On a distant planet, a world illuminated by multiple suns basks peacefully in continuous, nurturing light. The society is human, and the technology is similar to our own circa. 1950. When the novel begins, a new funhouse ride opens that promises a trip through a straight, level tunnel in complete darkness. Elsewhere, an archeologist makes a disturbing discovery, and a physicist runs some calculations he knows to be right, but should not be. Although the setting is alien, the characters of this world are human and their many trials and tribulations purposely mirror our own. For all its fantastic elements and unique storyline, "Nightfall" is a study of the modern human condition, with insights very much meant for the Earthborn reader.
At one point, a psychologist asks a colleague if he sleeps with a "godlight" (their equivilent of a mere night light) in the bedroom. The colleague replies "of course", and when the psychologist asks him to turn it off or remove the "godlight", it is an alien and unfathomable idea. "Nightfall" is about the fragility of the human mind, its stubborness toward accepting change, and its inability to overcome monumental change in the face of a sudden epoch thrust upon mankind's collective psyche. The novel touches upon many aspects of this, with moments of scientic and religious backlash reminiscent of Galileo, and deeper delvings into the human mind and how, even in an enlightened age, the most primitive instincts can compel the strongest actions and reactions.
Although the third act of the novel is not as tightly written, "Nightfall" remains an engrossing work of science fiction by one of the great masters of the genre, Isaac Asimov, in turn ably assisted by notable contemporary Robert Silverberg. Recommended for all science fiction fans and for any curious readers with a background/interest in psychology or sociology.