A good candidate is the 1913 (Published 1914) novel by H.G. Wells, The World Set Free.
Synopsis of the novel:
The novel tells the prophetic story of man’s harnessing of the (at that time) newly-discovered power of the atom, and how this power nearly destroys civilization in a catastrophic war. In a sense, however, as we note below, it ended up being a ...
This is likely A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.
After 20th century civilization was destroyed by a global nuclear war, known as the "Flame Deluge", there was a violent backlash against the culture of advanced knowledge and technology that had led to the development of nuclear weapons. During this backlash, called the "Simplification", ...
Robert A. Heinlein's Solution Unsatisfactory, published in 1941, details the lead-in to nuclear war and its immediate aftermath (using radioactive dust, not bombs).
The story resulted in a government investigation into John Campbell, the editor who accepted and published the story, as well as Heinlein himself, before those doing the investigating decided it ...
This sounds like it may very well be The Sword of Shannara series by Terry Brooks.
I remember reading it and feeling it was a basic fantasy, until at one point the story moves to the ruins of an ancient city. If I recall correctly, a monster that was an ancient robotic device then menaces them, at which point I understood that it really was a post-...
Sounds like Hell (2011), a German movie directed by Tim Fehlbaum.
From Rotten Tomatoes:
As the sun scorches the Earth, threatening to wipe out all life on the planet, desperate survivors Philip, Marie, and her younger sister Leonie race to reach a water reservoir rumored to be nestled deep in the mountains. Making the acquaintance of a lone mechanic ...
This is Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber, first book of the Safehold series.
Humanity pushed its way to the stars - and encountered the Gbaba, a
ruthless alien race that nearly wiped us out.
Earth and her colonies are now smoldering ruins, and the few survivors
have fled to distant, Earth-like Safehold, to try to rebuild. But the
Gbaba can ...
You're referring to the poem "There will come soft rains" by Sara Teasdale.
The poem was used in the Ray Bradbury story of the same name which went into greater detail (notably about the family dog and a "Hiroshima shadow" of a local family).
"There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground, And swallows
circling with their shimmering sound;
I believe this is "A World Out of Time" by Larry Niven.
From the Wikipedia description:
The Earth's climate has changed, despite its new location in orbit around Jupiter. Among the most important changes is the increased surface temperature; the poles are temperate, while the former temperate zones reach temperatures of over 50 degrees Celsius (120+ ...
"By the Waters of Babylon" was published in 1937.
It doesn't explicitly mention a nuclear war, but the description of the war and that only knowledgeable people can safely handle artifacts from the destroyed cities certainly make it sound like there was a nuclear war. That, and that the cities themselves were "poisonous" for generations.
So, not ...
Story identified: There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury
The story begins by introducing the reader to a computer-controlled house that cooks, cleans, and takes care of virtually every need that a well-to-do United States family could be assumed to have. The reader enters the text on the morning of August 4, 2026, and follows the house through some of ...
The story is partially an allegory about unchecked scientific advances particularly in the mysterious military/industrial complex that was so powerful in the world (both western and in the USSR) following World War II.
The triffids themselves were a product of advanced breeding techniques (today we might say genetic engineering, but those techniques were ...
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 ...
I believe this is The Eve trilogy by Anna Carey.
Where do you go when nowhere is safe?
Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth’s population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future ...
This is Motel of the Mysteries by David Macaulay
The blurb reads as follows;
It is the year 4022; all of the ancient country of Usa has been buried
under many feet of detritus from a catastrophe that occurred back in
1985. Imagine, then, the excitement that Howard Carson, an amateur archeologist at best, experienced when in crossing the perimeter of ...
This is Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer.
It is the first in a series of three books called the Southern Reach
Trilogy. The book describes a team of four women (a biologist, an
anthropologist, a psychologist, and a surveyor) who set out into an
area known as Area X. The area is abandoned and cut off from the rest
of civilization. They are the 12th ...
This is America 3000.
From wikipedia: America 3000 is a 1986 post-apocalyptic science-fiction cult film which takes place 900 years in the future in Colorado. Mankind has been reduced to Stone Age conditions and is under the rule of Amazon-like women warriors. The film was directed by David Engelbach, and stars Chuck Wagner, Laurene Landon, and William ...
Mother to the World by Richard Wilson
Has a "MR" character, a mentally challenged female survivor and lots of dead people after the apocalypse. Check the last two pages for the conversation between father and son about whom to save as well. Full text at the link.
I am far from certain, but I think you might be remembering "By the Waters of Babylon" by Stephen Vincent Benét. (Click on the title and it will take you to an online copy of the story which I found just now.) One reason I nominate this one is that Benét's stories are more likely to be collected in literature textbooks than is the average science fiction ...
I think this might be "Spawn of the Death Machine" by Ted White (1968). The Goodreads description is a partial match:
"You are an artificially constructed human being, a mobile data-gathering device."
That is what the computer's metallic voice tells Tanner when it releases him from his cell. Naked, unarmed, with no memory to guide him, he emerges into ...
This sounds like John Varley's Gaean Trilogy (Titan, Wizard, Demon)
It has the living airships:
“That’s our way off this cliff,” he said. “His name is—” he pursed his
lips and whistled three clear notes with a warble at the end, “—but
I see that’s awkward to use mixed with English. I call him
“You call him ‘Whistlestop,’” ...
Without wishing to point out the obvious, you're describing the 1985 film "The Quiet Earth".
Wakes up in bed disappointed - Check
Everyone is dead - Check
Runs around a lot - Check
Alive because he committed suicide at the time of the event - Check
A small number of others are alive because of the same reason - Check
Protagonist bald, white, middle-aged - ...
Does anyone remember the science fiction story
"Strange Exodus", a short story by Robert Abernathy; first published in Planet Stories, Fall 1950, available at the Internet Archive; reprinted in the
1974 anthology Space Odysseys edited by Brian W. Aldiss, which has appeared in several different editions.
Gigantic, mindless, the monsters ...
"The Store of the Worlds", by Robert Sheckley. I read it in Brian Aldiss' More Penguin Science Fiction, but I believe it's been anthologised several times.
The man's experience consists of a perfectly routine evening at home with his family (presumably killed in the war), and ends with him emerging into a ruined city to hurry off in time for the potato ...
I know of no explanation by Wyndham, but my impression was that the other disasters were entirely "mundane" within the context of that world, in that they were natural consequences of almost the entire population becoming blind.
The triffids were always aggressive towards humans. The mass blindness allowed for their escape from captivity and rampant ...
It might also be the novel "The Rapture of the Nerds" by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross -- at least, it's a novel in the near (+80-100 years) future in which much of humanity has uploaded into an AI singularity.
Many of the remaining "meatspace" humans are Luddites or considered as such, including the protagonist. Meatspace Earth isn't exactly the Old ...
"For a breath I tarry" by Roger Zelazny, 1966 (ISFDB). Published among others in "The last defenders of Camelot"
For ten thousand years Frost sat at the North Pole of the Earth,
aware of every snowflake that fell. He monitored and directed the
activities of thousands of reconstruction and maintenance machines. He
knew half the Earth, as gear knows ...
It's a standalone short story and not part of a "multi-story novel", but I think Arthur C Clarke's "Rescue Party" is probably what you're looking for. It concerns a multi-species expedition visiting an abandoned Earth only hours before the sun explodes. They eventually discover that humanity has launched a slower-than-light escape fleet, and are amazed at ...