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5 Oral Histories of Disasters That Never Happened

Looking for first-hand account of catastrophes that never happened? Check out these five apocalyptic oral histories!

5. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

by Max Brooks, author of The Zombie Survival Guide

Mention oral histories in fiction and this is the book most people are going to jump to, and with good reason: World War Z is a blockbuster of a novel. Presented as a chronologically arranged collection of interviews with survivors of the zombie apocalypse, World War Z will scratch an itch that you didn’t even know you had. If you’ve never read one of these books, then start here. Don’t let seeing the movie dissuade you from reading the book. While it wasn’t a bad film, the 2013 adaptation has little to nothing in common with the novel. 

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4. A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising

by Raymond A. Villareal

Villareal’s novel documents the coming of the so-called “gloamings”: bloodsucking nocturnal beings who would very much prefer not to be called vampires. The gloamings don’t just want your blood: They want their rights under American law. An FBI agent, CDC investigator, and dissident Catholic Priest recount the rise of the vampires — I mean, gloamings — and how they reshaped society to suit their purposes. (One of those methods was the selectively induction of the rich and powerful into their ranks, among them a former United States president and pop idol Taylor Swift.)

3. Robopocalypse

by Daniel H. Wilson

When a rogue artificial intelligence escapes a lab and infiltrates the world’s internet-connected devices, humans find themselves locked in an all-out war for survival with the robots and other tools they created. If you liked World War Z, and the “Terminator” movies, then this is going to be right up your alley. Incidentally, Wilson isn’t just a writer: He’s a Carnegie Mellon-trained roboticist. He knows his stuff.

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2. Sleep Over

by H. G. Bells

Almost everyone has suffered a sleepless night or two. What if that night or two turned into weeks, or months — or forever? In Sleep Over, humanity is stricken by a mysterious epidemic of treatment-resistant insomnia: a plague that will drive civilization mad before destroying it altogether. These are the voices of those who experienced this waking nightmare first-hand. 

1. Unlocked

by John Scalzi

Unlocked is a prequel novella to John Scalzi’s futuristic police procedural Lock In. Lock In takes place in a society transformed by Haden’s Syndrome: a flu-like virus that leaves a small number of its victims fully conscious but unable to move or otherwise interact with the outside world on their own. Instead, they use mind-controlled robotic surrogates known as “threeps”. Unlocked is the story of the initial outbreak of Haden’s and the world left in its wake.

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