Most realistic WWIII/post-apocalyptic novels?

I’ve read quite a bit of post-apocalypic/nuclear war/WWIII fiction and I was wondering what everyone thought was the most realistic?
I’m specifically interested in treatments of the immediate and medium-term aftermaths.

Hate to be the first post because I haven’t even read the novel, but the movie “The Road” based on the novel of the same name is depressingly real.

It’s literally a few hours of just finding food and shelter; and the acknowledgement that any kind of wound will likely lead to infection/death due to lack of medicine to treat it. And I guess the overarching theme would be is staying alive “living,” or does it require more.

I only post because I hear the book is similar to the movie, but better and more detailed. The author has a track record of great books.

It’s dated now, but Alas Babylon is one of my favorite books.

I really liked the novel, not so much the film, I mean it wasn’t bad but superfluous in a sense having read the book. Anyway, the world he sets out just isn’t all that realistic. It makes for great drama and storytelling but no manmade weaponry could do what’s depicted in the story.

I was gonna mention it in my OP, in some ways it’s the closest to realistic of what I’ve read. However, there are certain kinda folksy things about it that strike me as odd.

There’s a curious juxtaposition between the story as having been told so far, bad, terrible but manageable and the final lines, something like “1000 years of night to come”.

But an asteroid certainly could, and that’s what McCarthy had in mind when he was writing.

Tom Clancy’s novels include WWIII (Red Storm Rising) and a reasonably consistent alternate present, but there’s not much in the way of apocalypse. Jack Ryan won’t let one happen. Even Chuck Norris fears Jack Ryan.

ETA: Oops. Wikipedia says Red Storm Rising happens outside the Ryan-verse. Nevermind.

I’m probably not the best judge of realism, but I enjoyed Earth Abides and didn’t think it was ridiculously unrealistic. I think of it anytime I’m on some abandoned asphalt or concrete road that’s cracked and overgrown.

I honestly don’t even remember the manmade weaponry used? I remember a crossbow. Unless you mean (judging by a response I just read) the weaponry used to cause the apocalyptic event. I honestly don’t remember what did. I just remembered how depressing life was afterwards. Anyways, the life after “the event” is what I am referring to as realistic. It’s very depressing, and I imagine it would be in real life and I imagine it would all be about food/shelter. Period. I thought it was conveyed well in the movie. I’ll give the book a shot.

Usually I get a “yay no more work” feeling from post-apocalyptic event movies/books. Not that one. I wanted nothing to do with it.

I just finished “Parable of the Sower” and “Parable of the Talents” by Octavia E. Butler, and I thought it was fairly realistic. Nothing in particular happened to cause the apocalypse; it was just a death of a million paper cuts, like what we’re experiencing now (it was set around 2030). The rich got richer, and everyone turned into the poor with almost no jobs, money, or safety.

Cormac McCarthy never specified what caused the disaster in The Road, nor did he say he even had any specific catastrophe in mind. He researched many scenarios, from nuclear winter to volcanic eruption to asteroids, in preparation for the story, but it is left up to the reader/viewer to imagine what happened.

Even if the entire earth was not completely rendered uninhabitable by nuclear war, scenarios like those in The Road would still play out in various parts of the world. There would be massive famine and disease, and people would prey upon each other for food and supplies and eventually turn to cannibalism.

Often mentioned in this category is Earth Abides by George R. Stewart. While not horrible, I really don’t recommend it. The book was published in 1949 and is more of a case study in the prejudices of the author in that era than the reality of an apocalyptic disease.

There must be something better out there.

I like, even love this book. I just don’t think it really represents the aftermath of say a nuclear war. No crops, no growth, it’s almost like a langoliers world. I’m sure local circumstances after a nuclear war would be similar, but all the way they travel, I find it hard to fathom it would be that bad, and they having already survived.

Two suggestions for you, An Gadai:

Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle is quite good. (The apocalyptic event is an asteroid strike not a nuclear war.) Although a little dated, it illustrates a wide variety of responses to the disaster.

If you are willing to include movies, **Threads **(a 1984 BBC movie) is very gritty and realistic in its portrayal of England after a nuclear war.

Thanks, I’ve seen Threads numerous times. I loved it.

Victor Gischler’s* Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse* is a lot more realistic than the title implies. There’s a real attempt there to predict what a post apocalyptic economy would look like.

I don’t think that is really true. There are certainly a couple of parts of the book that stick out to modern readers as reflecting the prejudices of someone from 1949 but there is far more to the book than that. When reading historical fiction you always have to allow for the mind set of the time. Personally I find that an interesting aspect of such books anyway as it gives you an insight into what was considered normal thinking in that period.

If you avoid books that reflect the prejudices of their time you would be missing out on a hell of lot of good books.

I agree with glaeken, I think. While there are some obvious prejudices in Earth Abides I viewed it more as the protagonists views on things rather than some sort of author sentiment leaking into the book.

For example, it’s clear that the protagonist (I’m at work, and can’t recall the guy’s name) views himself as very intelligent, and educated, and thus superior to a blue collar kinda guy. And clings to that superiority even in the face of the fact that this education is now useless, while the carpenter can actually get stuff done.

In fact, rethinking things, his stance on stuff is far more illogical than the others. He is clinging to the past, thinking in some way that he can “restart” civilization, with a refrigerator and the like. Most of the others just kind of accept that things are different now, the olds ways are done and things will move on.

It was depressing to see the death of literacy though. :frowning:

Warday by Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka. A fascinating book I’ve read several times, it describes the aftermath of a “limited” nuclear exchange between the US and the Soviet Union (it was written in 1984). It follows two men who travel across the United States to report on the effects of the war (military installations and areas with missile silos are radioactive wastelands, for example, while California and the Pacific Coast remained relatively untouched … and therefore have essentially walled themselves off from the rest of the country).

I find the book very realistic in its depictions of how things could have happened. The United States is now seen as an international pariah for participating in the exchange, and the Red Cross is acting as a resentful overseer of much of the country. The economic effects on housing and food an transportation are also included. I think the book is out of print now, but I highly recommend it, if you can find a copy.

I’d second Lucifer’s Hammer. Excellent read with Niven and Pournelle at their joint peak.

For post-apocalyptic I have to mention SM Stirling’s Dies the Fire and the other Emberverse books. Definitely not to everyone’s taste but the first three books try really hard to think through the consequences of the Change - the failure of all electricity, guns, explosives, internal combustion engines, steam power, etc . I know people do not always like Stirling’s world-view but the books are interesting in their exploration of the aftermath and different individuals and different groups reaction to the disaster.