Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: It’s The End of the World As We Know It

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2015, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

A common trope of science fiction is to show the Earth greatly transformed, or even completely destroyed, in some way. Our poor planet has been used and abused throughout the history of the genre. Here’s a brief guide to the (post-)apocalypse, or dystopian future, covering books, TV, films and video games.

Aliens

Mass Effect The 5th Wave Defiance The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells War of the Worlds Independence Day The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham 826847

In these titles, Earth is either destroyed or invaded by aliens. In the latter, it is altered to a state where it is unrecognisable: either through the collapse of society and government, or destruction of large portions of the planet. Sometimes the extra-terrestrials are aggressive, sometimes they are just inquisitive, and other times we’re not even aware of them until it is too late.

Mass Effect, The 5th Wave, Defiance, The War of the Worlds (plus the 2005 film version), Independence Day, The Day of the Triffids, The Midwich Cuckoos.

Illness/Disease

The Passage by Justin Cronin Blindness Oryx and Crake Partials by Dan Wells Parasite I Am Legend by Richard Matheson The Stand Children of Men The Strain

These titles show an Earth ravaged by illness, disease or plague, including technological viruses and biological warfare. In many of them, the illness transforms humankind into something else, often zombie or vampire-like creatures.

Humankind

The Hunger Games Divergent The 100 The Years of Rice and Salt Unwind The Man in the High Castle How I Live Now A Canticle for Leibowitz

Science fiction frequently shows how humankind causes its own downfall, often through war or revolt. This is a particularly popular theme in current Young Adult dystopian fiction, although it’s not exactly a new trend in the genre. This is one of the more frightening sides of sci-fi: how we become our very own worst enemies. Occasionally, it shows a glimpse into an alternate future or past.

Natural Disaster

2012 The Day After Tomorrow The Maze Runner by James Dashner Deep Impact Armageddon The Drowned World

This could also technically come under ‘Humankind’, because most of the time the natural disasters are caused by people, namely through global warming and climate change. This category includes these as well as other things such as asteroids/meteors, tsunamis, earthquakes etc.

2012, The Day After Tomorrow, The Maze Runner, Deep Impact, Armageddon, The Drowned World.

Brainwashing/Government

1984 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley Fahrenheit 451 Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand V for Vendetta

Another terrifying thing about science fiction is how government is often portrayed. Often it is shown as being a totalitarian or ‘Big Brother’ society, a term coined from George Orwell’s 1984. Citizens often have very little freedom, or even free will, having been brainwashed into behaving in certain ways.

Machines/Artificial Intelligence

I Robot Robopocalypse Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick Love In the Age of Mechanical Reproduction Prey Neuromancer

Okay, maybe there’s a lot of scary things about science fiction – another one being the very thought of the Earth being overrun or overtaken by machines or artificial intelligence. Many a sci-fi tale tells of the invention of some fantastic new technology, only for it to become sentient and rise up against mankind.

Can you think of any other titles that would fit in these categories, or any categories that I have missed?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #24: The Day After Tomorrow

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The film this week is: The Day After Tomorrow.

The Day After Tomorrow

Jack Hall, paleoclimatologist, must make a daring trek across America to reach his son, trapped in the cross-hairs of a sudden international storm which plunges the planet into a new Ice Age.

Oh Roland Emmerich, you bringer of doom. I’ve lost count of how many disaster/end of the world movies Mr. Emmerich has made, but it’s definitely a lot. Does he have an obsession with global warming or the elimination of the human race? Is he trying to send us a message? Or does he just like making huge scale mediocre movies full of doom and gloom and attractive young actors in dire peril? We shall never know. The Day After Tomorrow is a fun movie, silly, but fun. Plus I guess it’s not about the end of the world as such, as just a rather inconvenient and extreme ice storm that hits the majority of the world and kills off a large percentage of the population. Nothing too major. Anyway I knew I had to pick this one for this feature one day, because think of many end of the world novels there are! Apparently we, as the human race, could go out in a variety of different ways. Let’s take a rather depressing look at them!

The Swarm by Frank Sch├Ątzing

The Swarm by Frank Schaetzing

Okay, so it’s not a huge ice storm that’s the big threat in this, but mankind is still under fire from nature. Apparently The Swarm has been on bestseller lists in Germany since release, which is impressive. It sounds like it would really appeal to fans of The Day After Tomorrow because the peril that humanity has brought upon itself, due to the mistreatment of ecology.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

If you’re looking for something that’s more post-apocalypse, rather than set during the apocalypse itself, then Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is a great pick. It’s stark, it’s bleak, it’s depressing – and highly moving. Although the reader never finds out the names of the protagonists, who are referred to only as ‘The Man’ and ‘The Boy’, they’ll be rooting for them. It’s a tough terrifying world that shows how easily people can turn on each other.

Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Throwing a Young Adult choice into the mix, Breathe by Sarah Crossan focuses, like The Day After Tomorrow on environmental factors. The oxygen levels on Earth have plummeted, and millions have died as a result. Now the population must pay for oxygen, which is no problem for the rich, but what about those who are less wealthy?

Are you a fan of The Day After Tomorrow? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any other TV shows or films you’d like me to cover?