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Fun Thoughts on Apocalypses

Let’s lighten things up and talk about apocalypses!

Yes, it’s highly Wrong to root around in the radioactive soil of the ‘Apocalypse’ context. That’s why I do it. What curious revelations might we find? Could we employ some in books? There must be a way.

But first, we must ask questions! I’ll start with a popular one you may even have considered yourself, on those gloomy nights when you realize just how done you are with humanity. Oops, maybe a bit too close.


Slow or Fast – Which is Better?

(I’m talking about an Apocalypse here. Get your mind out of the gutter.)

Everyone has an opinion on this one. Should the Apocalypse hit like a, well, a nuclear bomb? Or should it creep up on humanity like ivy, slowly growing closer and closer until your foot’s caught?

Normally you’d pair this up with, “When I survive this Apocalypse, what will I be left with?”

It’s important to ask such a thing. Everyone likes the idea of surviving in a weird hellscape…but they forget that you have to survive the apocalypse which creates it first.

A slow apocalypse means survival is more likely, but it takes more effort over time. It will get harder to find basic necessities.

A fast apocalypse means survival is low if you’re in an ‘event zone’ – nuke impact point, Ground Zero for the Zombie Virus, what have you. Otherwise, you’ve got a good shot.

Personally, I’d rather go through a big, sudden chaos than a slow decline. That way if I die in it, it’s not a ton of suffering stretched across years. Ugh. No thanks. And if I survive, I’m suddenly faced with a new reality – post-apocalyptic wasteland, zombie hordes, whatever.

Prison Corridor
Your very own fallout shelter! Don’t mind the walls glowing. Or the stomach cancer.

I can at least figure out something productive from there. Depending on the type of Apocalypse.


A Thousand Apocalypses to Choose From

We’ve dreamt up all sorts of creative apocalypses over the centuries. And even engineered some of them!

Let’s see how many I can rattle off. Floods, nuclear devastation, comets, zombies, plagues, AI making us all into slaves, alien conquest/eradication, solar flares, etc.

But even more exist!

Here’s some options I threw together from the murky non-Euclidean recesses of my brain:

  • A random computer error detonates a dozen underground nukes at once.
  • A wombat knocks a branch into the ocean. North America gets a 200′ tsunami.
  • An ancient god decides, “If I have to go, you’re all coming with me.”
  • A medical technician trips in a lab. The world screams as hybrid monkey-bats descend upon us.
  • Sharks grow feet.
  • Evolution triggers a strange mutation among certain species, leading to a totally new predator. (See what I did there?)

And hundreds more, among the vastness of sci-fi stories out there.

Volcano Apocalypse
This might be a problem.

This does make wonder though. Some apocalyptic ideas would only hit part of the world. The rest would be fine. Does that count?


The Apocalypse Scale

How wide does an event have to be, before it moves from ‘disaster’ to ‘apocalypse’?

A hurricane’s a disaster for 1-3 states on average. A volcanic eruption that blankets 46 states in ash? That’s an apocalypse.

But the line between them is fuzzy. Do you count based on number of people affected? What about landmass affected? Air quality? Radioactivity levels in both Anchorage and Darjeeling?

I don’t know who has to make that call, but I’d be OK doing the job. Better have a good salary.

Let me share one more thought. Or some perspective really. Did you know our definition of ‘Apocalypse’ is quite modern?


Historical Perspective, Or, The Apocalypse Everyone Preferred

Ancient peoples had a very different concept of apocalypses than us. Sometimes it was even an anticipated event. Like a big party everyone’s looking forward to, and nobody’s planning to spike the punch bowl.

See, apocalypse definitions from ancient times differ a lot from our modern-day definitions.

Apocalypse (from the ancient Greek & Latin): To uncover, to reveal, a “lifting of the veil”

Oooh, interesting. What kind of veil are we talking about? Some inner veil of thought? Another dimension?

In such a context, what would we see during an apocalypse?
Other levels of reality (fascinating)?
Other entities within our own (are we ever really alone)?
An absolute swarm of Doom-style demons? The gamers would LOVE that! (Let’s be honest, you would too…)

Mystical Enlightenment or Other-Dimensional Apocalypse
Finally! The Veil parts! I can see into…what are those…ohh there’s a lot of them…


Surprise! You’ve gained Insight into the Insightful

Believe it or not, this is much like the lines of thought many authors traverse while writing. Exploring the unusual, turning a topic around & around until you see new facets, is a very creative endeavor.

Even the Apocalypse can provide us with insight. Be that for writing a novel, examining directions in life, or just having a good think.

We’re all in imminent danger of rocks falling on us anyway! (Nobody roll a 1.)

Which apocalypse is your favorite?

Published inMusingsNewsletter ArchiveWrongness