SF CORE Best Lists
- Best Modern Science Fiction Books
- Best Science Fiction Series
- Best Stand Alone Science Fiction Books
- Top 25 Underrated Science Fiction Books
- Best Science Fiction by Women
- Best Science Fiction Books for Young Adults
- Best Science Fiction Books for Children
- The Alternative Top 25 Best Science Fiction List
- Top 25 Science Fiction Books
- Top 100 Best Science Fiction Books
- Top 50 Best Science Fiction Movies of All Time
- Best Sci-Fi Movies of the 21st Century
- Best Sci-Fi TV Shows of All Time
- Best Science Fiction Graphic Novels
SF ERA Best Lists
- Best Science Fiction Books of 2014
- Best Contemporary Science Fiction Books
- Best New Wave Science Fiction Books
- Best Classic Science Fiction Books
- Best Early Science Fiction Books
- Best Proto-Science Fiction
- Best Modern Science Fiction Classics
SF GENRE Best Lists
- Best Hard Science Fiction Books
- Best Cyberpunk Books
- Best Space Opera Books (OLD AND MERGED WITH NEW)
- Best Dystopian Science Fiction Books
- Best Post Apocalyptic Science Fiction Books
- Best Alternate History Books
- Best Time Travel Science Fiction Books
- Best Robot Science Fiction
- Best Artificial Intelligence Science Fiction
- Top 25 Best Mars Science Fiction Books
- Best Literary Science Fiction Books
- Best Books About Science Fiction
- Best Space Opera Books
- Top 25 Post Human Science Fiction Books
- Top 25 Best Science Fiction Mystery Books
- Top 25 Best Science Fiction Books About the Moon
- Best Non-English Science Fiction Books
- Best Science Fiction Games of All Time
- Best Science Fiction Comic Books
- Best Science Fiction Anime
- Top 25 Military SciFi Books
OTHER Best Lists
Apocalyptic Science Fiction
An apocalypse may come in several ways—it can be natural or alien or self-inflicted—Apocalyptic Science Fiction is about the end of the world and often humanity as we know it. Not exactly a happy sub-genre. The cataclysmic even that ends the world is not a religious event—though characters will often turn to some kind of religion in its aftermath. The typical plot is about a band of characters who are forced to survive hardship in the upcoming event or immediatly after.
The typical world-ending event will be an asteroid, a nuclear war, or some sort or world-changing pandemic.
A less popular subgenre than Post-Apocalyptic with the difference being that Apocalyptic focuses on the upcoming apocalyptic world-changing/ending event while Post-Apocalyptic fiction takes place after the event, sometimes immediately, sometimes after a long period of time.
Note that Apocalyptic can often feature a time immediately after an apocalypse or from a period before till after. There is some overlap between Post-apocalyptic and Apocalyptic here, but generally post apocalyptic takes place a period of time after an apocalypse -- after the dust has settled and things fall where they lay as it were.
There are a number of related/tie in subgenres such as Dying Earth, which is set way into the future on a world (or Earth) that has changed so much as to be unrecognizable from its current form and the world is doomed because of some final apocalyptic catastrophe. Zombie fiction which if the tale revolves around a viral infection ending the world, is apocalyptic; or if the tale shows a world in which is mostly destroyed by Zombies/mutated creatures and which survivors eke out an existence, it's Post Apocalyptic.
You can view the crowd-ranked "Popular" Apocalyptic Science Fiction Books list and vote and/submit entries to it.
Other Features of Apocalyptic Science Fiction
- Level of Real Science
Variable. The level of real science is going to depend on what the apocalypse was—war tends to be well explained, ecological causes tend to be well explained, but alien invasions are not always well explained.
- Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications
High. Apocalyptic Sci Fi tends to be stories of hardship and incorporate commentary on the cause of the apocalypse—for example, commentary on consumption and human egoism when the Earth is sucked dry of its resources. As well, social commentary about what humans do after the apocalypse—what kind of bonds are made, what happens when society as we know it disintegrates?
- Level of Characterization
High. People generally don't survive an apocalypse, so the characters that are left in the story tend to be well developed. Apocalyptic Sci Fi stories usually focus on a relatively small band of survivors, which gives the author plenty of room for character development, which is an important step in the social commentary.
- Level of Plot Complexity
High. Plots of Apocalyptic Sci Fi tend to be well developed so that readers understand the cause and effect relationship of the events that cause the apocalypse and its aftermath.
- Level of Violence
High. Apocalypses themselves are violent events. In their aftermath pillaging, rioting, and often a sense of lawlessness abound ( look more social commentary.)
Related Science Fiction subgenres
Zombie Science Fiction. —Oh my it's the zombie apocalypse! This is a great example of genre crossing.
Post-Apocalyptic. SF. Apocalyptic SF is about an upcoming apocalypse or shortly after one while post apocalyptic is usually a long time after the event.
Speculative Fiction. —Apocalyptic Sci Fi speculates how the world will end and what will happen after it ends, classic Speculative Fiction.
- 1 Lucifer's Hammer
By Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Jerry Pournelle. The villainous asteroid has become a common trope of this sub-genre.
- 2 The Earth Remembers
By Susan Orain Olan. Takes place in the southwest.
- 3 Red Alert
By Peter George. A famous novel where nuclear war causes the end of things and was made into the famous Sci Fi film Dr. Strangelove..
- 4 Earth Abides
By George-R-Stewart. A classic Sci Fi novel where an unexpected pandemic turns into an extinction level event.
- 5 The Last Man
By Mary Shelley. Possibly the first work of modern Apocalyptic Sci Fi, this novel is about a man living in a world where a plague is slowly killing off humanity.
- 6 The War of the Worlds
By Orson Welles. Perhaps the best known Apocalyptic Sci Fi story, a martian race invades and systematically destroys humanity.
- 7 The Stand
By Stephen King A popular novel, and possibly King's best, is an end-of-the world story caused by the accidental release of a mutating influenza virus that wipes out 99% of humanity.
- 8 On the Beach
By Nevil Shute. An Apocalyptic genre staple about an all-out nuclear war and its aftermath.
- 9 The Handmaid's Tale
By Margaret-Atwood. Mankind created the beginning of their end, but the novel explores how government seeks to preserve power in the face of this end.
- 10 The Day of the Triffids
By John Wyndham. The world changes when a meteor shower leaves most of the world's population blind. The event is augmented by the flesh-eating and mobile plants.