You really think post-apoc and dystopian are the same thing?
Man, this misnomer is right up there close to saying science fiction and dystopian are the same thing (which we already covered), but not quite. It’s a bit lower and a bit more muddled, but still a very valuable discussion to have. So, let’s chat, shall we? 😉
Dystopian: a corrupt society
Post-Apocalyptic: a destroyed/obliterated society (often because of an environmental cause [footnote: sometimes zombies])
Why do these two get so muddled together?
Well, to be quite frank, I can understand how these two get mixed up because they both often involve some breakdown of society. However, the key difference is that dystopian requires a society in the story and post-apocalypse is post-society, meaning there is no semblance of present-day society in the story. It also often involves loss of technology, and modern conveniences that developed worlds are used to. Thus they cannot possibly be in the same genre.
But… what if society has re-established after the apocalypse?
Lovely question random person in the crowd! That is no longer a post-apocalypse. Why? Because life has restored itself. A post-apocalypse is meant to be the aftermath of an apocalypse, a time period when society and humanity must determine how to survive and return to the way life was before the apocalypse. If a society has returned and maintained functionality, then the story is past the ‘post-apocalypse’ phase. At least, in my mind.
I don’t go looking for a post-apocalypse book expecting to have technology being reinvented, to have electricity and gas mainstream again, and have a government returned. That would suggest the people have both survived and recovered from the apocalypse as if it didn’t happen. Maybe not entirely, but to a point that they can move on with their lives and the apocalypse is no longer the biggest thing on people’s minds. Thus it is NOT post-apocalypse.
Of course, you’re always going to get the people who say: “Well, it’s still after an apocalypse, therefore it’s a post-apocalypse.”
Okay. Okay. I see your point and counter with WWII, the Crusades, the Roman spread across Europe. For many, those were apocalypses. Because while most fictional apocalypses require an environmental cause, they don’t have to have one. An apocalypse can take many forms and there have been plenty of actual, real-world apocalypses throughout human history. Thus, by your definition, good sir, humanity is perpetually in a ‘post-apocalypse’ and that would make the term completely invalid and useless.
But what do you think?
Are post-apoc and dystopian the same?
Leave your thoughts below!
And check out my discussion from last week:
“Muse or Force“