222 – Post-Apocalyptic Stories

The Mythcreant Podcast
Whoops, the world ended while we weren’t looking. Guess that means it’s time to don leather and recycled sports equipment, then cruise the sands looking for easy targets to raid. But is that really how it would go down? Join us for a discussion of the post-apocalyptic genre. We discuss the genre’s strengths, its weaknesses, and how it’s been used in the past. Plus, is anyone out there not tired of zombies yet?

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Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes:

Black Summer (not in the Walking Dead Universe, but in the Z Nation universe)

Shannara Chronicles

Adventure Time

The Dark Crystal

Into the Badlands


The Walking Dead

How the Stress of Disasters Brings People Together

Fury Road

Road Warrior

The 100

Children of Men

Young People Lead to Economic Booms

The Strain


9 (Movie) 

9 (Short film)


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  1. Innes

    Greatly enjoyed this episode! Although Chris and Oren’s remarks at the beginning of the episode made me think of a number of fantasy stories that feature post-apocalyptic settings or at least apocalypse as a trope. N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth and Joanne Harris’s ya series Runemarks came to my mind, as well as video games like Dark Souls and Dragon Age, which are both generally apocalyptic. It would be interesting to look at fantasy stories that use sci fi tropes and vice versa

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      Broken Earth is definitely post apocalyptic fantasy, or maybe a mid-apocalypse, since the world ends right when the story starts.

  2. Matt

    I still like zombies, but I feel like I’m the exception.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      That’s good cause you have plenty of options to choose from!

      • Jason Duncan

        I still love zombies. I even prefer real zombies to “the infected”.

    • BeardedLizard

      You’re not the only one, I like zombies too. They are a great tool to bring an apocalyptic event and give a good physical obstacle for the protagonist to overcome. There also have been a couple of great movies featuring zombies that came in the last couples of years (Cargo, The girl with all the gifts and train to Busan are among my favorites of the genre). In books, World War Z is also a great zombie story with an interesting style (that was completely wasted and forgot in the movie )

      The problem I see with the “zombie genre” is that many writers seem to remake the exact same story over and over again with the same nihilistic messages and uselessly dark tones. But there is so much more that can be done with it, and I’m glad that zombies exist in fiction because they are a great storytelling tool if you use them right.

  3. Anon

    You all hit the nail on the head with the needed carrying capacity for a modern population size without efficient production and distribution. The decisions made to decide who eats and who does not. Who is “us” and who is “them.” Such “hard choices” become the central issue in maintaining civil justice.

  4. Adam Reynolds

    Another example of post apocalyptic worlds I find interesting is those in which the apocalypse is long ago, and the world left behind is effectively a fantasy one. My favorite example of this is Horizon Zero Dawn, though several Ghibli films are also excellent examples. The thing I love about HZD is the way in which it is effectively a fantasy world, one that could essentially feature characters from a story like ATLA or Lord of the Rings with little changes quite easily. Ghibli films likewise are essentially fantasy worlds, often with a bit of a steampunk vibe and generally a green aesop thrown in.

    A less excellent example is the Mortal Engines series, in which the world just doesn’t quite feel real because it is so inherently implausible, something I suspect was a fatal flaw in the film because the lack of physical reality was more obvious, while it was able to fade away in the book. It was also an overstuffed film in literally every way as well.

    For an example in which there is something to care about, The Quiet Place is also a solid example because the family dynamic makes it much less dark than it would otherwise be, while the quiet nature of things eliminates the characters being at each others throats.

  5. Deimos

    It would be awesome if you guys wrote an article based on this subject, or even just a transcription for this podcast. (I assume the podcast is very informative and interesting because the articles here always are, but since podcasts are an audio medium so I can only assume).

  6. E. H.

    Post-Apocalyptic fiction is great when it remembers that the breakdown of one type of society leads to the formation of new societies rather than permanent chaos.

    So much of this fiction has its characters react to the disaster with either horror or psychopathic glee at the prospect of people running around doing whatever they want. This makes no sense unless the apocalypse in the story will literally make the earth uninhabitable soon no matter what anyone does.

    In reality the would be rugged individualists and small gangs would be out-competed in no time if they didn’t just die off from their own stupidity (like starving to death a few months at most after appropriating a supermarket and doing nothing to promote long term survival and forming cooperative networks and new forms of production).

    • Dvärghundspossen

      Haha, I wish I had an upvote button.

      I loved the book “the Road”, the movie didn’t quite capture the extent of the disaster… In the book it’s clear that all plant life and wild life has died, in addition to the vast majority of the human race (likely either due to a massive nuclear war, or an asteroid hitting Earth and throwing up so much dust in the atmosphere that everything dies from a lack of sunlight; the nature of the disaster is never exactly explained). The main characters are literally on the verge of starving to death, but still barely survives on the odd food can or dried food they find in abandoned bomb shelters and the like. Other people have gone cannibal – and it’s never suggested in the book that this is any solution, obviously it’s not, they might have more weight on their bodies in the very short term, but they’re gonna run out of people and starve to death as well.

      But that’s the RARE example of a novel that goes THAT far with the apocalypse.

      I liked that in Colson Whitehead’s zombie apocalypse novel “Zone One”, the army actually seems somewhat rational, and put a pretty high priority on securing farmland, putting up guards against zombies and actually growing stuff. I mean, in every single zombie apocalypse story it’s sort of incomprehensible how the zombies became as many as they are in the first place, when you can actually kill them by shooting them in the head, and the same goes for Zone One, but at the time we enter the story, at least the surviving part of the human race do their best, rather than just running around willy-nilly being all rugged and individual.

  7. Katherine

    An AMAZING post apocalyptic zombie series in In The Flesh and its incredibly different from other zombie series/movies, and post-apocalyptic content. In the series, society hasn’t completely hasn’t broken down, but has fractured and become more devolved following a 5 year long zombie outbreak, . The zombie’s, including the main character Kieran, are essentially healed and are being reintroduced back into that society. Most of the tension comes from the awful enmasse ptsd being experienced by both the healed and now cognisant zombies, and the living people who just survived a zombie apocalypse and have to rebuild and ‘accept’ those zombies back into their towns.

    Imagine like an angsty good version of that terrible ‘Warm Bodies’ movie, but set in the bleak north of England.

    Its a brilliant and seriously underrated series, and one of my favourite apocalypse stories I’ve ever seen. It will make you cry buckets

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