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Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse

(Wastelands #1)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  9,362 ratings  ·  819 reviews
Famine, Death, War, and Pestilence - the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the harbingers of Armageddon - these are our guides through the Wastelands.

From the Book of Revelation to The Road Warrior, from A Canticle for Leibowitz to The Road, storytellers have long imagined the end of the world, weaving eschatological tales of catastrophe, chaos, and calamity. In doing so,
Paperback, 333 pages
Published 2008 by Night Shade
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Kelsey I've only made it through the first third. I would say that this is more for high school aged kids. There is a bit of cursing, there are references to…moreI've only made it through the first third. I would say that this is more for high school aged kids. There is a bit of cursing, there are references to sex acts but nothing pornographic (thus far), and there is one that is graphic where the characters are a genetically enhanced version of the human race that cannot feel and heals quickly so they mutilate themselves in strange ways.
The themes addressed are harsh and shocking and go to the root of who we are as humans. The stories are nothing worse than Lord of the Flies or Hatchet or other required reading I had in high school (15 years ago). Maybe see if you can find a copy at your local library and read a sampling? (less)

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Sep 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who enjoy depressing stories about a effed up future
Recommended to carol. by: fans of the apocalypse
I can hardly believe I'm saying this, but I think I prefer apocalypse stories with zombies. I've enjoyed Joseph Adams' edited collections before (the The End is Nigh series has some great arcs), but Wastelands largely feels bleak and depressing. Apparently contributions were curated or written with either physical or emotional desolation in mind.

Deliberately excluding apocalypses resulting from aliens or zombies, Adams attempts to answer the question of what would the world be like after the ap
At times, I felt like I was slogging through the detritus of the known world, searching for a good story in Wastelands. Finally, towards the middle and end, I found life-sustaining stories to reward me for the trip.

Some were hopeful: 1) "Waiting for the Zephyr" by Tobias S. Buckell, 2) "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth" by Cory Doctorow, and 3) "Artie's Angels" by Catherine Wells.

A few were profound, 1) "Inertia" by Nancy Kress, 2) And the Deep Blue Sea" by Elizabeth Bear and 3) "Speech Sounds" b
Aug 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: DOOM! DOOM! DOOM!
Recommended to Rob by: Amy
A tightly themed, well executed collection: Wastelands captures our apocalypse fears and fantasies equally well and sometimes even simultaneously.

Adams wisely chooses Stephen King's "The End of the Whole Mess" as an opener and moves into all manner of exciting territory from there. Wastelands is the expected mix of strong (and some average) short stories; most of them have a high re-read score and there is an good mix of diverse ideas and themes that keep within the central focus.

Aug 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have been thinking about all these stories. They range from really good to simply meh. I am going to borrow the format some other folks have used, this was a group read for Apocalypse Whenever. I don't think they will mind.

The End of the Whole Mess: Let me just say they didn't think about the unintended consequences of their actions. Folks, let's remember the big picture.

Salvage: First time I have read this author. Felt like the first chapter to a good story.

The People of Sand and Slag: Seco
Feb 01, 2016 rated it liked it
This book had a strong start with Stephen King's The End of the Whole Mess, but quickly went downhill from there. Bleak story after bleak story had me feeling a little bit down.

There were a few gems amongst them however. My favorites were Speech Sounds, Artie's Angels and Mute. My least favorites were When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth and The People of Sand and Slag. Although to be fair the latter wasn't my least favorite because it was awful, but because of its shocking content. I got a similar fe
I didn't have great hopes for this since I've read a lot of post apocalyptic stories & books over the years. There's rarely anything new, the same old tropes. Kadrey even explains most of them in his offering as he paints a truly poignant picture that puts them all to shame. Most of the stories here are truly unique & fantastic.

Only Butler's story was a repeat for me. I even liked King's! He was short & to the point for a change. Good point, too. Doctorow's story focused on an overlooked area,
This sounded like a great idea. I read a lot of post-apocalyptic (and dystopian) books. I mean, a LOT, probably 90% of what I read.

After this book, for the first time in years, I need a break. I've needed breaks from zombie books, but when I, need a PA break, something's clearly gone wrong.

It's not that the stories are bad. Well, some of them aren't so hot, but some of them are quite good, and overall it is a decent collection. But it's all just sooo damn depressing.

To go from one depressing s
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Maybe this particular post-apocalypse sub-genre is not for me; in any case, this collection of short stories left me quite unimpressed, often underwhelmed and occasionally bored. I just can't comprehend the overall high rating of this book, I was expecting something better to be honest.
Some stories were decently good, the first one by Stephen King was really good (together with another couple of stories, out of the 22 in this book), but a few others were really not so good. They also seemed fair
The worst:

The End of the Whole Mess by Stephen King: Reviewers keep talking about what a great story this was to open the collection. Nope. It's crap.

Waiting for the Zephyr by Tobias S. Buckell: This was a really short and seemingly inoffensive story about a girl trying to escape her family and get on a wind-driven landship out of town, but I hated it. I don't even really know why. It was like 4 pages long but it managed to infuriate me anyway.

Salvage by Orson Scott Card: Mormon propaganda.

A Son
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
An excellent collection with generally very high quality stories, many of which have won numerous awards and have been published widely before. In particular, I liked Octavia Butler's story, as well as well as the story by Dale Bailey.

The End of the Whole Mess by Stephen King (4.0) - Two brothers. One a genius, bent on curing the world of it's biggest disease. Violence. This was intriguing and thoroughly engaging, the story narrated as a journal documenting the tale of how the end came, despite
Short post-apocalyptic stories by different authors, some better known than others. Below, each of the stories rated with its own stars.

Stephen King - Sfarsitul tuturor problemelor / The End of the Whole Mess - 3.5/5★

Orson Scott Card - Recuperare / Salvage - 3/5★

Paolo Bacigalupi - Oameni de nisip si zgura / The People of Sand and Slag - 4.5/5★

M. Rickert - Paine si bombe / Bread and Bombs - 3.5/5★

Jonathan Lethem, Cum am intrat in oras si cum l-am parasit / How We Got In Town and Out Again - 3.5/
Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lena by: Spells, Space & Screams BOM
The End of the Whole Mess by Stephen King ★★★★★
"The world needs heroic measures, man. I don't know about long-term effects, and there's no time to study them, because there's no long-term prospect. Maybe we can cure the whole mess. Or maybe—"

I read Nightmares & Dreamscapes when it first came out in the early 90s, and was ridiculously proud of myself (huge book); this was the story that stayed with me. It was my first apocalypse story, and it felt real because there were no zombies, no aliens
Feb 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Some great stories about various post-apocalyptic scenarios. There's a wide range of causes for end-of-the-world scenarios, and how the survivors deal with them. ...more
Feb 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
An incredibly solid collection of short stories. Most of them highly entertaining and original. Some more so than others obviously but I wouldn't put any story in the book under 3 stars and most are at 4 stars.

I've acquired a lot of JJ Adams edited compilations here and I'm looking forward to reading them especially if they are as well done as this one.
Nov 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
I don't get it, I used to love reading this stuff ...

Empty and soulless as most the stories seem to be, I give it this, these guys can write. Having said that...

I thoroughly enjoyed the first tale, by Stephen King. (Has he written anything I don't like? Maybe once.) Then we go on to Orson Scott Card and a story which would only make sense to the Mormons, and then on...

To story after story filled with made-up technological lingo, and huge info-dumps (at the start of most stories, which are mind-b
N.K. Jemisin
Jun 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Would've been ideal if I hadn't read most of the stories in this before, since I'm a big fan of postapocalyptic fiction. But this does collect all my favorite PA stories, so it's handy when I want to go re-read them. Even better was the handful of new stories in the volume. ...more
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've got a convoluted history with this book. I bought it at a convention some years ago where the editor was appearing and he kindly autographed it for me. It sat on my TBR pile for some time and I somehow never got to it. I saw the Blackstone audio version in the clearance bin at a library sale for next-to-nothing a month or so ago and picked it up to listen to on the drive to and from work, but a couple of the discs were damaged and so I read the stories that were unlistenable and ended up ba ...more
D Dyer
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is an overall incredibly good but mostly rather depressing collection. But it explores mostly the lives of people trying to survive, sometimes failing to do so, in a postapocalyptic landscape so one might expect that much. And there are definitely glimpses of hope, sometimes even a bit of humor. Some of the best stories included “Speech sounds” which deals with a woman’s loss of the ability to read the books she loved “Ginny sweethips’ flying circus” which offers up the story of a woman usi ...more
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
A lazy holiday caprice which only disappointed. I read the stories by the heavy hitters first and then hunted and pecked, ending with a surprising story Last of the O Levels which was about a carnival and a pervasive mutation. I'm somewhat sure I read the pieces by Stephen King and GRRM before, or maybe the selections matched their typical frequency.
I don't know.
I thought reading these after my Mark Fisher experience would be revelatory.
It wasn't. When the world ends I'll be one of the carbon
Dec 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
I admit it, I love post-apocalyptic fiction. I think my fascination with the subject has a lot to do with a book I got through one of those Scholastic Book Club flyers when I was in elementary school. It was Daybreak 2250 A.D. by Andre Norton. I went on to reading Logan's Run and The Masque of the Red Death among other post-apocalyptic fiction that I no longer remember. Growing up in the Sixties and Seventies, apocalypse seemed like a very real possibility.

Naturally, a short story collection lik
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
Like with so many other anthologies, the stories tend to be a hit and miss. Most of them were very solid and profound and stuck with me for various reasons - such as Dark, Dark Were the Tunnels by GRR Martin, The Last of the O-Forms by James Van Pelt, Artie's Angels by Catherine Wells, or Speech Sounds by Octavia Butler. I didn't care for a few of the stories, such as Mute or Episode 7, but that's probably a matter of personal taste :) Overall it's a pretty solid, thought-provoking, and entertai ...more
I don't really have much to say about this one. I bought it years ago and just now got around to reading it. I love post-apocalyptic stories, but some in this collection weren't the best, in my opinion. Some were fantastic, and I discovered a couple new authors to read, but for the most part, this collection was just good.

Althea Ann
Jul 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Usually, if you're lucky, anthologies have a couple of gems mixed in with the filler.
This book is an exception - it is truly exceptional. Kudos to the editor - this is a truly A-list group of authors, contributing excellent stories. Nearly all are top-notch. Highly recommended.
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
You might think that a book of stories all dedicated to a niche sub-genre would get old or stale, but Wastelands offers up so many excellent examples of post-apocalyptic fiction, and in such a varied way, that you would be wrong.

Take Gene Wolfe’s Mute for example. This is a story that has more in common with Alice in Wonderland than it does Alas, Babylon. Two children in a world shaped like a ship in a bottle encounter an empty house that holds nothing but secrets... it’s a great story, but if
Lupe Dominguez
This was different. Some dude but definitely som awesome and heart wrenching stories here. The end was getting pretty dark so I'm glad it's over! But I am also glad I was able to be exposed to some authors I otherwise had either never heard of or just would never pick up. So this anthology was pretty great! I think a favorite of mine would be Inertia. Not sure why but out of all of them, that one really stayed with me. So did Artie's Angels. I really liked that one too. Definitely glad I read th ...more
Billy Roper
Oct 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Some of the stories were better than others, but all were solidly a part of the post-Apocalyptic genre. I didn't care as much for the ones that were more fantastical and surreal, but there's something in this book for everyone. Four stars. ...more
Wastelands is a collection of 22 stories set within a wide variety of post-apocalyptic settings. Think The Road, A Canticle for Leibowitz and 28 Days Later. These stories won’t necessarily have sluggish, sound-sensitive zombies or combat-equipped, jeep-riding groups roaming the badlands, however. On some occasions, the remnants of humanity just struggle to actively rebuild society as it was; in other cases, they salvage and forage, merely trying to survive in the deserted, decayed remains of civ ...more
I found most of these stories at least entertaining; only a few made me angry (as in, this-writing-is-causing-me-physical-pain angry) and a couple others, well enough written, seemed like an excuse to write something with the worst possible outcome just because.

But there were a decent number of truly good stories mixed in, most of which were by women. If I had to pick a favorite it would probably be "Inertia" by Nancy Kress -- another route into one of her favorite themes, grappling with humanit
Very good selection of end of the world stories. These are not your run of the mill bomb-everyone-to-kingdom-come or vague teen post apocalyptic love stories. They are thought provoking tales written by some of our best speculative fiction authors. Several of them even challenge standard apocalypse tropes, such as the Adam and Eve setup, where there are one last man and one last woman who are going to repopulate the earth. Did you ever wonder how that was going to work? Notice, they never explai ...more
Dale Pearl
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Apocalypse Whenever: August Book: Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse 287 159 Aug 28, 2020 10:04PM  

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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 (consisti ...more

Other books in the series

Wastelands (3 books)
  • Wastelands 2: More Stories of the Apocalypse (Wastelands, #2)
  • Wastelands: The New Apocalypse (Wastelands, #3)

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