It’s the end of the world as we know it, and that’s just fine with the pack of authors peddling dystopian lit at this year’s Texas Book Festival. If you like your fiction post-apocalyptic, these are the events to hunker down with.
SATURDAY, OCT. 26
Start your dystopian Saturday off right with a worldwide flu epidemic. At 11:45 a.m. in Capitol Auditorium Room E1.004, Peter Heller will discuss his debut novel, The Dog Stars, in which an epidemic survivor and his dog leave their homeland in search of a better life. Heller is joined by Ayana Mathis, who will talk about her own debut, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie.
Grab another dose of dystopia with YA authors Neal Shusterman and Heather Terrell at 3:30 p.m. in the Family Life Center at 1300 Lavaca St. Shusterman’s UnSouled, the third book in his “Unwind Dystology” series, chronicles the lives of Connor, Lev and Cam, three engineered humans attempting to bring down an oppressive society. In Terrell’s novel, Relic, protagonist Eva, devastated by the recent death of her brother, turns to relic-collecting in the ruins of a once-great civilization.
Head straight to Capitol Extension Room E2.014 at 4:15 p.m. for the “Apocalypse Now” panel with Alexandra Coutts, Matt de la Pena, and Brian Yansky. In Coutts’ thriller, Tumble & Fall, three island-dwelling teens have to figure out how to spend the rest of their short lives with a massive asteroid scheduled to hit Earth in a week. In de la Pena’s The Living, a novel hailed as “a harrowing, exhilarating ride” by Kirkus Reviews, an earthquake rocks the planet and traps a cruise ship at sea, forcing the passengers to fight for their lives. In Yansky’s comic Homicidal Aliens and Other Disappointments, Jesse, a human with the power to vanquish the aliens that have all but eradicated humanity, must decide whether to grow into his potential as the Chosen One or let his fellow earthlings perish.
SUNDAY, OCT. 27
Starting off the day at 11 a.m. in Capitol Extension Room E2.026, Paulette Jiles will discuss her new novel, Lighthouse Island, at the “Island Utopias” panel. Jiles spins the tale of young orphan Nadia Stepan’s journey to the Pacific Northwest with James Orotov, a mapmaker, in a world of critical water shortages, overcrowded cities and unprecedented destruction of nature. Jiles will be joined by Robert Antoni, author of As Flies to Whatless Boys.
Competing in the 11 a.m. time slot is the “Idols” panel, with Manil Suri and Shawn Vestal, in Capitol Extension Room E2.030. Suri is the author of Devi, a novel about Mumbai on the brink of nuclear annihilation. Vestal’s latest is Godforsaken Idaho, a story collection.
Next, head to the Lone Star Tent at 12:15 p.m. for a panel of three fiction writers, “Move Over Katniss: New Heroines,” featuring end-of-the-world enthusiast Amy Rose Capetta. Capetta will discuss her recent novel, Entangled, which chronicles the life of Cade, a girl from the future connected at a subatomic level with Xan, whom she must find to save the universe. Joining Capetta are Austinite Tracy Deebs (Doomed) and Aprilynne Pike (Earthbound).