Earth’s Last Citadel

Well, there has been a fair uptick in traffic hear lately from a crowd interested in pulp, so I thought I’d get something out from the archives that might make them to stick around.

Frankly, though, this blog isn’t very tightly focused on any one type of book.

Still, it’s always nice to have more readers so maybe some of the new viewers will stick around.

One of my uncompleted reading projects is to read all 50 titles in “The 5 Parsec Shelf” in A Reader’s Guide to Science Fiction by Baird Searles, Martin Last, Beth Meacham, and Michael Franklin from 1979. This title was listed.

Raw Feed (1992): Earth’s Last Citadel, C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner, 1943.Earth's Last Citadel

I didn’t care for this novel all that much. I suppose Baird Searles included it on his list of classic sf novels because it’s pulpy and probably one of the earliest far future science-as-magic stories.

While I didn’t find the novel particularly entertaining, it was critically interesting.

First, the menacing Alien from beyond time — first and last of his kind on Earth, feeder on mental energy (a vampire of sorts) is reminiscent of a Lovecraftian horror. He is a Light-Wearer. The good Light-Wearers created, from human stock, the Carcasillans and protected them (and expected worship from them) from the bad Light-Wearers like the Alien. This lends a biblical flavor to the book.

This book is interesting as a midway point in the far-future sub-genre of sf.

There is the bifurcation of man into Eloi-like Carcasillans and Morlock-like Terasi. However, this is only a surface appearance. The truth turns out to be different. The Carcasillans turn out to be fairly tough and still possess the proud technology of Earth’s alien overlords and man’s exterminators. Even so, they were Light-Wearer attempts at creating a slave race, a race that rebelled and became incredibly curious (only thirst for knowledge animates since them since dying Earth has no future).

This bifurcation of man shows up in the two cultures of Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and the Stars (one rural, one urban) and the wonders of Carcasilla (immortality, forgetfulness) remind one of Clarke’s Diaspor (with its immortality and mind editing).

The book was written in 1943 and WWII and Nazis show up in interesting ways. The Tersai defense against the Carcasillan assault (under influence of the Alien) is explicitly compared to the Allied defense against rising Nazi barbarism. Two of the four humans flung into the future are Nazis, and Nazis are described as supremely self-confident and ruthless and courageous and deeply disturbed when their confidence is undermined — indeed well-nigh psychotic.

The setting — a dying Earth of fantastic ruins, remnants of alien genetic engineering, and a river whose tides surge around the globe in a canyon — was mournful and eerie and not played up enough.

 

More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.

 

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