This post is by James Davis Nicoll from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content
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So you’ve decided to destroy your fictional civilization and for reasons of verisimilitude, you want to draw on a historical model. Your first thought may be to rotoscope the collapse of the Western Roman Empire … and why not? It worked so well for Isaac Asimov. The problem is it worked for a lot of other authors, too—the Fall of Rome is well-chewed gristle at this juncture. Perhaps other models would make a nice change?
Granted, other models may not be as well known as the Roman one, at least to Western readers. Generations of Westerners learned Latin and read Roman history; generations read Gibbon’s Decline and Fall.
Plus, other collapses were, no doubt, so thorough that we have no inkling they even happened.
Still, there are some collapses and calamities about which we have some knowledge. I have a few suggestions.