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Facing the Apocalypse

Andreas_Helixfinger at 12:00AM, Sept. 10, 2023

If you look up Wikipedia on apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction it will be described as a subgenre in which the earth’s (or another planet’s) civilization is collapsing or has collapsed. It can be due to the cause of nuclear war, or climate change, a pandemic (maybe one that turns everyone into zombies), a divinely pre-destined and orchestrated end time; a la Ragnarök, an alien invasion; a la War of the Worlds, a cybernetic revolution; a la Terminator or the Matrix, resource depletion etc.

Some sort of cause or event that disrupts the established order, effectively throwing it into chaos. That’s the classic approach to the apocalypse, the great disruption that is going to happen, or post-apocalypse, the great disruption that has happened. But an apocalypse can also be something more complex, a matter of time and place and perspective. I recall in one Quackcast some time ago, I can’t remember which one it was, our beloved DD member Tantz Aerine said something along the lines of “Even if it’s just a local apocalypse, it is still an apocalypse to the people involved in it.”

This actually inspired me to alter the setting of my own comics into the setting that it is now. An alternative version of Antarctica with half its continent’s ice layer melted off and long colonized, that had this Chernobyl-esque event where a nuclear power plant had a meltdown and then the unleashed radioactivity, mixed with the strange fungal life that laid dormant underneath the power plant until said event, caused the environment of the surrounding archipelago to mutate, including its human citizens.

Now you have an island nation where one half is a post-apocalyptic wilderness and the other half still has its civilization of sprawling urban areas intact. The radiation is still present and has created this shroud around the continent that disrupts conventional, advanced tech such as radar. And the mutated population, in an attempt to have some kind of social control, has segregated themselves into classes based on different levels of mutation.

They’ve also through exploring the properties of their now transformative genes invented a technology of their own based on human DNA, a new health care system that they desperately need to keep their DNA from mutating them into lovecraftian blobs of limbs and organs as their now hypersensitive even to the relatively low radiation of the urban half of their country, and a new ideology that encourages citizens to abandon the old ways of the world and exile themselves into the mutated wilderness where they may adapt and become one with the new ecology.

This existential, as well as cultural, change caused the world outside the continent, which was unaffected by the event, to doing everything in their power to isolate the mutated part of the south pole, making sure that what happened there doesn’t spread to the rest of the world. So, in other words, we have here a situation that is kind of both post-apocalyptic and apocalyptic at the same time.

You have the post-apocalyptic environment caused by the nuclear meltdown, the time and the place, and then you have the apocalyptic, or at least what is perceived as apocalyptic, by the surrounding world now having to fear this change spreading to the rest of the world if not isolated and, if they can find a way, reversed back into the old status quo. i.e. curing the mutation.

Yeah, it’s kind of like X-Men, but more subtle I’d argue. Anyway, this is a post a came up with on a fly, thinking I could give an example on how the apocalypse in fiction, when it happens and/or after it happens, can be subtle and complex, and not just; something goes boom and now we’re all running around in the wasteland in our underpants trying not to get eaten or vaporized or turned into human batteries.

When you play with time, place and perception there’s no saying you can’t come up with fresh ways of facing the apocalypse in fiction.

Have a good one.



Andreas_Helixfinger at 10:35AM, Sept. 10, 2023

Either way it's a subgenre that is fun to experiment with, and I hope more people will^^

Andreas_Helixfinger at 9:45AM, Sept. 10, 2023

Actually in the Eddan where the tales of Ragnarök is written it is revealed that in the new world that is born in the wake of the endtimes a flying dragon carries remnants of the old world's evil with it into the new world. Because just like goodness cannot be whiped out, nor can evil. But it is a renewed cycle. A new fresh start from which anything may happen. And indeed that is what we see in the post-apocalyptic fiction in general. A period of strife and confusion that will eventually settle and a new order can take hold. But it becomes all the more intersting when you play with the subtleties involved. You still have a world where one's saving and rejuvenating grace may be the others downfall, at least in terms of standpoint. Seeing what used to be the status quo transform into something different, not necesserily better or worse, but different, can feel like an apocalypse in of itself. Ultimately it is transformation, nothing more, nothing less.

PaulEberhardt at 8:28AM, Sept. 10, 2023

The difference to ancient apocalypse stories around the world is that these are almost always not just about annihilation, but also about renewal. The world gets trashed (in some mythologies even on a regular schedule) and then rebuilt into something better, with all evil and faithless people kicked out. This trope got kind of purged with the arrival of the modern apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic dystopian story, didn't it? I wonder if this is because some new notions had arrived by then, like mankind being able to destroy itself if we screw up, that we're curiously prone to behaving like a bull in a china shop, and that we have in fact produced localized apocalypses that decidedly didn't lead to a glorious rebirth. But then, post-apocalyptic fiction sometimes shows a glimmer of hope in the end, doesn't it? Could it after all be possible to imagine a successful global refurbishing that suits modern tastes? I haven't managed so far, not in a way I'd buy, but I like toying with the idea.

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