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Nightside the Long Sun (Book of the Long Sun) Hardcover – April, 1993

4.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
Book 1 of 12 in the Solar Cycle Series

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A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly
"A Criminal Magic" by Lee Kelly
THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets THE PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly's new magical realism, crossover novel and casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties. Learn more

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Wolfe's first novel since Pandora by Holly Hollander (1990) is a vivid and compelling evocation of life inside an interstellar spacecraft so huge that a whole world of cities and wildernesses exists within it, and so old that its origins and purpose are mere legends to its inhabitants. Patera Silk, a young priest in one of the city of Viron's poorest temples ("manteions"), receives a mental message from one of his gods, an enlightenment which invests his life with urgent meaning. On the same day, however, he learns his manteion had been sold for back taxes and may well be dismantled. Armed with the conviction of his revelation, Silk enlists the aid of a local but decent-hearted thief, intent upon breaking into the mansion of Blod, the new owner of the manteion, to convince (or even force) him to guarantee its survival. From that point on, Silk is drawn even deeper into the shady world outside his temple walls. But for all its interest, the plot is hardly the most powerful element. The atmosphere of Wolfe's spacecraft seduces and amazes, details and mystery piling upon each other to yield a sense of palpable otherworldliness. The environment of the long sun--so called because the ship's cylindrical interior is lit by a central tubular "sun" extending the length of the ship--comes energetically alive, and readers will be grateful that this book begins a four-volume series. If this first taste is any test, Wolfe has embarked on an epic to rival his acclaimed Book of the New Sun.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Inside the giant spaceship known as the Whorl, the gods speak to their worshipers through a complex system of augury and technology until one man discovers the existence of a new god and unwittingly begins a revolution. Wolfe's stylistic genius allows him to infuse standard elements of mystery and adventure with multiple layers of nuance and symbolism to create a transcendent and mysterious whole. Resonating with undertones from the authors' "Book of the New Sun" saga, this first in a four-volume series is a strong addition to any library's sf collection.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Series: Book of the Long Sun (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 333 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (April 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031285207X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312852078
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,986,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gene Wolfe is winner of the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and many other awards. In 2007, he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. He lives in Barrington, Illinois.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
NIGHTSIDE THE LONG SUN is the first volume of Gene Wolfe's four-volume work The Book of the Long Sun, which is a story of political intrigue, revolution, and Christian allegory set in a starship sent from Earth to colonize a distant planet.Gene Wolfe rose to fame with his magisterial work The Book of the New Sun, which is one of my most cherished books. The Book of the Long Sun takes place, in fact, in the same universe as Wolfe's masterpiece. However, differences abound. The Book of the New Sun is a first-person narrative in which the narrator stands between the reader and a clear view of his world. The Book of the Long Sun, on the other hand, is told in third-person and the setting is richly illustrated by Wolfe's prose. That is not to say that there are no mysteries in the Book of the Long Sun, it is of course a Gene Wolfe novel, but the plot is much more straightforward and clear than in Wolfe's earlier triumph.NIGHTSIDE THE LONG SUN slowly introduces the plot that will later rage through the city of its setting and by the end of the four-volume work utterly change the world in which the characters live. NIGHTSIDE opens with the enlightenment of Patera Silk, an augur (i.e. priest), in Viron, one of the cities within the Whorl, the gigantic starship sent from Urth. The rather pagan inhabitants of the Whorl worship a pantheon of deities based upon the ruler who sent out the starship and his family. Silk's enlightener, however, is an obscure god called the Outsider, because he abides even outside the Whorl, who is quite possibly in fact the Christian God. The Outsider has called upon Silk to save the local church and school, which have been sold for back taxes to a criminal named Blood. Silk, in a bit of bravado, proceeds to break into Blood's mansion in hopes of getting his property back.Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition
I have read these series as a paperback many years ago. Since i cannot seem to find the copy I own, I intended to revisit the dense and delightful prose of Gene Wolfe and the extraordinary story of Patera Silk again on my Kindle. However, I was expecting Book 1&2 of the series together in one instalment as I used to have in paperback. The price is a bit steep for only Book 1. I am waiting for the "Litany of the Long Sun" Kindle Edition.
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By Curtis on March 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a great example of everything I love about Wolfe's writing. It is stylistically different from The Book of the New Sun, its style more transparent and, as Wolfe called it, journalistic. And while TBotNS was written entirely in first-person, the Long Sun series is in third. Even so, Wolfe is able to imbue the world and its characters and events with an element of mystery, leaving much room for speculation and interpretation. As with all of Wolfe's work, this one can be read as a straight SF adventure, or on a much deeper level which I won't get into in this review.

This one follows a man who we would call a priest, but in his world he is called an augur. His name is Silk, or Patera Silk to his parishoners. He is a priest of a small church in the poorest quarter of the city Viron. He is very much Wolfe's version of Chesterton's Father Brown, albeit younger and living aboard a generational spaceship that no one realizes IS a generational spaceship. While Silk's religion seems to be false, Silk is himself a good man who becomes entangled in the machinations of the gods, the government, and God himself.

If spaceships, laser swords (but like no other laser sword you've ever imagined), artificial people, revelations, mysteries, a thieving priest, a girl who can project herself Astrally at will, a possible vampire, gods who appear on giant screens, and of course the genius writing of Gene Wolfe sounds good to you, then you cannot go wrong. Believe me though. You will love this book even if that description doesn't grab you. My only gripes are that this is the only book of the series available for the Kindle, and that there is no omnibus like the ones available in print. Oh, well. Still worth the price of admission.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Long Sun may be the most conventional of Wolfe's work, at least on the surface. Perhaps because it's told in third person, unusual for Wolfe, it seems more like other, lesser works of SF, until you really begin to understand what's happening, the astounding complexity of the world Wolfe is showing his reader... and you once again are humbled by the talent of this writer. There are no equals to Wolfe writing today; it saddens me he is not a household name, though given the current state of our culture, I understand why he isn't. You have to pay attention to Wolfe. Don't let the simpicity of his prose fool you - not a word is out of place, Wolfe's control over his story should never be doubted.

There's no reason to talk about plot, here. This isn't about plot, though this is one of the more traditional Gene Wolfe works you will find. But the power of Wolfe is not plot. Wolfe is about ideas, about humanity's place in creation, about gods and God, about redemption and determination, about what it is to be human, to want to be human, about failure and dealing with failure, about the loss and rebirth of faith, epiphany, and, finally, understanding of one's place in the universe.

Wolfe rewards like few writers. It's hard work to read him; it takes effort, you have to think, to consider, to realize he is apt to reveal important informantion at any time. There isn't anything, not one word, that isn't meant to be there, no compromise in his respect for his reader's intelligence. But in the end, when you finish a major Wolfe work like Long Sun, you'll have a greater appreciation for what it means to be human. And you'll wish you too could find an Oreb, or have been taught by a Matera Marble, or perhaps, could have spoken, just once, to a Patera Silk.
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