Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction
What is Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction?
The simple definition is: science fiction that takes place after an apocalypse. The take of Post-Apocalyptic Sci Fi is generally grim; the apocalypse has radically altered the planet and humanity. The landscape of these stories is often bleak, extreme weather, mutations, radiation, violence, a leeriness toward technology, and a sense of loneliness. Apocalyptic Sci Fi can include time immediately following the apocalypse, but Post-Apocalyptic Sci Fi tends to take place after the dust has settled and revolves around the stories of the survivors. Sometimes, these stories take place so far into the future that the pre-apocalypse society has become nothing but myth. The focus is on the survivors and the society that they have built.
Post-Apocalyptic is popular fodder for pop-culture sci-fi, from films (Mad Max, Th Road, etc), tv shows, comics and video games (Fallout). It's a fertile writing landscape for speculative fiction writers from all branches of the tree (Fantasy, Science Ficiton, Horror).
You can view the crowd-ranked "Popular" Post Apocalyptic Science Fiction Books list and vote and/submit entries to it.
Level of Real Science
Low. Science and technology are not usually the focus of Post-Apocalyptic Sci Fi stories, indeed characters are often leery of technology.
Level of Grand Ideas/Social ImplicationsHigh. The apocalypse either destroys society or radically alters it, so a Post-Apocalyptic Sci Fi story must address the social implications of an apocalypse. These ideas and implications may be explored directly if they are the focus of the story, or indirectly by focusing on story and character and allowing readers to discern the ideas and implications themselves.
Level of Characterization
High. Because Post-Apocalyptic Sci Fi tends to focus on the survivors, characters are well developed. Reading about characters as they encounter adversity allows the reader to really see the complexity of the characters.
Level of Plot Complexity
High. Plots are developed in these stories to show the reader a post-apocalyptic world. The events and conflicts of plot allow readers to see the ins and outs of this new world.
Level of Violence
High. In the wake of an apocalypse society crumbles and people frequently turn to violence as a way to survive or as a way to keep order within newly established societies.
Dystopian Science Fiction. A post-apocalyptic society is often depicted as a dystopia, where society is sheltered from the real effects of the apocalypse or knowledge of life before the apocalypse.
Zombie Science Fiction. Zombie outbreaks can be so catastrophic they cause an apocalypse, so what happens afterwards? Speculative Fiction. Post-Apocalyptic stories speculate about how humanity will rebuild after a cataclysmic event.
Alternate History. Not all Post-Apocalyptic stories take place a thousand years in the future, sometimes they are an alternate version of our history
Apocalyptic Science Fiction. Goes hand in hand with Post Apocalyptic sub-genre. Apocalyptic Science Fiction is about an end of the world scenario (asteroids, a global pandemic, nuclear war, alien invasion, etc) and how it affects the humanity, specifically through the eyes of few people -- the survivors or potential survivors. Apocalyptic features just before the EVENT or immediately after the EVENT while Post Apocalyptic usually takes place a period of time (might be long) after the apocalyptic dust has settled.
You prefer Sci Fi heavy with science. If you prefer stories filled with happy characters.