Beyond Literary Landscapes—Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Novels

Beyond Literary Landscapes—Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Novels

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


Continuing with my previous weeks’ columns that have discussed Speculative Fiction sub-genres such as Dystopian Literature and Science Fiction, this week’s column serves as an introduction to Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic novels.  It also serves as a reminder of some of the genre’s classics, and as an inspiration for further reading.

Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic novels can be defined as “subgenres of science fiction that are set in a time period where the earth as we know it is coming to an end.”  In particular, post-apocalyptic novels occur in the future.

Common themes include nuclear disasters, global pandemics, environmental disasters, zombie apocalypses, wars, controlling governments, and destruction.

For those a bit confused about the difference between Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic novels, and those classified as Dystopian Literature, you are not alone.  One way to differentiate these genres is to remember that “Dystopian novels often focus on societies and cultures that appear stable and well established, whereas post-apocalyptic cultures are more imbalanced or volatile.”

Well-known authors who have written Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic novels include Waubgeshig Rice, Stephen King, and Jose Saramago.


Examples of Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic novels include Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice, The Stand by Stephen King, and Blindness by Jose Saramago.


These Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic novels take place throughout Canada, the United States, as well as Portugal.


These novels are set during the 21-st century and the future.


Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic novels may be of interest to AU readers who enjoy Speculative Fiction, as well as novels with elements of Horror.  Readers may also be interested in reading about dystopian visions of the future, plagues, ecological disasters, political crises, and the end of the world. They confront readers with the question of how we’d survive in a world where civilization hasn’t.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic novels are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may enroll in ENGL 491: Directed Studies in Literature, a senior-level, three-credit course, which “is designed for students who want to pursue a particular topic of study in literature, cultural studies, or both.”   (Note: This course requires several prerequisites, including ENGL 211: Prose Forms,  ENGL 212:  Poetry and Plays, two senior-level ENGL courses, and professor approval.)

Students may also consider ENGL 492: Research and Writing Projects in Literature, a senior-level, three-credit course, which allows students to “focus on a particular literary theme, idea, or theoretical problem.”  (Prerequisites are identical to the abovementioned ENGL 491.)  Happy reading!