William Hope Hodgson’s “The Night Land” is a perfect example of fin de cicle, end of the World, style writing from the end of the old naive belief in progress and bellicose sabre-rattling that had marked progressive thought in Europe’s 19th-early 20th Centuries. The Dark Clouds of War were gathering, but many responded with what is seen today a grotesque blood-lust and romantic view of war. Their disillusionment during the events of 1914-1918, and their continuance in 1939-1945, reshaped the way we view the world utterly. Communism and Fascism, the Death of Empires, and the Atomic Age all sprang out of that Dual Hecatomb of Nations.
In the post-War Era we’re in now, or rather post-Ideological war. Wars we have a plenty, but they’re all nakedly exertions of power by the powerful against the not-so powerful, not death-struggles for dominance by the more-or-less evenly matched.
The appeal of “The Night Land” isn’t hard to understand in that light. Here’s a prime example of its fandom…
…with a couple of anthologies for sale and all sorts of trivia, academic studies and so forth. A typical sub-set.
Imitation is the best kind of flattery, especially when the imitation is better. Greg Bear’s “City at the End of Time” is consciously akin to “The Night Land”, evocative of many of its scenes, but in many ways a bigger, better story. Complex, even daunting, but a brilliant tale of the end of the Multiverse.