‘The function of science fiction is not only to predict the future, but to prevent it,’ writes Ray Bradbury. As the world struggles to come to terms with the growing COVID-19 crisis, books and movies about pandemics have spiked in popularity. If you’re keen to dive in books with themes of the moment, these novels below are a good start, and they might help you feel less alone.
The Stand By Stephen King
The Stand is a post-apocalyptic dark fantasy novel written by American author Stephen King and first published in 1978 by Doubleday. The plot centers on a pandemic of a weaponized strain of influenza that kills almost the entire world population.
The Road By Cormac McCarthy
The Road is a 2006 post-apocalyptic novel by American writer Cormac McCarthy. The book details the journey of a father and his young son over a period of several months, across a landscape blasted by an unspecified cataclysm that has destroyed most of civilization and, in the intervening years, almost all life on Earth.
Station Eleven By Emily St. John Mandel
Station Eleven is a 2014 novel by Emily St. John Mandel. It is Mandel’s fourth novel. The novel takes place in the Great Lakes region after a fictional swine flu pandemic, known as the “Georgia Flu”, has devastated the world, killing most of the population.
Swan Song By Robert McCammon
Swan Song is a 1987 horror novel by American novelist Robert R. McCammon. It is a work of post-apocalyptic fiction describing the aftermath of a nuclear war that provokes an evolution in humankind. Swan Song won the 1987 Bram Stoker award.
Company of Liars by Karen Maitland
The year is 1348. The Black Plague grips the country. In a world ruled by faith and fear, nine desperate strangers, brought together by chance, attempt to outrun the certain death that is running inexorably toward them. Each member of this motley company has a story to tell. From Camelot, the relic-seller who will become the group’s leader, to Cygnus, the one-armed storyteller . . . from the strange, silent child called Narigorm to a painter and his pregnant wife, each has a secret. None is what they seem. And one among them conceals the darkest secret of all—propelling these liars to a destiny they never saw coming.
The Passage Trilogy By Justin Cronin
The Passage begins in the near future and details an apocalyptic and, later, post-apocalyptic world that is overrun by zombie/vampire like beings who are infected by a highly contagious virus. What begins as a project to develop a new immunity-boosting drug based on a virus carried by an unnamed species of bat in South America eventually becomes the virus that transforms the world.
The Postman By David Brin
The Postman is a post-apocalyptic dystopia science fiction novel by David Brin. It is about a man wandering the desolate Oregon countryside who finds a United States Postal Service uniform, which he puts on and then claims he is a mail carrier and federal inspector for the “Restored United States of America.”
World War Z By Max Brooks
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is a 2006 zombie apocalyptic horror novel written by American author Max Brooks. The novel is a collection of individual accounts narrated by an agent of the United Nations Postwar Commission, following the devastating global conflict against the zombie plague.
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Robert Neville, a scientist, is the last human survivor of a plague in the whole of New York. He attempts to find a way to reverse the effects of the man-made virus by using his own immune blood.