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The Difference Between Apocalypse and Post-Apocalypse Fiction



A catastrophic future, the end of the planet, tyrannical regimes. Writers and authors have envisioned and recreated the future of humanity for decades, but recently, it seems that narratives on the subject have multiplied.


In this blog, we look at two different words that are frequently used interchangeably but are different (subtle differences).


Apocalyptic Fiction


It is a subgenre of speculative fiction dealing with the apocalyptic destruction of human civilization. It occurs before and during a major global catastrophe, usually a climatic or pandemic natural calamity on an unprecedented scale or a nuclear holocaust.


Typically, this apocalypse is portrayed as the result of a potentially existential catastrophic event, such as but not limited to the following:


  • Cybernetic Revolt

  • Divine Judgement

  • Dysgenics

  • Ecological Collapse

  • Extraterrestrial Attack

  • Impact Event

  • Pandemic

  • Resource Depletion

  • Runaway Climate Change

  • Supernatural Phenomena

  • Technological Singularity

  • Other General Disasters


Post-Apocalyptic Fiction


It is a subgenre of fiction set in a planet or civilization that has been devastated by a natural catastrophe. The period covered maybe shortly after the disaster, concentrating on the trials or psyche of survivors, or much later, often incorporating the idea that pre-catastrophe society has been obliterated (or mythologized). Post-apocalyptic narratives often occur in a technologically degraded future world or in a setting where only shards of technology survive.


After World War II, the genre gained prominence as the prospect of global destruction by nuclear weapons hit public awareness. However, identifiable apocalyptic books have existed since Mary Shelley's The Last Man was issued during the first part of the nineteenth century.


Distinction Between Apocalypse and Post-Apocalypse Fiction


Apocalyptic fiction occurs before and during a major global catastrophe, usually a climatic or pandemic natural calamity on an unprecedented scale or a nuclear holocaust.


Meanwhile, post-apocalyptic fiction is a story about communities of survivors after major natural catastrophes on a global scale.


Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction Books


  • The Stand by Stephen King

  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy

  • Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

  • World War Z by Max Brooks

  • Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon

  • On the Beach by Nevil Shute

  • One Second After by William R. Fortschen

  • The Passage by Justine Cronin

  • Lucifer's Hammer by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven

  • The Postman by David Brin

  • I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

  • The Dog Stars by Peter Heller




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