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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.

Popular Apocalyptic Science Fiction Books