Maureen McHugh. After the Apocalypse. (The Year’s Best Science Fiction, 29th Annual Collection).

Originally in : After the Apocalypse

Last year McHugh’s ‘The Naturalist’ (Best SF Review) provided a memorable story of a post-zombie apocalypse, noted for its male protagonist, who took a rigorous scientific interest in zombification (without any ethics committee to worry about).

This story doesn’t feature zombies, but is more scary as the apocalypse is much more subtle and much more likely. Things have essentially just gone to pot – nothing at all unbelievable – and humanity is on the march. It’s like The Grapes of Wrath, with whole populations on the move. And the main protagonist is a mother with a teenage daughter, but the mother isn’t a Ma Joad, the matriach keeping everything hanging together. She’s a believable, but ultimately (!) unlikeable character.

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