Before we get to summer beach reads, there are some heavy spring novels to wade through, many concerning apocalyptic scenarios. They aren’t published by SF-specialty houses, but rather mainstream publishers, both large and small. Many are written by international authors (do they know something we don’t?); some take place in unnamed locales, others on the streets of Brooklyn. But all of them occur in a not-so-faraway future, following a war, plague, terrorist attack or general world collapse.

Two of the authors explain what’s behind their predictions of devastation and doom: Norman Lebrecht, author of The Game of Opposites, said he wanted to “[raise] questions that we face in our own lives and neighborhoods today: how do we relate to war-damaged people, war victims and possible war criminals?” Lee Konstantinou, author of Pop Apocalypse, was more blunt: “There is no hope. We are all going to die, soon. Unless... unless every person on the planet buys Pop Apocalypse and reads it and internalizes my message of love and hope and redemption and transformation and democratic participation.” The end of the world may be coming; better bring a book.

Far North by Marcel Theroux (FSG, June)

Author’s home: London

Where/when: Siberia of the not so distant future

The Game of Opposites by Norman Lebrecht (Pantheon, July)

Author’s home: London

Where/when: An unnamed country, end of a world war

Genesis by Bernard Beckett (Houghton Mifflin, Apr.)

Author’s home: New Zealand

Where/when: A remote island republic, 2075

Pop Apocalypse by Lee Konstantinou (Harper Perennial, Apr.)

Author’s home: San Francisco

Where/when: The U.S., 2029

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist (Other Press, June)

Author’s home: Sweden

Where/when: The Second Reserve Bank Unit, “near-future”

Unplugging Philco by Jim Knipfel (S&S, Apr.)

Author’s home: Brooklyn

Where/when: Brooklyn, sometime in the future