- Mass Market Paperback: 339 pages
- Publisher: Spectra (September 1, 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780553290998
- ISBN-13: 978-0553290998
- ASIN: 0553290991
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 203 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Nightfall Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 1991
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About the Author
Isaac Asimov began his Foundation series at the age of twenty-one, not realizing that it would one day be considered a cornerstone of science fiction. During his legendary career, Asimov penned more than 470 books on subjects ranging from science to Shakespeare to history, though he was most loved for his award-winning science fiction sagas, which include the Robot, Empire, and Foundation series. Named a Grand Master of Science Fiction by the Science Fiction Writers of America, Asimov entertained and educated readers of all ages for close to five decades. He died, at the age of seventy-two, in April 1992.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
It was a dazzling four-sun afternoon. Great golden Onos was high in the west, and little red Dovim was rising fast on the horizon below it. When you looked the other way you saw the brilliant white points of Trey and Patru bright against the purplish eastern sky. The rolling plains of Kalgash’s northernmost continent were flooded with wondrous light. The office of Kelaritan 99, director of the Jonglor Municipal Psychiatric Institute, had huge windows on every side to display the full magnificence of it all.
Sheerin 501 of Saro University, who had arrived in Jonglor a few hours before at Kelaritan’s urgent request, wondered why he wasn’t in a better mood. Sheerin was basically a cheerful person to begin with; and four-sun days usually gave his normally ebullient spirits an additional lift. But today, for some reason, he was edgy and apprehensive, although he was trying his best to keep that from becoming apparent. He had been summoned to Jonglor as an expert on mental health, after all.
“Would you like to start by talking with some of the victims?” Kelaritan asked. The director of the psychiatric hospital was a gaunt, angular little man, sallow and hollow-chested. Sheerin, who was ruddy and very far from gaunt, was innately suspicious of anyone of adult years who weighed less than half of what he did. Perhaps it’s the way Kelaritan looks that’s upsetting me, Sheerin thought. He’s like a walking skeleton. —“Or do you think it’s a better idea for you to get some personal experience of the Tunnel of Mystery first, Dr. Sheerin?”
Sheerin managed a laugh, hoping it didn’t sound too forced.
“Maybe I ought to begin by interviewing a victim or three,” he said. “That way I might be able to prepare myself a little better for the horrors of the Tunnel.”
Kelaritan’s dark beady eyes flickered unhappily. But it was Cubello 54, the sleek and polished lawyer for the Jonglor Centennial Exposition, who spoke out. “Oh, come now, Dr. Sheerin! ‘The horrors of the Tunnel!’ That’s a little extreme, don’t you think? After all, you’ve got nothing but newspaper accounts to go by, at this point. And calling the patients ‘victims.’ That’s hardly what they are.”
“The term was Dr. Kelaritan’s,” said Sheerin stiffly.
“I’m sure Dr. Kelaritan used that word only in the most general sense. But there’s a presupposition in its use that I find unacceptable.”
Sheerin said, giving the lawyer a look compounded equally of distaste and professional dispassion, “I understand that several people died as a result of their journey through the Tunnel of Mystery. Is that not so?”
“There were several deaths in the Tunnel, yes. But there’s no necessary reason at this point to think that those people died as a result of having gone through the Tunnel, Doctor.”
“I can see why you wouldn’t want to think so, Counselor,” said Sheerin crisply.
Cubello looked in outrage toward the hospital director. “Dr. Kelaritan! If this is the way this inquiry is going to be conducted, I want to register a protest right now. Your Dr. Sheerin is here as an impartial expert, not as a witness for the prosecution!”
Sheerin chuckled. “I was expressing my view of lawyers in general, Counselor, not offering any opinion about what may or may not have happened in the Tunnel of Mystery.”
“Dr. Kelaritan!” Cubello exclaimed again, growing red-faced.
“Gentlemen, please,” Kelaritan said, his eyes moving back and forth quickly from Cubello to Sheerin, from Sheerin to Cubello. “Let’s not be adversaries, shall we? We all have the same objective in this inquiry, as I see it. Which is to discover the truth about what happened in the Tunnel of Mystery, so that a repetition of the—ah—unfortunate events can be avoided.”
“Agreed,” said Sheerin amiably. It was a waste of time to be sniping at the lawyer this way. There were more important things to be doing.
He offered Cubello a genial smile. “I’m never really much interested in the placing of blame, only in working out ways of heading off situations where people come to feel that blame has to be placed. Suppose you show me one of your patients now, Dr. Kelaritan. And then we can have lunch and discuss the events in the Tunnel as we understand them at this point, and perhaps after we’ve eaten I might be able to see another patient or two—”
“Lunch?” Kelaritan said vaguely, as though the concept was unfamiliar to him.
“Lunch, yes. The midday meal. An old habit of mine, Doctor. But I can wait just a little while longer. We can certainly visit one of the patients first.”
Kelaritan nodded. To the lawyer he said, “Harrim’s the one to start with, I think. He’s in pretty good shape today. Good enough to withstand interrogation by a stranger, anyway.”
“What about Gistin 190?” Cubello asked.
“She’s another possibility, but she’s not as strong as Harrim. Let him get the basic story from Harrim, and then he can talk to Gistin, and—oh, maybe Chimmilit. After lunch, that is.”
“Thank you,” said Sheerin.
“If you’ll come this way, Dr. Sheerin—”
Kelaritan gestured toward a glassed-in passageway that led from the rear of his office to the hospital itself. It was an airy, open catwalk with a 360-degree view of the sky and the low gray-green hills that encircled the city of Jonglor. The light of the day’s four suns came streaming in from all sides.
Pausing for a moment, the hospital director looked to his right, then to his left, taking in the complete panorama. The little man’s dour pinched features seemed to glow with sudden youth and vitality as the warm rays of Onos and the tighter, sharply contrasting beams from Dovim, Patru, and Trey converged in a brilliant display.
“What an absolutely splendid day, eh, gentlemen!” Kelaritan cried, with an enthusiasm that Sheerin found startling, coming from someone as restrained and austere as he seemed to be. “How glorious it is to see four of the suns in the sky at the same time! How good it makes me feel when their light strikes my face! Ah, where would we be without our marvelous suns, I wonder?”
“Indeed,” said Sheerin.
He was feeling a little better himself, as a matter of fact.
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More would be telling, but this story is fascinating and captivating. The original short story is snappy and very economical of words. This novel is not; it takes the original short story and lovingly expands upon it, but to its credit does stick to the main theme, while developing it into a creditable novel. The characters are reasonably well-developed, and the authors bring together this planet's disciplines of astronomy, gravitational physics, and archaeology to answer that planet's age-old question: why do civilizations of that world always seem to regress after about 2,000 years? Religion also plays a part and this too is skillfully done.
This novel expands upon a classic and is itself a classic. Highly recommended. RJB.
"Nightfall" was expanded into a full-length novel. It shouldn't have been. The short-story is perfect. Add to that Asimov's other favorites and you've got a delightful look at a potential universe.
Some of the stories show their age more than others, specifically those taking place on Earth. But even those are still worth reading and contemplating for awhile.
Would we be surprised at the day of the eclipse, enjoy the dark sky filled with stars and think how wonderful it is or would we become terrified and loose our sanity?
“Nightfall” is a wonderful “What if…?” kind of story, in which the worse scenario is told, leaving us wondering about the consequences of a total unpredicted change in our scientific beliefs regarding our solar system. In addition, discussing how a powerful religion organization could benefit from this situation, and how it could influence and control people’s beliefs.
The book starts telling us about an archeologist, a scientist, a psychologist and a newspaperman. Slowly, their stories and discoveries connect with each other, converging to the main plot. The imminent threat of total darkness in the planet!
It was a very delightful read, I loved the characters and the ideas explored in the story. The ending was okay, leaving me thinking that humanity always takes the same paths, and the history tends to repeat itself from time to time, no matter what we do. Yes, that was the message of the book for me. Deep inside, I was hoping for something more extraordinary, but I think I understood the point of the authors.
It’s a nice light science fiction discussing science, social breakdown/organization and religion in one package. I gave it 4 stars just because the ending didn’t reach to my expectations, but that's just me.
The story that leads up to the end of the world does an amazing job of tying together archaeological, astronomical and theological storylines. At the heart of all three is a journalist who manages to ingratiate himself with key players in each area in a convincing manner.
The creation of a world where the sun never sets until all the sudden it does is complete and sets the stage for a most believable recurring catastrophe. As someone who has seen the night sky in the suburbs of NYC and the solitude of the Australian outback, the emergence of so many stars is not an abstract concept.