I’ve never read a horror book that scared me. I mean really scared me. The last book that I thought was scary wasn’t because it was horror, but because of the horrific implications of the future (and that book was Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank).
The closest I’ve gotten to being spooked is this current one by King, The Shining. For some reason I’ve never dipped into this one, even though I’d say I’ve read, not a big percentage admittedly, but still not-insignificant, number of King books, including ghost-ty stuff like Bag of Bones, Pet Semetary, The Dark Half.
This is turning out to be just that little bit creepy, but more so because of the see-sawing relationship-headed-for-disaster play between the father and mother.
Confirmed. Alas, Babylon is now one of my favourites.
Read it. Brilliant.
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank only very recently entered my radar. Not that I’d learn all there is to learn about the giants of SF, but given the subject matter of the book I was surprised this did not come to my attention sooner. It’s an apocalyptic book, not post-apocalyptic like The Road by McCarthy, but I think marketed similarly in that neither would appear in any SF lists. But it is by far the scariest book I’ve read, and I’m reading Shining by King at the moment, and even that I’m not feeling too much yet.
I think it’s frightening because it’s so close to home. It’s frightening because it’s so possible, a reality oh so real. A post-apocalyptic world, imagined time and again in various pop-culture tropes like the zombie plague, or far future post-apocalyptic earths like in The Canticle for Leibowitz or The Book of the Long Sun, is something that seems so far away. But reading a story where nuclear destruction actually happens, and an unfolding story which deals with the fears and concerns of citizens after a disaster is truly chilling. I’ve learned about the breakdown of how our transportation systems will be tilted out of balance during a worldwide pandemic, and this one is very close in its estimation of the impact. The financial systems collapsing, the value of the dollar gone overnight, the economic equilibrium thrown out of the window with the rule of supply and demand completely overturned. Then comes the war of attrition, survival instincts kick in, martial law, every man for himself. It exposes the terrible truth of how inadequately prepared we are as a species in this modernized world, indeed how I’m inadequately prepared, to handle such a catastrophe, be it pandemic or nuclear holocaust.
Need to finish it quickly.