Apocalyptic Horror

What is Apocalyptic Horror?

Apocalyptic Horror deals with the end of civilization. A potential catastrophe is often responsible for the apocalypse in stories. The disasters can be either man-made or could be a natural occurrence. The catastrophes could also be due to a supernatural, technological, or extraterrestrial element. Some examples that are portrayed are: nuclear war, dysgenics, extreme climate change, pandemic, depletion of resources, the Christian Rapture, robots, aliens, and zombies. These stories usually focus on a single survivor or a group of survivors. How society reacts as a whole is also examined; elements such as: herd mentality and government control.


Characteristics of Apocalyptic Horror

Level of Characterization
High. The psychology of human will, sanity, and the survival instinct are often examined.

Level of Plot Complexity
Moderate. The subplots aren't very complex.  

Level of Supernatural
Varies on author. Some Apocalyptic stories' plots revolve around a Supernatural element.

Level of Scary
High level. Society is crumbling on a massive scale in these stories, so chaos reigns.

Level of Violence 
High. The characters are often desperate and hostile. Little to no law and order.

Typical Setting
Destroyed urban areas.

Related Fantasy Sub-Genres

Closely related to Post-Apocalyptic Horror because of similar plots. The difference is that Apocalyptic Horror focuses on an upcoming end-of-the-world-as-we-know it event, before it, during it, or immediately after it. Post Apocalyptic Horror covers the period after the event, usually a while after the dust has settled. It could even be generations after the event.


Some of the books revolve around villains that would feature in Supernatural Horror and Sci-Fi Horror (monster created by radiation fallout, etc) subgenres.

Apocalyptic Horror Isn’t For You If You Dislike

Survival horror stories.


    1. Skimming the Gumbo Nuclear, M.F. Korn. A new breed of deadly eels and a group of cannibalistic zombies are created after local wildlife and some of the surrounding population is mutated by various pollutions.

    2. Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse, John Joseph Adams. A collection of apocalyptic stories by some of the biggest writers in the business. Just to name a few: Orson Scott Card, George R.R. Martin, and Stephen King.

    3. One Second After, William R. Forstchen. One man struggles to save his family and his town after America loses a war. It only takes one second to send America back to the Dark Ages due to a Electro Magnetic Pulse weapon.

    4. Wool Omnibus, Hugh Howey. Mankind has nearly destroyed itself. The survivors are living in an underground bunker with over 100 floors. Speaking of change or going outside is considered treason.

    5. Devil's Wake, Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due. A group of juvenile delinquents, and a lone teen, come together to survive after an unknown infection has spread, turning normal citizens into biting freaks.

    6. Hater, David Moody. Danny McCoyne, is forced to contend with a world gone mad, as society is rocked by a sudden increase in violent assaults.

    7. Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse, Victor Gischler. Holed up in a cave at the top of a mountain, Mortimer Tate rode out the end of the world. What little civilization remains revolves around Joey Armageddon's Sassy A-Go-Go strip clubs.

    8. The Summer of the Apocalypse, James Van Pelt. A boy searches for his father in the aftermath of a plague that destroys most of humanity.

    9. Dies the Fire, S.M. Stirling. A storm prevents all sources of electronics, gasoline, and gunpowder from working.

    10. Life As We Knew It, Susan Beth Pfeffer. A meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth causing tsunamis to wipe out the coasts, earthquakes to rock the continents, volcanic ash to block out the sun, and summer turn to Arctic winter.


    11. The Stand by Stephen King


    12. The Swan Song by Robert Mccammon


    13. The Day of the Triffids

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