Fiction with survival and prepping themes
June 26, 2015 10:19 AM   Subscribe

[Book Filter] Looking for fiction that features survivalist/prepping themes...

I'm looking for fiction in basically any genre or any time period where a good portion of the book (>50%) is devoted to survivalist/prepping maybe even homesteading type themes. I'm reluctant to even use these terms as I'm not sure they describe exactly what I want and they can immediately trigger some stereotypes (although that may be what I want). I'm also being intentionally vague as to encourage some outside the box recommendations. Just think people doing mundane but detailed things to stay alive or to be prepared for staying alive.

Below is a list of books I've read to give a flavor of what I want.

Day by Day Armageddon Series (a lot of preparations discussions and survival)
The Martian (not necessarily the hard science but the survival/setting up camp type stuff)
Wool Series (both how the silos worked and how they were set up/stocked in Shift)
One Second After (stereotypical prepping stuff)
The Patriots (typical prepping/survival)

Anything along these lines that you feel would be interesting would be great.
posted by Busmick to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (31 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Lots of post-apocalyptic science fiction fits this. "Alas Babylon" is a classic of the genre.
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:23 AM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Dog Stars is an acclaimed short book and spends a lot of time on survival and preparations.
posted by ftm at 10:23 AM on June 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

Lucifer's Hammer by Niven and Pournelle.
posted by GuyZero at 10:24 AM on June 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Just beaten to it by Guy Zero! I haven't read Lucifer's Hammer in a long time, but the gist is an asteroid is headed for earth and everyone has time to prepare. One guy stockpiles spices and makes a lot of beef jerky. Another guy takes all the books that might be needed to rebuild civilization and seals them in plastic and hides them in a septic tank.

Neal Stephenson's Seveneves has a lot of prepping by different groups, though he's not as detailed about the prepping as he is detailed (even obsessive) about much of the science.
posted by Mo Nickels at 10:28 AM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Maybe a bit too YA, but I loved "My Side of the Mountain".
posted by quinndexter at 10:28 AM on June 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Seconding 'My Side of the Mountain.' Also, on a YA theme, you could argue for 'Lord of the Flies' and 'Tomorrow, When the War Began' as well. Although they are not prepper-themed, per se, they do deal with survival during extreme conditions when society breaks down.
posted by JoannaC at 10:31 AM on June 26, 2015

Not sure if this exactly fits, but "Hatchet" by Gary Paulson might work. (It's also YA.)
posted by holborne at 10:31 AM on June 26, 2015

I think you want Parable of the Sower on your list for sure.
posted by trunk muffins at 10:35 AM on June 26, 2015

Joan Barfoot's Abra, also titled Gaining Ground, about a woman who leaves her family to exist on her own in a cabin in the woods
posted by runincircles at 10:42 AM on June 26, 2015

I really dug The Last Policeman trilogy. The second book is a little weak, but the third is worth it.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:00 AM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I also haven't read Lucifer's Hammer, but The Last Policeman series is about a guy who is just trying to do his job as an asteroid that will destroy Earth comes closer and closer and the end creeps up. I really like the books and happily recommend them.
posted by janey47 at 11:02 AM on June 26, 2015

Some authors to check out for pure prepper/survival fiction:

Angery American (not a typo)
Joe Nobody
G. Michael Hopf
Arthur T. Bradley

Note that none of these authors are good writers in terms of craft but if all you want is your survivalist/teotwawki fix they will do.
posted by Sternmeyer at 11:03 AM on June 26, 2015

The Swiss Family Robinson is sort of the ur-book in this genre. The original book is pretty good, in case you've only experience the Disney version.
posted by jquinby at 11:06 AM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

S.M. Stirling's "Nantucket" series and "Emberverse" series. In the former, the entire island of more or less present-day Nantucket is transported back to the bronze age and has to figure out how to survive (and eventually conquer). In the latter, modern technology quits working and society has to figure out how to survive using only pre-steam-powered technology.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:07 AM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Things That Keep Us Here
posted by metasarah at 11:20 AM on June 26, 2015

Wildside by Steven Gould
posted by Kriesa at 11:24 AM on June 26, 2015

Emergence, by David R. Palmer.
posted by Bruce H. at 11:26 AM on June 26, 2015

The Little House series is basically all this.
posted by chaiminda at 11:33 AM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Gordon R. Dickson's Wolf and Iron is about survival after a social collapse, from the viewpoint of a backwoods loner.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:44 AM on June 26, 2015

The Little House series is basically all this.

The Long Winter can be read as a prepper story or it can be read as a rejection of prepping depending on how you look at it. It's definitely about survival.
posted by GuyZero at 11:44 AM on June 26, 2015

Julie of the Wolves - Jean Craighead George (author of My Side of the Mountain)
Island of the Blue Dolphins - Scott O'Dell
Sweet Friday Island - Theodore Taylor
Hatchet - Gary Paulsen (a lot of Paulsen has survival themes)
Ashfall - Mike Mullin

The Year of the Flood - Margaret Atwood (not sure about the whole MaddAddam triology)
Life of Pi - Yann Martel

You can't live on radishes: something funny happened on the way back to the land - Jerry Bledsoe

Though I suppose most of these are about how they didn't prepare . . . and how they survived that.
posted by carrioncomfort at 11:48 AM on June 26, 2015

Jean Auel's Earth's Children series (Clan of the Cave Bear, et al) may fit the bill. It's set in the paleolithic area, but a large portion of the books revolve around how they gather/cook/preserve food, find/build shelter, make tools and other items like baskets and such.
posted by fancyoats at 12:32 PM on June 26, 2015

California by Edan Lepucki
posted by jmfitch at 12:59 PM on June 26, 2015

Boy Scouts in the Wilderness by Samuel Scoville (1920)

I remember reading this book multiple times as a tween. Riviting page turner featuring lots of practical real-world wilderness survival techniques for all ages.
posted by j03 at 1:30 PM on June 26, 2015

There is at least one entire line of prepper-themed romance novels.

Rule 34, folks.
posted by St. Hubbins at 2:45 PM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Are you looking for good books, or just prepper books?
posted by corb at 4:12 PM on June 26, 2015

Can't believe I'm recommending this site twice in a week, but...ignore the firearms and delve into's perma-pinned thread, "Good EOTWAWKI Books?"

An early comment there gives this list:

48 - James Herbert
8.4 - Peter Hernon
A Hunter's Fire - Floyd D. Dale
Aftermath - Charles Sheffield
Aftermath - LeVar Burton
After the Bomb(series) - Gloria D. Miklowitz
After the Rain - John Bowen
Airship Nine - Thomas H. Block
Alas Babylon - Pat Frank
Amerika - Brauna E. Pouns
A Place Called Attar - J.D. Belanger
Arc Light - Eric L. Harry
Armageddon(short stories) - David Drake & Billie Sue Mosiman
Ashes, Ashes - Rene Barjavel
Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
Breakdown - William W. Johnstone
Cold Creek Cash Store - Russell Hill
Dark Advent - Brian Hodge
Dark December - Alfred Coppel
Death on a Warm Wind - Douglas Warner
Death Wind - William C. Heine(also published as The Last Canadian)
Defiance(also published as Vandenberg) - Oliver Lange
Denver is Missing - D.F. Jones
Doomsday Plus Twelve - James D. Forman
Domain - James Herbert
Down to a Sunless Sea - David Graham
Earth Abides - George R. Stewart
Emergence - David R. Palmer
Ende - Anton-Andreas Guha
Famine - Graham Masterton
Firebrats(series) - Barbara & Scott Siegel
First Angel - Ed Mann
Free Flight - Douglas Terman
Heartland - David Hagberg
I, Martha Adams - Pauline Glen Winslow
I Am Legend - Richard Matheson
Ice! - Arnold Federbush
Ill Wind - Kevin J. Anderson & Doug Beason
In Iron Years - Gordon R. Dickson
Into the Forest - Jean Hegland
Invasion - Eric L. Harry
Jenny, My Diary
Jericho Falls - Christopher Hyde
Level 7 - Mordecai Roshwald
Living is Forever - J. Edwin Carter
Long Loud Silence - Wilson Tucker
Long Voyage Back - Luke Rhinehart
Lucifer's Hammer - Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Malevil - Robert Merle
Mister Touch - Malcolm Bosse
No Blade of Grass - John Christopher
Not This August - C.M. Kornbluth
Nuclear War(short stories) - Edited by Gregory Benford & Martin Greenberg
Omega Sub(series) - J.D. Cameron
On the Beach - Nevil Shute
One Just Man - James Mills
Out of the Ashes(series) - William Johnstone
Pandemic - Geoffrey Simmons
Path of the Pale Horse - Paul Fleishman
Patriots - James Wesley, Rawles
Power Play - Kenneth M. Cameron
Pulling Through - Dean Ing
Rankin: Enemy of the State - John Osier
Resurrection Day - Brendan DuBois
Shelter - Dan Ljoka
Some Will Not Die - Algis Budrys
Storm Rider(series) - Robert Baron
Survival 2000(series) - James McPhee
Survival Margin - David Graham
Survivors - John Nahmlos
Swan Song - Robert R. McCammon
The 40 Minute War - Janet & Chris Morris
The Big One - Kevin E. Ready
The Black Death - Gwyneth Cravens and John S. Marr
The City, Not Long After - Pat Murphy
The Day of the Star Cities - John Brunner
The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham
The End of the World(short stories) - Donald A. Wollheim
The Freeman - Jerry Ahern & Sharon Ahern
The Iron Rain - Donald Malcolm
The Kraken Awakes - John Wyndham
The Land of Empty Houses - John L. Moore
The Last Ranger - Craig Sargent
The Last Ship - William Brinkley
The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett
The Long Winter - John Christopher
The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick
The New Madrid Run - Michael Reisig
The Plague - Albert Camus
The Postman - David Brin
The Rest Must Die - Richard Foster
The Rift - Walter J. Williams
The Sheep Look Up - John Brunner
The Stand - Stephen King
The Steel, The Mist, and the Blazing Sun - Christopher Anvil
The Survivalist (series) - Jerry Ahern
The Turner Diaries - Andrew MacDonald
The Wild Shore - Kim Stanley Robinson
Those Who Favor Fire - Marta Randall
Time Capsule - Mitch Berman
Tomorrow! - Philip Wylie
Vector - Henry Sutton
War Day - Whitley Streiber and James Kunetka
We, The Few - John L. Hawkinson
When the City Stopped - Joan Phipson
When the Almond Tree Blossoms - David Aikman
Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang - Kate Wilhelm
Wolf and Iron - Gordon R. Dickson
Wrath of God - Robert Gleason
Z for Zachariah - Robert C. O'brien
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:24 PM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, and David Crawford's "Lights Out."
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:32 PM on June 26, 2015

Seveneves - Neal Stephenson
posted by willnot at 7:24 PM on June 27, 2015

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