Cthulhu and hard sf are two branches of speculative fiction I have a dubious relationship with. The triviality of humanity in terms of terror-inducing cosmic gods seems a cheap shot (Lem, for example, examines the unknowability of the great beyond with far more integrity in Solaris), and hard sf is so often a tedious yet pointless exercise: take an element of real-world science, extrapolate, then layer on a conventional plot to ‘see what happens’. If no underlying human agenda exists, it becomes as much navel-gazing as ‘interesting scientific imagination’. This is not to say either is incapable of being utilized with more substance, only that rarely is it done. Robert Charles Wilson’s Darwinia (1998), a novel which wholeheartedly combines Cthulhu (in disguise) and hard sf, only confirms my stance.
At the turn of the 20th century, the “Miracle” has occurred. Europe, along with its millions of people, has been physically removed from the map and replaced with a jungle that maps the old geological structure but whose flora and fauna are not of this Earth. A New-New World born as a result, some Europeans living in the Americas return to settle the continent, even as the US flexes its muscles as the unrivaled leaders of civilization. Accounts varying as to why and how the Miracle happened, religion and science have a new point of contention in their ongoing ideological war.