The Book of Revelation, full of “hail and fire mingled with blood”, great stars falling from heaven and “two hundred thousand thousand” horsemen, is a cornerstone of apocalypse narratives. The word itself comes to English via John’s opening, “ἀποκάλυψις ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ”. This transliterates as the “apocalypse” or – in translation – “the revelation” of Jesus Christ.
Along with the fire and brimstone, plagues and bottomless pits, stories about the end of times are also stories about new beginnings. After God has purged the world of sinners, the lucky few enter the kingdom of heaven.
Science-fiction writers have long explored the possibility of new, possibly better worlds, emerging from the apocalypse. Philip K Dick’s Dr Bloodmoney follows a post-apocalyptic United States as it rebuilds a society altered by a leap forward in human evolution. Octavia E Butler’s Parable of the Sower also features the US after economic collapse, and charts the emergence of a new religion of empathy and love.
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