20 Post-Apocalyptic Stories That Aren’t Totally Depressing

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Children of the Dust cover Image via Red Fox Books)

19. Children of the Dust

In Children of the Dust, humanity must once again grapple with its own growing pains. Some people, it seems, just can’t move on.

Like many of the works on this list, Children of the Dust begins with nuclear war. Sarah, a young school-age girl in England, hurries home as soon as she hears air raid sirens. She manages to make it back just before the nuclear blast, along with her stepmother Veronica and Veronica’s young children, William and Catherine. Eventually, however, most of the family succumbs to radiation sickness after drinking contaminated water. Only young Catherine has any real chance of survival.

And survive she does. Catherine eventually marries and goes through multiple pregnancies. Unfortunately, many of her children die in infancy, thanks to radiation and genetic mutations. Her only surviving daughter, Lilith, is born with pale hairs covering her body, as well as white eyes.

This new mutation is creepy to the other humans, but it soon becomes clear that these are the beginnings of genetic changes that will help humanity survive. The nuclear war has stripped much of the atmosphere, allowing dramatic amounts of ultraviolet radiation to make it to the planet’s surface.

Meanwhile, a society of “normal” humans manages to survive in underground bunkers. When a select few begin to emerge into the devastated outside world, they discover Catherine’s descendants. These new humans, who dub themselves Homo superior, are covered in hair. This mutation protects them from the rampant UV radiation.

These new people have also developed psychic powers, including telepathy and telekinesis. Now, all they need is the technological knowledge of the bunker people to reach their full potential.