Hertzsprung-Russell rating: M10-4.5

Available in: The Hashish Man And Other Stories

After a catastrophic manmade, uh, catastrophe, the boatman of the Styx takes the very last human being to Hades, wondering what the Hades he’s supposed to do with his life now that all mankind is dead. Of course, if Charon is looking for another job shuttling people across a dismal river to Hell, there’s an opening on the Manhattan-to-Newark ferry.  Zing! I’m going to sell that joke to The New Yorker. And if they reject it, I’ll change the names and sell it to their New Jersey competition, The Newarker. 

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Hertzsprung-Russell rating: F1

Available in: The Wooden Star

A Cold War-era urbanite moves his family to a remote farm in anticipation of an impending Commie A-bomb attack. There, he drills them in the fundamentals of root vegetable farming, iodine consumption, and all-pervading nuclear paranoia. It’s like ‘Green Acres’ with a bomb shelter. The best thing about being a farmer during WWIII is that nuclear fallout completely obscures the sun so, technically, you’re always up before dawn.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: A0.1

Available in: The Oxford Book Of Science Fiction Stories

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Things heat up considerably on planet Earth after a gigantic second sun mysteriously appears in our sky. Oceans boil then fall as scalding rain, the sauna industry tanks and Buster Poindexter is mercilessly beaten in the street (which, let’s be honest, was bound to happen anyway). And, yet, the story’s lone Republican congressman still insists global warming is nothing to worry about.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: A/F10-2.5

Available in: Weird Tales, Volume VIII, No. 3

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A man employed by a news wire service (sigh…remember the news?) hears the story of a mysterious fog that has enveloped a small town and subjected its inhabitants to bizarre lights and noises, vertigo and a general sense of temporal displacement. If that small town were only full of stupid hippies selling t-shirts for thirty bucks a pop, it’d be just like a Grateful Dead concert. Or, I guess maybe a Foghat concert, since it’s a story about fog. But definitely not Ram Jam.

Hertzsrpung-Russell rating: A/F10-3.5

Available in: Armageddons

An amateur astronomer discovers a comet heading towards Earth that’ll wipe the globe off the map in the next few hours. So he spends his last moments alive working up the nerve to ask a co-worker out for coffee, resulting in the awkwardest first (and last) date small-talk ever (“So….um….how did you enjoy civilization?”) Chicks fall for the old ‘end-of-the-world comet’ trick every time; it’s how I got my wife to marry me. Luboš Kohoutek was our officient. He got really drunk at the reception.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: A/F1

Available in: Alternating Currents

After a nuclear holocaust, a dude goes back in time to prehistoric days to try and change history, but returns to find ants ruling the world. And said ants fuckin’ kill him. D’jever notice that, post WWII, everyone was terrified of ants? If I had a nickel for every mid-20th century scifi story that posits a future where ants rule the world, I’d have thousands of sugar-standard-based ant dollars I could use to buy a 20,000-room anthill right beside a picnic basket. I’d just sit on my thorax all day while my centipede butler brought me cookie crumbs. That’d be the life.