The Popularity of Post-Apocalyptic Novels

The world is – and always has been – full of stories that describe the world after an apocalypse. In religion it’s often a way to start over. In the bible it’s up to Noah, to built a new post-apocalyptic world after the flood has washed away all civilization. When ‘Ragnarok’, de final battle in Scandinavian mythology, has ended up in the death of almost all the gods, creatures and people, it’s up to two people hiding in a tree to climb down and reshape their world. And so we can continue throughout history, reading the stories of new worlds and life after the decline. We can go all the way from the bible to ‘the hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy’ and ‘The Road’. A rise in post-apocalyptic novels Since the success of ‘The Road’, the praised novel by Cormac McCarthy, there has been a rise in the popularity of post-apocalyptic writing. Jason Heller gives an extensive list of examples in his article ‘Does Post-Apocalyptic Literature Have A (Non-Dystopian) Future?’ Since then, there are numerous new ways the world could end, and a lot of novels have been adapted for the screen. In ‘I am Legend’, based on the novel by Richard Matheson (1954), 90% of all humans are infected with a virus after a researcher tries to find a cure for cancer. But also major floods, wars between species, climate change and genetically modified ‘super humans’ pop up in all kinds of stories. There are also a lot of novelists that create their stories in a world after a devastating event. In “The Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell we not only have to deal with elements of fantasy but also with a society that – in the near future – has fallen apart. Global society has reached the age… read more →