Posted by: Casey Lybrand | July 8, 2010

The Plural of Apocalypse

Today for Apocalypse Week, I have a list of my favorite fictional apocalypses, and a cry for help! Tomorrow is a book review for a story in which the stakes are the end of the world. [1] Next week I will try to be more normal.

My Favorite Apocalypses

Starts with the End of the World

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, starts at the end and keeps going. A science fiction parody through and through, none of the works in the capriciously structured trilogy ever quite leave the end of the world alone.

This Is an Apocalypse

DELTRON 3030, by Del tha funkee homosapien, Dan the Automator, and Kid Koala, is more dystopian than apocalyptic in its storyline. As for the setting, Del’s character, Deltron Zero, says he is “living in a post-apocalyptic world morbid and horrid” on the second track, so I’m counting it. Among my favorite albums of any genre or theme. [2]

While we are on the topic of hip hop, I ran across this commentary on apocalypse and hip hop during one of the many searches for apocalypse I googled this week. The meaning of apocalypse is revelatory, progressive, and illuminating. Though the theme of the post was not the apocalypse I was looking for, I found it very interesting reading.

We’ll Meet Again

Favorite apocalypse movie, hands down, is Dr. Strangelove. Laugh-out-loud funny when it’s not excruciating. (Really. It’s comedy and tragedy: the best kind of apocalypse.)

All the Apocalypses

You know what I want? I want all the apocalypses, all at once, desperately and truly. Let me explain! I heard a song — once — on the radio. It was more of a spoken word performance piece, but something about my vague recollection makes me think it was by an artist who usually performs songs. I cannot find it, and I want it!

Here’s how it goes:

A small child asks for a story. About the future (?). The grown up obliges. The story is about the end of the world, from nuclear armageddon, to cannibals roaming the desert wastelands, to machines enslaving the humans, to alien invasion . . . and so on. The voice shifts from engaging and appealing to distorted and machine-like as it deepens into a gruesome harbination of the end of the world. All of the ends of the world. The ending of the song is– cute?

Some of that description may not be accurate! I do not recall the lyrics clearly. I cannot draw a unique phrase out of my memory. I have performed many, many google searches [3], to no avail. It’s hard to search successfully without key phrases.

If you recognize this song, please let me know. Leave a comment, use the contact form, @ me on twitter, it’s all good. I want to hear it again. It has all the apocalypses.

Your Favorite Apocalypses

I want to know your favorite apocalypses! I prefer mine with a heavy dose of parody. What kind of apocalypse do you like the most?

And in the end there shall be . . . footnotes:

1: That could not be any less what the review is actually about. I’m calling it close enough, though. At the very least, reading the book involved a personal revelation, so there’s that.

2: Because hip hop space opera! Hip. Hop. Space. Opera.

3: Many searches! The google now thinks there is something wrong with me! Some of my not-quite-apocalyptic searches were long, like this one:

lyrics (“i want to hear” OR “tell me”) “a story” (desert OR wasteland) refugees (invade OR invasion OR conquer OR conquering) (cyborg OR cybernetic OR robot OR robotic OR machine) (burning OR fire OR nuclear)

And some were short and silly:

“all the apocalypses”

(Buffy fans!!! Do you know what you get when you google “all the apocalypses”? A truly startling [a] amount of fan fiction. I love Buffy fans. Love.)

But alas, no song.

— — —

Even footnotes need some footnote love:

a: Startling to me. Also, lots of Spike in these apocalyptic imaginings, if I’m reading the google descriptions correctly. Huh.

— — —

A last note, about the title: if you came here looking for that bit of syntactic obscurity, I went over it here, including the pronunciation — though I think the Buffy fans are already well aware of all relevant aspects of the ends of the world.


  1. My favorite apocalypse — the ultra famous sci-fi novel Canticle for Leibowitz (1959) — especially the last section with the woman with two heads (one barely speaks) and wants to get it baptized… and then the apocalypse (another) occurs.

  2. My favourite apocalypse scenario is the first one you mention. Douglas Adams and his fantastic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. As you say, it starts with the destruction of the world and then, gosh, how many more times does he mention it again in the other books? Think the last one ends with that as well. Sadly miss his surreal sense of humour, it was everywhere in his writing.

  3. Interesting! Thanks for sharing your favorite apocalypse, Joachim! I had heard that book is both post- AND pre-apocalyptic, though I haven’t read it myself.

    That makes me see, too, (in a round about way) that my favorite apocalypses do not really involve a lot of women, and certainly nothing that could be termed overtly feminist. Most of my feminist SF reading has been more dystopic/utopic, rather than end-of-the-world. I need to go search out some feminist apocalypse to add to my reading list!

    Alannah! I had a feeling that would be your favorite! I miss his writing, too. I have read H2G2 so many times, I start laughing before I get to the part I’m actually laughing about!

  4. I love your google searches. Sometimes when google-searching for novel research (esp. urban fantasy!), I worry I’ll get put on a watch list. (“body decomposition”, “ritual candles”…)

  5. Haha! Yeah, that’s the problem with creativity and having an inquisitive mind! (I try to just ignore the worry and move on, but it’s there!) It’s okay, google! I just want to laugh at the end of the world, not try to bring it about!

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