20 Post-Apocalyptic Stories That Aren’t Totally Depressing

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Cover of Orion Shall Rise Image via Baen Books)

18. Orion Shall Rise

Orion Shall Rise is a pretty complicated novel. Considering that it clocks in at 463 pages and deals with four major post-apocalyptic societies, it would be a surprise if it was anything but massive.

The novel, written by famed science fiction author Poul Anderson, takes place several centuries after a worldwide nuclear war. The war had devastated societies across the globe. Many societies are still stuck in a kind of feudal age. Peasants have limited access to technology or communication networks enjoyed by elites.

However, others have access to a growing list of technological advances, including supersonic jets, massive ironclad warships, and, alas, more weapons. The Northwest Union, based in what was formerly the Pacific Northwest of North America, is even secretly redeveloping nuclear weapons.

Sounds pretty terrible, but life isn’t necessarily bad in the world of Anderson’s novel. Of course, it all depends on where you live. The people recreating life as feudal peasants aren’t exactly enjoying themselves, though their aristocratic overlords seem to be doing well, if selfishly so.

The Maurai Federation, meanwhile, is pursuing interests based on sustainable power and maritime-based expansionism. They’re almost Victorian in their desire to establish a new colonial power, though their cultural and sexual mores would be plenty to make Queen Victoria blush for days. Still, despite the burgeoning conflicts, it sounds like it would be far more comfortable to live in the post-apocalyptic realm of the Maurai than in some modern day locations today.