First of all, I’d like to set the score straight and make a clear distinction between dystopia and post apocalypse, because apparently a lot of people mistake the two. Dystopia deals with issues that emerge from a society that has gone wrong but carries on. It could deal with social dynamics or other related issues, but society still exists and so does civilisation.
Apocalypse and post apocalypse have the end of the world and the end of civilisation at their core and the difficulties the main characters have to face to survive in those worlds. The difference between the two is that apocalyptic scenarios show the end of the world as it’s happening and how this affects the lives of people. Also, the conflict these people face between what is morally accepted (remember, civilisation is collapsing, but it hasn’t gone completely). On the other hand, post apocalypse deals with the aftermath of the apocalypse. That may include new social dynamics (if any) and often the complete lack of a moral code. One key element is the often bleak and desolate state of the world (meaning the cities) after the end has come. To a certain extent (and depending on how the story evolves and what the focus of the story is) this version of post apocalypse may include dystopian elements in it.
So, now that we are clear about the difference, below is a list of movies and some TV shows that are apocalyptic or post apocalyptic. The list is focused on the movies and shows that stood out for me. By no means does it mean it’s complete.
Be warned, some of the movies include gore and splatter. Where applicable, and depending on how I perceive something as containing extensive gore or not (very subjective), I’ll note it, but understand that this is only personal preference. If you’re sensitive about this, read some of the reviews first or watch the trailer to get an idea of the feel and mood of the movie before you start watching it.
The movies are in no particular order other than the way they came to my mind.
The movie takes place in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event that turned the planet into a wasteland. The main hero carries with him a book that can save what’s left of humanity, and goes west to a supposedly safe location to deliver said book. Watch the movie for its post apocalyptic scenery. Watch it for Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman. Watch it for the twist in Eli’s story. Watch it if you love post apocalyptic settings. Hardly any gore involved, if my memory serves me.
The movie (like others in this list) is based on the 1985 novel by David Brin, The Postman. In the movie, the apocalypse happened as a result of various consecutive apocalyptic events (societal breakdown, wars, plagues) which eventually destroyed most of the technology that existed up to that point. The main hero accidentaly stumbles upon the uniform of a postman and his vehicle, and as he drifts across the wasteland, he starts inspiring those he meets with the promise of a Reformed United States of America. Watch it if you enjoy Kevin Costner’s movies. I believe Tom Petty appears in the movie too. Watch it, because wasteland + post apocalypse = awesome. Don’t expect to see the best movie ever, though. Hardly any gore involved.
Set in the distant future, this post apocalyptic movie deals with the issue of the melting polar ice caps. Most of the planet’s land mass is underwater, and our main hero drifts the oceans on his boat. At some point he has to save a girl and her guardian, because the girl has a map tattooed on her back that supposedly leads to dry land. Watch it if you’re a Kevin Costner fan. Watch it because Dennis Hopper is always an awesome actor. Like the postman, don’t expect to see a masterpiece. Personally, I prefer the dry wasteland setting than the wet equivalent. Hardly any gore involved.
This post apocalyptic TV show is based on the novel series, The 100, by Kass Morgan. Set approximately a century after a nuclear holocaust ravaged Earth and destroyed all human civilisation, the remaining humanity has survived on a massive space station that has been in orbit since. But the station is in a bad condition and, given the severity of the rules that have been imposed on the survivors, those in charge send 100 young individuals (with some authority issues) on the planet in an attempt to repopulate the planet and of course get rid of them. What these one hundred youths find down there is something no one has expected.
Watch it because the characters are actually well-fleshed. Watch it because despite what you may think, it’s actually quite gritty and the characters have often a lot of hard choices to make. Lots of people die, but not in the scale of GoT. Despite that, you never know which one of the leading characters will meet a tragic ending at some point. What I don’t like about the show is how they expected 100 individuals to be enough to repopulate Earth. If you’re into biology, please comment and tell us if 100 people are enough as a Minimum Viable Population for the human species to survive. Not much gore involved in this show.
Am I the only one who thinks this movie set the standard for post apocalypse and wastelands? As far as I’m concerned, Mad Max 2 is the best of the entire franchise. Set in the not too distant future, civilisation has pretty much vanished. One lone drifter and hardened survivor, constantly fighting for his life and surviving at any cost, rediscovers (in a way) his lost humanity by helping the residents of a small settlement against a band of rather fearsome and bloodthirsty raiders. Watch it if you like to see how much the post apocalyptic genre has evolved over the years. Watch it because it’s a good movie, and because it’s Mad Max. Expect to see violence, but nothing over the top.
One of the two movies here that show the absolute desolation of an apocalyptic or post apocalyptic world in the best way possible. Based on the post apocalyptic novel by Cormac McCarty (2006), The Road explores the strong bonds between a father and his son as they make their way south through a desolate wasteland in search of warmer climate. The reason for the apocalypse is never fully explained, but the situation is bad and hopeless enough for the heroes to have to carry a gun with two bullets; one for each. Together, they have to go through starvation, cannibals, thieves, and other bad characters, but the most important thing about this movie is that it often questions who the bad people are and how blurry the lines between good and evil can be. Watch it because it’s an amazing movie. Watch it because it captures the desolation and human depravity in situations like these. While you’re at it, read the book! It’s just as good (if not better), and one of the books that influenced me while writing The Darkening, my post apocalyptic horror novel. Not much gore in this movie, but don’t be surprised if you cry at some points.
The second best Mad Max movie (in my humble opinion), Mad Max 1 shows the early stages of the fall of human civilisation, so unlike the second instalment where everything has been destroyed, this movie shows that there are still some leftovers (police, houses, moral code etc) of what one could attribute to be the foundations of any civilisation. Vengeance is the prevalent theme of this apocalyptic movie, and if seeing a fictional character going on a killing spree is not your cup of tea, then be advised. Nothing excessively graphic or anything like that, but don’t expect the movie to be all about happy endings and superficial injuries. Also, keep in mind that this was a very low budget Australian film, so don’t expect fancy graphics and special effects.
This apocalyptic movie has gone relatively unnoticed, even though it was nominated for a few awards (not Academy Awards). The setting is the aftermath of a global economic collapse and shares a couple of things with Mad Max. First, it’s also an Australian film, and second it deals a lot with road rage and revenge. The main hero, after having his last possession stolen (his car), pursues the men who took it. He manages to capture of the thieves’ brother and together they progress through a rather dangerous journey, despite the uneasy bond and conflict between them. The movie has plenty of violence.
You thought I had forgotten those, didn’t you? Hah! Plot twist!
This is the third part of my list of synonyms for ANGRY. You can find part one here and part two here. As always, a synonym doesn’t mean you can replace angry with any of these words. So if you choose any of them over angry, make sure you are absolutely certain it conveys the right meaning.
I come to you with a question. A few years ago, I had a short story published through an e-zine. Since then, the magazine ceased to exist, although the site is still up. My story was featured in the last issue they published. No one could access the story unless they paid to read the issue. That was back in 2014. Pretty much what any print magazine does. Pay to read. As far I know, even today, one can only read an excerpt of that story, but needs to pay a subscription to read the rest.
The story is related to my upcoming debut novel, The Darkening. In fact, they are so closely related, they have the same title. Yeah, I know it’s not a good idea to do this in general, but I suck at coming up with titles.
Anyway, now that I’m redesigning my newsletter, I was thinking of using that short story as part of a reader magnet that will also include the first four chapters of my debut novel, and access to a short interactive story I designed. So three items in total.
But here’s the problem. My style has changed significantly since 2014. I improved considerably in these four years. As far as I’m concerned, that short story is not as good as it could be. It was good then, when I only had a year or so of writing experience. But if I were to write it now, it would be different. The story doesn’t resonate the same to my ears. I’m worried that if I let people read it the way it was published then, readers may get the wrong impression of my current writing skill and style. Of course, as I’ve told you before, I’m a perfectionist. Never satisfied with the quality of the material I produce. So it may all very well be in my mind.
So here’s the question to you, the more seasoned and knowledgeable writers: Have you ever had to rewrite a previously published story of yours for a new publication or to give it away to new readers? If so, how far is a writer allowed to go with new revisions/edits? Would such a thing create problems for the publisher of the original story? Would you even consider reusing or repurposing older material for new readers? Ultimately, am I right to be worried or am I worrying too much?
I was browsing through WordPress’s Reader when I stumbled upon a post that made me think.
In that post, the writer said he/she had been writing for 30 years, but had yet to take the leap and show her work to anyone. Near the end of the post the writer wondered how do writers manage to put our work out in the open, where the rest of the world can see it.
Speaking for myself here, it wasn’t too long ago when I had the same question in my head. The same question and of course the same fear. How would I ever show my work to complete strangers? Even worse, how would I ever show my work to those I knew personally? What if they didn’t like it? What if they laughed at me? Even if they didn’t laugh, how would I ever face them again, knowing that they didn’t like my work or that they merely said they liked it in order not to hurt my feelings?
So what’s the driving force that helps a writer to overcome similar fears? I think the answer to this comes down to a lot of factors.
First, and always speaking for myself, one has to take into account the role of vanity. Vanity for doing something not many others do. Vanity for potentially succeeding into something not many people do. Vanity, because if we do succeed, then our names will be known and fans will flock to us. Yeah, I know that’s almost never the case for writers, but before reality strikes, while we’re still wet behind the ears, such thoughts are too familiar. C’mon, admit it, fellow writers. I don’t know if the word indulge is the right one, but we do like the idea. We like the idea of talking to someone and telling them that we’re writers, so we can hear, “really?! A writer?! Wow!” It’s like writers are a bunch of mythical creatures that populate local folk tales and all of the sudden, boom! One stands right before people’s eyes. Everyone knows writers exist… somewhere, but people don’t often encounter them. I think we like that feeling. It plays well with vanity, don’t you think? So that’s one way to do things.
Then there’s this mindset: what’s the worst thing that can happen if I get rejected? I think this is a healthy way of seeing things, because once we understand this, once we accept this as reality, then we know that the worst thing to happen will be to receive a form rejection letter. I think the world will keep on existing, the Earth will keep on spinning, and people’s everyday lives will carry on regardless of the rejection. Rejection letters carry a weight, but they’re not that powerful to mess with someone’s life. So, basically, we just take the plunge. It’s a leap of faith. And we have faith to ourselves. It may sound that there’s something missing, some secret I haven’t told you, but the truth is we just do it. That’s another way.
Then there are those who firmly believe that only good things can come from rejections: we can improve (very important) and we can develop a tougher skin for such things (equally important). All one has to do, is send their work for the first time. You’ll probably say, “easier said than done.” You’re right. But if you take for granted that when you first start out you’ll get rejected, if get into that mindset (I know it comes natural to me since I’m a pessimist), then sending a query to a magazine or an agent or a publisher simply becomes a formality like any other we go through in our daily lives. Have you never had to ask for something in your workplace only to get rejected? When you hear or read the word NO, don’t you carry on with your task at hand, your daily lives? Does it diminish you, as a person, in any way? Most likely not. How’s querying for a story any different? If you had asked your supervisor/co-worker in a different way, if you had pushed your proposal differently, would that have helped? If yes, wouldn’t you try again? And again? Isn’t that the same thing for a writer? That’s a third way of
Keep in mind that it only takes one person to say yes to your work. Just one. One person to believe in you. It might as well be you. You’re a good start 😉
Lastly, the way I see it, for writers, only three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and rejection. Once we accept that, how much can a little rejection affect us? How much should it affect us? At the end of the day, if you want to avoid getting rejected, improve your craft. Make it stellar! The means are within your grasp, folks! There’s not much we can do about death and taxes, but we can certainly battle our fear for rejection. In fact, it may very well be the only one of the three that is not able to control us. Fear of rejection is not as strong as we often make it to be.