The Best of Survival Fiction

Hey, even survivalists have to unwind every once in a while. Take a look at some of these fictional stories of survival, hand-picked by us for your entertainment pleasure from movies, TV and books. What’s your favourite fictional survivalist story?

By Alex Coyne, a contributing author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog.com

#1: The Road (2006)

1_the_roadThe Road was first published in 2006 by author Cormac McCarthy, also known for writing the books behind No Country for Old Men, Child of God and All the Pretty Horses. The Road was released to great critical acclaim, winning several book awards including the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for literature. It follows the story of a father and son making their way to safety in a post-apocalyptic nightmare world.  The story was adapted to film in 2009, starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee, and without revealing too much we’ll say that you’ll be in for a great ride..

#2: The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1719)

1_the-life-and-adventures-of-robinson-crusoeThe original Robinson Crusoe comes from the novel “The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe, published way back in the 1700’s. You can find the full text of the novel (thanks to expired copyright and literary classics) available for download at Project Gutenberg by clicking here. The book tells the tale of Crusoe, a man who spends a record-breaking twenty seven years stranded on an island. Oh, and the original was published under the pseudonym of Robinson Crusoe, making people believe he was entirely real, at least for a little while.

It’s been adapted to film numerous times, including Robinson Crusoe (1997), starring Pierce Brosnan in the title role, and The Wild Life (2016), an animated spin on the tale.

#3: Survivor Type (Stephen King)

1_survivor_typeStephen King seems to love exploring survival and post-apocalyptic scenarios in his work: There’s The Stand (1978), which was turned into a pretty cool 1994 TV miniseries, The Mist (1980), which was turned into a 2007 horror flick, Cell (2006), which became a 2016 movie by the same name and Under the Dome (2009), which was also not surprisingly turned into a TV series which ran from 2013 to 2015. But a lot of people forget about a little story called Survivor Type, which was first published in a 1982 book called Terrors – though later released with Stephen King’s short story collection Skeleton Crew in 1985. The short story follows the diary of Richard Pine, a man who gets stranded on an island while trying to traffic a shipment of heroin on a cruise ship.

It’s a thrill ride like only King can write it, and the story was even adapted to short films: In 2011, 2012 and 2013.

#4: The Hunger Games (2008)

The first book in the Hunger Games series first appeared by author Suzanne Collins in 2008.  Subsequent sequels included Catching Fire in 2009 and Mockingjay in 2010. The series follows young characters Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark as they make their way through a terrifying survival game-show setup straight from your worst dystopian nightmares. The trilogy also gave rise to a series of movies of the same name. It’s got all the elements of a highly successful series that makes you fall in love with the characters immediately, and if you were a fan of movies like The Running Man then you’ll surely enjoy this too.

#5: I Am Legend (1954)

I Am Legend was originally published in 1954 by Richard Matheson, and stands as one of modern fiction’s true classics: This is one of many cases on the list where you might want to read the book before you take the leap and see the movie. The story follows Dr Robert Neville and his canine companion after the breakout of a disastrous virus that “turned” most of humanity (yes, this is one of the original post-apocalyptic zombie stories).

It was adapted into a movie starring Will Smith in 2007, though some parts are radically different from the book version. For comic book nuts, there was also a graphic novel adaptation of the story.

#6: Earth’s Children (1980)

1_earth's_childrenWant to learn more about historically accurate (yet surprisingly fictionalized) survivalism? Then you should jump straight into the work of Jean M. Auel, starting with the Earth’s Children series – with six books in all. Earth’s Children is set in pre-historic times, and the finer points of Auel’s work are notorious for being exceptionally finely researched. Start off with the first book in the series, The Clan of the Cave Bear (1980) and work your way through until The Land of Painted Caves (2011). It’s worth it.

#7: The Martian (2011)

Give survivalism a completely different (and terrifying) modern spin: Put a man in space, where nobody can hear him scream. That’s the premise of the debut novel by author Andy Weir, which was first self-published in 2011 (before later being snapped up by a larger publishing house). The story follows botanist Mark Watney’s attempt to create a self-sustaining colony on Mars – something which already a possibility in reality.

It was turned into a movie starring Matt Damon in 2015.

#8: Cast Away (2000)

1_cast-awayCast Away was released in 2000 starring Tom Hanks, and is a film classic. One can almost go as far as to call it a modernized version of Robinson Crusoe. The movie follows Chuck Noland, a Fed-Ex employee, who finds himself stranded on an island after his plane takes a nosedive. Yes, this is a bit of a tear-jerker, but that also isn’t always a bad thing, is it? One of the most famous elements of Cast Away was Wilson (If you haven’t seen the movie, that’s a beach ball who, well, becomes Chuck’s eventual friend in an attempt to make island life less lonely).

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In 2015, Tom Hanks was reunited with the original Wilson during a NY Rangers game.

Oh, and then Family Guy – horrifyingly – did this and ruined the moment.

Watch the original trailer for Cast Away on YouTube, here.

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12 comments… add one
  • KEVIN March 25, 2017, 9:00 pm

    another great series was written by william w johnston called OUT OF THE ASHES its about what might happen after a limited germ nuclear war
    with no government standing at first and what the world might be like it paints a VERY GRIM picture at first check it out i read it for years

    Reply
  • irishdutchuncle March 26, 2017, 4:31 am

    I’ll watch the movie, if someone brings it up to “deer camp”, but I don’t seek out this stuff. I’m depressed enough as it is.

    Reply
  • Roger March 26, 2017, 10:17 pm

    You should check out the three-book series by William R. Forstchen titled ‘One Second After’, ‘One Year After’, and ‘The Final Day’. The first one IMHO is the best about Foreign detonation of EMP nuclear missiles over the US leading to the collapse of the electrical grid and the breakdown of society that quickly follows! It’s almost too realistic! If you won’t already aware of this very real possibility, then you need to wake up NOW! GLAHP!

    Reply
    • Doc Montana March 26, 2017, 10:41 pm

      I’ll second Roger’s suggestion. One Second After is a great book that held together all the way through. Excellent flow and dynamic turns of events. It was a thought experiment that worked.

      However… I had to force-read One Year After. Started fine, and rolled along, but then the author kept falling into pits of personal interactions that droned on for pages. And some of the characters seemed to get dumber along the way as if they still could not put together all the pieces of what was happening. The good part of about the book is the thought experiment continued in some interesting tangents of dictators, drafts, divided country, foreign intervention, and politicians.

      Started The Final Day and gave up. Keep moving. Nothing to see here.

      Reply
      • f4phantomgib June 16, 2017, 7:28 pm

        Yeah. I agree. The second book was a bit formulaic. I never tried to read the third.

        Reply
  • Hammer April 2, 2017, 4:04 am

    A great movie from 1962, Panic in Year Zero! with Ray Milland. Family has just left
    Los Angeles on a camping trip into the mountains, when LA is bombed.

    Reply
    • f4phantomgib June 16, 2017, 7:29 pm

      That is a great, albeit a bit hokey, movie. I liked it.

      Reply
  • BamaMan April 5, 2017, 2:59 pm

    Jeremiah Johnson

    Reply
  • Joshua Tall April 24, 2017, 2:01 pm

    “The Earth Abides” by George Stewart, nuf said

    Reply
  • M. Crandall May 13, 2017, 8:42 pm

    Alas, Babylon.

    Reply
  • Ron June 12, 2017, 1:05 pm

    I enjoy disaster stories(books & movies)as much as the next guy. The problem is in reality, the nation wide distribution of Nuclear Power Plants, Oil Pipe lines, Pump Stations, Oil Refineries, large fuel storage facilities(tank farms), and Biological and Nuclear Waste Storage Facilities. When there are no personnel and /or power to control these facilities, they will break down (or in the case of Power Plants melt down–Chernobyl). I’ve looked at the maps and the number of places available to survive such a disaster are slim to none.

    Reply
  • f4phantomgib June 16, 2017, 7:31 pm

    Both Earth Abides and Alas Babylon are great. A modern and contemporary approach is Going Home by Angery American. The whole series is great.

    Reply

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