Well, once again the apocalypse has failed to arrive. Guess I should do my post.
The apocalypse does happen (or almost happens) all the time in genre fiction. Hey, it’s a time tested way to get peoples attention– please note practically every religion ever. There are categories of apocalyptic fiction, though. Here’s an incomplete and completely unnecessary list of them.
1) THE END IS NIGH!
Very common, especially in fantasy. The world is stumbling headlong towards doom, unless someone (a ragtag group of unlikely heros, perhaps?) saves it. Perhaps the dark lord’s tie tack of doom needs to be pawned before he wakes from nappies. Or a comet must be diverted from its collision course with earth using only the power of true love and nuclear fission.
Why do authors do it? “You want stakes? Here’s your damn stakes. Now let me go back to describing the hobbits breakfast tea.”
2) THE END IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW!
SF loves this one. Basically, sh*t blows up for three hundred pages. A few heros survive, and enter into a golden age of dysentery and PTSD. Oh wait, too far, cut the ending back to them walking triumphantly out of the flames/ice/plague/whatever and stop it there.
Why do authors do it? Sweet, sweet movie bait.
3) THE END JUST HAPPENED!
So, the world ended, but not entirely. This one has variants.
A) Now lets rebuild everything!
Yes, trying to turn the ultimate lemon into something refreshing.
B) Boy, everything sucks!
Depressing, but hey, Oprah liked it.
C) Now there’s magic/psychics/aliens/elves!
For when you want to write urban fantasy, but don’t want to explain why no one else has noticed the vampires.
Why authors do it? “Hmm, I don’t want to deal with the real world, but I don’t want to create a whole new one…” Also, sweet, sweet direct-to-video bait. Especially if you add cyborgs and kickboxing.
4) THE END! Yeah, that happened a while ago.
Things used to be fabulous, then everything was destroyed, but it’s getting better. A wonderful way to make McGuffins. Fantasy loves this one, but SF uses it too. SF also likes to use this as a convenient way to both change the world radically and keep technological advances under control.
Why do authors do it? “And get this, after he fights of the landsquid he crests the last dune and sees- EURODISNEY! Did I just blow your mind!?!”