Introduction (THE END HAS COME)—John Joseph Adams

The world dies over and over again, but the skeleton always gets up and walks. —Henry Miller, “Uterine Hunger,” from The Wisdom of the Heart

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. Volume two, The End is Now, focuses on stories that take place during the apocalypse. And, naturally, this third volume, The End Has Come, features 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. So several of the stories contained in this anthology — eighteen of the twenty-three tales — have related stories in The End is Nigh and The End is Now. They conclude with The End Has Come.

If you’re one of the readers who read and enjoyed volumes one and two: Thank you! We’re glad to see you returning for volume three. You made the first two volumes a resounding success, and we couldn’t be more thrilled both with how well the books have done in the marketplace and with how well they’ve been received by readers and critics.

If you’re a reader who has not read The End is Nigh or The End is Now: Welcome! And fear not: You needn’t have read either of the previous volumes in order to enjoy the stories in this one. Although several of the stories in The End Has Come pick up where other volumes left off, we’re confident that the authors have provided sufficient context that you can jump into their worlds without any prior knowledge.

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Now for a confession: Although I’m fascinated by all the different modes of the apocalypse — as evidenced by volumes one and two of this Triptych — post-apocalyptic fiction is my first and dearest love.

My fascination with post-apocalypse narratives began with the 1988 video game Wasteland (and then was reinforced by its spiritual successor, Fallout). I have been hopelessly hooked ever since. Years later, when I started pursuing writing and editing, the first piece I ever sold was an article about post-apocalyptic fiction. Later, the first anthology I ever sold (Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse) was a reprint anthology with the same focus. So in some ways this final volume of The Apocalypse Triptych is like seeing my career come full circle.

Which seems appropriate, as coming “full circle” is what post-apocalyptic fiction is all about. From the dust we came, and to the dust we shall return. But once everything has turned to dust, what then will rise from the ashes?