Cover image for The end : 50 apocalyptic visions from pop culture that you should know about--  before it's too late
The end : 50 apocalyptic visions from pop culture that you should know about-- before it's too late
Publication Information:
San Francisco, CA : Zest Books, 2012.
Physical Description:
157 p. : ill. ; 18 cm.
General Note:
Includes index.
Reading Level:
NC 1240 L Lexile
"The end takes 50 iconic apocalypse scenarios ... and explains where they came from, why they matter, and when it's time to abandon life at street level and dive into the closest bomb shelter"--Back cover.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 001.9 BAR 1 1
Book 001.9 BAR 1 1

On Order



You've probably heard rumors that the end of the world is going to happen in the year 2012. But people have been making predictions about how and when the world is going to end for ages. The End is a fun, comprehensive, pop culture read about the 50 top movies, books, songs, comics, artworks, and plays - from the movie Shaun of the Dead to the pop song It's the End of the World as We Know It - that have been created about the apocalypse. Each item includes:
- A synopsis of the apocalyptic work
- Information about the apocalyptic theory behind it (from alien invasion to meteors, nuclear war, and natural disasters)
- An explanation about why this work is important in pop culture
Love doomsday talk and the art that is made about it? Check out this fun and entertaining read!

Author Notes

Laura Barcella is a contributing editor at xoJane and a contributing writer at The Fix. She edited Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop , an anthology of essays about Madonna by women writers, and is the author of a pop culture guide to the apocalypse called The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About... Before It's Too Late . Laura has written features, profiles, essays, and more for Salon ,, the Village Voice, Cosmopolitan ,, Refinery29, the Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out New York , AlterNet, BUST, Elle Girl ,, and NYLON . An expert on pop culture, feminism, and lifestyles, she lives in San Francisco, California.

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-No cultural medium goes unexamined in this compendium of 50 apocalyptic visions of the world. Moving fluidly between fine art, mega-hit movies, obscure plays, comic-book series, and everything in between, the author explains how all have looked into the future and seen the end of life as we know it. Barcella describes each work in detail and then provides background and context, explaining what was going on in the world that may have contributed to the creator's particular vision of the end of the world. Reality checks, interesting quotes, thoughts about the wider impact on the culture round out each entry. In an introduction, Barcella explains that she spent a lot of time trolling through plenty of end-of-times material but doesn't specify how she landed on these specific 50, so the list feels vaguely random, but in a fun, surprise-on-every-page kind of way. Michelangelo's The Last Judgment comes not long after cult favorite Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and a few page turns before V for Vendetta, a comic-book-series turned movie. Teenagers and adults alike will find this an entertaining book to thumb through, searching for familiar works as well as exploring some of those less well known. Readers of dystopian novels may find this collection particularly intriguing. Plenty of people will have their own ideas about what should have been included, but this particular collection is varied and interesting.-Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Readers who voraciously consume apocalypse-themed YA novels should feel right at home with this guide to end-of-days scenarios, as depicted in pop culture. A diverse sampling of books, art, movies, music, and more are arranged alphabetically and include information about the origins, inspiration behind, and impact of each work. Among the entries: R.E.M.'s song "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," the film Dr. Strangelove, and Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. Barcella thoughtfully sums up the context of each entry, interpreting the ways in which pop culture both mirrors and feeds our fears of the end. Ages 12-up. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

An entertaining and fascinating compendium of doomsday scenarios depicted in fiction, film, graphic novels, plays, songs, television series and works of art. In her introduction, Barcella notes it was "overwhelminghaving to narrow the list down to just fifty," but offers no insight into how she arrived at her final list. Her sole criterion for selection seems only to be that they are "iconic." The apocalyptic scenarios include alien conquest, bioterrorism, natural catastrophe, nuclear war, superviruses and zombie plagues. R.E.M.'s song "It's the End of the World" and the film When Worlds Collide are obvious selections, but there are many interesting surprises. Who knew authors as different as E.M. Forster, Jack London and Mary Shelley all wrote apocalyptic short stories and novels? Most people listening to Nena's "99 Luftballons" today probably don't realize it's about the Cold Warera shadow of nuclear annihilation. The examples are unimaginatively listed in alphabetical order by title rather than by type of apocalypse or medium. Each entry includes a concise synopsis of the work, brief discussion of its impact and influence, photograph or visual outtake, and quotes from or relating to it. A sidebar called "Reality Factor" discusses the plausibility of the scenario. Doomsday buffs will especially enjoy second-guessing Barcella's choices and dissecting her synopses. An amusing, informative look at apocalyptic pop culture. (Nonfiction. 12-18)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.



28 Days Later (2002) DIRECTED BY Danny Boyle WRITTEN BY Alex Garland COUNTRY OF ORIGIN UK In this realistically shot apocalyptic film, Jim (Cillian Murphy), a bike courier, wakes up from a coma in a deserted London hospital with no memory of how he got there or how long he'd been there. When he walks out onto the street, London looks like a ghost town: The streets are all empty and the cars have been left abandoned with their doors splayed open. After stumbling upon a rabid pack of humans in a church, Jim is saved by a quick-thinking duo, Selena (Naomie Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley). They take him to their hideout and tell him what's happened: While Jim was in a coma, most of his fellow Brits (and possibly people throughout the world) had become infected by an ultra-contagious virus named Rage that is spread by infected laboratory primates. The virus, which is irreversible, causes people to twitch and spasm, uncontrollably vomit infected blood, and attempt to attack and kill as many people as possible.The three band together to try and survive, but soon Mark gets infected and Selena kills him before he can infect anyone else. Now a duo, Selena and Jim soon find two more survivors, a man named Frank (Brendan Gleeson) and his young daughter, Hannah (Megan Burns). The group hears a radio broadcast transmitted by soldiers who say they have "the answer to infection." The four head to the location, just outside Manchester, to find a fortified mansion under the command of Major Henry West (Christopher Eccleston). Before they get inside, Frank is infected, and a soldier kills him. Inside, it's all men, and West confesses to Jim that he has essentially promised Selena and Hannah to his soldiers. Jim tries to rescue the women, but West orders his soldiers to execute Jim. Still, Jim manages to escape. He frees Selena and Hannah from the mansion after a bloody showdown with the soldiers, and the three of them drive out into the deserted world to try and find other survivors. The Inspiration According to director Danny Boyle, writer Alex Garland was inspired to write 28 Days Later after watching the opening sequence of The Day of the Triffids (page 50). In that scene, a man wakes up in a hospital to discover that a meteor shower has blinded everyone. The Impact The film was a critical and commercial success. Unlike many horror films, which fare well at the box office but less so with critics, 28 Days Later garnered great reviews and made $82,719,885 worldwide. It's one of the few sci-fi/horror movies that actually feels and looks somewhat real. This is partly because it was filmed in gritty digital video, has realistic dialogue, and its lead actor (Cillian Murphy as Jim) was then unknown (as opposed to being a recognizable Hollywood star). It led to a sequel, and a graphic novel. The movie sequel, 28 Weeks Later , came out in May 2007. It takes place six months after the Rage virus took over England. A graphic novel by Steve Niles, 28 Days Later: The Aftermath , was published in April 2007 and focused on the time between 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks . Unforgettable Moment As the sun goes down, Jim stumbles into a church and calls, "Hello?" After spotting huge piles of corpses scattered on the floor and in the pews, he catches the ominous glare of a few pairs of hollow zombiefied eyes staring back at him. Reality Factor The chance of there being a population-decimating virus has a relatively high reality factor among the various apocalyptic scenarios. Super-contagious, lethal viruses--like HIV, Ebola, and the bubonic plague--have already wreaked havoc on our population. That said, there's never before been a Rage-like virus that causes people to eat each other, and there's been no prediction by the medical community or otherwise that there will be one. Quotables "If you look at the whole life of the planet, we ... you know, man, has only been around for a few blinks of an eye. So if the infection wipes us all out, that is a return to normality." One of West's sergeants says this during Jim, Selena, and Hannah's first dinner at the creepy army barricade. The soldiers had been discussing whether it was possible for things to ever return to normal. "REPENT THE END IS EXTREMELY F--KING NIGH." Graffiti on the wall of the church where Jim sees his first batch of infected people More Movies Directed by Danny Boyle Trainspotting (1996)Slumdog Millionaire (2008)127 Hours (2010)   Gimme Shelter (1969) PERFORMED BY The Rolling Stones WRITTEN BY Mick Jagger and Keith Richards COUNTRY OF ORIGIN England In "Gimme Shelter,"one of the best songs by the legendary rock group The Rolling Stones, singer Mick Jagger's trademark voice captures a dark moment at the tail end of the '60s. During that time, the movement for peace and love seemed to be overtaken by drugs, war, and violence. The song's dire chorus, "Rape, murder / it's just a shot away," captures the sense that terrible forces have been unleashed and that shelter is both necessary and elusive. The music itself--threatening and ominous--sets the mood as much as the howl of the lyrics, which are only half-intelligible and blend into the overall sense of menace and breakdown.The song starts out with Mick Jagger singing that a building storm is threatening his life, and that if he doesn't find shelter, he's "gonna fade away." He then launches into the chorus, imploring listening "children" to understand and acknowledge that war is right around the corner. The apocalyptic imagery builds as Jagger describes a huge fire, like a "red coal carpet," and then likens it to a crazed, violent bull. Jagger then describes a world descending into chaos, and again reminds us that the end--large-scale destruction--is "just a shot away." Toward the end of the song, though, Jagger changes his tune a bit and asks us to remember that, though war may only be a gunshot away, love and peace are "just a kiss away," too. The Inspiration Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (who co-wrote "Gimme Shelter") intended for the song and the entire Let It Bleed album to capture the sense of impending doom and apocalyptic social disintegration that was in the air at the time. In a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone , Jagger explained that the band's inspiration for the album was the Vietnam War and the generally violent overtones of the era. The Impact "Gimme Shelter" became notorious at the famous Altamont concert. The day after their album Let It Bleed was released in 1969, The Rolling Stones were part of a famous free concert at the Altamont Speedway in Altamont, California. Unlike the Woodstock concert four months earlier, which was all about love and peace, this music festival was marked by fighting, property damage, drug use, and death. While the Stones were playing "Under My Thumb" on stage, a homicide occurred in which a guy from the Hell's Angels (a motorcycle gang that was hired to provide security at the concert) stabbed and killed a fan who was high on methamphetamines and seemed to be holding a gun. After working to calm the generally uneasy crowd, the Stones, uninformed about the murder, played eight more songs, including "Gimme Shelter." The song has been linked with the event (and the whole atmosphere of the time) ever since. Gimme Shelter was also the name for a famous documentary about the band's 1969 tour, and its tragic climax at Altamont. Martin Scorsese has featured the song in several of his gangster films. He tends to use the song to signal the beginning of a character's violent downfall--check out Casino (1995), Goodfellas (1990), and The Departed (2006). The song has historical import. It was ranked at #38 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Unforgettable Moment "I tell you love, sister: it's just a kiss away."This lyric may be saying that love is just as viable as hate. It may also be saying that, if the world is crumbling around you, you may as well make out while you can. Reality Factor The lyrics cover a broad swath of apocalyptic themes: everything from rape and murder to fire, floods, and wartime gunshots. Much of the imagery feels very realistic, but the chances of all of these things happening at once in a kind of apocalyptic superstorm is slim. However, it's certainly possible, in hard times, to feel like everything is falling apart all at once and bringing the world to an end. Quotables "Ooh, see the fire is sweepin' / My very street today / Burns like a red coal carpet / Mad bull lost its way." The portion of the song where Jagger likens the late '60's turbulence to a fire and a raging bull More Songs Written and Performed by The Rolling Stones "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction " (1965)"Sympathy For The Devil" (1968)"You Can't Always Get What You Want" (1969) Excerpted from The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions from Pop Culture That You Should Know About... Before It's Too Late by Laura Barcella All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.