By looking in the news, it’s easy to understand how some people might think current events could bring life as we know it to the brink of the end of times. Police and citizens face off in the streets of small towns. A volcano in Iceland shows signs of being ready to erupt. Scientific breakthroughs put humanity on the fast track to discovering the secrets of the universe. Other events such as severe droughts or extreme rainfall scream climatic changes. It’s no wonder people look to the future of our world and wonder if we'll survive.
But this kind of outlook isn’t new. Throughout history people have thought the world was going to end. Things like comets, eclipses and other natural disasters were thought to be signs of an impending apocalypse. Plagues have decimated the human population. Even in the 50s people nervously watched their TVs for news about the Cold War and nuclear weapons.
Even though these scenarios are frightening, they can be inspiring as well. Over the years, authors have turned the fear and destruction of the end of the world and spun it into tales of hope for the human race.
Stories such as dystopias, the apocalypse and world annihilation have fascinated writers and readers for ages. When things become troubling, it takes human strength and spirit to go on when everything you’ve ever known crumbles to the ground.
Dystopias are generally stories where some portion of everyday life is controlled by the government or societal entity. Authors such as Margaret Atwood and Suzanne Collins reveal worlds that have shattered and have been held together by a forceful government. When the characters face odds that most people can’t overcome, they find assistance from those who feel the same and begin to change the world.
Apocalyptic stories are often those that start with--or right before--an action that changes the world. Disease, a nuclear event, or natural disaster are often common catalysts for the state of the world. Writers such as Cormac McCarthy and Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore throw characters in to survival situations like we’ve never dreamed of.
But what happens when humans go too far? World annihilation is a common theme for many science fiction stories. Because of uncontrollable factors, the Earth, our home, is destroyed. Where does humanity go? Does humanity survive? Well, authors answer that question in many ways. Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series and Ray Bradbury deal with a dead Earth in their stories.
Even though the world as we know it, could end, these authors show us that humanity, no matter how flawed will go on in some form. It’s heartening to realize that people will continue fighting and living even through a disaster. Perhaps there is hope for us yet.