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Biting the Sun Mass Market Paperback – October 5, 1999
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The far future has brought freedom not only from material want but also from rules, responsibilities, and risk. You can change bodies and genders like clothes, make love with whomever you want, live forever, and kill yourself as often as you like. You can have everything, except a meaningful life. Then one day a restless soul discovers an act so shocking and terrifying that human society has forgotten its existence. --Cynthia Ward
From the Inside Flap
Published for the first time in a single volume, Tanith Lee's duet of novels set in a hedonistic Utopia are as riveting and revolutionary as they were when they first appeared two decades ago.
It's a perfect existence, a world in which no pleasure is off-limits, no risk is too dangerous, and no responsibilities can cramp your style. Not if you're Jang: a caste of libertine teenagers in the city of Four BEE. But when you're expected to make trouble--when you can kill yourself on a whim and return in another body, when you're encouraged to change genders at will and experience whatever you desire--you've got no reason to rebel...until making love and raising hell, daring death and running wild just leave you cold and empty.
Ravenous for true adventures of the mind and body, desperate to find some meaning, one restless spirit finally bucks the system--and by shattering the rules, strikes at the very heart of a soulless society....
Top Customer Reviews
Biting the Sun takes place in a future trio of cities where no one ever dies, they just get new, personally-designed bodies. Read the previous review if you want a really good summary of the novel. The first part of the book, Don't Bite the Sun, is my favorite; it centers around the (forever unnamed) protagonist's strangling, suffocating boredom with *her* city, her life, her forced role as Jang--a young, drug-taking, factory-sabotaging, thieving teenager.
The second part of the novel, Drinking Sapphire Wine, is equally entertaining; it explains what happens to the protagonist when she breaks one of the city's few rules and chaos ensues.
The good thing about Biting the Sun is that even at its most depressing and unhappy, there's still a feeling of fun and hope in the novel that never goes away. Tanith Lee is at her most imaginative, and the book is worth reading for the hijinks and misadventures of the protagonist and her friends alone. The main character is engaging and easy to like, the supporting characters are equally entertaining and interesting, and to anyone who's read Lee's Unicorn series, the pink pet in this book seems to be a prelude to Tanaquil's peeve.
All in all, Biting the Sun is a totally fun experience, light and frothy, but not without true substance and thought-provoking themes. Lee's signature is that even in her lightest works she keeps the reader wondering and thinking and questioning; Biting the Sun is no exception.
The book is really two novels in one. The first, "Don't Bite the Sun," deals with traditional dystopian themes, all written in Lee's brilliant, colorful prose and enacted by a crazy and fascinating set of characters. From the beginning the story throws you off balance and pulls you in: come on, what other novel opens with its narrator committing suicide? In the futuristic city of Four-BEE a strict age-based caste system dictates its inhabitants' lives, particularly the lives of the Jang, whose adolescence seems to last at least fifty years. You can do anything when you're a Jang. Drink, do drugs, marry, have love, kill yourself, all as many times as you like in whatever body you prefer; the only thing you can't do is...stop being a Jang. Thus when the anonymous, mainly-female protagonist decides to rebel against Four-BEE, but it's hard. When nothing is forbidden, what can you protest? Apparently there's something, because the second novel, "Drinking Sapphire Wine," deals with the other half of the story: what happens when the narrator finally ticks off the Powers That Be and is exiled from Four-BEE. Although I understand that the books were originally published as separate works, they mesh seamlessly into one another.Read more ›
Tanith Lee has created a world in which humans are the obsolete masters of a society so advanced that death itself is impossible. Life on the other hand is an endless pursuit of pleasure for plesaure's sake. No material possession, no experience cannot be had by the elite Jang class of citizens (you could even say it was considered their duty to experiment with play). Work is performed entirely by robot automatons so that humans can indulge themselves in whatever way suits their fancies. Want to try a new body? Commit suicide and come back with a different look, a different gender, antennae if you like. Nothing is criminal or forbidden save one thing: murder.
The depiction of this world ( called 4-B) and an unusual young heroine who dares to buck the system to find meaning in her life resonated with me. Seeing her exhaust every avenue available to her for true self-discovery was a painful and beautiful thing; eventually, she realized that there was something terribly wrong with a society in which God and morals had no place. Therefore, the only option left was to flee from the protection of the AI overseers and their sheltered paradise to become truly human and mortal at last. Reading this was like watching a soul being born.
The author was not exactly covering new territory in her plot line; it became obvious to me halfway through that this was a variation on the popular Biblical tale of the Fall.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sorry for the snarky review title. TL's later work is very good. But I can't make sense of this at all. Am I the only one who doesn't get it? Read morePublished 4 months ago by Morris Pevensey
An attempt at a modern twist to any future prediction of humanity. The focus on petty details makes the book read more like a movie script akin to the 5th element movie, more than... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Travis Gustafson
This book paints such a fantastic, surreal future. It's almost dream like, yet it has weight to it. Tanith Lee does an excellent job of representing the pain inherent in hedonism. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Kelly S.
In SF and Fantasy the idea of a dystopia where the population lives a life of luxury and pleasure immune from danger or thought until one rebel breaks free is hardly new, Brave New... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Lewis Woolston
One of my all time favorites. And I've read lots of science fiction. There are moments and scenes and phrases that have stayed with me in the 20+ years since I first read this. Read morePublished 18 months ago by N M R
Book appears to be brand new, aside from the sticker on it's spine. I am trying to remove the sticker, but it's determined to stay welded to the book. Read morePublished on August 3, 2014 by Laura M. Cospito
I've loved this book ever since I was a teenager. It's a beautifully written story about a girl who is dissatisfied with the Utopian society of the future. Read morePublished on January 15, 2014 by Bunny