If you were just geek enough to catch a nerd reference in a novel essentially unrelated to the genre of the geek-check, would it give you a grin that you were in with it, or would it throw you out of a story?
The reference in question title-puns a work by L. Sprague deCamp, Lest Darkness Fall. It's a seminal work in what has become known as alternative history, and happens to take place in the world (ish) of my WIP. This is the only commonality, but the fulcrum on which I wrote the line (it is the last of my novel, currently) is almost the fulcrum of the WIP itself, for me.
Everyone who reads here knows I am not a believer in The Dark Ages. I refuse to accept that the lights went out all over the world, as it were - pretty much ever. The very idea that any one age of humanity is actually any smarter (or dumber) than any other is not merely ridiculous, it's offensive to me.
So it came as a surprise to me when I found myself making the WIP about the dawning (dusking) of the Dark Ages.
As an author, I justify this by pointing to many excuses: "I am not an historian!" ... "This is a metaphor and doesn't have to answer to my IRL philosophy." ... "Blah blah blah 'redefining the term' blah blah blah."
I've actually even GIVEN the advice, "Follow your story" to other authors. But never thought I'd beget a story of my own that so directly contradicts my way of thinking. "There is no such thing as Barbarians/The Dark Ages/Whig history/human progress as a redemptive narrative OR degeneration" - oh and I'm about to write about the Dark Ages and make it a progression downward. I don't even believe in dynasty (please note, one of the most popular of these, the Tudors, lasted THREE lousy generations, kids) - and here I am writing about the end of one like it's a ... hey, a descent.
Dust had tamped the fire of the Great King, long in his cracked tomb and efficiently forgotten. There would be, there could be rest, and obscurity. The boy’s horizon had no sunrise. The man would walk alone, no burden but his own to carry.
Let darkness fall.
The major dramatic question is not so much "how will this ruling family survive - or die out?" it is "What is the point?"
de Camp's work was all about saving the world from the Dark Ages. Mine is about letting go and letting be. It's less a question of devolution, within the world and the pages of the novel, than of succumbing with grace to forces which have different meaning and priority over the course of generations.
THIS is human development: that the driving force of one person, or of one time, cannot sustain its power.
Is appropriating the *fear* "Oh dear, lest darkness fall" and overtaking it with a bit of Lord, it is Night resignation inappropriate and jokey (never mind the question of obscurity)? Does it betray a reader, or the story itself?
The fact is, the question is more intellectual than applicable. I don't expect this sentence to survive even one revision (with hope a more authentic ending will voice itself instead), and this isn't asked as a critique session. More an opportunity for philosophizing - on the appeal of "crossover" references. On the revulsion of smartassed irony. On callouts to external worlds.
On whatever aspect might interest you, reading this ...