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 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.

by Moderator Melissa_W on ‎01-23-2013 10:22 AM

I get zero - I've only read one of the titles (A Canticle for Liebowitz) and I didn't recognize it.  Sad bookavore :smileysad:

by Moderator paulgoatallen on ‎01-23-2013 10:25 AM

Melissa! I thought #2 would've been a "gimme!" :smileysad:

by Moderator Melissa_W on ‎01-23-2013 05:16 PM

(Um, I actually didn't know Planet of the Apes was based on a book...*hides*...and in my defense there have to be other dystopics with gorillas as characters :smileytongue: )

by on ‎01-23-2013 05:50 PM

Unfortunately most people's impression of Planet of the Apes is based on two sets of movies and an awful TV series, none of which were faithful to the book.  I find it facinating that the author is otherwise most noted for Bridge Over the River Kwai, about as different as two books can be.

by Moderator dhaupt on ‎01-24-2013 05:39 PM

I got four, my score is going up. One is one of my favs and one I can't believe I read the whole thing. The other two, yes 2 was a gimme.


The Road

Planet of the Apes

The Stand

The Passage


Thanks Paul, this is fun

by Mountain_Muse on ‎01-24-2013 05:49 PM

Well I guess I won't complain about only knowing four.  i need to do some reading.

by on ‎01-24-2013 06:00 PM

I had 1, 4, 7, 9, 10, and 12.  I almost didn't recognize The Suicide Collectors quote, but then it hit me.

by Mountain_Muse on ‎01-26-2013 08:14 AM

I read the Planet of the Apes waaaaay back..  The originalTV series peaked my interest and I noticed the book in the credits and found it.    Loved the book.  I can still remember gasping at the last line.  I had to go back and reread the book, did I miss that?

 Still love the book.  It makes my top 20 for sci-fi.  I can't say hugher than that because I have never sat down and figured out my top 19 for just sci-fi.  Maybe it'ts time.




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