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.
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:
- Twilight Zone‘s “Time Enough to Last” (1959)
- Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend (1954) and the film loosely based on it, The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price (1964)
- Stephen King’s The Stand (1978), Complete and Uncut Edition released in 1990
- The Day after Tomorrow (2004)
- Robert Kirkman‘s The Walking Dead (2003 – present), as well as the AMC show by the same name (2010 – present)
- Julianna Baggott’s Pure, the novel I’m currently reading and completely in love with.
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
Apocalypse by celesteh, on Flickr CC BY 2.0