Post Apocalyptic Genre

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Jul 9, 2007
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Hi folks,

There is a vast genre of apocalyptic tales, movies, games and to a lesser degree a genre of post apocalyptic stories. From madmax, deep impact, the day after tomorrow, a canticle for leibowitz, wasteland, fallout.. there are some amazing settings and worlds by which various authors and writers have explored the idea of life after the "end of the world" (so to speak).

what do you think are the good things that have worked in the genre of post apocalyptica and what do you think are the things that didnt work or "sucked" about it. what would you like to see in a future post apocalyptic story?

any response would be valued.

Simon
 

Connavar

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I liked Planet of The Apes version cause of the humans being the animals and the apes the rulers.


In books i liked Jon Shannow series cause it was a neat version of apocalyptic story. It was post apocalyptic western + alittle magic.

A movie like that would be awesome. But hollywood will never make one like that.
 
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oh yeah man, i forgot about that .i'm gonna go back and read the jon shannow novels once i finish a canticle for leibowitz
 

j d worthington

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Generically speaking:

Worked: A genuine feeling of apocalypse; the loneliness of the character(s); attempts (successful or otherwise) to recreate/rebuild or to start a new society; genuine human interaction with such a jolting experience, essentially.

Didn't work: facile solutions to the problem (rebuilding with that cheery, stiff-upper-lip syndrome); lack of tensions between various characters; lack of suicidal thoughts on a lone survivor; surface handling rather than delving into the actual impact of such an occurrence.

Lots of good stories in the genre, from Earth Abides to I Am Legend to The Purple Cloud (despite some letdown toward the end on that one). Even Moorcock's Breakfast in the Ruins has an element of that toward the end. Ballard's early work has several excellent examples. Mary Shelley's The Last Man is a bit slow for modern readers, but quite powerful at times.
 
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yeah i think you've got a good point there, especially abouit lonliness of the character... some of the great post apoc "stories" (and games and movies) featured this to great effect. jon shannow, mad max, the fallout games, waterworld sucked but still had that lone-ranger kinda character. the list goes on..
 

TK-421

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On TV movie that I can still remember as very shocking for its time and certainly had an impact on me was The Day After with Jason Robards and John Lithgow
The Day After (1983) (TV)

Then, the same year there was War Games with Matthew Broderick, which was pretty cool and dealt with a made-up nuclear holocaust.
WarGames (1983)

This new movie, I am Legend, has Will Smith taking on the role as the last man on Earth.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_Legend_%28film%29
 
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thecommabandit

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[shameless self-promotion]
I happen to have one of those allegedly uncommon post-apocalyptic stories here. Still in progress and I don't seem to have touched it for a while but I'm told it's rather good :p
[/shameless self-promotion]

I haven't read much literature in that kind of setting, my experience pretty much includes watching Deep Impact twice (the scene where those two people are just holding each other when the gigantic wave is crashing towards them almost made me cry =( ), Armageddon less than once through and The Day After Tomorrow once and a half. It's a bit of an odd genre; kind-of sci-fi and yet kind-of fantasy. I think perhaps the reason it doesn't have such a following is that the cataclysmic backdrop is rather often caused by us (we don't like being our own downfall it seems - perhaps also the origin of the 'evil robots that we made as our servants but who got guns and are now conducting genocide' cliché and why the people fighting said evil robots are always rather righteous) and that a lot of these are set on Earth in the near future, so rather than playing on people's fear, the genre as a whole seems hindered by it.

Like I said before, I'm working on a vision of a post-apocalyptic Earth; we were hit by a large asteroid (one's coming in 2036 - repent now sinners!!) which wrought massive destruction, nuclear winter and the whole shebang. Humans eventually crawled out of the dust and are only recently (after a millennium or so of hiding) reclaiming the world. It's fun because it lets me play about with the creatures we have now - one of my characters won an egg in a poker game - turned out it wasn't a chicken like he though (it sounds silly I know, but think more chocobo than chicken - it was for riding) but a gigantic (well, when it's fully grown) lizard thing with feathers. I also get to screw about with my character's heads using things that are totally commonplace today, I'm not exactly sure how it's working since no-one else has read that part yet.
 
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haha sounds like you've got a good grip on the genre actually, TCB.

one of my favourite parts of any book is when the monk stumbles upon the "fallout shelter" in "A Canticle for Leibowitz": now, he's heard of the dreaded Fallout Demons before. according to the knowledge collected by his religious order, the "Fallout Demons", imbued with the fires of hell, spread through the land killing everything and turning people into monsters. So when he reads the sign on the door of the shelter that says "Fallout Shelter: maximum capacity 15" he freaks out and thinks that theres 15 fallout demons inside! LOL

once i get some further posts up i'll do some shameless promoting of my own, which you might find interesting. stay tuned
 

j d worthington

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It's a bit of an odd genre; kind-of sci-fi and yet kind-of fantasy. I think perhaps the reason it doesn't have such a following is that the cataclysmic backdrop is rather often caused by us (we don't like being our own downfall it seems - perhaps also the origin of the 'evil robots that we made as our servants but who got guns and are now conducting genocide' cliché and why the people fighting said evil robots are always rather righteous) and that a lot of these are set on Earth in the near future, so rather than playing on people's fear, the genre as a whole seems hindered by it.

Actually, it's been a very popular genre (or sub-genre) -- so much so that there are even subdivisions within this subdivision:

Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

List of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

And many of the classics in the field of sf are of this nature: Greybeard, Earth Abides, Alas, Babylon!, On the Beach, Stand on Zanzibar (along with The Jagged Orbit and The Sheep Look Up), Shadow on the Hearth, nearly all of Ballard's early work, several of John Wyndham's novels, etc. It even became known as the "cozy catastrophe" (though you could hardly call Ballard's novels that)! It's not been quite so popular of recent years, but there are still a fair number of them out there. It was a very wide-spreading genre during the Second World War and the Cold War, narrowed a bit once the Cold War seemed to go away, picked back up again when we were approaching the millennium, and has tapered off a bit since then... but still fairly popular.
 

The Ace

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One that got me was David Brin's "The Postman," (the book, I never saw the film.) A con-artist actually conning people that they weren't alone and giving them hope.
 

Bikewer

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Being a child in the 50s, it seemed that half the stuff I read was "post-apocalyptic". Must have been the Cold War and those "duck and cover" drills....

One of the earliest novels I recall reading was of this genre, Star Man's Son by Andre Norton. The central character is the son of a "star man", a trained scavenger and explorer who braves the devastated cities that were once America.
Filled with radioactive hazards and mutant rats, they are rather dangerous...

I must have read dozens of short stories and paperback novels back then that I scarcely remember....
 

femdynamite

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I love the post apocalyptic genre. I've read (or listened to) and watched most films about this theme and really like it.

There are a few things I don't like.

1. Sometimes it can be excessively gross. I don't mind bloodhsed and a little gore, but I don't need too much graphicness. Axler writes some interesting stories... But each book seems to have some really graphic stomach churning scenes which really gross me out. A little is ok. Too much and I find myself gagging.

2. Meanderingness. (is that a word) I want a tight story and sometimes Post Apocalyptic fiction kind of wanders... You know.... And nothing ever gets resolved. Just because its after a terrible world-shattering even doesn't mean I don't want tight plot and scripting.

3. Depressiveness. Sometimes it can be just so depressing there is nothing to lighten the mood. Some authors need to lighten up and realize that people who survive a terribel event are still people. There needs to be somthing to lighten the mood.


Good things

1. Less government (generally) more leaway with laws. Lawlessness.
2. Mutants!
3. Less technology and or tech that doesn't work.
4. Opportunity for man vs. environment storylines which are some of my favorites.

F
 

matt-browne-sfw

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One that got me was David Brin's "The Postman," (the book, I never saw the film.) A con-artist actually conning people that they weren't alone and giving them hope.

The film is interesting too. Great performance by Kevin Costner.
 

ironvelvet

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Why is it always the statue of Liberty semi-destroyed to convey the fall of civilisation? Given that most of these blockbusters if not all come from California and the Hollywood sign is probably as iconic as the Lady...is there some geographical needling going on?
Is this discussion only about post apocalypse earth? I think there's definitely a strong whiff of 'after the pinnacle of civilisation - the fall' to many fantasy books: Lord of the Rings, the Shannara stuff, Song for Arbonne, Tad Williams stuff etc. And there's all the Gate technology and the Ancients in Stargate. And when the apocalypse referred to isn't our own these many formats appear to encourage the pursuit of the knowledge and learning of the glory days as a good thing, even though said knowledge resulted in the destruction of advanced civilisation for millenia....
Now I think of it the entire Pern series is post apocalyptic.
 

Connavar

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One that got me was David Brin's "The Postman," (the book, I never saw the film.) A con-artist actually conning people that they weren't alone and giving them hope.

How good is the book?


I thought the movie was rubbish what esle do you expect from Kevin Costner...
 

kcs_hiker

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wikipedia fails to include The Terminator movies as post-apocalyptic

also, Tom Clancy took a shot at it in Rainbow Six (although the apocalypse was narrowly avoided)

another (bad) movie (but it was an interesting idea) was Waterworld starring Kevin Costner yet again

another favorite of mine that hasn't been mentioned is Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
 

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