When I say “post-apocalyptic,” I generally think of Mad Max or Damnation Alley and so on - humans who lived through an apocalyptic event (usually nuclear war) and are fighting for life in the rubble of civilization.
But what term do you use when you want to refer to the specific subgenre or motif in fiction that deals with a sort of post-post-apocalyptic condition, where some apocalyptic event (like nuclear war) completely destroyed civilization, thus returning humanity to a more idyllic or simply more “savage” state, to the point where the big cataclysm is barely remembered and thought of as half-myth?
I think it would still be called post-apocalyptic. For instance, consider the story “By the Waters of Babylon” by Stephen Vincent Benet, a very early example of this genre. It would be referred to as a post-apocalyptic story.
I don’t know of any differentiation. Post-apocalyptic can refer to any time after an apocalypse, either when things are a mess, or when order has finally been restored.
Well, let’s name some examples, just for grins.
You might call “The Lord of the Rings” such a story — it takes place in an age after the high-water mark of both the Elves and the Dwarves — the children of Durin had once had deep mines and fantastic halls, the Elves were mighty enough to challenge Mordor with a grand army. Not technically an apocalypse.
The Foundation series might also count, as it specifically written about the reconstruction of society after the (long, slow) fall of the Galactic Empire. Also not an apocalypse, per se, because the word suggests a near-instantaneous wholesale destruction of the old society.
How about “The White Mountains” series by John Christopher? It’s clearly post-apocalyptic, as the narrator, Beanpole and Henry (?) discover the remains of a subway, hand grenades, etc. However, nobody really remembers the Fall.
What about the Shannara series? That was a bit less ambiguous about the previous civilization. It seems to me Allanon whinged on about the society that came before, and it was likely an advanced technical society, suggesting apocalpyse. It might not count; it was a fantasy book, and not a sci-fi book as per the thread title.
Hmm — what’s a clearer example. “Planet of the Apes,” maybe?
I think A Canticle for Liebowitz must be the classic example.
Some novels where there was an apocalypse in the past, but where society has reconstituted itself (though not always for the better):
Davy by Edgar Pangborn
A Canticle for Lebowitz by William M. Miller
Planet of the Apes (the movie)
It was actually John Crowley’s Engine Summer that got me thinking about this, because I wanted to describe it to a friend and I just said - “it’s post-apocalyptic, but not, you know, Mad Max.” In this case, it’s long after some sort of apocalypse, and people have returned to a quasi-edenic state, akin to the Indians before the white people came over.
A lot of these stories seem to be “Post-invasion” like the aforementioned White Mountains. H.M. Hoover based **The Delikon ** on the same premise. Dune has a similar theme going with the Butlerian Jihad standing in for the apocalypse.
Eternity Road by Jack McDevitt is one of these. The action takes place very post-apocalyptic and with rumors of a bygone era of engineers who built the ‘roads’ that are still out there.
Much of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series takes place in a world that has “moved on” – the Affiliation of Baronies has fallen, and everywhere are remnants of a technological civilization that collapsed long before the Affiliation was founded by the legendary Arthur Eld.
Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. In Roland’s world, things are still pretty bad in a Road Warrior-ish kind of way, but it’s been a looooooong time since “the world moved on.”
Wouldn’t these be properly called “Renaissance” stories? Not that anyone actually uses the term, but I can’t think of a better one.
Wouldn’t the New Sun series by Gene Wolfe also qualify?
Some of these stories depict worlds still stuck in “Dark Ages.”
You’re exactly the second person I’ve met in 30+ years who’s even heard of this novel. I still take it down off the shelf every now and again and give it another read.
John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids also qualifies, I think.
I would think that Hiero’s Journey and The Unforsaken Hiero by Sterling Lanier qualify as well. Gosh, I remember reading those when I was quite young, sneaking them out of my dad’s library…
Well Futurama is set in a time where the cities are destoyed, rebuilt, destoyed and rebuilt again, so maybe that is post-post Apocalyptic
I seem to recall the word “fallen” being used in reference to these discussions… fallen earth, fallen society… it’s an extremely common way to set up a fantasy world for fiction or gaming. It gives the medieval level structure, with an explanation for underground cities with “magic” treasure in them.