It’s more of a sub-genre, really, but I was pretty excited to learn that there is a classification for more than just post-apocalyptic world ends in fantasy and sci fi. Rather than the engineered or accidental or sudden natural catastrophes we see so often in plague, zombie, and nuclear fallout stories, the dying earth genre deals with the entropic decline of the world, usually focusing on the death of the sun, natural resources, or a full-circle depiction of humanity’s plunge after a reversal of technological advancement. I was pleased to find out this had a name because I’ve been eager to read and study worlds that bear a resemblance to the one I created for my story The Wellspring. Although I haven’t found many similarities by way of the magical/scientific set up of the world (which I suppose is a good thing), I am glad to now have a set reading list as a way to study the accepted approach to depicting such a time or world or series of events such as what happens in my own story.
One suggestion I’ve gotten is Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, a heady read for sure, but bound to be worth it.
There are references in classical literature, too. There was a movement toward this style of story telling in the Romantic period that is worth checking out: try out Darkness, a poem by Lord Byron, and La Fin du Monde, a story by Camille Flammarion that shows his idea of the descent of human civilization and the death of the earth itself.
Just be sure before following those links that reading such things won’t send you into a crashing existential crisis over the futility of life, please–I’d rather not be responsible for lots of sleepless nights or pointless car-purchases. ❤