Follow the power lines
December 7, 2010 5:29 AM   Subscribe

Identify a post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel for me - the only thing I remember about it is the hero(ine?) following the rusting stumps of electricity pylons through a bleak, post-apocalyptic (nuclear?) landscape.

So this is the longest of longshots. When I was about 10 or 11, I borrowed a book from my local library in Scotland. I remember it had a grey cover, possibly with a large number on it (maybe part of the title). I didn't read very far into it, but to this day I remember the description of the main character, who I think was a woman and a sort of wanderer or nomad in the Mad Max mold, following the line of old power pylons across a mountainside. The pylons were gone, but their rusted stumps remained.

I also have a vague memory of a devastated city and gangs fighting in old subway tunnels, but this may be from a completely different book.

Any ideas? I know there's a heap of post-apoc fans on here, hopefully I'm not imagining this. I've had a look through the relevant lists on Wikipedia, but nothing is pinging my radar.
posted by Happy Dave to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The plot sounds a little bit like that of the cult 1970s childrens TV show "The Changes" - post apocalyptic - tick, pylons featured heavily - tick. I remember it as shit scary. No idea if it was based on or the inspiration for a book. Here is a clip kids.
posted by rongorongo at 5:55 AM on December 7, 2010

Sorry a bit more checking - The Changes (trilogy) by Peter Dickinson. Another clip.
posted by rongorongo at 6:02 AM on December 7, 2010

Response by poster: Nice find rongorongo (always up for finding more of the exceptionally bleak TV output of 1970s Britain), but not it. This was definitely some time after the apocalypse and the character was adult and on their own.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:19 AM on December 7, 2010

It sounds like Changes to me too, but on the off-chance it's not, another possibility is popular YA post-apocalyptic series The Tripods by Christopher John. A google image search shows that at least one edition of the series had grey covers featuring large numbers for the series number.
posted by Jakey at 6:29 AM on December 7, 2010

Response by poster: Definitely not The Tripods and most-probably not YA, I had an adult library ticket on account of charming the librarian, so I was reading some pretty adult stuff.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:52 AM on December 7, 2010

Hmm. Conceivably part of the Dark Tower series, by Stephen King? I'm not sure if there's a series of rusted pylons per se but the main character does follow the path of an power source, and there's a devastated city with gangs and subway-tunnel fights. One of the books is called The Drawing of the Three, though that's not the one with the other elements you mentioned.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:56 AM on December 7, 2010

You might also ask on reading-focused sites, such as The group "Apocalypse Whenever has over 650 members. Pretty good chances one of them would recognize your description.
posted by ES Mom at 6:58 AM on December 7, 2010

It doesn't exactly fit your description, but my first thought was of Andre Norton's Daybreak 2250 A.D. (originally "Star Man's Son"). I recall a scene where Fors (the main character) is walking along an old road, wondering at the purpose of the light poles that were still standing. Does that ring a bell?
posted by segedy at 10:51 AM on December 7, 2010

Can you tell us what year this was? (The year when you were 10 or 11.)
posted by HopStopDon'tShop at 12:03 PM on December 7, 2010

Response by poster: This would have been sometime between 1991 and 1994. Definitely not the Dark Tower series or Daybreak 2250. The scene I remember was literally the first few pages of the book and it was a mountainous landscape.

Thanks for the suggestion on GoodReads, I will try there (and ABE BookSleuth, which I just discovered) if AskMe can't identify.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:19 PM on December 7, 2010

Just to cover the really obvious, it isn't Z for Zachariah is it? Can you give any more details at all? Did it take place in the states or the uk, was it an adult or youth protagonist, would you have been picking titles from the children, YA or adult sections of the library etc.

You might find something to spark your memory here at Reading Matters.
posted by Iteki at 3:40 AM on January 3, 2011

Z for Zachariah is exactly the title that came to mind for me, as well, but I don't specifically remember her doing any wandering - she only goes off when she acquires the radiation suit at the end. Haven't read it in a long while, though
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 2:07 PM on January 4, 2011

What about King Rat by China Mieville?
posted by mdiskin at 6:23 PM on August 31, 2011

Response by poster: mdiskin, I've read King Rat, which is set in London in the 90's and features drum and bass and a person slipping into an alternate 'rat reality'. Is it the fighting in tunnels bit you're thinking of? I'm not even sure that was the same book.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:57 AM on September 1, 2011

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