So… I love post-apocalyptic fiction. I mean, I love
it. Alas, Babylon
by Pat Frank changed my life in high school. Unfortunately many of the stories in this collection just fell flat for me. I really wanted to enjoy them more than I did.
Many of these stories were exactly the type I like, with protagonists with strong personalities, plausible or unexplained end-of-the-world scenarios, and a focus on the realities of day-to-day life after an apocalypse. My favorites were "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth" (Cory Doctorow), "Speech Sounds" (Octavia Butler), "The End of the Whole Mess" (Stephen King), and "Dark, Dark Were the Tunnels" (George R.R. Martin). Unfortunately, many of the others I felt fell flat, had weak introductions or just seemed reactionary. I got frustrated when several stories in a row at times just didn't grab me. Maybe it is because post-apocalyptic fiction tends to often be political - you have to have a cause, and often those causes reflect our current fears and political climates. They can easily cross the line into hyperbole or seem hysterical.
John Joseph Adams is a really good collector of short stories within a genre. I just recently finished his zombies anthology and the vampires one is waiting for me at home. The nice thing about anthologies is that even if some or most of the stories don't stack up you always find a few gems. So overall, I am happy I read this one.