Introduction—John Joseph Adams (THE END IS NOW)

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

—T.S. Eliot

The Apocalypse Triptych was conceived as a series of three anthologies, each one covering a different facet of the end of times. Volume one, The End is Nigh, contains stories that take place just before the apocalypse. This volume, The End is Now, focuses on stories that take place during the apocalypse. And, naturally, volume three, The End Has Come, will feature stories that explore life after the apocalypse.

But we were not content to merely assemble a triptych of anthologies; we also wanted story triptychs as well. So when we recruited authors for this project, we encouraged them to consider writing not just one story for us, but one story for each volume, and connecting them so that the reader gets a series of mini-triptychs within The Apocalypse Triptych. So several of the stories contained in this anthology—seventeen of the twenty tales—have related stories in The End is Nigh, and many will continue on in The End Has Come as well.

If you’re one of the readers who read and enjoyed volume one: Thank you! We’re glad to see you returning for volume two. You made the first volume a resounding success, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with both how well the book’s done in the marketplace—it got all the way up to #11 on the Amazon bestseller list—and with how well it’s been received by readers and critics.

If you’re a reader who has not read The End is Nigh: Welcome! And fear not: You needn’t have read the first volume in order to enjoy the stories in this one. Although several of the stories in The End is Now are continuations of storylines that began in The End is Nigh, we’re confident that the authors have provided sufficient context that you can jump into these stories without any prior knowledge.

• • • •

The viruses have become pandemics. The aliens have invaded. The zombies have risen. The asteroids have collided. The revolutions have been televised.

This is the end.

It is happening now.

Cataclysm.

Apocalypse.

The end of the world as we know it.

Armageddon, the end of everything.

As civilization falls apart.

As the world burns.

Now behold the conflagration.