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Why is Post-Apocalyptic Fiction So Popular?

Christy Case

Supposed Crimes has a reputation for posting bad-ass women in post-apocalyptic situations. Some are in domes. like in Under Dark Sky Law. Some are in the wilderness, like The Wolf Inside. Some are in tribes, like the upcoming Kai.

There are no zombies, yet.

Okay, The Wolf Inside sort of has zombies.

Why so popular? Besides our own work, we're also fans of The 100, The Last Ship, and Walking Dead. All three of these show feature heroines as lesbian or bisexual women at some point in their run. That is as appealing to our Supposed Crimes readers as our own prophetic world-ends. And we've read The Hunger Games a thousand times.

If anyone hasn't read The Giver, by Lois Lowry, READ THE GIVER.

In the meantime we turn to NPR. Jason Heller writes on May 2, 2015:


Post-apocalyptic books are thriving for a simple reason: The world feels more precariously perched on the lip of the abyss than ever, and facing those fears through fiction helps us deal with it. These stories are cathartic as well as cautionary. But they also reaffirm why we struggle to keep our world together in the first place. By imagining what it's like to lose everything, we can value what we have.


 I don't know if I agree about that. I just love despair and violence. But this article has an extensive reading list, and suggests that this isn't just a fad. After all, Left Behind came out in 1995 (So old...I'm so old...). NPR's article, of course, is calm and literary.

At Yes! Magazine, Christopher Zumski Finke taps into urgent excitement, writing, "Human extinction is possible; so is maintaining, in the name of survival, an unjust social structure dependent on slavery and violence."

He does us the favor of consulting a PhD candidate in literature, who further writes:

PhD candidate in literature at the University of Minnesota, Wes Burdine. He studies these things.

Apocalyptic narratives play into liberation fantasies. Mass annihilation is depressing, sure, but it’s sure as hell more exciting than the mall and running to the store to get toilet paper.
These stories let us imagine being suddenly forced out of our comfort zone and into something far more heroic. Plus, have you tried to change the world lately? It’s painful and slow or quixotic at best. End-of-the-world narratives allow us to imagine large scale rebirth and play into our utopian desires.

This is a way better answer than self-recrimination. 

I scanned a few more articles that wavered between hero-fantasy (as ancient as fuck) and "our planet is dying." I discovered that SF Signal, whom we eagerly throw books at, has a great roundup of epic sci-fi writers explaining themselves. Rugged individualism and survivalism stand out. If there are less people on the planet, we become more important.

So maybe it's just all Mary Sues all the way down. We're cool with that. Bring on the end of the world. 

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