I’m currently writing a book where there is a large explosion in Mid-USA, in the year 2025. Following this, there is a world war that diminishes the US population to ~70 million people. There is a group of kingdoms that form in the present-day Colorado area due to its centralized location that was away from most of the radiation and some of the devastation.

The book itself takes place in the year 2178. In this area at this time, I imagine that any coal or metal mines have been depleted and drilling for oil is nearly impossible due to the large machinery required. Much of the easily harvestable metal from the old cities has been used for weapons or structures. My current view is that wind/water/steam power would be the primary source of energy, and guns would mostly be only in the hands of the upper class due to their resource-guzzling nature. The civilizations are more unstable, with less focus on art and recreational activities, and more focus on surviving the warring kingdoms, weather, etc.

(Note: I initially said it would be feudal, but upon discussion, I have realized that that might not be entirely accurate. There would be Kings and Queens, with a large lower class and small upper/middle classes, but not feudal necessarily.)

My main question is this: Given the parameters above, what types of technology would be present?

Feel free to ask if you have any questions!

(Edited to improve clarity and accuracy)

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Mar 25 '19 at 14:00

I see 4 large areas that you need to keep up a technology level:

Basic Knowledge

The apocalypse seems to last under a generation, so you have university graduates surviving that can pass on their knowledge, even assuming all physical records are destroyed, which they likely are not. Cutting edge research might be lost, but there is no chance about people forgetting about the physical principles that enable our current technology.


You need tools to produce anything. Semiconductor fabs, aircraft and car factories and their supply lines are all highly specialized to the point there are maybe 1-2 plants in the world that can produce an item, especially when it comes to produce new tooling, or spare parts. So these high tech industries are likely destroyed for good. Basic machine shop tools are ubiquitous, so likely enough will survive, and they are also not too complex that they can be maintained in the same machine shop. These shops need power, but an electrical generator is not too complex either.

Expert knowledge

You need experts for production, and these will likely be either dead or displaced. One part that will very much determine the course of your apocalypse is how many experts you have in non-industrial farming, as this will be suddenly a very sought after skill. Subsistence farming is by non means a trivial or unskilled business.


I think you get it wrong, local resources will not be limited. What will be limited are imported resources, rare earths will not be available, or complex synthetics, since the chemical plants producing them are rare, and will likely be prime targets. Aluminium might also be rare, due to the massive electricity requirements for producing it, but iron and steel should be plentiful. Also oil should still be enough around for such a small population

One note is on your premise of a feudal society: Feudal society came into being due to stirrups, which made a mounted soldier very effective compared to foot soldiers. This lead to small mounted bands consolidating power in Europe during and after the decline of the Roman Empire, giving rise to a feudal society.

Guns are quite simple to manufacture in a machine shop, and some sort of powder is also not too difficult. This means a small band of nobles does not have any advantage to any town militia that refuses to pay taxes. You'd rather need a standing army for that, which makes the nobles obsolete, so at this tech level, a feudal society doesn't make much sense.

  • $\begingroup$ Awesome, thanks for the detailed write up! $\endgroup$ – PoisonPrincess Mar 24 '19 at 12:55

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