1. aClem
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    aClem Active Member

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    Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic without zombies?

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by aClem, May 19, 2015.

    I am working on something loosely in this genre. I have also read a great number of works in this genre, and what I find is that all to often, for my tastes at least, the main idea, be it a plague or whatnot, is just an excuse for seemingly endless battle/fight or chase scenes. I've also noticed this about dystopian themes. Some of them are very well done and I enjoyed a few, but it still seems like it is almost obligatory to have some sort of "enemy" that either attacks the protagonist(s) or is attacked, or both, usually for the length of the book.

    My own concept does not lend itself to this device, though I am not above using some sort of antagonist(s) in order to add some diversion from the main theme of the survivor(s) coping with the situation

    If I have a question at all, I suppose it is whether anybody else has noticed the excuse-for-battle-and-chase-scenes bit.
     
  2. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Drama. Something has to create drama, and violence--risk, struggle, victory--is a common way to do it in ANY genre. Not many fantasies exist without the same elements you describe. There's often not much point in setting a romance in a post apocalyptic setting, because of the general reason for the setting: and that is to provide anarchy. Part of the idea of a post-apocalyptic story is the struggle to survive in a world without rules or many resources. I personally love the genre (Mad mad: Fury Road was amazing) but there are post-apocalyptic stories not based on chase scenes or action. My favorite film in the Genre is Threads.
     
  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I agree with Selbbin you do need drama. Though I'm not always a fan of the 24 ( as in the tv show ) hyper action mentality. I've read J.G. Ballard's post apocalyptic books they were quite good and zombie-free. Though the people in High-Rise degenerated into a bevy of nuts.
    I also liked an old British tv series called Survivors done by Terry Nation which takes place after a plague. Most of the drama centers on a young woman whose trying to find her son who was away at boarding school and in the mean time collecting people in the hopes of starting a village. The drama is less about conflicting gangs then figuring out how to do simple things with their limited knowledge.
     
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  4. Arya Stark
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    Arya Stark Member

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    One of my favourite books of all time, from an apocalypse point of view (admittedly, I'm extremely biased towards Zombies due to World War Z and a few others) has got to be The Road. This book, however did not feature a huge amount of action, and the drama was very stretched out - for example, one of the main parts of the film and book is the confrontation with the bandits, which lasted a long time and even the aftermath of the confrontation was discussed in detail.

    I think that action does not need to be the main point, as long as you can create a scene or world where action is not needed. For example, bandits might be attracted to action which would give an incentive to the protagonist to avoid any conflict at all times.

    Finally, I don't think it is a world class book by any means, but Chris Philbrook's 'Adrian's Undead Diary' would give you some great tips on creating a story without 100 miles per hour action. Granted, it's a zombies book, but the zombies really are given a back seat for the majority of the main plot points, and the story often has little action.

    Plus, it's just plain fun to read :)
     
  5. aClem
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    aClem Active Member

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    Thank you all for the feedback. Just to give a bit more info, my particular "apocalypse" is somewhat slow moving, in that it happens in stages. The early stages or at least the first stage does not lend itself to Mad Max type anarchy, though by the time the "disaster" plays out fully, the possibilities are immense. That is to say once the death toll is high enough, societal breakdown is a virtual certainty and should provide more than ample material for action and conflict. I only hope that the lack of human versus human conflict in the first chapters doesn't cause readers to lost interest. I hope to have lots of human interest in the first part, but any large scale action or conflict would have to be contrived, I think, and I want to avoid that.
     
  6. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd guess that you've got lots of small things going wrong, clues to the coming catastrophe, the early stages of the pandemic (whatever) to intrigue the reader. It sounds like a slow-burner, where you might need to be careful that the disaster doesn't become TOO action-packed for the earlier slow increase in pressure.
     
  7. aClem
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    aClem Active Member

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    It just occurred to me that I could use a little flash-forward to add some action to the first few chapters. It would be a bit tricky for me, as it's not my natural way of telling a story, but it would be a way to keep things from being a bit slow at the beginning. I don't see that this story (novel) would ever become primarily action-based, but with no conflict other than a struggle to survive, it might get rather dry.

    I'm certainly not in Cormac McCarthy's class, but I shoot for something more like "The Road" than "Dawn of the Dead."
     
  8. aClem
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    aClem Active Member

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    It also occurred to me that I could use flashback, which is really just the mirror image of flash forward. I could start in a more action packed place and then go back and show how we got there. I hate to admit it, but whichever approach seems easier is the one I will probably do.
     

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