The post-apocalyptic genre is a well-trodden bit of trope for a science fiction fan. Whether the reason for the end of the world is man-made, natural, external, or a result of time, there are plenty of “worlds” that have been explored. I decided to make a list of the Post-Apocalyptic Worlds and rate them, as well as how much I’d like to live in them.

Nuclear Annihilation

Growing up near a nuclear processing facility, the prospect of a apocalypse destroying everything I knew was something never far from my mind as a child. I was paid by the government after a lawsuit for drinking contaminated drinking water as a result of living near a nuclear processing plant. This sort of paranoia about when the bomb is going to fall still casts shadows on my life today living next to North Korea, never knowing when someone is going to throw a rock at that political hornet nest.

I’d say that of any of the ways that the world was going to end, this one was the one was I feared most. The most outstanding work in this sub-genre would have to be Dr. Strangelove, or How I Stopped Worrying and Loved the Bomb.

Why is it disturbing: Powers beyond your control destroy the world, yet the people that make the decision think it is the best for everyone involved because of some weird rationale.

Would I like to live in this one? One childhood spent thinking about nuclear annihilation was enough. I don’t need to spend the rest of my mutated life worrying about another.

Zombie or Unnatural death like Plague

Rage Virus Fast Zombies? Slow walking Undead? Vampire like creatures? Zombies that explode with contact to pungent kimchi? Non-Zombies from Spain that have kidnapped the president’s daughter? The Evil Dead? The Walking Dead? The Dancing Dead? Shaun of the Dead? Marvel Zombies?

Of course the Zombie meme is something I find interesting. There is no way I would have written a twenty page epic, utterly ridiculous short story about it otherwise. Anyway, growing up in an NRA member’s household, the ONLY way I ever imagined myself in a situation where I would ever want to fire a gun was when I was dropped into a zombie apocalypse and needed to for my survival. Hell, remember how excited I got when I discovered Urban Dead?

Why it is disturbing: Imagine putting a bullet in everyone you know. Then they get back up and keep walking towards you intent on eating you alive.

Would I like to live in this one? Well, blasting zombies and being the last guy on Earth would be fun, for a while, as long as I didn’t know them. I guess if I was given enough time to prepare and could live out my life as a hermit somewhere remote I could learn to enjoy SPAM enough.Still, it’d be very lonely.

Man-made plague

I loved the movie 12 Monkeys. The Andromeda Strain, When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth and I am Legend/Omega Man (too bad, it’s in the zombie list too, deal with it) are also honorable mentions. The book that took this premise to “HOLY SHIT” mode was actually not even fiction. The Hot Zone, about the outbreak of an air-born ape species version of the Ebola virus that happened in the United States is absolutely one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever read.

The Stand is the book I remember encapsulating this world for me. The entire spread of the virus, the march of the survivors, the ways that the world changes to the more immediate surroundings and desperate struggle for survival.

Why it is disturbing: The entire world stands still and everyone you know gets sick and dies. Survivors scrabble to pick up the pieces of a civilization that is literally decaying in front of their eyes. This is one of the saddest worlds to imagine, as people would hold out hope to the bitter end that they could be saved and the disease could be beaten back.

Would I like to live in this one? If I had viral immunity, I’d spend the rest of my life burying the dead. How is that a reward for being a genetic freak of nature?

PART 2: Tomorrow…if the world doesn’t end.