The Night Land is one of my favorite books. Written by William Hope Hodgson and published in 1912, it is a post-apocalyptic view of the far future, when mankind holds only the Last Redoubt and the world is full of Cyclopean and eldritch monsters. Even better, you can read it for free at The Gutenberg Project. Most of my favorite fiction is post-apocalyptic, and The Night Land is the grand-daddy of them all.
Hodgson had other books. The House on the Borderlands was one that hasn’t aged well, although Richard Corben’s graphic novel did bring me back to it briefly.
Another one I do love is Boats of the “Glen Carrig,” (1907) also available on Gutenberg. It is placed in 1757, but it feels a lot like The Night Land to me.
I just read that Greg Bear’s City at the End of Time (2008) is an homage to The Night Land. Guess I’m going to have to read it! Other books in the “end of time” tradition that are worth a read are:
Clark Ashton Smith’s “Zothique” stories from the 1930s
Arthur C. Clarke’s Against the Fall of Night (1948), later rewritten as The City and the Stars (1956)
Jack Vance, The Dying Earth (1950)
Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles (1950)
Andre Norton, Daybreak 2250 (1952), also called Star Man’s Son
Clifford D. Simak’s City (1952)
Richard Matheson’s I am Legend (1954)
Roger Zelazny’s Damnation Alley (1967)
Michael G. Coney’s The Hero of Downways (1974)
Of course, there is the Fallout video game series, the table top RPG Gamma World (1978) and its predecessor Metamorphosis Alpha (1976), and now the Adventure Time (2010) cartoon series. All post-apocalyptic fantasies. I guess the reason I love this genre is that at the end of time, technology is both ancient and so developed it is essentially magic. Medieval fantasies are often insipid, but when it is in the far future, I somehow find it more palatable. The Night Land is spectacular for this because it is written in a archaic form, and because the technological artifacts used are still bizarre to us because they are not what we expect any more. So there’s a few other books I should mention that probably give a similar feel, even if they are aren’t at the end of time.
Brian Aldiss, Non-stop (1958), later renamed Starship
Samuel Delany’s Nova (1968)