Davy (1964) by Edgar Pangborn

Davy1A coming of age tale set a few hundred years after a nuclear catastrophe in post-Holocaust U.S., Edgar Pangborn’s 1964 Davy envisions an East Coast of ruined states (Connicut, Penn, Katskill), populated by suspicious villagers, roving caravans, and defected soldiers. Styled as a memoir, Davy, in his early adulthood, recounts life, love, and loss as he shucks his indentured servitude for a life of adventure, while his adulthood friends punctuate the narrative with occasional corrective, albeit sometimes annoying, footnotes.* Continue reading

Dark Universe (1961) by Daniel Galouye

darkuniverse1We associate “living in a cave” or “living in the dark” with being synonymous with ignorance. The very root of the term “enlightenment” describes the absence of darkness, the illumination of visual space. With Daniel Galouye’s Dark Universe (1961), this use of language and its semantic consequences is brilliantly illustrated in his post-apocalyptic universe of what-ifs and because-ofs, where didactic religious thought winds up on the receiving end of some severely direct criticism.

But to fully appreciate this post-apocalyptic classic, one must be familiar with Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” You can find an exact version here, an illustrated version here, or you can check out MY version here. (Warning: MY version may not be entirely accurate.)

Jared and his community of Survivors live in a network of caves and tunnels deep underground. Because his ancestors have lived in these dark burrows for so long, he and his people are not aware of their own sense of vision. Another clan, with whom they share tense relations, lives in the upper level of the caves, and both clans rival “the Zivvers,” a strange people who have the ability to sense objects by “zivving.” The caves are also haunted by “the Monsters,” who kidnap people, and can somehow navigate the caves by hurling a mysterious “noise” ahead of them. Jared’s people live in a tenuous existence of constant fear, and their only hope is through their faith that they will someday be saved by the “Great Light Almighty,” even though they aren’t really sure who or what that is. Continue reading