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Brightness Falls from the Air Paperback – August 15, 1993
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Top Customer Reviews
Sheldon wote some of the best short fiction of the 70s, including such classics as "The Girl Who Was Plugged In" (which anticipated many cyberpunk themes years before William Gibson), "The Women Men Don't See", and "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?".
Brightness Falls from the Air was Sheldon's second (and final) novel. Although Sheldon's best work was certainly in her short stories, my favorite thing about this novel was seeing Sheldon express many of her recurring themes in a longer form, weaving several seemingly disparate plot lines into one. The novel works well both as a mystery and as science fiction, and offers a nice helping of excitement as well.
This is one of my favorite science fiction novels of all time, and is an excellent introduction to the work of James Tiptree, Jr.
I read this book as a teenager and remembered a couple of the big reveals but not the ending. This story does have many ideas going on in it; Sheldon could have easily turned it into a pair of novels. Reading it three decades after the first time, I find her style enjoyable. This IS Art.
The mood is wistfully sad as the tension ratchets up. If you like intelligent science fiction or fantasy, you'll like this story. I wouldn't start with it as a Sheldon tale, though: Up the Walls of the World or some short stories would do better. Brightness is a dish appreciated by those who already have the taste for such things.
"People talk about body language, but his perceptions are subtler that that... In the same way he knows the two passengers who are supposedly enraged at being dumped off here, aren't really angry at all. And that silent-so called-artist stinks of death. And the dear little old jolly Doctor would cut your throat for a half credit." from "Brightness falls From the Air"
This story has some admirable qualities that I find very appealing in a science fiction novel. For one thing it takes place on a believable alien planet, has intelligent non-humanoid beings with a intriguing history and culture, involves a stellar event of considerable significance and the characters and events are set within the framework of credible space exploration.
The story concerns some very unsavory occurrences associated with 13 tourists who are visiting the planet Damiem to observe and to be affected by the passing of the light and energy from a human caused Nova event. The tourist are, well, different: 4 teen "adult video stars" and their producer/director/cameraman, a very wealthy lady and her sister who has been in a coma for years, a doctor that reminds one of Dr. Strangelove, a light sculptor-not sure what that is, the young heir to the royal throne on another planet, two very suspicious characters claiming to have been being dumped off on Damiem and an attractive ship officer with some very serious emotional problems.
Although it combines elements of detective fiction melodrama - a group on strangers in an exotic location - some innocent some maniacs - it is nonetheless an exceptional science fiction novel and highly recommended for interested readers.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Unusual. Brilliant. Characters with soul. The environment of the story is painted clearly but with otherness required for a space story.Published on January 13, 2014 by Mary Ann Neuroth
I wanted so badly to like this book. It was beautifully written, with a memorable world that still lingers in my mind and a deep sympathy for the characters and their trials. Read morePublished on August 22, 2010 by Kenya Starflight
From the late 1940s through the 1970s and early '80s I was a frequent reader of science fiction - hard science, soft science, whatever classification Philip K. Read morePublished on May 20, 2010 by Robert Lombard
This novel is not traditional science fiction in that it does not revolve around either action or a plot, and it avoids the easy, simple answers and characters so common in the... Read morePublished on March 15, 2010 by Galgar
This late novel by Tiptree, better known for her short stories and short novels, has not been popular with either reviewers or readers. Read morePublished on May 25, 2008 by Rory Coker
Cardboard characters, High School level writing, poor plotting, unremarkable prose, "Brightness Falls from the Air" is a book that confounds the reader who has earlier read the... Read morePublished on August 17, 2004 by Jack Cade
In Brightness Falls from the Air, Ms. Triptree has written a rich yet unsatisfactory novel. Ms. Triptree's characters are an interesting collection and the general backdrop of the... Read morePublished on June 8, 2004 by Amazon Customer