dust: Needed more.
By Fools Like Me: I liked it. Grandma reminded me of my mother and grandmother.
Jimmies Roadside Cafe:It tugged at my tiny little heart strings. I liked it.
The Elephants of Ponzan : was bizarre. I am not sure how I feel about it.
The Postman: I am not gonna lie, skipped this, I read the book, I liked it.
When we went to see the End Of the World: Irony. I would never have been invited to a party like this in a million years.
The Revelation of Morgan Stern: I liked this. But I tend to like things in diary format. Maybe that book from middle school made a lasting impression. Go Ask Alice.
Final Exam: this was fun.
A Flock of Birds: This was another stand out for me. It was quiet. There was a sadness but hope as well.
Patient Zero: Another stand out. It was heartbreaking as a parent.
Soulless in his Sight: I just didn't like it.
Outer Rims: I liked this one as well.
Advertising at the End of the World: I didn't care for it.
How the world became Quiet: I just stopped reading this one.
Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Mans Back: I had to many questions.
After The Apocalypse: Excellent. Even if it really pissed me off.
The Traditional: Just weird. Not in a good way
Monstro: Once I got the rhythm, I enjoyed this.
Life of Julian Prince: I just gave up after the first page.
Profile Image for Daniel Ferguson.
Author 3 books16 followers
November 21, 2016
I thought I'd never finish this book this year, let alone the other 11 I challenged myself to read in 2016, due to the absolute suckfest of my life in 2016. But finally, once a few of the stressors that controlled my life were taken out of the equation, I had a lot of time to just read, not to mention write, watch shows and game. But after my writing, which is both my escape and my job description (pfft, yeah, "job" he says), well, my go-to uncompleted read was this one.

I wasn't too amazed by some of the earliest stories, they didn't really disappoint, just didn't really do much for me. However. This being the sequel to one of my two favourite anthologies of all time, once I got the chance to, I pretty much devoured it to make up for lost time.

Wastelands 1 was filled with stories I loved to pieces.

Wastelands 2 started off with ones I didn't like as much, but, as I got through a few, I gained momentum.

I won't spoil the endings and contents of the stories themselves below, but, I will give some examples of the contents. Consider it spoiler-ish, at least to a degree.

Elephant mutants, Lovecraftian mermen in the context of a multiple-choice exam (they broke reality that badly), a girl who summons angels, a patient who is the cure to a world that's finding it harder and harder to hold on while they treat him, a field guide to holding onto your humanity when the world goes to shit and you're branded a criminal for being different, a post-water desertpunk world, a cult where reading is a sin, a wikipedia article on a prize-winning apocalypse author, a haitian mutation (sorry!) and my personal favourite The Postman, all challenged my expectations of how stories are *presented* in ways that I haven't seen in years. So once I dug deeper into this one, I was rewarded with some of the weirdest, craziest, creepiest, strangest, most WTF apocalypse stories I've EVER seen!

Bravo, sir.
Profile Image for Patti.
1,810 reviews
July 24, 2015
Anthologies are very hard to rate. Some stories are really great, others just mediocre, some totally suck.

There were more really good ones than sucky ones in this anthology. Of course, any PA anthology that has an excerpt of "The Postman" in it gotta be good. Only one story (besides "The Postman") that I had already read, so that was a bonus.

A few of the better ones:

After the Apocalypse - Maureen F. McHugh
Outer Rims - Toiya Kristen Finley
Patient Zero - Tananarive Due
Jimmy's Roadside Cafe - Ramsey Shehadeh
Chislehurst Messiah - Lauren Beukes
Animal Husbandry - Seanan McGuire
"...For a Single Yesterday" - George R.R. Martin
Profile Image for Anne.
938 reviews9 followers
January 24, 2016
So very many, many apocalypses. So very many ways for civilization to crumble. While I didn't find anything in here of earth-shattering originality, I did find consistently enjoyable end times. Some interesting voices, sure, but with so many stories concentrating on the collapsing of society aspect I think it's hard to bring something outrageously new to the table.
Profile Image for Melissa Dally.
471 reviews4 followers
May 21, 2016
A very solid collection of apocalyptic tales, including a gem from George RR Martin who typically does fantasy fiction. There were a few that were slow, but most of these were great and I'm going to have to get my hands on the first Wastelands ASAP.
Profile Image for Angela.
576 reviews26 followers
February 17, 2018
Post-apocalypse is my favorite SF sub-genre, and this collection of short stories does not disappoint. Like all anthologies, stories are hit and miss, but most are hits. A worthy follow-up to the first volume. I'll read this one and its predecessor more than once.
Profile Image for Josh.
289 reviews21 followers
November 10, 2020
Weird to read a collection of post apocalyptic fiction that is so steeped in disease and epidemic. It’s all too obvious why...
Overall I’d say this is a good collection but the first Wastelands had more punch.

Story by story reviews:
The Tamarisk Hunter - Not bad. Definitely sinister in its conceit. 4/5
Deep Blood Kettle - Eh. Enjoyable enough but not special. 3/5
Animal Husbandry - Very unexpected. Charming and then... 5/5
...For a Single Yesterday - George RR Martin does his best Stephen King impersonation. Good character voices and a story that leaves you wanting. 3/5
Chislehurst Messiah - A dark piece on age conflicts at the end of the world. Very enjoyable. 5/5
Colliding Brakes - The most challenging, most satirical, and most modern feeling story of the bunch. I will seek out more Rucker. 5/5
Ellie - McDewitt is really good even when you think maybe he has slipped at times in this story. 4/5
Foundation - I can’t remember a thing about it. 0/5
Beat Me Daddy - Musically themed like “...for a single yesterday” but more interesting in its world building. 4/5
A Beginners Guide - I like second person narration and this nails it. 4/5
Wondrous Days - Didn’t fully stick the landing but short and effective. 3/5
Dreams in Dust - Maybe too optimistic. I found it sort of boring. Deserts are hell though. 2/5
By Fools Like Me - Helplessness and hatred of books and a weird new religion. Eh. 1/5
Jimmy’s Roadside Cafe - Optimistic and charming. A bit slapstick which was a nice change of pace, though I did have to hold my nose at it a bit at first. 4/5
The Elephants of Poznań - Allusions to The Elephant by Mrozic are welcome; however this story feels a little long. Card writes really well throughout it and the ending is satisfying in its defiance. 5/5
The Postman - Speaking of a little long, this feels a little long in the tooth BUT it is a very fun near-novella. Can Costner’s film rendition be so terrible? I think I’d watch it anyway. 5/5
When We Went to See the End of the World - And with this story the collection’s optimism ends. I liked it. Understated and satirical with varied imagery of multiple possible apocalypses. More heat death of the universe than nuke. I’d recommend it. 5/5
The Revelation of Morgan Stern - There are some cool bits in this story, but “angels” as monsters really grinds my gears. Meh. 2/5
Final Exam - The most inventive narrative style in the collection. Very cool story throughout. Some nicely purpled prose. 5/5
A Flock of Birds - DNR
Patient Zero - Welllllllll this ones a bit of a downer. 4/5
Soulless in his Sight - I think the main conceit of the story is kind of dumb, but I liked the way the world unfolded and the way characters behaved within it. Character voice is a toss up, you can tell the author was trying for dialect but he didn’t quite get there. 4/5
Outer Rims - Fine. Standard. It’s got all the apocalyptic hallmarks. 3/5
Advertising at the End of the World - Blessed weirdness especially after the cliches of Outer Rims. 4/5
How the World Became Quiet - Nah. 1/5
After the Apocalypse - Sexual politics, moments of genuine tension, and character motivations so artfully hidden you’d need X-ray glasses to see them. Rockin story. 5/5
Monstro - I love Junot Diaz. If you want to read a story about being poor and Dominican and trying to get ass as the world goes to shit, this is the one. At times it feels a bit like a parody of his own work and i started to wonder if he really does just have that one note he keeps playing, but damn if I didn’t enjoy the story anyway. 4/5
Biographical Fragments - This was fine but really should not have been a book end for the collection. 3/5

Final Score 4/5
Profile Image for Kristen.
246 reviews11 followers
December 27, 2015
Overall a 3 star work with some winners, but seemingly more losers particularly experimental structured stories lacking plot, character, or both . I enjoyed the more recently published Apocalyptic Triptych more than Wastelands 1 or 2.

- The Tamarisk Hunter by Paolo Bacigalupi - 3 stars ... I heard this before, and recalled liking it, but I forgot the plot details. I remembered the setting and atmosphere. It left enough fond memories, that I listened again.

- Deep Blood Kettle by Hugh Howey - 2 stars ... plot never got going and then the story was over.

-Animal Husbandry by Seanan McGuire - 4 stars ... don't think I'll be forgetting this one.

-“. . . for a single yesterday” by George R. R. Martin - 3 stars

- Chiswick Messiah by Lauren Beukes - 2 stars ... so very obvious; even the racist Dick getting what he deserves can't lift this story

- Colliding Branes by Rudy Rucker & Bruce Sterling - 4 stars ... I didn't want to like it (I kept wondering if the coming end of the universe because of colliding branes was a con maybe to get the main female character whose name I cannot recall into bed). Characters were not terribly likable and very self-centered but it was the right mix of crazy to work.

- Ellie by Jack McDevitt - 3 stars ... really like the science mystery (although it was pretty obvious)/setting but the plot fell flat

- Foundation by Ann Aguirre - 3.5 stars ... although I totally missed the gay aspect of the plot until I was hit over the head with it because a story with a male main character was narrated by a woman. That was a bad choice of narrator.

- Beat Me Daddy by Cory Doctorow - 3 stars

- A Beginner’s Guide to Survival Before, During, and After the Apocalypse by Christopher Barzak

- Wondrous Days by Genevieve Valentine

- Dreams in Dust—D. Thomas Minton

- By Fools Like Me—Nancy Kress

- Jimmy’s Roadside Café by Ramsey Shehadeh - 4 stars

- The Elephants of Poznan by Orson Scott Card - 2.5 stars

- The Postman by David Bring - 4 stars ... really enjoyed to novelette that inspired the well-known novel and movie although it definitely felt incomplete

- When We Went To See the End of the World by Robert Silverberg - 2 stars ... Not new to me and I remembered that I didn't enjoy this dated odd story about multiple possible ends of the world so I skipped it

- The Revelation of Morgan Stern by Christie Yan - 3.5 stars ... I heard this one before too. It's a very wired fantasy apocalypse with demonic angels emerging from hell (not normally my cup of tea) but I enjoyed it enough to listen again this time around.

- Final Exam by Megan Arkenberg - 2 stars ... Characterless /plotless story in the form of an exam = Failed experimental.

- A Flock of Birds by James Van Pelt - 3 stars

- Patient Zero by Tananarive Due - 4 stars ... diary of a young patient zero in his isolation room hints at the end of the world occurring outside the hospital walls. The voice of a child who doesn't understand what's going on outside allows the reader to fill in the blanks.

- Soulless in His Sight by Milo James Fowler - 3 stars ...hard the understand exactly what's happening in the beginning as the POV character is mentally disabled and entirely sheltered by his overly religious father. Again the reader has to fill in the blanks making things much bleaker than the POV character understands them to be.

- Outer Rims by Toiya Kristen Finley - 3.5 stars

- Advertising at the End of the World—Keffy R. M. Kehrli - 2 stars ... Heard this story before on EscapePod in 2010, and I remembered it from the title alone. It's a very clever (and memorable) concept, but it was too absurdist for my tastes so I skipped it.

- How the World Became Quiet: A Post-Human Creation Myth by Rachel Swirsky - 1 star ... I heard this story before on EscapePod in 2008, but it wasn't memorable. I did have a vague memory of not liking it within minutes of starting (sentient trees are pretty rare), and decided not to bother listening. What I said then: Didn’t do it for me. Too “dry and text booky” perhaps. I didn’t care for the lack of overarching plot and the message of “humans are evil”.

- Tight Little Stiches in a Dead Man’s Back by Joe R. Lansdale -1 star ... likely memorable for pervert incestuous dream of the main character and some other perverse bits for shock value, but I'm pretty unclear on what if anything is actually happening or if the narrator's guilty conscious is having him imagine wired unlikely apocalyptic world.

- After the Apocalypse by Maureen F. McHugh - 3 stars

- The Traditional by Maria Dahvana Headley - 1 star ... what? I never got a handle on what the heck was going on. Too wired.

- Monitor by Junot Diaz - 3 stars ... sounds like an interesting apocalypse, but wish the story had been from the POV of a character witnessing thing instead of recounting what happened while talking about the girl he was chasing while he didn't notice the end of the world

- Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince by Jake Kerr - 3.5 stars ... Another story first heard on EscapePod (in 2014). I remember enjoying the experimentally formatted story probably because I liked the history of the apocalypse in the story. What I said then: Thumbs up from me too. While I don't think this format could have supported a longer story the telling of a post-apocalyptic story by providing snippets from the life of a famous survivor worked for me. I didn't particularly care for Prince - I don't know if anyone could because the story was told from a certain distance where you never got to know anything about him for sure and he wasn't heroic. But a short story did not require that I like him to like the story. (That might have been required for me to love the story.) It was short enough that I did not to get tired of his nihilism before the end and the sketch of the cultural impact of the apocalypse was interesting enough for me to enjoy it. It was good on a second listen too.
Profile Image for Shoshannah.
42 reviews
April 12, 2021
Probably not the best idea to read this anthology in summer 2020 as the pandemic, wildfires and social unrest raged all around. Too close to dystopian home. Great collection though!
Profile Image for Spike Gomes.
201 reviews16 followers
December 12, 2017
It seems the case that follow-ups are usually never as good as the original. It's almost a trope, if you will. For most of the reader's of this, the other reviews seem to suggest that it's so, however, in my case, I found this one a lot better than the first collection. It's rather funny, since I've also read quite a bit of the stories in here already as well, and there's not really a significant change in tone or taste on the part of the editor, but Adams just seemed to be picking higher quality stuff this time.

What follows is just some of the stories that stood out for me.

"The Tamarisk Hunter"
Probably the most accurate form of apocalypse we're going to face. A slow motion ecological and demographic one

"... for a single yesterday"
Evidence that George R.R. Martin can write something that's nuanced and emotionally delicate instead of latter-day swords and dragons soap operas.

"Chislehurst Messiah"
I enjoy a good clueless asshole story that has zero message and a nice blackly humorous ending. By the way, can we have less messages please?

"Dreams in Dust"
Very short, but an extremely good example of visual and cultural worldbuilding. Not exactly deep or moving, but a damn fine example of science fiction in the short form. Fully immersive in just over five pages.

"Jimmy's Roadside Cafe"
Not all of us go full Cormac McCarthy when the world dies.

"The Elephants of Poznan"
Not really science fiction, more slipstreamish, but an example that Orson Scott Card can write a damn good story; it's a real shame he's been more or less unofficially blacklisted since 2015 for not abandoning the teachings of his religion.

"The Postman"
Skip this one. Why? Because you should just go out and get the novel it expanded into. One of the best post-apocalyptic novels ever. A must-read.

"After the Apocalypse"
Zero violence, but one of the subtly darkest apocalypse stories you'll ever read. It needs to be dwelt upon to see why.

The really bad ones?
Well, oddly enough the Bruce Sterling and Rudy Rucker one. Shitty concept, shitty delivery and probably a couple of the most annoying characters I've ever read. It was like someone was trying to make a bad parody of a cyberpunk story, only it seemed really straight up. It's like if Tommy Wiseau directed a cyberpunk version of "The Room".

Also, my bete noire, Cory Doctorow; again with a story that is fucking ludicrous on all levels.

First off, he wants us to believe that the urban survivors of robotic carpet bombing and biowar induced pandemics would gather daily, after scrounging the shattered ruins for expired canned food, to listen to four guys acting as a jazz quartet playing on literal garbage with a low functioning autistic guy on drums, er empty cans. A woman shows up with a bunch of seeds and begins gardening. The self-appointed militia leader of the community (and there is the assumption here that for some reason in this wasteland, nothing worse than fist fights happen) is somehow incredibly pissed off that this near starving community suddenly has a second source of food (really?) and attempts to destroy it multiple times (what?). Of course in this lawless hellhole, that means beating someone repeatedly without ever causing anything worse than a bloody nose (has Doctorow ever been in anything stronger than a slap-fight before or lived anywhere besides among wealthy white nerds?). So what does the women and her new friends decide to do? Go to an automatized bomber base and hijack one of the bombers using a combination massive plot hole and deus ex machina at the same fucking time. I'm not kidding. Apparently the previously mentioned 100% automatized jet bombers have ports where low functioning autists can plug into and override the programming. They fly to Australia, and instead of being immediately blown out of the sky by radar guided missile, as one would expect an automated er autist piloted bomber from the burnt out and plague ridden wasteland to be immediately regarded as a massive immediate threat, they are permitted to land and are immediately given apartments and welfare benefits from the generous Australian government, as apparently the shit hitting the fan had zero affect on the economy there and they're totally cool taking in whatever human refuse washes up from the disease and war-ridden hellhole of a world outside their antipodean paradise.

I've seen episodes of Axe-Cop with tighter plotting and more realistic human behavior than this. Again, why is this guy considered one of the best modern writers of the genre?

Four out of Five stars.
Except the Doctorow story.
I'd give it no stars, but it actually fits better rated as a black hole. A collapsed star that sucks off the light and energy of the stars around it into it's terrifying void of space.
Profile Image for Tom Rowe.
1,036 reviews5 followers
October 23, 2019
Nothing says fun quite like the end of the world. I really enjoyed these short stories. There was a lot of variety in the types of stories all centered around the end of everything. I recommend.
Profile Image for Jordan Anderson.
1,250 reviews31 followers
December 11, 2015
This is really more of a 2.5 star rating.

I like post-apocalyptic fiction stories. I have no issues, whatsoever, in admitting that I take a guilty, perverse pleasure in reading them. There's something about the destruction, desolation, desperation, depression, whatever, that makes them such compelling reads. Think about it. Living in a world that is no longer full of the cushy amenities we take for granted. Having to eke out a meager living by scrounging around in abandoned buildings for tins of food the previous looters might have missed. Watching helplessly as catastrophe unfolds and you have no possible way to control it.

Can you imagine all that? Good. Now try to remember what things would really be like while you try to slog your way through this anthology.

Somehow, Adams manages once again, to take a pretty compelling subject (and on that is immensely popular, I might add) and make it seem boring. It shouldn't be much of a surprise. The last PA anthology he edited (The Wastelands) was quite possibly one of the worst anthologies I had the mispleaure to read...in any genre. Ok, so this second installment is marginally better, as it has a few more so-so stories, but really, the whole thing was a huge disappointment.

Let's start with the story selection. There's something like 30 shorts here. 30! That's a pretty hefty group, right? So you'd think there would be a good number of entertaining, enthralling, stories, right? Well, sadly, you'd be wrong. Of all the stories Adams somehow pulled together, only 8 were worth remembering. And of those 8, only 2 ("Final Exam" by Megan Arkenberg and "Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince" by Jake Kerr) stood out as wholly original and fun. And the funny thing about both of those are they aren't even proper prose form. "Final Exam" is structured like a multiple choice test while "Julian" is a fictional wikipedia page. And here I am actually liking those 2 pieces more than any other and I'm a guy who wants traditional things!

Obviously I enjoyed those 2 standout tales more than anything else because all the rest was either disappointing or downright crappy. I would have expected a lot more from Jack McDevitt and George R.R. Martin. I would have wanted to get a lot more substance from 70 pages than I did with David Brin's "The Postman". While "Patient Zero" was an easy, better read, than half of the stuff here, it was still unoriginal and brought nothing new to the post-apocalyptic table.

Of course, I could have gotten through a boring anthology and still found it ok. I mean, boring is better than "bad" isn't it? But I will not sit idly by while the bad ones try and slink their way into this collection.

I counted 6 stories that were, in my opinion, an absolute pain to read. Some started out ok ("The Elephants of Poznan", "Colliding Branes") but ended up being so stupid in the conclusion that I wanted my 10-15 minutes back. Some went nowhere ("Wondrous Days" and "Dreams in Dust") and didn't even further the overall theme of the anthology. However, it was the 2 horrible and just annoyingly dumb stories of "The Traditional" and "How the World Became Quiet" that ruined a lot of the somewhat possitive feelings I had for this book. I even had to skip "...Quiet" it was so bad and I very rarely ever skip anything. Then again, there was only so much cockroach men and butterfly men and tree warfare that a man can take. C'mon! I want to hear stories of nuclear wastelands and ravished people fleeing from raiders who want to rape and kill them. I don't want to waste my brain cells on trying to suspend my disbelief on cricket men and dung beetle men who try to save the world.

I should have seen this coming in. John Joseph Adams has never been one to really wow me with his anthologies. Rather than pick good, straightforward short stories, he always goes off on random tangents and almost purposely choses the most confusing and "original" (notice the quotation marks there?) stuff to put in. And that's really aggravating when there's a ton of good stuff out there, and a good number of better produced, better edited anthologies.
Let's just say this will probably be the last of any of Adam's anthologies I purchase. I've been let down too many times. I'm just not into that happening again.
Profile Image for Stan James.
218 reviews4 followers
May 6, 2016
A second volume in a themed horror collection might seem like a good candidate for more experimental work that may not be entirely successful and such is the case with Wastelands 2, although I enjoyed the majority of the stories.

Post-apocalypse tales are one of the enduring favorites in horror fiction. Some of the classic boogeymen like nuclear war have faded as threats to all humanity while others like global warming have risen--Wastelands 2 delivers on both of these, along with biological terrors, Lovecraftian beasts from the sea, really mean flowers and, of course, Kevin Costner. Sort of.

While the stories are bound by the theme of apocalypse, style and tone is all over the place. There is little in the way of humor (as one might expect), though Keffy R. M. Kehrli's "Advertising at the End of the World" with its androids-as-literal-walking-advertisements still searching for buyers after a super-virus decimates humanity, is quietly absurd. Most are dark or darker and the majority betray little hope regarding humankind's ability to come back from the brink of extinction. You'll also put down the book thinking most people are jerks.

This is not exactly feel-good material is what I'm saying.

A few standouts for me include Jack McDevitt's "Ellie," which presents a nice twist on a story about caretakers keeping things running at a massive particle collider in the hope of staving off further disaster. The aforementioned "Advertising at the End of the World" is a relatively original take on post-apocalypse, with the sensible protagonist Marie trying to deal with an army of annoying androids as humanely as possible. George R. R. Martin's hippie-fest "...For a Single Yesterday" reminded me a bit of the novel Station Eleven, with entertainers providing a focal point in surviving communities, with a bit of time-travelly drugs tossed in.

"Monstro" is a deliciously weird story about a virus inducing strange and dangerous groupthink among the infected quarantined in Haiti. Author Junot Díaz steeps the story in local culture while slowly unwinding an ever-widening apocalypse that may or may not be contained on the island state.

Jake Kerr's "Biological Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince" is an epistemological accounting of how an author survives, writes about and in a way is consumed by a meteor impact that devastates North America in the first half of the 21st century. I feel this format--excerpts from Wikipedia, interviews, news reports and so on--is trickier to pull off than it looks but Kerr handles it expertly, lending an authentic feel to these glimpses of Prince's life and the apocalyptic event that sits at its core.

On the negative side, I found David Brin's "The Postman" (a novella version of the novel) was fine but oddly undercuts the whole enterprise on the very last page with the protagonist turning weirdly flippant and derisive. I have no idea if the book (or the Costner movie) are the same, but I found it jarring.

But while "The Postman" was still a pleasant enough read overall, I only managed a few pages of Maria Dahvana Headley's "The Traditional." The story features an unlikable and uninteresting protagonist and is written in the second person: "You’ve always been the kind of liar who leans back and lets boys fall into you while you see if you can make them fall all the way out the other side. You want them to feel like they’ve hit Narnia. You traffic in interdimensional fucking, during which they transcend space and time, and you go nowhere." I've always been the kind of person who finds the second person point of view a very tough sell. I was not sold. I didn't even rent.

There are more than enough stories in Wastelands 2, however, to recommend it to anyone looking for some post-apocalyptic fun.
Profile Image for Jeff Lanter.
684 reviews9 followers
September 1, 2017
As I work my way through the book, I'm going to leave notes for stories I especially like. Overall comments will follow:

The Tamarisk Hunter - This is a grim story about natural resource depletion that could have been spun out into a much longer story and I would have gladly read it. While it took a while for me to get into it, I ended up really enjoying this one.

...For A Single Yesterday - The first thing I've read by George R. R. Martin and a very solid story at that. If the apocalypse happened and a drug could take you back to your best memories, wouldn't you use it? While the narrator was a bit too passive for my taste but the story is melancholy perfection.

Ellie - The atmosphere of this story is top-notch and I could really picture where the narrator traveled and it stood out from all other stories in this collection. The ending was surprising and hit the right note for me too which made up for any other deficiencies this may have had.

Elephants from Poznan - This story is odd and probably won't be enjoyed by many who read this collection and yet, I couldn't help but admire how well it was written. Other than a few logical leaps you have to roll with, there are many moments of beautiful and effective writing. I don't like Orson Scott Card's more famous series but he deserves credit for this story.

The Postman - The longest story in this collection by far. I assume this is a novel excerpt since it shares the name of the author's book. I was pleasantly surprised how good this one is. Moralizing aside, this is well-written and I really got lost in this post-apocalyptic world. I may have to pick up this novel and read it sometime in the future.

A Flock of Birds - With excellent atmosphere, likable characters, and a really surprising ending, this one definitely stands out in the collection and was a really fun read. One of the most likable protagonists in this collection features in this story as well.

After the Apocalypse - While completely different than the previous story, it has a lot of the same strengths. The world is well realized and I felt like I could see it and was a part of it. The protagonist will probably be divisive with readers but she really shocked me and the ending made me think. I may have to read more by this author one day because I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Monstro - This is by one of my favorite authors though it is an odd fit in this collection. Diaz has many interests as a writer and post-apocalypse is not usually one of them. This story might not be enjoyable for many readers of this collection because it is not truly post-apocalyptic but I found it enjoyable and appreciate his strong writing voice whenever I can get it.

All in all, there are quite a few average stories in this collection. Maybe they didn't resonate with me or weren't in a style I liked but as I think about the entire book, how many great stories I read and how those were impossible to put down, I think this book is well worth the money, especially when you consider the hefty page count If you like this style of fiction then I think you should definitely check this collection out. There are not a lot of collections out there like it and it has a nice mix of stories to satisfy all tastes.
Profile Image for Yev.
543 reviews8 followers
October 3, 2022
The Tamarisk Hunter - Paolo Bacigalupi (2006)
Lolo has found a way to cheat the system, but what do you do when the system ceases to exist?

Deep Blood Kettle - Hugh Howey (2013)
Aliens try the carrot (massive profits) and the stick (everyone dies) approach to taking over Earth and a young farm boy ponders on how his farming is a metaphor for humanity.

Animal Husbandry - Seanan McGuire (2009)
Fourteen months ago multiple pandemics wiped out most of the world. A veterinarian travels with her assortment of animals and relevant drugs.

“…for a single yesterday” - George R. R. Martin (1975)
A man who is a singer and guitarist sees no future for himself and lives only for past with the help of a drug. Their new self-appointed leader who is ex-military has great hopes for the future and wants the drug to help with that. The narrator is in the middle, understanding both, but his sympathies lie with the former.

Chislehurst Messiah - Lauren Beukes (2011)
Most of the people in the world have died from a pandemic, but this wealthy white conservative male in his late 30s has the solution. He stays inside, watches Youtube all day, pops pills, and is disgusted by the state of today's youth. Considering who's left alive, he begins to wonder whether he's the Messiah.

Colliding Branes - Rudy Rucker & Bruce Sterling (2009)
Two fringe bloggers who have never met each other before meet up because the end of the universe is imminent. A regular commenter on their blogs told them the secret to survive the end of the universe, so that's where they're headed. This is a very silly story whose memes and references are very much from 2009.

Ellie - Jack McDevitt (1995)
The Crash was centuries ago, but a mysterious tower where the devil was said to be contained still has that which was lost. He goes there and finds someone that he thought was forever lost to him. I'm ambivalent about this story, but I think enjoyment wins out overall.

Foundation - Ann Aguirre (2012)
It's a nice little story about six wealthy families in a communal underground bunker and what comes afterward. It's also strangely unsatisfying.

Beat Me Daddy (Eight to the Bar) - Cory Doctorow (2002)
Ten years have passed since the war ended, but the automated jets still fly overhead, though bereft of ammo. The survivors have become scavengers. One day a stranger appears to listen to the Eight Bar Band and suggests a better life through gardening.

A Beginner’s Guide to Survival Before, During, and After the Apocalypse - Christopher Barzak (2013)
Not so much a guide as an example narrative told from a second person perspective.

Wondrous Days - Genevieve Valentine (2010)
A 2012 disaster story that I found to be especially nonsensical.

Dreams in Dust - D. Thomas Minton (2012)
All of Earth's surface water is gone. A man traveling through the Atlantic basin begs for help from an enclave of survivors, as he hopes he carries the plans to restore water to Earth. This read much more like a prologue to a Dune-like novel than a self-contained short story.

By Fools Like Me - Nancy Kress (2007)
In this wasteland community Christianity has become the worship of trees. Her granddaughter brings her a package filled with books, which are among the gravest of unforgivable sins.

Jimmy’s Roadside Café - Ramsey Shehadeh (2008)
When the world ended, Jimmy opened a cafe, and was determined to provide the best service that he could to anyone who came by.

The Elephants of Poznan - Orson Scott Card (2000)
Children are no longer born to humans. Elephants shall inherit the Earth and direct the course of human evolution. This is probably allegorical.

The Postman - David Brin (1982)
This was written as an intentionally optimistic and idealistic response to the post-apocalyptic fiction of the time. A wanderer stumbles onto the outfit of a postman and is at first into the role by the hopes and dreams of people for a better life, but then starts taking to it. This later became a novel, but I don't know if I care enough to read it.

When We Went To See the End of the World - Robert Silverberg (1972)
Every single day brings many new disasters, which the populace mostly ignores. The most popular attraction is time-tripping to the see The End of The World billions of years in the future. It's fun for the whole family, for those who are still alive anyway! An ironic story that may become ever more relevant.

The Revelation of Morgan Stern - Christie Yant (2013)
A travelogue of an ambiguous first person protagonist traveling across the US on foot to find an ambiguous person with whom they have an ambiguous relationship. The Earth has split open and "angels" pour forth and take the living.

Final Exam - Megan Arkenberg (2012)
Presenting the narrative as an exam with multiple choice questions that have a corresponding answer key is certainly a lesser used form. Based on this, it should remain that way.

A Flock of Birds - James Van Pelt (2002)
A person can do a lot of bird watching while everyone, self included, is dying of disease.

Patient Zero - Tananarive Due (2000)
The journal of a 10 year boy details what's going on in his life in his quarantine cell as the only known human to be immune to the disease killing everyone.

Soulless in His Sight - Milo James Fowler (2012)
A severely stunted boy and his father travel through the urban wastelands.

Outer Rims - Toiya Kristen Finley (2011)
A family is concerned about being overwhelmed by the ocean and there's a new infectious disease spreading that they didn't have any idea about which is causing immediate panic.

Advertising at the End of the World - Keffy R. M. Kehrli (2009)
The world has ended and the only interaction she has is with the humanoid advertisements. It's weird and I didn't understand, but I didn't dislike it.

How the World Became Quiet: A Post-Human Creation Myth - Rachel Swirsky (2007)
The trees won the war and humanity was forced to blend with all animals. No matter their form though, nothing could satiate mankind's hunger for destruction.

Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man’s Back - Joe R. Lansdale (1986)
He was one of the men who ended the world, which killed his daughter. The only thing he had left was to suffer. She was his wife and all she had left was to make him suffer. There was a considerable amount of weird and violent sexual imagery.

After the Apocalypse - Maureen McHugh (2011)
Not all women are maternal, let alone nurturing, and sometimes having a child is a mistake.

The Traditional - Maria Dahvana Headley (2013)
The worms have ended the world. A man and woman are brought together. For each of their anniversaries they mutilate themselves and each other to show their love.

Monstro - Junot Díaz (2012)
This was originally published in The New Yorker, which to me is a story onto itself. There's a terrible disease in Haiti, which the protagonist avoids by being in the Dominican Republic with a very wealthy guy. Nothing else matters to him except trying to get with the girl who's always around the guy but isn't with him.

Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince - Jake Kerr (2013)
This is a fictional Wikipedia article about the novelist, among other pursuits, Julian Prince (1989-2057). I enjoyed it far more than I thought I could possibly could and I don't understand why. The primary event that everything revolves around is the Meyer Impact that destroyed North America in 2023. Kerr wrote more in this setting, which I didn't like, so it's even more unexpected that I liked this story so much.
Highly Enjoyable
Profile Image for Robin.
Author 1 book5 followers
August 6, 2018
Much of the book didn't feel as strong as the first Wastelands anthology. That was perhaps inevitable, given the fact that the first book had decades of post-apocalyptic stories to draw from, while the second volume was mostly dependent on those published since the release of the first volume. However, many of the strongest stories are in the second half of the book, with the end result that it matches (or perhaps even exceeds) its predecessor in overall quality.

Scattered thoughts about some of the more memorable stories in the book:

Animal Husbandry—Seanan McGuire
This starts off as fairly standard post-apoc fare, but has a grim little twist that I appreciated.

Jimmy’s Roadside Cafe—Ramsey Shehadeh
One of the quieter stories, this one deals with the emotional side of the apocalypse.

The Postman—David Brin
I had low expectations of this story, given the bland movie adaptation with Kevin Costner, but it ended up being quite the page-turner. One of the more optimistic stories in this volume.

Patient Zero—Tananarive Due
Very similar to The Girl With All the Gifts, but with a male protagonist and lacking zombies. Well-rendered.

Tight Little Stiches in a Dead Man’s Back—Joe R. Lansdale
Gory and bizarre, like the best Lansdale. An interesting read, although it felt a bit overstuffed, like there were enough ideas for two different stories here. The reference to tattoos having "stitches" seemed a little odd to me, though.

The Traditional—Maria Dahvana Headley
Written in the second person, this story is bloody and kind of splatterpunk, like old Poppy Z. Brite. A too-cool-for-school couple shelter together, giving each other outre anniversary gifts as the outside world falls to carnivorous worlds. I wasn't sure where this story was going, but the ending is surprisingly triumphant.

Monstro—Junot Diaz
This story is about an Americanized Caribbean Islander visiting the Dominican Republic as an odd epidemic breaks out. The narrator's voice and frequent Spanglish was compelling, and the characters were all layered and interesting. The ending is a bit abrupt, but it definitely left me wanting more.

Overall, many the stories collected here had a very experimental feel. A number are written in the second person, one is written in a Wikipedia entry format, and another is written as a multiple choice test. Some of these experiments are more successful than others, but the diverse storytelling kept me interested and engaged throughout.

If you liked the first Wastelands book, this second volume is an easy recommendation. Even if you haven't read the first, this book is worth a look to fans of the post-apocalyptic subgenre.
Profile Image for Chris Gilmore.
Author 1 book5 followers
January 5, 2018
This is a collection of short stories by renowned anthologist John Joseph Adams. I've enjoyed a few of his previous anthologies very much, including the first *Wastelands* and (my personal favourite) *Brave New World* which is an anthology of dystopian fiction. So naturally I was eager to jump into this one. Unlike the others, which I read, I purchased this one from Audible and listened to it.

As an anthology, this book is quite strong. It features a wide diversity of authors, both old and new, and of different cultural backgrounds. The stories themselves also vary widely in style. Some are delivered through straight-up storytelling (and from quite a variety of viewpoints), while others take unusual formats, such as the form of a multiple-choice test or a Wikipedia article. And naturally, I didn't enjoy them all equally. My overall impression of the quality of the stories is good, but I feel this collection isn't quite a strong as the first one. Still, there are some strong authors in here, and something for everyone: Paolo Bacigalupi, Hugh Howey, George R.R. Martin, Jack MecDevitt, Cory Doctorow, Orson Scott Card, David Brin, Nancy Kress, and Robert Silverberg, to name the most famous.

The real standout for me was David Brin's The Postman which was later expanded into a novel of the same name - this book contains what I presume is the original short story. In this story, the main character is robbed and flees, discovers a dead postman in his truck and steals his things to sell. He visits a settlement and, by accident, discovers that there is potential power in the symbolism associated with a federal mail carrier. It ends when stands outside the gates of a second community, and discovers that he can harness that power to his advantage. It's the kind of PA that I like - a sort of gritty western, dog-eat-dog world with pockets of true community, where each community wonders if there are others like them. Brin does a great job of demonstrating the power of hope, and of organization. The symbology isn't blatant, but I can see parallels with early Christian missionaries after the fall of Rome, moving across Europe and spreading hope. That kind of metaphor gives the story a wider meaning, which I appreciate. And it's well told, too.

So, overall, I'd recommend this book, though not quite as highly as the other books mentioned above (Wastelands, and Brave New World, by John Joseph Adams and The Postman (the novel) by David Brin.)
Profile Image for Lbaker.
916 reviews8 followers
August 10, 2017
The Tamarisk Hunter by Paolo Bacigalupi - 4.5 stars
Deep Blood Kettle by Hugh Howey - 3 stars
Animal Husbandry by Seanan McGuire - 5 stars
.... for a Single Yesterday by George R R Martin - 5 stars
I think I'm going to have to cave, and start reading his Game of Thrones series, I've been postponing until the series is complete, but every time I read one of his short stories I love the characters, and the settings.
Chislehurst Messiah by Lauren Beukes - 2.5 stars
Colliding Branes by Rudy Rucker and Bruce Sterling - 2 stars
Ellie by Jack McDevitt - 5 stars
Foundation by Ann Aguirre - 4.5 stars
Beat me Daddy (Eight to the Bar) by Cory Doctorow - 6 stars - Loved it
A Beginners Guide to Survival Before, During and After the Apocalypse by Christopher Barzak - 2.5
stars (really disliked the beginning, but it improved)
Wondrous Days by Genevieve Valentine - 3 stars
Dreams in Dust by D. Thomas Minton - 3.5 stars
By Fools Like Me by Nancy Kress - 4 stars
Jimmy's Roadside Cafe by Ramsey Shehadeh - 4.5 stars
The Elephants of Poznan by Orson Scott Card - 4 stars
The Postman by David Brin - 4.5 stars
When we Went to See the End of the World by Robert Silverberg - 3 stars
The Revelation of Morgan Stern by Christie Yant - 3.5 stars
Final Exam by Megan Arkenberg - 1.5 stars - it felt like reading a magazine quiz that had been
filled out - a little voyeuristic and quite dull
A Flock of Birds by James Van Pelt - 4 stars
Patient Zero by Tananarive Due - 4 stars
Soulless in his Sight by Milo James Fowler - 3.5 stars
Outer Rims by Toiya Kristen Finley - 4 stars
Adverising at the End of the World by Keffy R M Kehrli - 2.5 stars
How the World Became Quiet: A Post Human Creation Myth by Rachel Swirsky - 4.5 stars
Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man's Back by Joe R Lansdale - 4.5 stars
After the Apocalypse by Maureen F McHugh - 4.5 stars - Hated the main character, well written to
stir up that much emotion!
The Traditional by Maria Dahvana Headley - 2.5 stars
Monstro by Junot Diaz - 3 stars
Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince by Jake Kerr - 3.5 stars - found it hard to get into.

Total 112.5 stars, 30 stories = 3.75 - I'll average to 4 stars!
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