The Dark Allure of the Apocalypse

Posted: February 22, 2016 in Apocalypse, Apocalyptic, Post-Apocalypse, Uncategorized, Zombies
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Vostok Games’ Survarium


I’ve always had a fascination with other worlds, other lands, places I could never visit.

From the bright and beautiful Shire of Middle Earth, to the stark emptiness of outer space, these places draw me in, entice me to set foot in their worlds, to set up a small shop selling unusual wares, build my own hovel in the dark wilderness, take up sword and shield against an impossible foe, or set my phaser to stun.

To this writer, truly great stories invite you to inhabit their world, not just for a time, but always. When the book is done, or the screen goes dark, you take a piece of the world with you, and leave a piece in it as you go.

The apocalypse can be nuclear, zombie, or alien invasion, just to a name a few of the many variations on how the world may end. The dark allure of these worlds, the fantasy of surviving against nearly insurmountable odds when so many are falling prey to nuclear winter, foreign invasion, or societal collapse is as fascinating as it is terrifying.

You have to scrounge for food, fight men, or zombies, or alien ninjas for your life, seek out safety in numbers when trust is a rare commodity.

Life set to that kind of backdrop looks abysmal, and I imagine it would be, but that’s where imagination comes in.

The apocalypse tests your survival skills, or your ability to adapt. Could you protect your loved ones, escape the city, find sustainable food?

That world of self-sufficiency, where the only dues you have to pay are in blood, is a thrilling and dark world, with few rewards and little praise.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Some of my favorite stories are apocalyptic or dystopian in nature, it’s a world I can see myself inhabiting, surviving in, thriving in, (until I get my face chewed off by one of the shambling dead, that is).

Though there are too many to name, I recommend Swan Song by Robert McCammon, Stephen King’s The Stand, and One Second After by William Forstchen. I have several shelves full of apocalyptic tales, and I love most of them, so I won’t bore you with a list.

Which apocalyptic books (or movies) are your favorites, and why? Leave a comment below.

If you’d like to check out my version of the zombie apocalypse, you can do that here.

  1. Stan Faryna says:

    I remember reading Stephen King’s The Stand in high school. Maybe, my freshman year. The size was daunting but the story was compelling. For me.

    Beyond the Book of Revelations which I ever return to reading it again, I don’t remember just now what other apocalyptic books I read between the Stand and Patriots by James Wesley Rawles. But I wouldn’t read Rawles until 1999 – Patriots was recommended to me by a local police officer and member of the SWAT team.

    Patriots was a poor example of the novel (read Milan Kundera’s The Art of the Novel). Patriots did not speak to our existential predicaments. But it represents, to be sure, a desperate and one-dimensional reply to that existential predicament. Yet Patriots is interesting, practical and urgent. It is a manual for survival pretending, however poorly, to be a novel.

    An apocalyptic setting (pre, unfolding and post) is an interesting device to me as a writer. Because I believe it allows me to examine what is compelling about human nature, culture, society, character and personality – good and evil. To write a proper apocalyptic novel, one must get beyond the materialism of the gear and preps without actually getting rid of the props. After all, they are the fun. I struggle with this just as I see other apocalyptic writers struggling with the same problematic.

    I have come to this idea. That any question and answer that is seduced to the mere celebration of sucking air (surviving) is vanity, frivolous and dangerous. By the same idea, the zombie or apocalyptic genre has not exhausted its use. It hasn’t yet begun to be valuable to us as a deeper and truer reflection on our better selves. But I believe that possibility is there.

    Maybe, I am overthinking it. But, then again, “overthinking” is usually when the real thinking begins.


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