Epistolary (Science) Fiction
August 6, 2013 3:19 AM   Subscribe

I recently really enjoyed Max Brooks' World War Z and Daniel H. Wilson's Robocalypse. What other books might I also enjoy?

I've already read Brooks' other zombie-related stuff: Recorded Attacks and Closure, Limited.
posted by alby to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe try The Good War, by Studs Terkel? It's what WWZ was kind of based off of. Sorta. It's not science fiction, and not even fiction, but is a great book.
posted by joelhunt at 4:05 AM on August 6, 2013

Dog Stars by Peter Heller-- it's post apocalyptic
posted by TheLibrarian at 4:17 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Warday by Whitley Streiber and James Kunetka is a journey around what remains of the US after a 'limited' nuclear war. I found it very similar in tone and reading experience to World War Z and really enjoyed it. For certain values of 'Enjoyed' - it's pretty bleak.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:39 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Stand on Zanzibar is really the towering classic of this genre.
posted by smoke at 4:44 AM on August 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller.
posted by h00py at 4:54 AM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.
posted by h00py at 4:57 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Memoirs Found in a Bathtub by Lem.
posted by octothorpe at 6:44 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Book of Dave by Will Self
posted by h00py at 6:47 AM on August 6, 2013

The explicit model for Stand on Zanzibar is John Dos Passos's U.S.A. Trilogy.

Brust & Bull's Freedom and Necessity is a fantasy/historical fiction epistolary novel set in the 19th century.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:36 AM on August 6, 2013

Came to mention Warday as well. That book has stayed with me for years. It's hard for me to believe that no one has tried to adapt it as a miniseries yet.

They did another book together called Nature's End which is a little more science-fiction-ish. I don't recall it being very epistolatory, though.

For bleak, it's hard to beat P.D. James' Children of Men. The book and film adaptation are different enough to stand on their own merits.
posted by jquinby at 8:04 AM on August 6, 2013

Best answer: There are (at least) two pages on Wikipedia that address your question, in an overly broad fashion: Category: Epistolary novels and List of contemporary epistolary novels

The Zombie Autopsies was a fun, short read. George Romero was looking into adapting the novel into a movie back in 2011. He was still working on it as of October 2012.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:10 AM on August 6, 2013

I can't really tell if it's the epistolary novel you're looking for or a zombie/apocalypse novel you're looking for. Assuming it's the former, here are a couple sf epistolary novels I have read in the last few years: The Sorcerer's House, by Gene Wolfe; Super Sad True Love Story, by Gary Shteyngart; and maybe Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell (parts are epistolary, all of it is wonderful).

On the other hand, if you're looking for apocalypse, I recommend the trilogy (two have been published so far) by Ben Winters -- The Last Policeman and Countdown City, worth reading even if the third one hasn't been published yet. Also, perhaps, Hugh Howey's Wool collection, Cormac McCarthy's The Road, Colin Whitehead's Zone One, and while I haven't read the first one yet myself, it occurs to me you might like Mira Grant's Feed series. Also it occurs to me you might like Peter Watts' books, particularly Blindsight.
posted by aught at 9:15 AM on August 6, 2013

Post Apocolypse Dead Letter Office is pretty good.
posted by bartonlong at 11:32 AM on August 6, 2013

A Scientific Romance is partly epistolary, if I recall correctly. And it's a cracking good read.
posted by minervous at 4:53 PM on August 6, 2013

Have you read The Zombie Survival Guide? It's also written by Max Brooks, and while there's much less story in it, I preferred the vignettes in it compared to World War Z.
posted by Qberting at 6:01 PM on August 6, 2013

House of Leaves. The core narrative, and my favorite, is a moment-by-moment summary and analysis of The Navidson Record, a cult home movie/documentary about a suburban family and their exploration of a horrifying, infinitely large obsidian labyrinth that inexplicably appears inside the walls of their new home. The analysis, written by an obscure and secretive scholar, makes copious use of footnotes, quotations, and references to other academic analysis of the film (most of it fictional).

This is accompanied by commentary from Truant, an aimless LA slacker who finds and curates this commentary in an increasingly obsessive quest for the truth about what happened. I didn't find this part nearly as interesting, but it adds another epistolary perspective and layer of verisimilitude.

Add on another thin layer of commentary from the book's editors, an appendix full of enigmatic artifacts, a very weird index, and some innovative textual experiments towards the end, and you've got an intensely creepy and believably presented postmodern science fiction-esque ghost story.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:46 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mary Gentle's Ash: A Secret History is "a translation (from the Latin) by one Dr. Pierce Ratcliff, of a series of possibly-fraudulent 15th century manuscripts", with additional glosses and letters between scholars. It's also a great yarn, told by Connie Willis on acid.
posted by bonehead at 8:58 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Its a short story, but The End of the Whole Mess by Stephen King uses the format nicely.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:45 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Forgot about Flowers for Algernon
posted by octothorpe at 9:11 AM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

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