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TV Tropes Monday: After the End


Tweet of the Day: Harry Potter and the Mass Effect Ending

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Ozymandias

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desart. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.[1]

The End is Nigh. That’s it, that’s the trope. Well not exactly, it’s the world after the end. Otherwise known as post-apocalyptic fiction. Started in post-World War One and picked up steam after World War II.  War an industrial scale  ravage entire nations. The introduction of weapons of mass destruction was the feather in the cap. Now mankind was not only capable of mass murder but could wipe itself out from the face of the planet. Hence the question of what happens next.

The world After the End comes in many flavors, but mostly it is a taste like crap. Talking of crap, unmaking the world of before is a great way to drop the story in the middle of a crapsack world. Nothing says, “DRAMA!” like a drama queen, with having to kill everything that moves coming a close second.

A split even if your first victim is the drama queen. Those don’t last too long in either scenario. Another reason for this scenario is as a commentary on the the world the author lives in. It says two things: nothing last forever and this may not be meant to last at all. As Percy Shelly noted above, all things come to an end, even the works of the mightiest emperors. Many of their deeds go unrecorded or misremembered. On the other hand, no matter how bad things are at the moment of the story, it may well be that they are a  better. yes better, than what came before. After all most worlds after the end are man made, via nuclear, biological or other human generated apocalypse.

Unfortunate implications abound.

Not to be confused with a post-post-apocalypse world where mankind (or a new species) have rebuilt (a) civilization from the ashes.  Most fantasy stories that are have modern Earth as its distant past fall on this second category.

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