Got Apocalypse?

Apocalypse?I have, in the past, admitted a predilection for both disaster and horror flicks. And since a good many movies from either of those genres fall into the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic categories, it follows that I would also have a twisted obsession interest in apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic stories.

Just what is it about the apocalypse that makes (some of) our hearts go pitter patter?

I suspect it’s the same reason that disaster flicks and horror movies are so appealing. Giant odds and hope. Throw ordinary people into the worst possible situation and watch them rise to the occasion (or die trying).

And maybe we also love it because, on some level, we all worry about the end of everything. We wonder whether will survive. We wonder whether our loved ones will survive. And we hope there’s a hero inside of us instead of a monster.

Although apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction has really picked up steam since the beginning of the Cold War (it seems the accumulation of weapons of mass destruction and the threat of bioterrorism inspire a great deal of creativity), it is a storytelling tradition with ancient roots. And our fascination goes beyond mere storytelling to visions of both past and future destruction.

There are ancient tales of the Great Flood from all over the world. The Epic of Gilgamesh speaks of an ancient flood that wiped out all of

approach of the apocalypse

humanity except for Utnapishtim and his family who were granted immortality by the gods. And most of us probably know the story of Noah and the Ark.

I’ll leave all debate about whether the Flood was a real event (and whether it was local or global) to you… I’ll only point out that the sheer number of flood myths and places they come from seem to indicate that there may be a grain of truth to these stories, however small.

There are also many ancient tales speaking of the end of the world yet to come, though these were generally not seen as fiction by their tellers. Norse mythology speaks of Ragnarok. And, as the end of 2012 draws nearer, fascination with the Mayan apocalyptic predictions grows. Fortunately, most of these myths also speak of rebirth after the destruction.

But whether the world has ended before and whether we’re in imminent danger of it ending again, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction is just plain good reads (and good watching). Here are some of my favorites:

 Apocalypse

Why do you think that apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction is so fascinating? Are you a fan of the genres? What are your favorite novels/movies?

Image Attribution (In Order of Appearance):
Apocalypse? by mikelehen, on Flickr CC BY 2.0
approach of the apocalypse by wildpianist, on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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pocalypse by celesteh, on Flickr CC BY 2.0

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19 thoughts on “Got Apocalypse?

  1. Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” was a fantastic post-apocalyptic novel. Extremely dark but incredibly well written. The movie? Not so much, though Viggo Mortensen was good in the role of The Man.

    • I actually had a hard time with The Road. It was so dark and I didn’t feel the sense of hope that I wanted. But it was incredibly well written.

      • That was my take on The Road too. The lack of hope just depressed me. Try Robert McCammon’s Swan Song. For me, I think, it edges out The Stand, as the best post-apocalyptic novel I’ve read.

      • HannahFergesen

        This was exactly my problem with the Road! Sometimes the best part of Post Apocalyptic fiction is how human hope thrives. But in the Road, there just didn’t even seem to be a point.

  2. Since I’ve written apocalyptic stuff, I’m gonna say I love it ;) I’m not a big disaster-movie fan, but it is a very interesting scenario to place characters in and see what they’ll do when the world is bound to end. Another one is Melancholia with Kirsten Dunst, although I haven’t seen it. I saw a few minutes of it and it was a big strange with all the slow motion shots, not really what I’d enjoy (more action and drama) but still an interesting concept. There’s also Angelfall (a new adult/YA indie book that’s done well with readers). Pure’s premise is similar to mine, but mine’s more pre-apocalypse. Great stuff, though, I look forward to when it’s released in the US. Good to know there’s a movie optioned too.

  3. I like your explanation for why these tales fascinate us. I suppose this falls in the apocalyptic range: I remember vividly watching The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) in college. It’s an alien apocalypse of sorts. I like the stories that deal more with “What now?” than the gruesomeness of it all.

  4. Myndi Shafer...one stray sock away from insanity.

    Oooh, the Stand. That’s some good stuff.

  5. rogerdcolby

    I’m currently writing a post apocalyptic novel due out in August. Love the post!

  6. I’m a huge fan of post-apocalyptic fiction! My first published short story was a literary twist on the whole, ‘after the world moves on’ sort of deal with zombies (of course). I saw someone mentioned McCarthy’s “The Road,” which is brilliant. I also enjoy Matheson’s “I Am Legend.”–it was a brilliant short on the original bogey man folktale, so it struck my alley quite eloquently. I actually amalgamated the name of my protagonist in the aforementioned short story using Richard Matheson and a favorite post-apocalyptic artist thus creating: Ashley Matheson. And, then there are the films! “The Day the Earth Stood Still” is one of my favorites. 1954 was a good year.

  7. Pingback: Top Ten: Best Post-Apocalyptic Movies | Filmophilia

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  9. Pingback: A flood myth or deluge myth is a symbolic narrative in which a great flood is sent by a deity « Wed-Gie

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