20 Post-Apocalyptic Stories That Aren’t Totally Depressing

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Dawn cover (Image via Warner Books/Grand Central Publishing)

10. Lilith’s Brood

Octavia Butler is rightly considered to be a master of science fiction. Her works are often brutally honest about the flaws of our society and humans themselves. However, Butler also possessed the ability to offer comfort, however strange it may seem to readers. Those dual traits are perhaps best on display in the three works collectively known as Lilith’s Brood.

The first novel in this trio, Dawn, debuted in 1987. In its opening pages, nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union has nearly decimated the planet and the human species. However, an alien species known as the Oankali manage to save a small group of survivors. These humans go into stasis for centuries. Lilith, the first to awaken, soon realizes that she is far, far from home.

At first, the Oankali, though kind, disgust her. However, she is soon intrigued by their offer, which could help the human race survive. The Oankali have three sexes: male, female, and a third gender known as Ooloi. The Ooloi have the ability to consciously manipulate genetic material while creating offspring. This means that they could take human genes and create Oankali-human hybrids. In this manner, humanity might survive its own worst impulses.

Of course, this creates considerable conflict. Some of the humans don’t want to dilute their genes. They become a kind of resistance fighters, though it eventually becomes clear that the Oankali-human people are the future.

Strange as such a fate may seem for our species, it’s far better than a long, lingering death at the hands of nuclear war or genetic bottleneck.