Most of you won’t be able to take a mirror human history/culture/religion approach like “Planet of the Apes” did. Starting after an extinction level event then explaining what lead up to it by showing a different species go down the same path is a difficult thing. You can dis science fiction all you want but a circular time line is incredibly difficult to pull off. I’ve been kicking around trying to create what I call an “interlocking” trilogy for some time. Interlocking may even be an incorrect term. Basically the first book is the center of the story detailing the “event” up close. The second book starts before and continues after “the event” with a different set of characters who put in motion what happened. The final book, once again starting before and continuing to well after “the event” reveals the actual puppet masters who pulled the strings of those in the second book to cause what happened in the first book. Yes, it is complex and I haven’t put that much time into it because it is a huge gamble. With a trilogy like that you have to write all 3 books and release them as a box set. That’s a long time to work on something so it requires a solid commitment. (i.e. when one no longer has to work to both eat and live indoors.)
Some writers can do quite well mirroring human history as a basis for their writing. George R. R. Martin has done quite well with “A Song of Ice and Fire” which most of you will know as “Game of Thrones” from television. He took the War of the Roses and inverted some of the family traits for the story’s baseline.
As I said before, the “cannon fodder” is a lot of work. To many writers try to skip it. Fully understanding the extinction level event you plan to base your story on helps you answer the “when” and “how” questions about it as they pertain to your character’s story. The event becomes a character itself and like all characters it will tell you the size of its role. Just don’t let that role get too big or oversold as it did in “The 13th Warrior” and “The Village.”