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After the Apocalypse: Stories Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Small Beer Press; First Edition edition (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931520291
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931520294
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #594,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Incisive, contemporary, and always surprising, McHugh's second collection confronts near-future life with an ironic and particular eye. Her characters live with zombies, struggle to make ends meet on the Arizona–Mexico border, and cope with China's descent into capitalism in stories that stretch the boundaries of imagination."
Publishers Weekly Top 10 Best of the Year

"Superb.... Against backdrops of sheer terror, Ms. McHugh's characters insist on investing themselves in flirtations, friendships and jobs. They keep their innocent curiosity for the world even as it falls to pieces."
Wall Street Journal

“The stories in After the Apocalypse will catch many readers off-guard; they’re suspenseful, but they never quite go where you expect them to. The end of the world as we know it will never be the same again.”
Salon

“The best stories in this mesmerizing collection from the L.A. writer are the ones that elude categorization—the struggles of a troubled doll maker in “Useless Things,” the fantasies of an impulsive man in “Going to France.” It’s the ordinary and everyday that we should be afraid of, not the prospect of big explosions and world-ending catastrophes. This is a pro stretching a genre to its limits—subverting, inverting, perverting, disturbing.”
Los Angeles Magazine

“McHugh brings a subtle grittiness to the end of days. There is no post-apocalyptic glamour in these post-apocalyptic tales.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer

“These nine stories take place in a world that has been ravaged by prion diseases and economic collapse, even as it enters a new age of artificial intelligence and green biotech. You won’t be able to forget the people you meet there.”
io9

“One of the best short story collections I’ve read in the last decade.”
—Chris Moriarty, F&SF

“McHugh’s approach to the apocalypse is oblique, a concern with the personal, the individual or family unit, rather than the devastation that surrounds them…. [T]here are perhaps half a dozen stories that are as powerful as anything you are likely to read this year.”
Strange Horizons

“Hugo-winner McHugh (Mothers & Other Monsters) puts a human face on global disaster in nine fierce, wry, stark, beautiful stories. . . . As McHugh’s entirely ordinary characters begin to understand how their lives have been transformed by events far beyond their control, some shrink in horror while others are “matter of fact as a heart attack,” but there is no suicidal drama, and the overall effect is optimistic: we may wreck our planet, our economies, and our bodies, but every apocalypse will have an “after” in which people find their own peculiar ways of getting by.”
Publishers Weekly (*starred review*)

“Like George Saunders (CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, 1996), McHugh displays an uncanny ability to hook into our prevailing end-of-the-world paranoia and feed it back to us in refreshingly original and frequently funny stories. In these nine apocalyptic tales, people facing catastrophes, from a zombie plague to a fatal illness contracted from eating chicken nuggets, do their best to cope. In “Useless Things,” perhaps the most affecting story in the collection, a resourceful sculptor, worried about drought and money in a time of high unemployment and increasing lawlessness, turns her exquisite crafstmanship to fashioning sex toys and selling them on the Internet with the hope of making enough money to pay her property taxes. In “Honeymoon,” a participant in a medical trial that goes horribly wrong watches in horror as six men are hospitalzed in critical condition; she uses her payment to take a vacation because, when all was said and done, she “wanted to dance. It didn’t seem like a bad choice.” That survival instinct is what makes McHugh’s collection a surprisingly sunny read in spite of the global disasters that threaten at every turn. An imaginative homage to the human ability to endure.”
Booklist (*starred review*)

About the Author

Maureen F. McHugh: Maureen F. McHugh has lived in NYC, Shijiazhuang, China, Ohio, Austin, Texas, and now lives in Los Angeles. She is the author of a collection, Mothers & Other Monsters (Story Prize finalist), and four novels, including China Mountain Zhang (Tiptree Award winner) and Nekropolis (a New York Times Editor’s Choice). McHugh has also worked on alternate reality games for Halo 2, The Watchmen, and Nine Inch Nails, among others.


More About the Author

Maureen F. McHugh has spent most of her life in Ohio, but has lived in New York City and, for a year, in Shijiazhuang, China. She is the author of four novels. Her first novel, China Mountain Zhang, won the Tiptree Award and her latest novel, Nekropolis, was a Book Sense 76 pick and a New York Times Editor's Choice. McHugh is working on two novels, BabyGoth and Coming of Age in America. BabyGoth is a mother-daughter story: the Ya-Ya Sisterhood meets Alcoholics Anonymous. Coming of Age in America is a near future coming of age story -- and a romance. Chloe is a trailer park girl at a nice college. Derek is a rejuvenated 72-year-old returning student. McHugh teaches writing at the John Carroll University in Cleveland and at the Imagination and Clarion workshops. She and her husband and two dogs used to live next to a dairy farm. Sometimes, in the summer, black and white Holsteins looked over the fence at them. Now she lives in Austin, Texas.

Customer Reviews

Fans of modern science fiction and elegant writing will like this book a lot.
Eclecticism
I like the title and I understand that it need not be applicable to all of the stories it encompasses, but on the other hand it does create a certain expectation.
A reader
The effect is chilling and humbling, because McHugh shows us how fragile, and yet beautiful and unique, human beings really.
S. Duke

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 100 REVIEWER on December 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
This collection of stories is labeled After the Apocalypse. It is really not what most would expect; for the most part it deals with individual disaster. There are 9 stories.
One does deal with zombies, but they seem to be under control, another about a young girl in China trying to get a job after a bird flu plague, a lady living out west during economic hard times, a young boy with amnesia after a dirty bomb goes off, computer problems, people flying to France(literally), a medical test gone wrong, one with a mother who has contracted disease and the last what most would expect - a mother and her child trying to get to Canada after the breakdown of society.

The reoccurring theme seems to be a scarcity of power. People are existing, living and getting by no matter what. For most it is a mundane tale of an aftermath of an event that had the power to change lives. For many one can see no moral to the story and sometime no hope - just existence.
If you are hoping for huge catastrophic worldwide descriptions of an apocalypse this is not the book for you. It is more of a literary style of stories of existence.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Justin Landon on November 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
I get e-mails from time to time offering me electronic copies of small press titles for review. I usually say yes, with the caveat that I may never actually read it or get past the first chapter. Most of them aren't my cup of tea. Once in a while though there's a real home run. After the Apocalypse, a collection of short stories by Maureen F. McHugh, is a home run.

I'd never heard of McHugh prior to receiving an e-mail about her collection (which is my fault). It turns out she's published four novels and over twenty short stories. Her first novel, China Mountain Zhang, was nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula Award. In 1996 she won a Hugo Award for her short story The Lincoln Train. After reading this collection, none of that surprises me. Many of the stories in this collection are "award worthy" - especially the three new ones that are published here for the first time.

As the title implies, all of the stories in this collection deal with what comes after the apocalypse. Notice that's a lower case apocalypse. While some of the stories delve into the aftermath of the "big-one", some are more about a personal cataclysm. All of them are told from a very tight point of view in a consistently haunting prose. McHugh's characters are all real people, with real problems, who lived before she opened the window into their story and will continue to live after it's closed. It's rare that I enjoy short fiction this much. It's even more rare when I'd put a 200 page short story collection against any novel I've read this year.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Barzak on December 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Maureen McHugh is well known in science fiction circles, mainly in the circles that admire high quality, character centered scifi. Back in the 90s, she debuted with a hugely awesome novel-in-stories (before that term was conceived of) called China Mountain Zhang (read that book, too!). She went on to write a number of other novels, and one other collection (Mothers and Other Monsters, also recommended), and has been spending time writing Alternate Reality Games and is now writing film scripts. So the scifi short story world is always very eager to read when a story of hers appears. This collections revolves thematically around the idea of apocalypses, endings, both literal and metaphorical, both in the epic scifi sort of way, and in the ordinary individual's self-implosion sort of way. The stories range from zombie apocalypses to the loss of water or energy sort of apocalypses. And the last story--the title story--absolutely destroyed me. McHugh's characters are more real than any I've encountered in science fiction, and her plots are too real for comfort.

Cover comment: Fantastic design that makes the book look old and battered, but isn't in fact. Very cool.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Susan Jones on July 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
Because this collection was fascinating. The last short story collection I read was Dave Eggers' "How To Be Hungry," which is fantastic, and this is just as good.

I think it's a shame that some of the reviews give so many details about each story, because one of the fun things is not knowing where the story is going until you get into it. The stories are definitely all tied in to modern, end-times fantasies, and explore them using techniques from Sunday Time Magazine feature writing to magical realism. McHugh is more effective in some writing styles than others, but all the stories are definitely worth reading.

The thing I liked best was the vivid characterizations in each story. Unlike some other reviewers, I felt the voices and perspectives in each story were extremely individual and effective.

My particular favorites were "Useless Things," which I found an extremely moving portrayal of someone living on the edge of personal apocalypse, and gradually losing the things that she valued most about herself; "The Effects of Centrifugal Forces," which is shatteringly sad; and the eponymous final story, which basically tells us what I suspect is true: even after the apocalypse, people will be exactly the same as they were before.

All in all, a very worthwhile collection. I plan to read McHugh's other work.
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