How much do landscape descriptions matter in SFF writing?
It depends upon the story. Would you consider the mental landscape of an inner dialog with the self?
As in any form of writing, too much description can be a distracting part of a story. Weather can be important - and its effect on a planet or scene. In fact, weather can almost be a character itself. Of course landscape can be almost null if you are on a spaceship. There would be rooms, but no scenery - which is why a holo-deck or R&R on a planet would be necessary.
I've used the Wizard of Oz scenario before, where one moment the main character is in a parking lot - and then he steps through a doorway and he is in an Amish community or some such. Scifi uses artwork more than spoken descriptions a lot of the time. The cover of a book can give a lot of clues to a planet's landscape. A picture is worth...well, you know.
I agree with Michele. Too much description is distracting. I tend to add landscape description when the setting is an unusual place, such as an alien planet. Then it can get fun.
I wasn't kidding. Look at Proust
Here is a good example of a landscape detail that adds a lot to the story in the current issue of QMuse, by Tobias Harris:
"We reached the platform just as Amacorís big red sun was setting. We were bushed but not too tired to admire the spectacle. Amacor is a huge planet with a slow rotation. Sunsets are long, drawn out affairs. There were still a few hours of daylight left." That's a really nice scenic detail - The planet turns slowly so the sun sets slowly.
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