Chanda Phelan has a great piece on Io9 about how apocalypses have evolved, complete with a graphical timeline. She finds that the balance continually shifts between natural, human-induced, supernatural, and unexplained ends of the world.
Phelan argues that the genre have deeply optimistic undertones: “Stories of the End have never been about ending – they’re about the beginning that comes after.”
It isn’t clear from the article how “apocalypse” is defined, but seems to entail some drastic disruption to society, though not necessarily full destruction of the world or of humanity. (See this post for a scale of apocalypse.)
Curiously, in charting 423 instances over the last 200 years, she does not include movies, though movies surely dominate the public consciousness of ways humanity might come to an end.
(Image copyright FuturistMovies.com — usable with attribution and link)
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