Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse (Wastelands #1)

A room is—it's a frame, and the people in it are the pictures.

Besides, the paper pushers refuse to let the world end until every form is turned in, timestamped and properly initialed. Apocalypse is the last gasp of bureaucracy.

But reason, under pressure, usually produces prudence when boldness is called for.

Everybody promises during times like those days immediately following the tragedy that lives have been ruined, futures shattered but only Trina Needles fell for that and eventually committed suicide. The rest of us suffered various forms of censure and then went on with our lives.

I've got a 486 downstairs with over five years of uptime. It's going to break my heart to reboot it." "What the everlasting shit do you use a 486 for?" "Nothing. But who shuts down a machine with five years uptime?

Mom graduated magna cum laude from Drew.

Screw the end of the world. The world doesn't end. Humans aren't the kind of things that have endings.

The dinosaurs never discovered what caused their extinction, either.

The end of the world had always been televised in Wyndham's experience. The fact that it wasn't being televised now suggested that it really was the end of the world.

The hand that holds the pen (or chalk, or the stethoscope, or the gun, or lover's skin) is so different from the hand that lit the match, and so incapable of such an act that it is not even a matter of forgiveness, or healing.

There's something attractive about all those people being gone, about wandering in a depopulated world, scrounging cans of Campbell's pork and beans, defending one's family from marauders. Sure it's horrible, sure we weep for all those dead people. But some secret part of us thinks it would be good to survive, to start over. Secretly, we know we'll survive. All those other folks will die. That's what after-the-bomb stories are all about.

The things we use fall apart and require constant maintenance. The things we abandon don't get used and they last forever.

The turnings of history are never directed by crowds," he said. "Nor by the cautious. Always, it is the lone captain who sets the course.

Thirty thousand people died. Every single one of them had a name.

To do the wrong thing, she has decided, is better than to do nothing.

We don't need the destruction of entire cities to know what it's like to survive a catastrophe.  Whenever we lose someone we love deeply we experience the end of the world as we know it. The central idea of the story is not merely that the apocalypse is coming, but that it's coming for you.  And there's nothing you can do to avoid it.

We were just so busy then. Very busy. I wish I could remember. But I can't. What we were so busy with.

We were waking to the wonders of the world and the body; the strange realizations that a friend was cute, or stinky, or picked her nose, or was fat, or wore dirty underpants, or had eyes that didn't blink when he looked at you real close and all of a sudden you felt like blushing.

(what an ad campaign: "Levi's: We'll Get You Through the End of Civilization: Rated Number One in Post-Apocalyptic Scenarios"),

What's in these tacos?" a customer asked Del. "Nobody you know, mister," Del said.

What would life be like after the end of the world as we know it?

Will the last person on the planet please turn off the lights?

You, like Wyndham, may be curious about the catastrophe that has befallen everyone in the world around him. You may even be wondering why Wyndham has survived. End-of-the-world tales typically make a big deal about such things, but Wyndham's curiosity will never be satisfied. Unfortunately, neither will yours. Shit happens. It's the end of the world after all.