Sorry my memory is so riddled with holes.

Our hero knows or believes the apocalypse is coming. He seals all his books in plastic bags and dumps them in his septic tank for safekeeping. He stocks up on the things he thinks will be in short supply before long: liquor, gourmet foods, etc. Later his stock is stolen from him by marauders in a blue van. The blue van becomes almost mythic as he shares the tale with other starving survivors. At one point he attends a Stone Soup party. I recall a swimming pool converted to a tilapia farm because tilapia will eat just about anything and tolerate brackish water. (I think I read this book before tilapia was widely available in the U.S.)

I believe our hero visits or joins a commune at some point where human excrement is used in the greenhouses to grow food.

  • 4
    Parts of your description remind me of Lucifer's Hammer (books in the septic tank, joining a commune), but it has been years since I read that and cannot say whether it matches the rest. – Xantec Sep 8 '15 at 20:35
  • probably the same as scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/193613/… (which is newer but has an accepted answer) – Otis Aug 28 '18 at 23:44

Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle:

from the chapter "Hot Fudge Tuesdae: Three"

He whistled as he worked. Spray a book with insect spray, drop it in a bag, add some mothballs and seal it. Put it in another bag and seal it. Another. The packages piled up on the floor, each a book sealed in four plastic envelopes. Presently he got up to put on some gloves. He came back with a fan and set it blowing past his ears from behind. That ought to keep the insecticide off his hands and out of his lungs.


He wheeled a wheelbarrow in from the garage. It was brand-new, the labels still on it. He resisted the temptation to overload it. He donned raincoat, boots, hat. He wheeled the books out through the garage.

Tujunga's modern sewage system was relatively new. The territory was dotted with abandoned septic tanks, and one of these was behind Dan Forrester's house. It was uphill. You can't have everything.

The wind screamed. The rain tasted both salty and gritty. The lightning guided him, but badly. Dan wrestled the wheelbarrow uphill, looking for the septic tank. He finally found it, full of rain because he'd removed the lid yesterday evening. The books went in in handfuls. He pushed them into the aged sewage with a plumber's helper, gently. Before he left he broke open an emergency flare and left it on the upended lid.

He made his second trip in a bathing suit.

From the same chapter:

They sat at the kitchen table. "We don't have long," Mark said. "I think we saw your raiders."

"They killed Frank Stoner," Joanna added.

"Who?" Harvey demanded. "What did they look like? Can we track the bastards?"

"Tell you later," Mark said. "First we get packed up and moving."

"You'll tell me now."


Joanna had rested the shotgun against the table. Harvey picked it up, calmly, and checked the loads. He pulled one outside hammer back. His firearms training was excellent: He didn't point it at anyone. "I want to know," Harvey Randall said.

"They were bikers," Joanna said quickly. "Half a dozen of them riding escort with a big blue van. We saw them turn out of Fox Lane."

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.