Whether by sweeping pandemic, by natural disasters of biblical proportions, by a horde of zombies, or by some unspecified slowly-unfolding environmental destruction, world-destroying fiction is having a moment. But what is it that makes it so appealing to see the world fall down around us?

Today, we read responses from 5 authors explaining what made them want to write their post-apocalyptic novels. And, in turn, a discussion began about what it was that made so many readers eager to watch the disaster unfold up-close, and what our daily lives had to do with it:

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I always took literary trends to be inverted reflections of the cultural zeitgeist.

When people are generally prosperous and there isn't rampant hardship we tend to indulge in apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic/dystopian fantasies.

When we've fallen on hard times we look for uplifting, utopian, cheerful fiction.

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Are you sure about that? On the average citizen level, we've been on rougher times in the past 10-15 years than we have since the 1960s, and we've only just recently started to recover.

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The opposite could be said as well. With all of the talk of the 1% and wealth disparity, post apocalyptic tales are almost a fantasy of sorts. It's sort of the "Take me out of my mundane world and put me on equal footing with everyone else.

Are you reading or watching fiction extensively in the post-apocalyptic genre now? What is it that you think makes these kinds of stories so perennially popular? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

Image: Martijn Munneke