Visions of a post-apocalyptic future are a mainstay of science fiction. Novelist Cormac McCarthy is known for his super-violent Westerns written in Biblical language --- he's not the kind of writer you'd expect to enter sci-fi terrain. But that's what he does in "The Road,"his 2006 novel about a father and son crossing a post-apocalyptic landscape.

"They're heading for the ocean," says Rob Spillman, editor of the literary magazine "Tin House.""The father cannot tell his son whether the ocean is still blue or not. When they finally do reach the ocean, the boy asks, 'Do you think there's anybody out there?' They might literally be the last two people like themselves on planet."

It's a pitch-black vision of the future, but Spillman imagines that McCarthy wrote "The Road" as "a love letter to his own son. The boy is the chosen one to survive and perpetuate the species."

As much as Spillman admired the novel, he's less sure whether he would recommend it to anybody else. "I was totally horrified by this book. I would not wish this book on anyone. But once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I was so swept up in this world."

Larry PineandCharlie Panek read from the novel.

(Originally aired March 9, 2007)

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