The rise of post-apocalyptic fiction
It’s Sunday night and hurricane Irene has passed our area as a tropical storm, weaker than expected but strong enough to cause some damage and a lot of worry. It’s been a strange week – from the rarity of feeling the tremors of an earthquake in NYC to this hurricane taking a rare north-east course. Gratefully, everyone I know is safe and sound and we are praying for all those who have been affected by hurricane Irene in more serious ways.
The preparation and waiting for the storm to hit made me think of other things though. Things that I have been thinking about a lot lately. Things that have to do with survival. Our times are so uncertain and so full of crazy events that you can’t help but think of that. It is not surprising that the post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction has been steadily becoming very popular and mainstream.
As it happened, as we were waiting for Irene, I have been in the middle of reading Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield, an enjoyable post-apocalyptic novel. Her description of the post-apocalyptic world is raw and beautifully realistic. This is the third post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel I have read in the last year. The first one was the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, a bestseller that is now being made into a movie.
The apocalyptic events can take many various forms, from the social disintegration stemming from the fall of economic system, to natural disasters of major proportions, to a yet unknown disease that spreads like wildfire with no cure in sight, to a nuclear catostrophe. Some fiction integrates all of the above.
So why are we so fascinated by this type of fiction nowadays? It explores the topics of human spirit, survival, resistance, compassion, civilization, nature and, of course, hope and renewal. Topics which are near and dear to most of us today because you can’t avoid them with all the events going on in the world. I believe we will see this genre become even bigger and more wide-spread in the next year. There so much material for writers in this genre still. And much interest from readers because, no matter how fantastic, it often is realistic enough to imagine and relate to, even just as an exploration of a human psyche in situations of major stress and survival.
I would also love to know which post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels you enjoyed reading or look forward to reading soon. And what is your vision of a possible post-apocalyptic world?