Or rather, for the love of Dying Earth, as a subgenre, as a concept, as a structure. I was just thinking of different forms for science fantasy, and Dying Earth seems to create a very interesting structure to prop up a science fantasy world- the whole concept of an autumn culture, as MJ Harrison called in Viriconium, of a world that existed on the bones of a super-society that had long since perished before it. Leaving trinkets behind that could be, in some ways seen as awesomely powerful, or absolutely strange and broken.
It’s an interesting concept. I think calling a dying earth story dystopia kind of misses the point, in that it’s all about the texture of the world. Not about the brutality of it (it might have that) or about the dying ends and return to winter (maybe that some day). But the characters don’t see these things, and these things aren’t the plot of it. The plot doesn’t care about the fate of the world, instead the world exists. It is a backdrop, but it is more than a backdrop.
I have no idea why, but this captures my imagination in ways that science fiction or fantasy don’t. I think dying earth can be vividly strange, yet very down to earth. It contains mysteries in everything, I think…maybe that’s it. Maybe everything within a dying earth story is a mystery without an answer.
How did the world get this way? Whispers. Who left these machines behind to rust and ruin? Echoes. Who are we, and what have we left in this world? Shadows.
The texture of the world, the way it feels, the way it moves. It’s both archaic and futuristic at the same time. It’s a combination of tones, almost a confrontation of things that shouldn’t mix. Yet, they do. Maybe it’s the ability to create a mythology and have it be explained in an almost hard-sf manner…that’s interesting. Maybe it’s nice to have a world crouch toward evening but not ending, not needing to be saved. Just something that needs to survive. A beauty in the pool of an oilspill, the song of a machine winding down after centuries of rust.