Post-Apocalyptic vs. Dystopian Part I – Does the Difference Matter?

15 May

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 10.36.38 PMGuest Post by Ryan King, Author of the Land of Tomorrow Trilogy

Several weeks ago I wrote a guest blog (P is for Post-Apocalyptic) where I discussed post apocalyptic fiction. In that post I talked about how post apocalyptic fiction has very recently become synonymous with dystopian, although I believe they are different, but that doesn’t mean everyone thinks so.

I conducted a very unscientific examination of both top 100 lists on Amazon and found that each list contained 49 out of 100 of the same books. This could of course be because authors or publishers are allowed to place their books in two categories and the genres are closely related.

The real question is if there is any substantial difference between the two categories?

Part of the issue is in fiction categories themselves. Traditionally the Big Publishers crafted particular categories to cater to readers. Authors had to write within those categories if they wanted to get published. With the advent of digital publishing this has all changed. Wrote a book about time traveling zombie architects? Put it in historical fiction and romance if you want. No one will stop you. The categories now are still about getting readers to notice your book, but there is a significant amount of leeway and fuzziness. The categories are very flexible and ever-changing.

This brings us to the difference between post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction.

If there is no hard and fast acceptable definition based on established and agreed upon rules, can anyone say what does and does not belong in each category? More importantly, does it matter?

I would say ‘yes’. It matters to authors and publishers and it certainly matters to the readers who are their customers. It is about providing a valuable product at a fair price. If the product is misrepresented, then you could have an unhappy customer.

Correct categories allow readers to have a reasonably good idea of the type of book they are getting. It’s really not so much about what is right and wrong as about what is most useful to the potential reader. A clear distinction would certainly be helpful in that regard.

(Part II – What Is the Difference?)


Ryan King launched his indie author career in 2012 while keeping his day job with the US Army. Watch for his upcoming guest spot here featuring monthly reviews of post-apocalyptic and/or dystopian fiction. For more information about Ryan and his writing visit the link here.


Leave a comment

Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Genre Topics


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: