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Post-Science / Next Age Fantasy

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message 1: by Basil (new)

Basil Godevenos (basilgodevenos) | 188 comments Hi everyone - I love the idea of a fantasy setting that is actually our far future where science/tech has either been lost or abandoned. I started a list to collect such books. If you guys know of any that fit the bill, please add them!

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/1...


message 2: by Paul (new)

Paul  Perry (Pezski) | 438 comments Nice one. I've added a few and I'm sure more will come to mind.


message 3: by Travis (new)

Travis Foster (travismfoster) | 104 comments Does N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy fit your criterion? There are moments when they run across previous era's technology and have no idea what it does.


message 4: by Basil (new)

Basil Godevenos (basilgodevenos) | 188 comments Travis wrote: "Does N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy fit your criterion? There are moments when they run across previous era's technology and have no idea what it does."

I'd say that fits! I included Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, and it has only a scant smattering of cryptic clues that it belongs to this group.


message 5: by Phil (new)

Phil | 950 comments The Shannara series by Terry Brooks and the Lost Swords series by Fred Saberhagen fit your criteria.


message 6: by David (new)

David (Caddarn) | 37 comments There are elements in Joe Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy and the The Grim Company by Luke Scull that fit too.


message 7: by Brendan (new)

Brendan (mistershine) | 891 comments David wrote: "There are elements in Joe Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy and the The Grim Company by Luke Scull that fit too."

Even moreso his Shattered Sea trilogy.


message 8: by Rick (new)

Rick | 2085 comments Viriconium definitely fits the bill.


message 9: by Trike (new)

Trike | 4543 comments Phil wrote: "The Shannara series by Terry Brooks ."

Shannara definitely fits.

However, the Pelbar Cycle by Paul O. Williams is not Fantasy. I highly recommend that series to anyone, but it's more like historical fiction than anything else. Perhaps "Post-Historical" would be an apt description. The first book, The Breaking of Northwall, is basically a castle siege story set a couple centuries after an apocalypse, while a later entry, The Song of the Axe, is similar to The Last of the Mohicans. In fact, you could probably map each novel onto a classic book, which makes sense given that Williams was a poet and English teacher.


message 10: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah Owens | 3 comments Prince of Thorns is a very strong fantasy series which makes frequent references to "the Builders" and is clearly built on the ruins of a future Earth. Be warned that the protagonist is almost entirely amoral, so if you want your protagonist to be sympathetic, this may not be for you.


message 11: by Silvana (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) | 847 comments I am interested with this list because I want to avoid the books (post-apocalyptic fantasy is not really my thing), so thank you!


message 12: by Arcadia (new)

Arcadia Brouk (EchoSpeaks) | 3 comments The Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman would fit.


message 13: by Rick (last edited Jul 05, 2017 11:45AM) (new)

Rick | 2085 comments Silvana wrote: "I am interested with this list because I want to avoid the books (post-apocalyptic fantasy is not really my thing), so thank you!"

Can't speak for the others but Viriconium is great, not typical 'post apocalyptic' at all (a subgenre I hate) and you're doing yourself a disservice by avoiding it. Here are the first two paragraphs of The Pastel City:

“Some seventeen notable empires rose in the Middle Period of Earth. These were the Afternoon Cultures. All but one are unimportant to this narrative, and there is little need to speak of them save to say that none of them lasted for less than a millennium, none for more than ten; that each extracted such secrets and obtained such comforts as its nature (and the nature of the universe) enabled it to find; and that each fell back from the universe in confusion, dwindled, and died.

The last of them left its name written in the stars, but no one who came later could read it. More important, perhaps, it built enduringly despite its failing strength—leaving certain technologies that, for good or ill, retained their properties of operation for well over a thousand years. And more important still, it wasthe last of the Afternoon Cultures, and was followed by Evening, and by Viriconium.”

Excerpt From: M. John Harrison. “Viriconium.” iBooks.



message 14: by Silvana (last edited Jul 06, 2017 08:18AM) (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) | 847 comments Thank you, Rick. I could make some exceptions since apparently the Broken Earth trilogy also falls into that genre. I just had bad reading experience with the listed books from Vance, Wolfe, Abercrombie, Lawrence, and King. So I won't be 100% avoiding that genre but it is good to know some titles I need to be wary about.


message 15: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (JohnTaloni) | 2443 comments I flat out loathed the Dying Earth books. Well, the two that I read. I heard the books got better after the first so I read on. Nope. I just can't get into unlikable narrators, and that's all over Dying Earth.


message 16: by Joe Informatico (new)

Joe Informatico (joeinformatico) | 857 comments Does it have to take place on Earth? Because I can think of a few that are in the same ballpark, but they're about the residents of planets settled by Earth colonists who later forget their technological origins. E.g. the Pern books, Sharon Shinn's Archangel books, Weis and Hickman's Darksword Trilogy.

A Canticle for Leibowitz is in a similar line of a high-tech civilization falling into a more primitive period of superstition, but probably wouldn't be considered "fantasy fiction" by any useful definition of the genre.


message 17: by Allison (new)

Allison Hurd | 185 comments The Hunger Games comes to mind, possibly. Also The Book of Phoenix is about the world far later, when tech is around but not like it is now. (I haven't yet read Who Fears Death so I'm not sure if this can count).


message 18: by Joseph (new)

Joseph | 1824 comments For me, one of the ultimate examples is The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson, which was published 100+ years ago, and which takes place on an Earth millions of years in the future after the sun has gone out; the last humans live in a giant metal pyramid where they're (maybe?) safe from the terrible, terrible things that haunt the darkness.

Unfortunately, it's almost unreadable -- Hodgson wrote it in this really awful pseudo-medieval prose. James Stoddard did write a version (The Night Land, a Story Retold) where he tried to put it into language similar to that used by actual human beings and was generally pretty successful.


message 19: by Silvana (last edited Jul 07, 2017 08:56AM) (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) | 847 comments John (Taloni) wrote: "I flat out loathed the Dying Earth books. Well, the two that I read. I heard the books got better after the first so I read on. Nope. I just can't get into unlikable narrators, and that's all over ..."

I think Wolfe's books are even worse when it comes to unlikabIe narrator. I found Dying Earth quite unpleasant to read (for example, too many horny dudes chasing women for my taste) so I am not sure whether I could read Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honour of Jack Vance even though it is written by my favorite author.


message 20: by Albert (new)

Albert Dunberg | 23 comments Interesting list. I enjoy the works of Jemisin and Wolfe but loathe Jordan.
Maybe the Hugo nominated Too Like the Lightning qualifies? I'm only one third through but it reminds me of Wolfe.


message 21: by Basil (new)

Basil Godevenos (basilgodevenos) | 188 comments Albert wrote: "Interesting list. I enjoy the works of Jemisin and Wolfe but loathe Jordan.
Maybe the Hugo nominated Too Like the Lightning qualifies? I'm only one third through but it reminds me ..."


Just picked that up today!


message 22: by Kim (new)

Kim | 477 comments Albert wrote: "Maybe the Hugo nominated Too Like the Lightning qualifies? "

I wouldn't call that fantasy. Science plays a large part of it.


message 23: by Albert (new)

Albert Dunberg | 23 comments Kim wrote: "Albert wrote: "Maybe the Hugo nominated Too Like the Lightning qualifies? "

I wouldn't call that fantasy. Science plays a large part of it."


You are probably right. I'm only partly through and have yet to see that.


message 24: by Nick (new)

Nick Patrick | 7 comments Great idea for a topic! I'd say this has Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny written all over it, although it kind of depends on your reading of it.


message 25: by Trike (new)

Trike | 4543 comments Based on the recent podcast which mentioned this thread, either I'm reading the intent wrong or others are. Tom and Veronica specifically mentioned A Canticle for Leibowitz as an example, but that book definitely doesn't fit the criteria set out in the OP.

Canticle is straight-up Science Fiction, without any Fantasy at all. As with the Pelbar Cycle, it takes place post-apocalypse, but then it goes one era further by showing the rise of a technological society again. (Semi-spoilers for a 60-year-old book, I guess.)

So my question is this: are you talking about merely a post-apocalyptic society where the previous civilization has fallen, or are you talking about such a society where full-on supernatural magic exists? Wizards, spells, elves, flying carpets, enchanted swords, and so on.

Because I took it as the latter, and I'm a bit of a stickler for genres.


message 26: by Basil (new)

Basil Godevenos (basilgodevenos) | 188 comments Trike wrote: "So my question is this: are you talking about merely a post-apocalyptic society where the previous civilization has fallen, or are you talking about such a society where full-on supernatural magic exists?"

You got it, Trike. Although, strictly, the magic would only have to seem like magic (not necessarily supernatural). It *could* be rooted in the tech of a past era. I think there's a fairly common trope among some of the classic examples of this niche genre where the last great civilization discovered how to manipulate the fabric of the universe and the results are perceived as magic once all the knowledge behind it is lost. I've also seen examples where the typical fantasy races are a result of genetic engineering on humans.


message 27: by Rick (last edited Jul 09, 2017 01:05PM) (new)

Rick | 2085 comments I think it's rare to have a post-science world (one that is much like our reality where magic doesn't exist) that then moves from that into a world where actual magic (not tech that looks like magic) is real.

The only examples I can think of (that aren't just urban fantasy) are the Laundry novels by Charlie Stross - where magic is real but is an effect of applied math - and Radix where an alignment of things causes things like magic to happen.

But in neither case is the magic really supernatural - in both the magic is a result of a deeper understanding of the natural.


message 28: by Charles (new)

Charles Gruver | 1 comments I would have to sayBitterwood: The Complete Collection probably fits the bill as it is set in the future where dragons are ruling the earth.


message 29: by Robobobo (new)

Robobobo | 31 comments If you're fine with adding roleplaying books, I'd recommend Numenera Corebook. It definitely fits the bill of post-science/new age fantasy: It's set on Earth, a billion years in the future. Our world is littered with strange remnants of civilizations past. These "Numenera" seem like magic, but are extremely advanced tech. The core book I've mentioned introduces the game's rules, of course, but for the most part it's background infos on the world itself.


message 30: by Basil (new)

Basil Godevenos (basilgodevenos) | 188 comments Robobobo wrote: "If you're fine with adding roleplaying books, I'd recommend Numenera Corebook. It definitely fits the bill of post-science/new age fantasy: It's set on Earth, a billion years in the..."

Nice! When I used to play D&D, my group always entertained the idea that our setting was post-science/next age. It didn't really factor that heavily into our gaming, but the idea was there and we liked it.


message 31: by Basil (new)

Basil Godevenos (basilgodevenos) | 188 comments Rick wrote: "I think it's rare to have a post-science world (one that is much like our reality where magic doesn't exist) that then moves from that into a world where actual magic (not tech that looks like magic) is real. "

I agree. I think that raises a philosophical question: is anything *really* "supernatural" at all? Even taking a "spirit world" or any similar concept as given, everything that happens there is still part of a broader understanding of nature. Still part of reality (if it exists, it's real).

I've always been intrigued by the idea of magic as manipulating the source code of the universe. That's generally how I think of it, regardless of the magic system an author sets up. I think it usually works, whether it was discovered in a pure fantasy setting via arcane means, or discovered as an extension of scientific experimentation in some imagined future.


message 32: by John (new)

John (JohnRed) The Book of the New Sun is one of my all-time favorite books! And its side-story, the Book of the Long Sun, might be even better although it's a little more leaning toward Sci-Fi.


message 33: by Brendan (new)

Brendan (mistershine) | 891 comments Rick wrote: "I think it's rare to have a post-science world (one that is much like our reality where magic doesn't exist) that then moves from that into a world where actual magic (not tech that looks like magic) is real. "

This does happen in the series that the The Left Hand of Darkness is part of, The Hainish Cycle. Even rarer is that its a non-apocalyptic version of this trope. The people in the very advanced societies voluntarily give up technology when they move to more primitive worlds and in a couple of books they end up discovering powers that are unexplained, probably magical, in nature.


message 34: by Joseph (new)

Joseph | 1824 comments If it doesn't have to be set on Earth, I'd also point toM.A.R. Barker's Tekumel. It was originally published as an RPG setting back in the 70s -- published by TSR and pretty much using 1st edition D&D rules -- but the world itself is weird & marvelous. The world itself was settled thousands of years in the future by a human star-spanning empire (with the help of several other starfaring races), and then the solar system was thrown (for unknown reasons) into an isolated pocket universe; many, many thousands of years later, human civilization reemerged, but now based heavily on a form of psychic "magic" and contact with, and worship of, beings who are to all practical intents and purposes, gods.

It's my favorite world in all of fiction -- weird and alien, littered with ruins and bits of ancient tech, some of which work better than others ...

www.tekumel.com is an officially-approved fansite that'll give more background to the planet. Barker also wrote a few novels in the setting, one of which (The Man of Gold) was recently republished in print & electronic editions.


message 35: by Basil (new)

Basil Godevenos (basilgodevenos) | 188 comments John wrote: "The Book of the New Sun is one of my all-time favorite books! And its side-story, the Book of the Long Sun, might be even better although it's a little more leaning toward Sci-Fi."

So, I first encountered the idea of a post-science fantasy setting back in my youth when I was geeking out over Robert Jordan's WoT series. When S&L read Book of the New Sun I was intrigued to learn that it too was a fantasy set in our (or a world very similar to ours) far future. I read most of the series, and also read some of the Dying Earth books by Vance, but really want to find some more contemporary takes on this idea for a setting.

I've wondered a little bit about the Gentleman Bastard series and whether it would qualify... (possible minor spoilers follow) (view spoiler)


message 36: by Basil (new)

Basil Godevenos (basilgodevenos) | 188 comments Hey all, I also started a conversation about this on r/Fantasy here: https://www.reddit.com/r/Fantasy/comm...

Feel free to chime in :)


message 37: by Silvana (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) | 847 comments Post civilization fantasy is different than post-modern/our world science fantasy, no?

I am just thinking that there are many fantasy sets after an apocalypse or a destruction of a previous civilization like Lord of the Rings and the Numenoreans. I don't mind those ones. Maybe my problem with this (sub?)genre is more on the part of our world becomes a fantasy world.


message 38: by Basil (new)

Basil Godevenos (basilgodevenos) | 188 comments Silvana wrote: "Post civilization fantasy is different than post-modern/our world science fantasy, no?
...
Maybe my problem with this (sub?)genre is more on the part of our world becomes a fantasy world."


Excellent point. There are a few others that come to mind, like Robin Hobb's Land of the Elderlings series of trilogies. Very clearly not our future, but still set in a world built on the ruins of a past civilisation.

I have to say, however, that although I love the idea of an ancient mystery to be solved (or not!), there is something special for me about being able to connect the past of a fantasy setting to some imagined future Earth. Might be why I'm enjoying Horizon Zero Dawn so much, and why the rumour that all the Bethesda RPG franchises (Fallout, Elder Scrolls, and the forthcoming Starfield) would share a timeline, where Elder Scrolls, the fantasy series, took place after the other two, post-apocalyptic and sci-fi, respectively.


message 39: by Silvana (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) | 847 comments Ah yes, Realm of the Elderling is definitely one of the post civilization fantasy series. And A Song of Ice and Fire if you count the Children of the Forest in Westeros or Empire of the Dawn in Essos. But that's pretty common anywhere since rarely do civilizations survive even in our world. But hey, great thread, love the discussions.


message 40: by Sky (new)

Sky Corbelli | 320 comments As Rebekah mentioned, Prince of Thorns and one of Mark Lawrence's other series, The Red Queen's War fit the bill.

It addresses the question, "What if turning on the Large Hadron Collider (or the Wheel of Oshiem, as they call it) broke reality?"


message 41: by Rick (new)

Rick | 2085 comments Sky's post reminded me of a series that also does the "event happened, oops fantasy" thing, Justina Robson's Quantum Gravity series which starts with Keeping It Real. As the summary to that book says:

The Quantum Bomb of 2015 changed everything. The fabric that kept the universe's different dimensions apart was torn and now, six years later, the people of earth exist in uneasy company with the inhabitants of, amongst others, the elfin, elemental, and demonic realms. Magic is real and can be even more dangerous than technology.

It's a fun series. Robson also does some amazingly well written and weird SF.


message 42: by Trike (new)

Trike | 4543 comments Rick wrote: "Sky's post reminded me of a series that also does the "event happened, oops fantasy" thing, Justina Robson's Quantum Gravity series which starts with Keeping It Real. As the summary t..."

I read that first one. It seemed very much inspired by the Shadowrun RPG.

Shadowrun doesn't fit the original criteria of "post-science" since it's basically a "magic comes back" scenario where punk rock elves and gangster orcs exist side-by-side with a cyberpunk version of our world. See also: the Borderlands series, as well as the Wild Cards series. Totally different genre, though.


message 43: by Trike (new)

Trike | 4543 comments I came across two more entries that might fit the bill:

Wolf in Shadow by David Gemmell, first in a trilogy, takes place after the Earth's orbit is shifted causing an apocalypse and the rise of magic. Or something. Haven't read them.

Giant of World's End by Lin Carter, which sounds like a straight-up Thundarr the Barbarian type of story. I've read some of Carter's other books, so I don't have high hopes for its quality.

Then there is City at the End of Time by Greg Bear, which takes place in contemporary Seattle as people are contacted by someone from a trillion years in the future as the universe is being eaten by an alien, breaking the laws of physics. Seems tangential to the theme.


message 44: by Joseph (new)

Joseph | 1824 comments Trike wrote: "Giant of World's End by Lin Carter, which sounds like a straight-up Thundarr the Barbarian type of story. I've read some of Carter's other books, so I don't have high hopes for its quality."

Yeah, those books were ... not good. Although they do remind me of Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique stories, which are also kind of proto-Dying Earth (straight-up fantasy stories set on Earth's last continent in the very distant future).

And that reminds me that if you squint at them, Robert E. Howard's Conan stories sort of count, since Conan's Hyborian Age is built on the ruins of Kull's civilization.


message 45: by Julia (last edited Jul 24, 2017 09:41AM) (new)

Julia | 180 comments The Death Gate Cycle is set after Nuclear apocalypse and a magical one, years after the Nuclear one. Although you don't really realize it's set in the future in the first book


message 46: by Basil (new)

Basil Godevenos (basilgodevenos) | 188 comments Julia wrote: "Although you don't really realize it's set in the future in the first book"

Nice! I really enjoy when it's not super obvious.


message 47: by Mary (new)

Mary (MaryBeougherAuthor) | 16 comments Would a series that takes place on another planet but has a race of people descended from humans count for this? (Humans on Earth are basically gone, destroyed by Demons)

If so, the Wayfarer Redemption series by Sara Douglass is a good one, albeit you don't really get any of the Earth connection until the second trilogy.


message 48: by David (new)

David (davidh219) Oooo, this is one of my favorite tropes. It's already been mentioned, but Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire trilogy fits the bill. Prince of Thorns


message 49: by Basil (new)

Basil Godevenos (basilgodevenos) | 188 comments Maryb wrote: "Would a series that takes place on another planet but has a race of people descended from humans count for this?"

Yes, definitely.


message 50: by Melani (new)

Melani | 74 comments The Kate Daniels books kind of fit in this grouping I suppose, they take place in the middle of the apocoplypse though I suppose the authors don't really go much into detail about that. Technology is dying because magic is coming back, so the technology present in fits and starts.

However the first books I thought of were The Books of the Raksura by Martha Wells, starts with The Cloud Roads. There are hints at an older, more technologically advanced civilization, in the books but so far that hasn't been explored much.


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