The Dying Earth
Jack Vance

So the sun is red and dim; the moon has gone. Most human technology is discarded; forgotten. Mostly, humanity has died-out (bet the Tigers, and the whales are happy about that one!).

Today, such a concept best fits my mood!

Written during WW2 while Vance served with the merchant marine. Possibly as a commentary on the events unfolding all around him?

Chun the unavoidable, that most mysterious of creatures, stealer of eyes, has to be one of my favorites. While the Oasts seem to be very tall humans with blonde hair and blue eyes (Aryans, if one follows the Nazi outline for Aryanism), who are as intelligent as cattle – which is what they are kept for: food, and for carrying burdens.

Such delightful tales read so many years ago. But I’ve always had penchant for societies declining into decadence; for fatalistic people, with little hope.

And such humour:

‘“The entire episode is mockery!” raged Guyal. “Are you savages, then, thus to mistreat a lone wayfarer?”

“By no means,” replied the Castellan. “We are a highly civilized people, with customs bequeathed us by the past. Since the past was more glorious than the present, what presumption we would show by questioning these laws!”

Guyal fell quiet. “And what are the usual penalties for my act?”

“You are indeed fortunate,” said the Saponid, “in that, as a witness, I was able to suggest your delinquencies to be more the result of negligence than malice. The last penalties exacted for the crime were stringent; the felon was ordered to perform the following three acts: first, to cut off his toes and sew the severed members into the skin at his neck; second, to revile his forbears for three hours, commencing with a Common Bill of Anathema, including feigned madness and hereditary disease, and at last defiling the hearth of his clan with ordure; and third, walking a mile under the lake with leaded shoes in search of the Lost Book of Kells.” And the Castellan regarded Guyal with complacency.’

Yes, yes, sums up my mood, just now.