It should come as no surprise that many bestselling and classic apocalyptic novels have absolutely unforgettable concluding lines. Some of the last lines in my Apocalyptic Fiction IQ Test below are so well known that most of you will instantly recognize them – others are a little more difficult.
The list below includes apocalyptic novels that explore many different end-of-the-world scenarios: nuclear war, vampires, zombies, economic collapse, a comet impacting Earth, etc.
If you’re a hardcore apocalyptic fiction fan, this test should be no trouble. If you do struggle, however, hopefully at the very least this exercise will give you some titles to put into your “to read” pile.
You think you know your apocalyptic fiction? See how many of these conclusions you can identify!
1. “Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.”
2. “He is a gorilla.”
3. “A wind came across the ocean, sweeping with it a pall of fine white ash. The ash fell into the sea and into the breakers. The breakers washed dead shrimp ashore with the driftwood. Then they washed up the whiting. The shark swam out to his deepest waters and brooded in the old clean currents. He was very hungry that season.”
4. “The engine started and Randy turned away to face the thousand-year night.”
5. “Tomorrow she would work alongside the other survivors. Her family. Her lover. Her friends. She would do the next right thing and the next. In small and humble ways, she would begin to live again.”
6. “Thus around the shores of deserted earth, while the sun is high, and the moon waxes or wanes, angels, the spirits of the dead, and the ever-open eye of the Supreme, will behold the tiny bark, freighted with Verney – the LAST MAN.”
7. “She drank until her throat stopped aching and her stomach was full, practically bursting, then she dried her hands on a paper towel and went back out to see what she could see.”
8. “The asteroid and a score of comets pulled free of the black giant and began their long fall into the maelstrom.”
9. “Life was such a wheel that no man could stand upon it for long. And it always, at the end, came round to the same place again.”
10. “I am legend.”
11. “She was very gentle; I barely felt the needle prick my skin.”
12. “But he was gone; her arms only held space. Wolgast was rising, he was lifting away. A shudder of light in the trees.”
13. “And then I turned, and I went back to bed.”
4. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
8. Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
10. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
12. The Passage by Justin Cronin
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can follow him on Twitter at @paulgoatallen and get all the latest Barnes & Noble book news from @BNBuzz.