Popular perception of apocalyptic fiction seems to be that it is all about death, destruction, and disaster. After all, it portrays the end of the world – a catastrophic event that changes the entire universe in an irreversible way, with no hope of turning back the clock to happier times before. Yet in many texts, such an “end” is not truly so final, and life continues on in a post-apocalyptic world, albeit one that is changed and often harsher compared to the one before. We wondered – is this doomsday genre really as pessimistic as one might think at first glance?
Indeed, through a closer examination of selected apocalyptic texts, we have discovered glimmers of hope and optimism in this seemingly dark and fatalistic genre. Certain texts like Station Eleven even feature a prominent message of hope. Through Lynette’s essay on Station Eleven, we see how the text emphasizes the inherent value of human arts and culture, demonstrating faith in humanity’s ability to rebuild civilization even after an apocalypse.
For other works such as The Last of Us and Train To Busan that does not contain as many overt signs of optimism, a different reading of the text (through the lens of morality and personal relationships, respectively) reveals hopeful aspects of the text that may not be so apparent on the surface. Clara examines how seemingly dubious moral decisions in The Last of Us may, in fact, be viewed as justifiable under apocalyptic conditions, demonstrating that there is still hope for human morality. Meanwhile, Shan Shan discusses the way personal relationships can be a powerful source of strength as characters struggle with harsh conditions in Train To Busan.
We conclude with Jao Ming’s analysis of The Matrix based on the themes of hope and freedom. His work shows how the explication of relationships between hope and freedom, as depicted in the film, can allow us to uncover various interesting insights and observations.
Overall, we hope that through this issue on the theme of Hope, readers can gain a more nuanced understanding of the genre of apocalyptic fiction and realise that even in the most unexpected of places, light can still be found within the darkness.