As a writer and a reader, I’m fascinated by what humans do and how humans think. Apart from sheer escapism, it is probably the main reason I read (or watch TV/movies).
People being thrust into dire situations through no fault of their own, making ethical decisions for better or worse, clarifying their true natures (good, evil, flawed)…these are raw and real and makes us wonder "What if that was me?" or "What if that was my neighbor?"
Post-apocalyptic is just one of many genres I enjoy, but it IS one I have loved since I was 15 and first watched The Omega Man with Charlton Heston (then read the far superior novel it was based on, I Am Legend). And I’m encouraged by the evergreen nature of this genre.
The idea of Apocalypse (or the collapse of civilisation/worlds/environments) continues to fascinate a wide readership.
A Goodreads reviewer once commented that zombie novels were a cluttered and overcrowded genre. Dude, I disagree. People will continue to write all sorts of apocalyptic novels/shorts for decades as will writers of police procedural stories and epic fantasies (which are all variations on a narrow theme) and other people will continue buying and enjoying them.
Because we are drawn to what we are drawn to. And many of us are drawn to the idea of the world ending.
Ideas of the collapse of our civilization or our ecology inspire strong feelings, largely I think because we sense it could all happen so easily. Maybe not the zombie infection scenario—although who knows!?! But other scenarios are certainly possible and easily imaginable — global pandemics, world war, environmental disaster, nuclear disasters leading to other disasters, etc). Religions strongly suggest an end time, and often prophecied the end of civilizations in the shortterm.
I suspect that the cycle of rise and fall of civilization is strongly remembered by our historical hive mind.
My hypothesis here: as long as people tell stories, and as long as the world is a messed up place, there will always be post-apocalyptic "literature" of some kind.
I'm curious. What version of the End do you think most likely? And do you think it would be the end of the human species, or do you think we'd survive it?