First off, I apologize for this lengthy post. But in order to give you a clear understanding of everything, I think this is necessary.

So I've been creating a world which has suffered through an apocalypse roughly 200 years ago, seen from the point where the story is supposed to start. However, I am worried the progression of events as I have created it may not make sense.

Before, the civilization on that planet was technologically very advanced. In fact, roughly 70% of them had some sort of body-augmentation, basically making them cyborgs. These augmentations could range from an arm or leg, to almost their entire body. Most people lived in skyscrapers in big cities. Economy and production depended on machinery, most of which was entirely automated. All record-keeping had been moved to digital media as well, making paper unnecessary.

Then came the apocalypse, which is basically the thing introducing a fantasy aspect into the story. It didn't happen entirely without warning. Over the course of a year, people started to notice that the animals all throughout the world started to become more aggressive over time. This change happened a lot slower in domestic animals than in wild animals though. Also, some of the wild animals, whose breeding wasn't watched over by the people, started to change over the course of several generations. It was not rapid, yet faster than normal evolution should be. Scientists researched the matter, but while it was unsettling, their level of technology and advanced weaponry allowed the people to continue living in safety and comfort. Therefore, most of the common populace didn't pay much mind to it.

Until the big event happened. One day, all technology stops functioning. Not only that which relies on electricity, but it seems all man-made technology above medieval level stops working for reasons unknown. This obviously also includes the crumbling of the whole economy, money system and all records of knowledge. Also, body-augmentations cease working as well. A lot of people die immediately, due to vital parts of their bodies stopping to function. The rest are left in a world where all economy, all chance of remote conversations, and all knowledge they were able to access is gone. Also, they lost that which kept them safe from the animals, which have grown more aggressive.

During the time which passes after that, people don't have problems regarding food for quite a while, as there are still many warehouses stocked and a lot less people to feed than there were before. However, most of them know nothing of basic craftsmanship, agriculture, or other basic concepts of everyday life. Most don't even know how to cook properly. Adding to that is the new danger from the outside.

Over the next 100 years, people learned to adapt. New generations were born, which knew only this world. Knowledge and culture was slowly thriving, as it had taken them a lot of time to relearn what their early predecessors, who didn't have technology, once knew. In the meantime, their surroundings changed as well. The animals were not the only things changing rapidly. Their change had not ended with that event, they continued to change shape and get other traits with each generation that passed. However, the other thing changing were the plants. Mostly the forests. Area was reclaimed by plantlife a lot faster than should be possible. Also, it seemed that the adaptations of the animals were mostly for them to adapt to the newly growing forests.

Going forward until 200 years after said apocalypse. People have reestablished life in small towns, some of them built in old ruins, but most of them built entirely anew. Mostly, their technology-level is at that of medieval times, since any progress beyond that is still hindered by whatever makes everything else cease functioning. Around the towns are areas where there are fields, surrounded by plains of either cut-down or burnt trees. Around these areas, dense forests cover most of the planet, aside from the oceans obviously. Most people never leave the town and the safe areas around it. Only those who go out to forage and hunt venture into the woods. And of course, those who search the old ruins. Because rarely, parts of old technology are still working, for reasons unknown. Most towns are further apart from one another, causing each to have it's own culture and in some, even religion. Travel or deliveries between towns are lengthy and dangerous.

That's basically the progression of events. To clarify a few things:

  • The race living on the planet and the planet itself are similar enough to humans and earth that we can assume them to be humans on earth, for the simplicity of this question.
  • The apocalyptic event and the changes in the surroundings are the fantasy aspect of the story. Therefore whether those make sense doesn't need to be discussed here.
  • The state of the world where the story is supposed to take place (200 years after the apocalypse) is set and I would like to do as few changes to it as possible. The events leading up to that and the state of the world before the apocalypse can be changed though.

And now to my actual question:

  • Does the progression of events make sense? As in, would this race develop as it did or would they reach another state at the end of these 200 years?
  • If they would reach another state at the end of these 200 years, how would I need to adjust the timeframe or the events to get things to fit?

Edit to clarify:

  • The changes made by that apocalypse are still in effect. No technology (electric and non-electric) above medieval level functions, even if built correctly. Also the animals continue changing and becoming more agressive over the time after the apocalypse.
  • Even though for the simplicity of this question I asked we see this as humans on earth as base principle. It's not today's humans on today's earth.
  • As stated, before the apocalyps almost all knowledge was changed to digital media, with libraries being only kept here and there as remnants of the past.
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ S.M. Stirling: "Dies the Fire" $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Jun 30, 2018 at 11:18
  • $\begingroup$ 200 years is enough time to go from late renaissance technology to a man on the moon and a super computer in your pocket. $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Jun 30, 2018 at 11:20
  • $\begingroup$ With the advantage that they'll be starting with a more advanced general culture, a larger number of specialists, usable infrastructures, schools and libraries. The 200 years timeframe might be necessary to reset to an acceptable communications level, re-establish an all-new solid poitical system, set up new trade routes. $\endgroup$ Jun 30, 2018 at 12:07
  • $\begingroup$ I think we would have radio communication within a week using parts of leftover electronics. Our knowledge would be in libraries, so we would have electronics much faster than 200 years time. $\endgroup$
    – user22106
    Jun 30, 2018 at 23:04
  • $\begingroup$ We would also have diesel engines, so our food production could still continue using machinery. Not all engines rely on electrical components. $\endgroup$
    – user22106
    Jun 30, 2018 at 23:06

3 Answers 3


Estimating a progress calendar to recovery is plain impossible, due to the multitude of factors involved, from environment to resources, to location, and so on.

EXAMPLE 1: All villages and cities with harbors and ships and boats available will sustain less of a shock thanks to the food the sea can offer. Being able to navigate, as repeatedly proven in history, will transform the sea cities in their own republics (like it happened with Venice, Pisa, Amalfi, Genova) with a vast power. Given the widespread existence of equipped cities, the maritime nations will gain soon the greatest advantages, and the new wars will once again be fought on sea trade routes.

EXAMPLE 2: All farming communities that relied on electronics to harvest their field will rapidly turn back to horsepower (literally!), cows, oxen...And having large amounts of cultivable lands intended for the once mass markets, they will be able to become important markets themselves.

EXAMPLE 3: Cities are lost. No electronics means no water, no services, no maintenance at any level. They will be used as shelters along the way and progressively be scrapped but by bit until clusters of small ruins will be left. The surviving animals in the zoos, alas, will be killed for food and furs. Dogs and cats will revert to feral state. Dog breeds will be lost to wolves and coyotes. NO MORE GERMAN SHEPHERDS, SADFACE!!!

EXAMPLE 4: Effects of apocalypse negligible in island communities, amazonian villages, aboriginals and African tribes, any nomadic communities. In fact, soon they will become THE experts to look out to guidance in a world without GPS and google maps.

Luckily enough, there will be left enough libraries with their precious books untouched. Any government, now guided by the military elite to manage what's left of the country, will ransack all libraries to store up precious knowledge, while specialists of all disciplines will become the new highest-ranking hierarchy. Specialists will teach nw generations in a better schooling system than in our dark ages; no matter how new cults will try to suffocate knowledge, it just cannot be rebottled as if it never existd. We will recover faster onto a better lifestle.

As per edit in the question: Ok, so all deposited knowledge is lost (btw, allow me, what kind of advanced civilization would be so utterly idiotic as to renounce to print at all goes beyond suspension of disbelief). Fortunately, there are still the specialists, the teachers, all the current's generation living repositories. AND the survived libraries will be the even more important treasure caches, to be defended with tooth and nail by the new governments.

So, first step toward knowledge reconstruction is: back to paper. Apocalypse didn't destroy the materials with which paper can be realized without electronics, and Gutenberg taught us that serial printing doesn't require any electronics.

So, diffusion of knowledge and schooling will take longer, but being the roots there, and being able to print, religion won't have the time to exert the same grip that it had during dark ages (when not only books were rare, but people was ignorant at all levels). And while societies around the world adapt to the new lifestyle based on non-electronic technology, schooling will take once again its own place.

Scientists will have a better time, since they can actually prove the veridicity of their knowledge, they won't be treated as 'sorcerers'. Pasteur, for example, proved that it takes a common microscope to detect bacteria, thus negating the 'spontaneous generation' theory. Steam engines will be back with a vengeance, it will be more a steampunk world, but fully working.


The Biggest problem I see is that you can't just have all technology before medieval times just stop working. Where are technologies like generators or engines that don't require electricity to work, and saying that it stops is a huge blanket statement that will undermine the laws of physics as we know them. It might be better to say magic interfered with all non biological electrical systems and broke them by burning out all the circuits or something along those lines.

The biggest problem you have after that is a lack of printed media. You really need to have printed media to be able to survive an apocalypse like this. Why can't all the smart people just write down what they know? Because a smart person can't remember everything they need to know. Because a smart person will still rely on technologies to perform complex computations, simulations and design verification. Because a smart person is also the most likely person to have an augmentation and is now dead. Basically people know the general technology path they need to develop and the end target to work towards which will speed things up, but it will always be a long road to recovery.

I'd like to point out that books will likely still be present in society, it will just be used in areas like education and entertainment. They are still an industry and any industry will try and survive regardless of the technological competition like e-book and pdf copies. In addition, books being non electrical can't be hacked or easily falsified. So there will still be books around and people will still use them, but less people will do so.

The next bit is food. If most people don't know how to cook food, they certainly don't know how to grow food. They keep going to super markets and warehouses to restock on food, but that will run out eventually. Most of your good preserved food is probably unusable since they would probably require a microwave, stove, oven and so on to cook. People have to resort to gas and fire to cook food now and that is most likely lost knowledge (also I assume gas won't work because your suppliers system is down). You will have some people who here cooks and what not who know what to do, but take away that 70% with augmentations and you have very few left.

Your farmers who survive will also be in trouble. The problem with any advance society is that it requires more and more resources to feed and maintain. Farms nowadays have huge numbers of machines and tractors to help do everything from plough the field, kill weeds, fertilize and pick crops. Thats all gone. Back to manual farming with animals and hands. This is also going to be a problem with GMO foods which is probably what all your farmers use to grow crops. A lot of GMO foods seeds can't be used for a second or third generation. Seeds have to be constantly purchased because they are designed to not grow further generations. This means that a large number of your possible food production will just disappear because there is no way to access it anymore or grow new food from old seed stock.

Once your food stock rots away, you can't produce anymore and people will start to starve. I say your food stock will rot away because you said most people can't cook anymore. This suggests that food is pre-prepared and packaged. Food like that probably won't last very long without refrigeration which is also gone and hence will probably rot away before most of it can be consumed. You probably won't have much canned food, because being technologically advanced, who the hell wants to eat food out of a can, when you can throw something into a microwave and get an instant and delicious feast.

Skipping forward several years. People can't just rely on hunting to remain fed. People need to farm or gather food and with more people you need to farm and gather more. This means that people need to go out into the wild regularly to survive and they need a means to defend themselves. Your futuristic people would have forgotten old technologies like mining and blacksmithing as well as identifying edible plants. They would rely on weapons from before like guns and a huge supply of bullets which will probably be used up over the decades leaving them mostly defenseless.

What you end up doing is throwing an advance civilization back to before the stone age. I say before the stone age because the knowledge required for stone, copper and iron would be lost. Only a very small amount of people would have access to that knowledge and apply it on a daily basis and with many of them dead only a few small groups would have access to that sort of knowledge. So after 200 years, you might have a couple communities who are able to survive, but not enough for a story.

Your events are plausible if you relax your starting conditions. People have a large variety of hobbies and you need farming/growing plants and cooking to be popular enough that after 70% of people die + sickness/disease + bandits + wildlife occur that those skills are still there. That way those groups can develop into communities over time rather than slowly dying off due to lack of accessible resources.

I didn't mention this before but I just thought about it, childbirth might also be a really big issue and you will need people with knowledge about this to survive. As society grows more advance you will likely have a higher dependency on machines, drugs and surgery to make sure the baby is delivered and survives its first few months rather than traditional methods.


I will start with structuring the aftermath of such an apocalypse into stages how things are going to happen (i may be wrong):

Stage 1: Immediately after the End
Society comes to a halt. Communication breaks down. Food storages will be looted by marauders. Police, national guard and military (if exists) will try to preserve some kind of order, but will fail as soon as they realize that all their precious tech is not working - remember, nearly every modern military is relying on high tech.
You are saying that everything invented after the Middle Ages is not working. Engines, gears, pumps, and so on and so on won't work.
But what could maybe work? Simple guns. I do not mean semi-auto or full-auto, but old hunting rifles and single-loader guns. The technology for those existed in medieval times (except cartridges). Who can be expected to die first? The old, small kids, those who altered their body (they became cripples). In this turbulent time alot of panic, confusion and violence is to be expected.

Stage 2: Marauding bands of survivors
Every know organisation from before the End is gone. What's left are survivors who will band in small groups of about 20 to 30 individuals. These groups are quite mobile, food can be gathered/ looted on the way, they can defend each other and wild animals, even if agfressive, will hesitate to attack a bigger group of victims. Remember, a hunter has to survive the hunt with no or only minor injuries.
If to straving bands meet, there will be alot of hostility and caution - the other group could attack you, steal your stuff, or make your life a living hell in some other way.

Stage 3: First small settlements
At some point, when the first women get pregnant, the first of these groups will look for a place to settle down. A settlement can be easier defended, houses can become home, and if they got enough experience in the wilds on their journey, they may now start some form of simple agriculture. Learning those things will be hard, every relevant information is lost due to the libraries being electronic. These settlements will either use old ruins/ existing infrastructure, or be placed in a suitable, easily defended location near running water. This reduces the available sites dramatically.

Stage 4: First contact with others
After some time, hunters, gatherers or explorers may stumble upon another settlement of survivors. The reaction to one another may vary alot, depending on the character of the societies that grew in the new settlements. Maybe they do not want to have to do with eacht other, maybe they will engage in trade.

Stage 5: Rise of a new society
It may take a while, but more and more settlements will come in contact with each other. They may agree to some kind of laws, rules or code how to handle meetings, and soon after build roads again between them to ease trading and traveling. Some of them will have ressources others don't have, maybe there will be fights, maybe trade will set in.

How long will each stage take? This depends heavily on the first two. If there are proportionally more survivors in stage 1, it may be a positive or negative thing: More people fighting for the same ressources, or a faster processing to stage 3 due to cooperation. Leading characters of those groups will play an important and deciding role. I would estimate that in the best case, you can encounter the first settlements after 5 years. Why? Well, if some groups band together, you will pretty soon have a population that can't be sustained by hunting and gathering while wandering the land. They will have to help each other, and thus reach stage 3 alot faster.
My worst-case estimate is 25 years. Let's say some groups band together, and a fight breaks out. Vital members of these groups get injured or killed, and the survival chance of each group gets diminished so far, that they will have a hard time surviving.
The loss of written knowledge is a defining point. If your civilication relied completely on automation and servant-bots, the future will be dark. Alot of them will die in the aftermath of the apocalypse, and only very few will survive. If your civilisation is high-end and takes learning as a pastime, the chances may stand better.

Tl;dr: 200 years are more than enough to rebuilt into something resembling society. It may not be a nice future, but one where your people can survive.


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