S.M. Stirling‘s Change series & associated novels are my favorite post-apocalyptic books ever. Incredible world-building highlights a variety of cultures based on the various sub-cultures we’re familiar with in today’s world, and the clashes between the various groups that develop in order to survive feel inevitable when resources are scarce and technology limited by unknown forces. The series follows recurring characters that are not only interesting but likable. True, some are pretty awful — but many are heroic, and when it comes to post-apocalyptic, we definitely need heroes.
Most post-apocalyptic books are dark and scary. The world that Stirling has built is not. Oh, there’s dark and scary stuff in them but they come from the extremes of people of different lifestyles and belief systems that exist now (both real and fictional). Satisfyingly, from chaos develops stability, and the new world is one in which humanity will survive. It just takes a lot of books to get there.
The best part of the Change series: It doesn’t raise anxiety about the likelihood of that apocalypse happening in the real world. Fiction that takes my mind off of what’s going on in the real world is good fiction for me.