Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction

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Apocalyptic fiction is a sub-genre of science fiction that is concerned with the end of civilization either through nuclear war, plague, comet/rogue planet strike, or some other general disaster. Post-apocalyptic fiction is a similar sub-genre set in a world or civilization after such a disaster.

The time-frame of a fictional work falling within the latter sub-genre can be immediately after the catastrophe, with the author focusing on the travails or psychology of survivors, or considerably later, often including the theme that the existence of pre-catastrophe civilization has been forgotten (or mythologized) by the remnant society. Post-apocalyptic stories frequently take place in an agrarian, non-technological future world, or a world where only scattered elements of technology remain. There is a considerable degree of blurring between this sub-genre of science fiction and that type which deals with false utopias or dystopic societies.

Apocalypse-related works of fiction gained in popularity after World War II, when the possibility of global annihilation by nuclear weapons entered the public consciousness. However, recognizable apocalyptic novels have existed at least since the first quarter of the 19th century, when Mary Shelley's The Last Man was published.[1] Additionally, the subgenres draw on a body of apocalyptic literature, tropes, and interpretations that are millennia old.


Ancient predecessors

Numerous societies, including the Babylonian and Judaic traditions, have produced apocalyptic literature and mythology, some of which dealt with the end of the world and of human society.[2] The scriptural story of Noah and his Ark describes the end of a corrupt civilization and its replacement with a remade world. The first centuries AD saw the creation of various apocalyptic works; the best known (due to its inclusion in the New Testament) is the Book of Revelation (from which the word apocalypse originated, meaning "revelation of secrets"), which is replete with prophecies of destruction.[2] In the study of religious works, apocalyptic texts or stories, are those that disclose hidden secrets either by taking an individual literally into the heavens or into the future. Most often these revelations about heaven and the future are used to explain why some currently occurring event is taking place.[3]

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