Books about escape and survival?
December 12, 2005 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Any suggestions for books based on the theme of escape and/or survival? I especially love books based on desert islands, in prisons or in some post-apocolyptic world.

I've seen Lost, read Lord of the Flies, enjoyed Castaway and adored The Shawshank Redemption, Mad Max, Papillion etc. Now I'm looking for some not so well known Books that you can reccommend for Christmas reading and present suggestions.
posted by takeyourmedicine to Society & Culture (36 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
posted by meerkatty at 5:44 PM on December 12, 2005

There's a classic by Orson Scott Card that I typically reread every 2-3 years that I think you'll like: Treason
posted by thanotopsis at 5:48 PM on December 12, 2005

Check out this previous AskMe thread.
posted by ericb at 5:49 PM on December 12, 2005

If you liked Lord of the Flies, you might be interested in Marianne Wiggins' response, John Dollar (featuring girls instead of boys; let's just say that they're no nicer).
posted by thomas j wise at 5:50 PM on December 12, 2005

Can't say that it's not well known, but...

The Stand, by Stephen King. Disregard the TV miniseries, which was made some years ago.
posted by tentacle at 5:51 PM on December 12, 2005

Concrete Island
posted by brundlefly at 5:51 PM on December 12, 2005

I've asked questions about zombie books and post-apocalyptic books before, both types frequently incorporating survival themes, maybe those threads have some suggestions that look good to you.
posted by cmonkey at 5:51 PM on December 12, 2005

The White Plague by Frank Herbert? ...Our story opens with the death of the wife and children of brilliant biochemical researcher John O'Neill at the hands of terrorists. O'Neil is driven mad with grief and unleashes a biochemically engineered plague on the world, one that is 100% fatal to women.
posted by pwb503 at 5:51 PM on December 12, 2005

I highly recommend Blindness by Jose Saramago. I like the kind of thing you talk about, and this is the nearest I have come to finding it.

It's an awesome book. More than half of it is about survival under the most unusual conditions. And very "post apocalyptic" in its own way also.
posted by fire&wings at 5:51 PM on December 12, 2005

The description of Blindness reminds me of the apocalyptic survival classic, "Day of the Triffids." I recall it had some flaws, but worth reading.
posted by justkevin at 6:07 PM on December 12, 2005

pwb503 said:

The White Plague by Frank Herbert?

Daieeee! Haven't thought about that book in years. Loved it!

Thanks, man!
posted by ersatzkat at 6:07 PM on December 12, 2005

...and to follow meerkatty's Margaret Atwood suggestion, The Handmaid's Tale is another good one.
posted by ersatzkat at 6:09 PM on December 12, 2005

yeh day of the triffids was fantastic but like many of these books it's let down by its length. In my opinion, the longer the better!
posted by takeyourmedicine at 6:13 PM on December 12, 2005

Dhalgren by Samuel R Delany sort of a end of the city but it's not clear how far it goes...
Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven Jerry Pournelle, Big rock hits earth (forget the Kevin Costner movie the postman).
Seconds to Deus Irae, and from the other threads "A Canticle for Leibowitz" and Stephen King's "The Stand" and "The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner" are all good.
I was haveing a few post-apocolyptic years there.
As for the rest, thanks you people i have some reading to do.
posted by blink_left at 6:58 PM on December 12, 2005

Verne's The Mysterious Island is interesting in part because it depicts survival on a desert island as neither easy nor fun. Also, Verne's narrator rags on Wyss's Swiss Family Robinson for making things way too easy for the Robinsons.
posted by SPrintF at 7:09 PM on December 12, 2005

You gotta see Battle Royale, which is like Lord of the Flies crossed with Fortress.
posted by nicwolff at 7:16 PM on December 12, 2005

Oh, sorry, books only - how'd I miss that?
posted by nicwolff at 7:22 PM on December 12, 2005

I Am Legend is a rippin' 1954 book that inspired The Omega Man, Dawn of the Dead, and Stephen King's career. Now available in a nice edition.
posted by johngoren at 7:32 PM on December 12, 2005

Might be a bit young-adult for you, but Hatchet is one of the all-time best of the survival-literature genre.

Also, The Life of Pi tells a pretty excellent story of a boy adrift at sea.
posted by saladin at 7:33 PM on December 12, 2005

Heinlein's Farnham's Freehold is excellent though only about 50% of the book is survivalist in nature. The strong 1960's style racism that runs through the book can be a little jarring. Try to only empathize with the main protagonist.
posted by Mitheral at 7:50 PM on December 12, 2005

Earth Abides is one of the best post-apocalypse books there is.
posted by arruns at 8:03 PM on December 12, 2005

I'll second cmonkey's suggestion (in his other thread) of On the Beach...loved that book.

Not a fan of Margaret Atwood...(just thought I'd mention that)
posted by johnsmith415 at 8:21 PM on December 12, 2005

(sorry if cmonkey is a girl...I was making an unbased assumption that he/she was a boy)
posted by johnsmith415 at 8:23 PM on December 12, 2005

The Last Ship
posted by frogan at 8:32 PM on December 12, 2005

Harlan Ellison's "A Boy and His Dog" is a bleak/funny post-apocaplypse story that was made into a pretty good movie, starring Don Johnson.
posted by bmckenzie at 8:51 PM on December 12, 2005

Oh, you probably know the stories, you may have seen the movies,, but The Count of Monte Cristo and Treasure Island are still great reads.
posted by bmckenzie at 8:56 PM on December 12, 2005

Blindness is good, but isn't very adventure-y, as you seem to be looking for. Its more like Camus' The Plague.

And I can't believe no one has mentioned Dune.
posted by gsteff at 9:02 PM on December 12, 2005

I second Life of Pi. Really great lost at sea sequences. Plus a tiger.
posted by maryh at 10:33 PM on December 12, 2005

Alas, Babylon: the Cold-War era bookend to "On the Beach"
posted by rob511 at 10:36 PM on December 12, 2005

A BIG second for Hatchet, and in the same vein, but longer and more dangerous is Far North, a terrific Yukon-winter survival tale. Both are GREAT audio books, btw.
And there’s always Endurance. ESSENTIAL reading for any armchair survival fan; all the better for being true.
posted by dpcoffin at 12:32 AM on December 13, 2005

Skeletons on the Zahara, one of Abraham Lincoln's favorite true stories.
posted by geekyguy at 1:16 AM on December 13, 2005

I second Alas, Babylon. If rob511 hadn't mentioned it, I would have. It's timeless, and believe it or not, an excellent 'How To' reference for survival.
posted by Corky at 4:24 AM on December 13, 2005


And, if you can find it, Dry Guillotine.

Both are about escape from Devil's Island, one of the worst prisons in history.
posted by languagehat at 5:58 AM on December 13, 2005

(forget the Kevin Costner movie the postman).

David Brin's book of the same name is MUCH better than the movie that is based on it.

Sample chapters on his web site
posted by m@ at 8:10 AM on December 13, 2005

If you can handle the sheer size of it, The Last Man by Mary "Frankenstein" Shelley is great plague fiction.
posted by Robot Johnny at 9:19 AM on December 13, 2005

An Australian young-adult suggestion: the Tomorrow, When The War Began series. Bunch of teens in the bush when war breaks out in Australia. Countless adults who I've recommended first book to have demanded to read the rest of the series. Good stuff.
posted by chronic sublime at 10:45 PM on December 13, 2005

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