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Monday, February 21, 2011

It's The End of the World as We Know It

Fiction trends, like fashion, tend to be cyclic. When I was a kid, horror novels were the hot thing. Every time you turned around, there was a Stephen King book or movie coming out.

Later, we saw a surge in western books, movies, and television shows. More recently we've had an explosion of fantasy and vampires, which makes my little heart happy.

But there's a darker trend that's sneaking up on us, one that is speaking to both our fears and hopes: Apocalyptic/Dystopian fiction.

There have always been disaster movies and books about survival after a some sort of apocalyptic event, but now they're everywhere -- stories about zombies, natural disasters, nuclear wars, disease.

Cable channels are swollen with documentaries about end-of-the-world prophecies and speculative scenarios. Reality shows such as Survivorman, The Colony, and Apocalypse Man abound. We have a new hit called The Walking Dead mixed in with movies such as The Road, 2012, and The Book of Eli.

In bookstores, shelves are laden with the same, and the Young Adult section is especially bursting with dystopian fiction, which is awesome, since my son can't get enough of it. Heck, I can't even get enough of it. I enjoy it so much that I'm writing my own apocalyptic fiction series about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

So what do you think about this trend? Love it? Hate it? What are your favorite books/movies/TV shows that embrace it? And what do you think is driving it?

I have a theory that the approach of 2012 and the Mayan prophecies are a big part of igniting interest, but what do you think?

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Larissa Ione is the New York Times bestselling author of the Demonica series and upcoming Lords of Deliverance series. Her latest book, Eternity Embraced, released on Jan. 24, 2011.

6 comments:

  1. I've always loved Dystopian/Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic themed movies and books...I just wish there were MORE of these(romances), as I seem to devour them. I think I started liking it when I watched the Mad Max series w/my dad way back when. I'm counting down the days, Larissa, to pick up ETERNAL RIDER. :)

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  2. I've been enjoying this trend. As long as there is hope I'm good. So can't wait for ETERNAL RIDER.

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  3. Terrific post Larissa! I think when one book or movie or TV show is a hit - they figure - well there's more where that came from! I think part of it is just looking for profit - looking to follow a formula perhaps for profit. Part of it may also reflect what is going on in the world - the US has been actively involved in two major wars for the past 10 years - and now we see the economic crisis is sparking revolutions and demonstrations - toppling regimes - so I can see that would be another reason. I'm not really keen on it myself - but i will say that your series sounds very cool! Now, that i'd read. :D

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  4. I have always love Dystopian fiction. I loved 1984 when I read it in high school (in 1984) and several years later, when I finally got around to college, we had to read The Giver in my child lit class. I count them both as favorites. Once again, the Dystopian trend has come back around and it's exciting. I teach 5th grade and students recently read The Uglies, The Hunger Games, or Among the Hidden and they were fascinated by them. We had great discussions about utopia and why it doesn't ever really work - humans just don't fit into a box:).

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  5. When I was growing up - I was a teenager in the 80's - it was the post-nuclear war apocalyptic scenario. Music videos, movies (can't say I remember too much about the books then) laced with this theme. I think it's partly the whole 2012 thing. I can't say I enjoy the trend, but I don't think it will ever go away). There was a similar trend with the Victorians, there was others before that. I think it maybe just a yearning for change coming through, or dealing with the massive uncertainty before us.

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  6. Thanks for the input, everyone! I absolutely love this topic and this trend. It's funny (not in the ha-ha way, perhaps,) that every generation goes through some sort of end of the world upheaval. It's been going on for thousands of years, as evidenced by ancient writings from all cultures. I also am fascinated by where people focus the blame for whatever catastrophe happens; God, cats, Satan, etc.

    There are endless story possibilities here!

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