content by

Anne Corlett

Everything Falls Apart: 5 Books With Different Takes on the Apocalypse

The end of the world is a popular refrain in fiction and film. While it may feel like a fairly modern phenomenon, it is actually part of a long literary tradition, from the great floods of the Bible and the Epic of Gilgamesh, both dating back to somewhere between 1000 and 2000 BC, through nineteenth century classics like HG Wells’s The Time Machine, right up to recent cult hits such as The Walking Dead.

There are all sorts of theories about why we find apocalyptical stories so fascinating, but for me, it’s about taking human characters and placing them in extreme situations, where all their quirks and characteristics are thrown into sharp relief. How do people react in life-or-death scenarios? What sort of society would rise from the ashes of the old world? What kind of morality would remain?

No matter how distant a particular vision of the future might be, I’m always looking for those recognisable human moments, those acute little observations that make me think Oh yes, that’s it. That’s how it is.

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Series: Five Books About…

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