Aftermath: Stories of Survival in Aotearoa New Zealand is a collection of about two dozen stories, poems, and images, set in post-apocalyptic New Zealand. The disasters represented range from the quite possible (catastrophic climate change, nuclear war, earthquakes, pandemics, …) to the highly unlikely (zombies, aliens, etc.), and in at least one case, it isn’t clear what exactly did happen. That’s fine; the focus here is on the recovery, not the disaster itself. In most cases, the disaster, whatever it is, is already over, sometimes decades ago. These are stories of hope, fortitude, and resilience. Of people finding new communities, coping, and rebuilding.

As is the case with most anthologies, the stores aren’t all equally successful. These are the ones I liked best. YMMV.

Lizards and Villains and Wars (Oh, My!) by Scott Fack: Friends and co-workers offer a PTSD sufferer a helping hand in an alternate Christchurch, where the destruction was caused by rampaging robotic lizards rather than an earthquake.

Thirty-Four Days by C D Jacobs: Earthquakes again, with a woman looking after a boy she finds trapped in a pharmacy.

Portobello Blind by Octavia Cade: A blind teenager, learning to fend for herself after most of the rest of the world dies of plague, refutes would-be rescuers’ pity.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Erica Challis: Plastic-eating bacteria let loose in the wild has a profound impact on human society.

Bounded by Rivers by Jacqui Greaves: Survivors in an isolated valley set up a breeding program to ensure the best genetic health of future generations. Towards the end of her life, the designer of the program plans to go out in style.

Boy-Boy by Barbara Uini: Two kids hide in the bush after an alien invasion. The older girl makes trips into town, telling the boy she’s foraging for supplies. He has to find out for himself that the humans won the war; she’s been afraid to tell him because he’s all the family she has left.

Flipsides by Miriam Hurst: What seems like a disaster doesn’t always turn out to be one.

Best Mates by Gary M Nelson: This one is my favourite of the lot, with a friendship that survives even death.

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