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Apocalyptic Fiction – its the end of the world as we know it

and I feel fine

There is nothing new about Doomsday theories. We’ve been predicting the end of the world for centuries. Could it be because we have a hard time imaging the human race going on without us (meaning us here right now) indefinitely? I put this question to someone wise who said, “The world will end because everything ends.” But does it, I ask? How do you know? I was informed that this was too deep a question for 9 am and she scurried off to get coffee.

So rather than the why, let’s focus on the how: viruses, reversal of the magnetic poles, the ultimate battle between good and evil spiritual forces, a supervolcano, alien invasion, nuclear war, black hole, collision with a comet…..

The list is nigh endless.

The 2012 phenomenon has made this a popular theme in film and print. Interpretation of the Mesoamerican calendar has something catastrophic or ultimately transforming happening in December 2012. Excellent fodder for fiction. How have we imagined the end of mankind in fiction?

In Children of Men by P.D. James we’ve have slowly died out with barely a pitiful whimper. Maternity hospitals have suddenly noticed that they have no one in the books due to deliver. What will happen to mankind with no young people? Who will care for the last remaining elders?

Indiana Jones-style, a relic contains the secret to save the world from its impending doom in 2012. The Crystal Skull by Manda Scott has Stella Cody in possession of a skull which both signals the end of the world and contains to code for its redemption.



Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse edited by John Joseph Adams has stories of ultimate annihilation by numerous well-known authors. In Octavia Butler’s Speech Sounds human beings, almost stroke-like, find themselves unable to to basic things to communicate (talking, reading) and society begins to disintegrate.

Roswell, New Mexico is the place (perhaps once again) for a UFO landing, this time containing a creature intent on the destruction of the human race. Event by David Lynn Coleman brings to mind a cross between Predator and the X-Files.

It is 2100 and a plague is slowly killing until there is only one man left. Mary Shelley’s little known The Last Man was re-discovered in the 1960’s and contains biographical sketches of her contemporaries and explores the theme of isolation.

On a lighter note there is Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch: A Novel by Neil Gaiman. When its predicted that the world will end next Saturday after tea, an angel and a demon must battle the Anti-Christ to prevent Armageddon.

And so many more containing the zombies, lots of zombies.


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