Was there any "post-apocalyspe" sci-fi before WWII?

If there was, what was the agent of the apocalypse? If there wasn’t, what were the earliest books/films in this genre?

Thanks you sci-fi smarties!

The best well known is the classic movie The Shape of Things to Come. It depicted another Great War that dragged on for decades, included the mass use on cities of chemical and biological weapons, and only ended when the world had decayed to a pre-industrial level.

There was some, not to the extent of post WWII obviously. I remember reading a Jack London story set after a plague wiped out most of humanity (sorry, I don’t have the title at hand right now, IIRC it was called “the Red (something or other)”.

Does the Bible (specifically the Great Flood and Revelations) count?

(Apologies to all religious people and sci-fi devotees – I’m neither).

You might want to have a look at Eugene Zamiatin’s We. It’s a novel that (I believe) was published the 1920s. Makes Orwell’s 1984 seem cheerful by comparison.

H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds (1898).

Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague (1912) is set in the year 2073, after a plague has left its survivors a nomadic existence. A summary.

In this earlier thread, the poster mentions some other early post-apocalyptic films toward the end.

But it describes a dystopia, not an apocalypse. The society described is stable and (in purely material terms) prosperous.

And a not-insignificant portion of his Time Machine.

Another famous example is the short story “By the Waters of Babylon” by Stephen Vincent Benet, written in 1937.

Hell, Wells pretty much makes the prediction that flying machines will be used for war before the turn of the century! (that is IIRC)

Does Olaf Stapleton’s Last and First men count?

Civilization ends quite a few times over the course of the book, usually leaving few survivors who have to rebuild everything from scratch.

The book ends with the last men awaiting the end of the world from the death of the Sun, created by some kind of “Infection” that kills starts.

Apparently Mary Shelly wrote a book called The last man which concerned a plague, but I never finished it.

Somebody’s already mentioned Wells and The Time Machine.

HP Lovecraft wrote a story or two dealing with a post-apotolypic world, notably a collaboration called Till A’ the Seas, details a far future earth where the seas have boiled away, and his story Nyarlathotep

Donald Wanderi did a lot of this stuff.
[li]**The Red Brain **(A race of brains tries to prevent the end of the universe) [/li][li]**Race through time ** and to a much greater extent, Farewell to Earth(Taking place around the year 1,000,000 and the world after man). [/li][li]**The Whisperers ** is almost the end of the World. I’m not sure if that counts. [/li][li]Requim for Mankind(One of the last living humans talks about the soon to be end of mankind)[/li][li]Earth Minus[/li][li]Finality Unlimited[/li][li]Infinity Zero(A black hole threatens to comsume earth)[/li][li]Black Fog(Detailing the effects when the earth passes through a black fog in space that effectivly makes all life on earth infertile)[/li][/ul]

I like to use http://www.scifan.com/ to look for books with a specific theme.
The “after the apocalypse” section, beginning at this page, shows some items from before WWII, but not anywhere near the number from after WWII - there are 49 pages of items in this theme, and the first page takes the listings past WWII.
Not all books have summaries available, so it’s hard to tell what’s most likely to be the reason for the apocalypse. Mainly, I just like that site.

It’s been a while since I read it, but it always struck me as a post-apocalyptic society. I can’t remember the cause of the society being the way it is (does Zamiatin even say?), but I do know it’s one place I wouldn’t want to live, no matter how stable and prosperous.

E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” (1909) is sort of apocalyptic. He forsees humanity so dependent on technology that, when it quits working, humanity stops working also.

Not quite in the same vein as others, but a good read…

How about Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, from 1826? It involves the death of just about the entire human race due to a plague.

While it’s the second item on the list Lsura linked to, it’s worth specifically mentioning Richard Jeffries’ After London from 1885. He doesn’t say what the agent is, but civilisation is evidently collapsing into barbarism in the background of the opening.

(Jeffries’ more obscure sci-fi connection is that he knew Arthur C. Clarke’s grandfather (?) and wrote a book about him.)