Why do I read apocalypse novels?

I have to ask myself, why do I enjoy apocalypse books?  Why do I want to hear about destruction?  Do I have a secret fantasy that people be killed en masse?

2012: The Movie
2012: The Movie

And I have to say that, no, I don’t want any of these things to happen.

I guess you could ask anyone who enjoys action, do you have a secret fantasy of being in a car chase or gunfire fight?  I’m guessing most would say no.

What about 2012 (the quientessential apocalypse movie, though by far not the best out there), a movie in which most people on earth died; there were only a few left to

2012, the movie poster
2012, the movie poster

re-populate the earth at the very end.  Virtually no one wants this to happen, but I guess humans do have a fantasy about starting over, doing things right, not having to fight for resources, having an Eden to call their very own.

The thing is, we are bored with our action-less lives.  Part of our psyches dream of living a more dramatic, important life, one where the actions we take on a daily basis are ones that will actually help us survive.  Like planting our own food, feeling more self-sufficient… some people undoubtedly fantasize about a lower tech way of life where they have a very important daily purpose:  to survive.  It would feel more meaningful.

I hold down a job that certainly needs to be done, and you could call it important, at least to the people around me.  But I sit in an office and the way I survive is make a paycheck in order to live comfortably in a house, buy groceries, etc.  The tasks I accomplish are not directly going to impact my ability to live, and sometimes as I realize how much humans have forgotten about actually surviving on their own, without grocery stores and cars and all the aspects of modern life, it makes me want to re-learn those skills in case I ever need them.

So apocalyptic books kindle this spark of getting down to the nitty gritty of life, seeing what happens when all that high technology is taken away from people.  At least that’s the best explanation I have for why I enjoy apocalyptic novels.


2 thoughts on “Why do I read apocalypse novels?

  1. I think you’ve done a good job of explaining what it is about apocalyptic stories that grab us so much. There was something triumphant at the end of 2012 where you see the boat and the text “Year 1” appears on screen. I felt a similar exhilaration watching the final episode of Battlestar Galactica.


    1. Thanks! And yes, absolutely. Those are the moments in fiction that we want to relive (but can never). With Battlestar Galactica it was sadness too, being finished with the series. I’m sure I cried… lol Maybe years from now I can watch it again and it will seem new again. 🙂


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