Though the new posts have been sparse lately, I have not been idle. This is the beginning of a series on William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land and some of the works it inspired.
All the posts are written, so this isn’t one of those series I started and stopped.
Essay: The Night Land, William Hope Hodgson, 1912.
This is a novel perhaps more widely known and admired than read. As Samuel Johnson said about Paradise Lost, “No man ever wished it longer.” There are some other problems modern readers have with it too.
Still, it stands at the beginning of science fiction tradition that includes Clark Ashton Smith’s Zothique stories, Jack Vance’s Dying Earth series, and Gene Wolfe’s New Sun series.
Despite its problems, it is a stunning work of weird and far future science fiction. Where Wells, in his The Time Machine, set just a part of his novella in the far future, all but the first chapter of this approximately 200,000 word novel is set there.
Millions of years from now, under a dark sun and on an Earth cracked by its contracting crust (both notions from the then current theories of physicist William Thomsen aka Lord Rutherford), the last survivors of humanity huddle in a seven-mile high pyramid, the Last Redoubt.
Around them, the land is full of various monsters, strange places, degenerate humans, and entities from other dimensions. Some are strange, slow moving, almost mountains. Most of these as well as the places are given enigmatic names that serve as their sole description. Continue reading