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Imagine living on a planet with six suns that never experiences Darkness. Imagine never having seen the Stars. Then, one by one your suns start to set, gradually leading you into Darkness for the first time ever. Image the terror of such a Nightfall. Scientists on the planet Kalgash discover that an eclipse - an event that occurs only every 2049 years - is imminent, and tha Imagine living on a planet with six suns that never experiences Darkness. Imagine never having seen the Stars. Then, one by one your suns start to set, gradually leading you into Darkness for the first time ever. Image the terror of such a Nightfall. Scientists on the planet Kalgash discover that an eclipse - an event that occurs only every 2049 years - is imminent, and that a society unfamiliar with Darkness will be plunged into madness and chaos. They realize that their civilization will end, for the people of Kalgash have a proven fear of Darkness, but they are unable to predict the insanity and destruction that will accompany the awesome splendor of Nightfall.


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Imagine living on a planet with six suns that never experiences Darkness. Imagine never having seen the Stars. Then, one by one your suns start to set, gradually leading you into Darkness for the first time ever. Image the terror of such a Nightfall. Scientists on the planet Kalgash discover that an eclipse - an event that occurs only every 2049 years - is imminent, and tha Imagine living on a planet with six suns that never experiences Darkness. Imagine never having seen the Stars. Then, one by one your suns start to set, gradually leading you into Darkness for the first time ever. Image the terror of such a Nightfall. Scientists on the planet Kalgash discover that an eclipse - an event that occurs only every 2049 years - is imminent, and that a society unfamiliar with Darkness will be plunged into madness and chaos. They realize that their civilization will end, for the people of Kalgash have a proven fear of Darkness, but they are unable to predict the insanity and destruction that will accompany the awesome splendor of Nightfall.

30 review for Nightfall

  1. 4 out of 5

    Apatt

    “My god, it's full of stars!” This famous phrase from 2001: A Space Odyssey is also applicable to Nightfall, but with an entirely opposite connotation. Nightfall was originally a short story by Isaac Asimov, first published in 1941. It is considered a classic sci-fi short story, and often cited as one of the all-time greats (example “best” list). The book being reviewed here is an expansion of this short story, in collaboration of the great Robert Silverberg, a legend among veteran sci-fi reade “My god, it's full of stars!” This famous phrase from 2001: A Space Odyssey is also applicable to Nightfall, but with an entirely opposite connotation. Nightfall was originally a short story by Isaac Asimov, first published in 1941. It is considered a classic sci-fi short story, and often cited as one of the all-time greats (example “best” list). The book being reviewed here is an expansion of this short story, in collaboration of the great Robert Silverberg, a legend among veteran sci-fi readers. When this novelized version of Nightfall came out in 1990 I was not interested in reading it, as I thought the original story is perfect as it is and I could not imagine how expanding or padding it out can improve on it. In a way I was right, this Nightfall novel is not an improvement of the story but I was wrong to assume that it would not be worth reading. The novel, in and of itself, is a very good read. A view of Nightfall (solar eclipse) on Kalgash. The main original storyline is quite straightforward; set on a planet called Kalgash which has six suns, with normally up to four appearing in the sky at any one time (five rarely, all six never). With this setup it is always daytime on this planet, some hours are dimmer than others as the suns are of different sizes or distances from the planet. The inhabitants of this planet have no experience of night and have never seen stars in the sky. They even believe that the universe has only six stars and is quite limited in size. Unfortunately for them, exactly every two thousand and forty-nine years the stars align with the planet’s moon in such a way that only one sun appears in the sky and it is blotted out for hours by the shadow of the planet's moon, causing a lengthy total solar eclipse, the planet is then plunged into night and the stars are visible. This does not seem like much for us Earthlings but the Kalgash people cannot cope with such extreme “weirdness”, it is too terrifying and cracks their brains, permanently in many cases. The original story is only concerned with the impending night and the immediate impact on the people when night and the stars appear. With this novel Robert Silverberg have added on (“bolted on” the detractors say) a section leading up to the Nightfall (called “Twilight”, and another section which follows after the Nightfall event (called “Daybreak”). So it is a novel of three parts: 1. Twilight This is basically the prequel to the original short story, it takes place about one month prior to the Nightfall event. “Twilight” is interesting enough with some good characterization. I like that a psychologist is investigating mental illness caused by 15 minutes exposure to darkness in a theme park ride. It adds to the believability of the main premise. The tension slowly builds toward the cataclysmic Nightfall; I was, however, impatient to get to the main event myself. 2. Nightfall The main event, the cataclysmic “Nightfall” solar eclipse. This is basically the original classic short story with some minor alterations to make it consistent with the other two parts but the story remains intact. Not surprisingly, this middle part of the book is the most powerful, it really is absolutely riveting. 3. Daybreak Clearly the sequel to Nightfall. This final part is basically a post-apocalyptic story, or “post eclipse barbarism” as one of the characters puts it. In some respect it reminds me a little of the movie “28 Days Later” with zombies homicidal maniacs running around attacking people. It lacks the raw power of the classic “Nightfall” part but is more exciting than the “Twilight” part. I feel the post-apocalyptic framework is too commonplace for Silverberg. His best solo books tend to have much more outré plots. There is only so much you can do with this kind of post-apocalyptic setting, I think. Still, “Daybreak” is a compelling read because Silverberg is a great storyteller; it also has a nice little twist that I did not expect. I suppose you could call the additions a prologue and an epilogue, but they are really too long for that; more of a prequel and a sequel to the original story. I disagree with the detractors that “Twilight” and “Daybreak” are clunky bolted on things. The book, viewed as a whole, is quite cohesive and very readable. I tend to mention Silverberg more than Asimov in this review because the former did all of the writing of the additional parts, Asimov wrote the original version of the middle (“Nightfall”) part but Silverberg made some minor alterations to ensure consistency with the other two parts. Asimov had the final say in the content of the whole book, anything Silverberg wrote which he did not like was excised†. The prose style is mostly that of Silverberg's, which means it can be quite eloquent and even fanciful. That said, he seems to be channeling Asimov’s more clear-cut minimalist style at times also. The central characters are well developed but they are dwarfed by the setting and the plot, and they are basically there to move the storyline forward, Nightfall is definitely not about the characters. The two authors seem to have worked very well together and I look forward to reading the other two collaborations from them, namely: The Ugly Little Boy and The Positronic Man. If you have not read the original “Nightfall” story I urge you to hunt it down and read it post-haste*, it is an unforgettable experience. This novel is also well worth reading for its own sake. Quotes “We’ve evolved under conditions of perpetual sunlight, every hour of the day, all year round. If Onos isn’t in the sky, Tano and Sitha and Dovim are, or Patru and Trey, and so forth. Our minds, even the physiologies of our bodies, are accustomed to constant brightness. We don’t like even a brief moment without it.” “There’s a psychological term for mankind’s instinctive fear of the absence of light. We call it ‘claustrophobia,’ because the lack of light is always tied up with enclosed places, so that the fear of one is fear of the other.” “Millions of years of evolution shaping us to be what we are. Darkness is the most unnatural thing in the world.” “Imagine, if you can, a world that has only one sun. As that world rotates on its axis, each hemisphere will receive light for half the day and will be entirely dark for the other half.” “They hammered at the roots of his being. They beat like flails against his brain. Their icy monstrous light was like a million great gongs going off at once.” Notes * There's an audiobook of the short story on Youtube! † Degree of collaboration between Asimov and Silverberg on Nightfall

  2. 4 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    Fifteen Minutes in the Dark The best science fiction looks backwards into the past as well as speculating forward into the future, linking things we think (or thought) we’re sure of with things that don’t exist. Comparing the two can be sobering as well as enlightening. Asimov writes just this kind of inter-temporal story in Nightfall. On the one hand it anticipates things like the debates about climate change and dark matter that wouldn’t emerge more articulately for decades. On the other, it co Fifteen Minutes in the Dark The best science fiction looks backwards into the past as well as speculating forward into the future, linking things we think (or thought) we’re sure of with things that don’t exist. Comparing the two can be sobering as well as enlightening. Asimov writes just this kind of inter-temporal story in Nightfall. On the one hand it anticipates things like the debates about climate change and dark matter that wouldn’t emerge more articulately for decades. On the other, it contains historical echoes of philosophical and theological issues from Pascale’s Wager to Galileo’s condemnation by the Church, to the impact of Kantian categories of perception. The story then mixes the anticipatory and the completed into a sort of a theory of Mind and explores the delicate dependency of Mind upon expectations as well as memory - specifically the dependency on light among a species unfamiliar with darkness. As one of Asimov’s characters says, “Your brain wasn’t built for the conception [of total darkness] any more than it was built for the conception of infinity or of eternity. You can only talk about it. A fraction of the reality upsets you, and when the real thing comes, your brain is going to be presented with the phenomenon outside its limits of comprehension.” A very interesting premise. What then?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Adrian

    More to follow tomorrow. I'm still wondering if this should be downgraded to 3 stars. Now I really enjoy Asimov books, in fact he's probably my favourite author, even if he didn't write my favourite book, all of which is besides the point really as unfortunately I did not find this the best of Asimov's books. The short story he wrote on which this is based, is a masterpiece, this not so much so. Parts of the book are true Asimov, the characters the settings and a lot of the story driven conversati More to follow tomorrow. I'm still wondering if this should be downgraded to 3 stars. Now I really enjoy Asimov books, in fact he's probably my favourite author, even if he didn't write my favourite book, all of which is besides the point really as unfortunately I did not find this the best of Asimov's books. The short story he wrote on which this is based, is a masterpiece, this not so much so. Parts of the book are true Asimov, the characters the settings and a lot of the story driven conversations (which to me he is famous for). But there are also parts of the story that aren't Asimov, (view spoiler)[what happened to Sifeera on reaching Sanctuary after the cataclysmic events was certainly not Asimov (hide spoiler)] . Now having said all of that I have to obviously admit this book is not all by Isaac Asimov, but also by Robert Silverberg. However, over the years I have read quite a few Silverberg novels, and have always enjoyed them, so what happened here I do not know. I'm still struggling with the end as well. I think ultimately I am going to leave it at 4 stars, as there are some excellent parts to the novel and it is an amazing and far reaching storyline.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Real Rating: 4.5* of five I absolutely adore this story. It's my favorite Asimov story or book. I was delighted to learn that the ancient radio drama, X Minus One, recorded a half-hour dramatization of it. I just can't express the degree to which I love the Asimovian take on relativism's simultaneous necessity and vicissitudes are played out in a hugely amusing manner. A planet inhabited by intelligent technological species that's lit by five stars is about to experience, for the first time in 2,5 Real Rating: 4.5* of five I absolutely adore this story. It's my favorite Asimov story or book. I was delighted to learn that the ancient radio drama, X Minus One, recorded a half-hour dramatization of it. I just can't express the degree to which I love the Asimovian take on relativism's simultaneous necessity and vicissitudes are played out in a hugely amusing manner. A planet inhabited by intelligent technological species that's lit by five stars is about to experience, for the first time in 2,500 years, a total absence of sunlight. All the suns will be in eclipse at the same time. And, quite naturally, a super-daffy religion has sprung up sometime in the past 2,500 years (that interval is not accidental) to predict The End of Days when this utter, total eclipse occurs. Then the psychologists start explaining what's going on; then there is the eclipse. Let There Be Light. Just marvelous! And as of the COVID-19 plague of 2020, eerily timely....

  5. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Sextuple star system: "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg "If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore, and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown!" In "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg The story, of course, being about how it doesn't quite work out like that. When I think about “Nightfall”, Byron’s “Darkness” comes to mind, If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Sextuple star system: "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg "If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore, and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown!" In "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg The story, of course, being about how it doesn't quite work out like that. When I think about “Nightfall”, Byron’s “Darkness” comes to mind, always: "I had a dream, which was not all a dream, The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars Did wander darkling in the eternal space, Rayless, and pathless; and the icy earth Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air. Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day, And men forgot their passions in the dread Of this their desolation: and all hearts Were chill’d into a selfish prayer for light: And they did live by watchfires—and the thrones, The palaces of crowned kings—the huts, The habitations of all things which dwell, Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed, And men were gathered round their blazing homes To look once more into each other’s face...." More stuff on the other side of the fence.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    The original short story Nightfall is brilliant and deserves five stars. This novel, based on that short story, only gets 2 stars. It was bloated and forgettable. Don't bother with it unless you're an Asimov completist. If you've never read the short story, you need to go find it. It's in a lot of SF collections and should be readily available.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    To start with, I thought the original 1941 novelette was absolutely fascinating. People experiencing a world-wide event that had never occurred before in their entire history, trying to prepare for it and being horrified as it actually occurs. The end is an absolutely masterful span of writing, ever-increasing suspense and dark madness as a mob descends, cut off so abruptly, it's almost certainly the reason the story is so popular. And then Silverberg brings us to the new world, and spends a hund To start with, I thought the original 1941 novelette was absolutely fascinating. People experiencing a world-wide event that had never occurred before in their entire history, trying to prepare for it and being horrified as it actually occurs. The end is an absolutely masterful span of writing, ever-increasing suspense and dark madness as a mob descends, cut off so abruptly, it's almost certainly the reason the story is so popular. And then Silverberg brings us to the new world, and spends a hundred pages detailing the hopelessness of the post-apocalyptic world and the self-pity the protagonists wallow in. It's very unfortunate that he decided to expand the novel, because his verbose meandering is so jarring compared to Asimov's succinct prose. The original short story is included almost whole as the middle third, with a few obvious and unnecessary interjections by Silverberg, providing a unique contrast on the power of a short versus a novel. The characters are what drive this story, much more than in the original. The pacing is slow and drawn out, letting them discover, ponder, agonize, reflect, and discuss. Much of the mundane could have been left out, included either to hammer home the idea that these people are identical to us or just that Silverberg didn't have the skill to create an approachable alien, and the writing desperately needed an editor's judicious efforts. Still, the only truly jarring parts were the long flashbacks stitched into the beginning of the short. Although the plot has a definite "fluff" feel, the masterful writing and ideas of Asimov keep it from becoming stale. Silverberg manages to paint a very convincing picture of a fresh post-apocalyptic world, full of fire and distrust and petty warlords and above all, ever-increasing despair and loss. By the end, the heros' failure is absolute, and even the twist (but not so surprising) ending can't eliminate the sense that the survivors are doomed. That kind of emotional downer is rare in science fiction. I kind of liked it. I don't think it's nearly as rereadable as the short story, when nearly all of the forward motion hinges on the original, but the character interaction and explorations of an old culture clashing and morphing into new provide a passtime for an afternoon.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Janne Järvinen

    Nightfall isn't that bad. The plot advances at a nice pace. It all breaks down in the end, though. At points I was close to giving Nightfall three stars. The bad delivery of the ending, and the overall pulpiness of the story, are what drop the rating. The story is fun, but has a full time job holding itself together just on the surface level. This leaves no room for any depth. The final resolution of the story is not that bad in itself, but the way it is told is anti-climactic. Some people say the Nightfall isn't that bad. The plot advances at a nice pace. It all breaks down in the end, though. At points I was close to giving Nightfall three stars. The bad delivery of the ending, and the overall pulpiness of the story, are what drop the rating. The story is fun, but has a full time job holding itself together just on the surface level. This leaves no room for any depth. The final resolution of the story is not that bad in itself, but the way it is told is anti-climactic. Some people say there is not enough here for a novel, that Asimov should've kept it a short story, but I disgree. If anything, the book should have been longer, to let the ending play out in a more dramatic fashion.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Julio Genao

    been a long time, esse. i see you, central park east secondary school library reading nook circa 1991. i see you.

  10. 4 out of 5

    James

    An amazing short story, rewritten as a novel by popular demand. Or maybe just Asimov's determination to keep 'improving' perfectly good work. Sadly, this is exactly the same short story as the original Nightfall, just with more words to slow it down a bit and the 'assistance' of another author who isn't Asimov anyway...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Mazza

    Nightfall contained three parts; Twilight, Nightfall and Daybreak, therefore I feel compelled to rate and review them separately. Whilst at first it took a small while for me to slowly warm up to the slow paced narrative that was Twilight, about halfway through I was completely engaged. The build up was amazing. The science used to back up the storyline was fascinating and highly believable. I would give Twilight a rating of 4/5. Nightfall was fast paced, incredible, addictive and thrilling. It ha Nightfall contained three parts; Twilight, Nightfall and Daybreak, therefore I feel compelled to rate and review them separately. Whilst at first it took a small while for me to slowly warm up to the slow paced narrative that was Twilight, about halfway through I was completely engaged. The build up was amazing. The science used to back up the storyline was fascinating and highly believable. I would give Twilight a rating of 4/5. Nightfall was fast paced, incredible, addictive and thrilling. It had me wanting more and it blew my mind. So much was happening at once and all of the storylines converged perfectly. It was pure chaos, in a most ordered sort of way. A rating of 5/5 would be appropriate for Nightfall. Daybreak started off strong and stroked my curiosity, but it quickly meandered off to nothingness. Certain characters were almost forgotten about, whilst others acted in ways that seemed to go against the personality that had been developed for them. The ending was incredibly anticlimactic, considering just how engaging the middle of the novel had been. Daybreak would get a rating of 2/5 from me.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andre T

    I was and still am a big Isaac Asimov fan, both of his fiction and his non-fiction. I was in particular a big fan of his short stories and I loved the original short story version of Nightfall, however when I read the long extended version that was made into a book, I wasn't as thrilled. I was, however, only 8-years-old, when I read the book version, but I still remember thinking this is too long, too wordy and that Isaac Asimov is right in the assessment that Golden Age science fiction writers w I was and still am a big Isaac Asimov fan, both of his fiction and his non-fiction. I was in particular a big fan of his short stories and I loved the original short story version of Nightfall, however when I read the long extended version that was made into a book, I wasn't as thrilled. I was, however, only 8-years-old, when I read the book version, but I still remember thinking this is too long, too wordy and that Isaac Asimov is right in the assessment that Golden Age science fiction writers weren't so good at characterization (but good in plotting) and his writing in this book also reflects that criticism. I was only eight, someone who mindlessly still watched endless reruns of the "Brady Bunch" and "Three's Company" on TV, however I also remember at the time that, perhaps, oh by the 1000th episode of "Three's Company" that I made another critical realization, that every episode of the show is always the same, always following the same formula of one of the roommates getting into trouble over a misunderstanding. I don't know if it was "Three's Company" or Isaac Asimov that was the key into giving my young self the first awareness of being able to critically judge entertainment, instead of mindlessly consuming it. I'd like to think it was Asimov, but I have a suspicion that it took watching a really bad show like "Three's Company", something so formulaic that an eight-year-old mind could finally see through it, and realize, "hey, not everything I watch (or read) rocks, and that some things might actually suck."

  13. 4 out of 5

    LemonLinda

    What a creative story of science fiction! The planet, Lagash, with 6 suns and constant daylight, is plunged into darkness. Scientists have determined this happens every 2049 years and thus due to the near total madness of its inhabitants, scientists think society for the most part is obliterated and has to begin again. No one is prepared for what is to come with true nightfall. A classic much talked of short story.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Orange

    Doubts and nightmare of an atheist. The original short story is better than the novel written by R. Silverberg.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sean Randall

    An interesting theory here, but I preferred the short story version which actually got to the point a little quicker.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brienna

    The people of Kalgash, although aliens, are very human in nature, so I liked the approach of a sci-fi story to address the issue of how we humans respond to change, especially abrupt change in daily things whose stability we take for granted. Kalgashians live in a world where darkness is unnatural, where there is always light, the light of many suns. They are so used to light that they cannot imagine life without it. I chuckled when I read this passage in which a Kalgash astronomer discusses the The people of Kalgash, although aliens, are very human in nature, so I liked the approach of a sci-fi story to address the issue of how we humans respond to change, especially abrupt change in daily things whose stability we take for granted. Kalgashians live in a world where darkness is unnatural, where there is always light, the light of many suns. They are so used to light that they cannot imagine life without it. I chuckled when I read this passage in which a Kalgash astronomer discusses the possibility of life on a world with only one sun: "Of course," continued Beenay, "there’s the catch that life would be impossible on such a planet. It wouldn’t get enough heat and light, and if it rotated there would be total Darkness half of each day… You couldn’t expect life — which is fundamentally dependent upon light — to develop under such extreme conditions of light-deprivation." Light is such a constant on Kalgash that no one bats an eye when a religious cult called the Apostles of Flame warns that according to their Book of Revelations, on a certain date the following year the gods will punish everyone for their wickedness by extinguishing the suns, plunging Kalgash into Darkness. Not only will everyone go mad, the sky will also be filled with something called Stars, instruments of the gods, that will shoot fire down upon the world and set everything ablaze. When a convergence of unexpected discoveries in astronomy, archaeology, and psychology leads scientists to the same conclusion about this terrible, recurring cataclysm, still no one believes it. (Kind of like climate change, water scarcity, and many other impending global problems.) And then it happens. Nightfall, not just the end of day, but the end of an entire civilization. As a side note to this review, I thought it throws some light upon human civilization’s religious foundation how, after witnessing Nightfall reduce the Kalgashian civilization to widespread insanity, the scientists accept that reinforcing religion is the best hope to getting the now primitive people back under control. As a still rational character puts it, “In a time of total madness the best hope of pulling things together is a religious totalitarianism. You and I may think the gods are just old fables, Siferra, but there are millions and millions of people out there, believe it or not, who have a different view of things. They’ve always been uneasy about doing things that they consider sinful, for fear the gods will punish them. And now they have an absolute dread of the gods. They think the Stars might come back tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, and finish off the job. Well, here are the Apostles, who claim a direct pipeline to the gods and have all sorts of scriptural passages to prove it. They’re in a better position to set up a world government than Altinol, or the little provincial overlords, or the fugitive remnants of the former governments, or anyone else. They’re the best hope we have.”

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jacquie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book was FANTASTIC. It takes place on a distant planet in a distant system. The planet orbits five suns, all various sizes and distances away, so that the inhabitants have never known night. Even though they are an advanced society, even the astronomers have no clue that there is anything in the universe besides their planet and the five suns. When scientists discover the existence of a previously unknown planet that will make a close pass and indeed blot out the tiniest of the suns while t This book was FANTASTIC. It takes place on a distant planet in a distant system. The planet orbits five suns, all various sizes and distances away, so that the inhabitants have never known night. Even though they are an advanced society, even the astronomers have no clue that there is anything in the universe besides their planet and the five suns. When scientists discover the existence of a previously unknown planet that will make a close pass and indeed blot out the tiniest of the suns while the other four are set, the entire world is thrown into chaos from fear of the impending darkness. It turns out that this happens like clockwork every 2000 years, with most of society literally burning to the ground each time, and subsequent generations oblivious to the event. An archaeologist confirms this in layers she uncovers underneath the site of an ancient settlement before the Darkness occurs. The sight of all the other stars in the suddenly dark sky makes everyone panic and start lighting everything on fire to create light, throwing the survivors into a post-apocalyptic nightmare. It made the show I watched last night all the more interesting. About the possibility of an unknown red dwarf star named “Nemesis” (another Asimov book about a sun just like the following theory describes) that , in a double system with our own, throws off our sun’s gravitational pull on its outer asteroids every 26 million years and causes some of them to strike the planets. Hence an apparent 26-million-year pattern to major die-offs in the fossil record. And we can’t detect it because it just too small and dim. This is sort of an older theory and I haven’t really brushed up on any new findings, but it was relevant to me at the time.

  18. 5 out of 5

    KB

    Nightfall begins with a promising premise, but the overall narrative suffers fatally from inconsistent and implausible internal logic. Beyond the intriguing world-building segment at its onset, the novel becomes unremittingly bleak and stagnant. The story's framework relies upon an indispensable notion that an entire planet's human population harbors a critical psychological vulnerability to any exposure to darkness; however, it is never sufficiently explained how this problem could be compatible Nightfall begins with a promising premise, but the overall narrative suffers fatally from inconsistent and implausible internal logic. Beyond the intriguing world-building segment at its onset, the novel becomes unremittingly bleak and stagnant. The story's framework relies upon an indispensable notion that an entire planet's human population harbors a critical psychological vulnerability to any exposure to darkness; however, it is never sufficiently explained how this problem could be compatible with a technologically advanced civilization that would necessarily require the everyday employment of people in structural crawlspaces, utility corridors, underground mines, and so forth. Characters remain underdeveloped and one-dimensional, though they occasionally demonstrate irregular behavior whenever the writers find such aberrations to be useful to the action of a particular moment. In general, the reactions of individuals and institutions to story developments appear to be informed more by narrative convenience than by cogent rationality. Nightfall shares some of the primary themes of Asimov's Foundation series, though the tone here is much darker (literally and figuratively) than in those works. Other interesting ideas are briefly introduced but then abruptly abandoned without full exploration, such as the interaction between rational skepticism and religious fanaticism. Given the lack of actual substance, it is surprising that the novel manages to fill as many pages as it does. In the final analysis, this book is unremarkable except for its disappointing failure to capitalize on a tantalizing initial concept. Nightfall serves as an example of exceptional mediocrity.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    One of Asimov's greatest works. Written in his dry, pre-WWII classic American sci-fi style, very matter-of-fact and reverent of science. Brings excellent ideas of how a different society would be in a different solar system, and the psychology of beings living on a world where night never comes. Asimov gradually introduces his ideas to us through his character's scientific processes. He also writes the end of a world very well, how society may very well break apart when the sanity of humanity is One of Asimov's greatest works. Written in his dry, pre-WWII classic American sci-fi style, very matter-of-fact and reverent of science. Brings excellent ideas of how a different society would be in a different solar system, and the psychology of beings living on a world where night never comes. Asimov gradually introduces his ideas to us through his character's scientific processes. He also writes the end of a world very well, how society may very well break apart when the sanity of humanity is reduced to nil. Most interesting of all is the last act, of the world after the end. Surprisingly fresh and still sobering even in the face of dreary post-apocalyptic tales everywhere in the media. Shades of the Foundation trilogy. The ending is a bit disappointing- it jumps out, but it satisfactorily concludes the narrative. The characters are one-dimensional and their dialogue wooden, but it's to be expected. The ideas are where it shines, and there are a surprising amount of set pieces in the story interspersed with novel astronomical and psychological concepts.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ash

    I just read the novella written by Isaac Asimov (not the full length novel which expanded this story later). I am not so interested in reading a book which was written by another author based on this story or maybe I will read it someday. But reading this story made me realize why Asimov is my favorite sci-fi author. Nobody can write science fiction like him. No other author can describe something so brilliantly. (At least for me) This story is about a planet which has six suns so there is no tim I just read the novella written by Isaac Asimov (not the full length novel which expanded this story later). I am not so interested in reading a book which was written by another author based on this story or maybe I will read it someday. But reading this story made me realize why Asimov is my favorite sci-fi author. Nobody can write science fiction like him. No other author can describe something so brilliantly. (At least for me) This story is about a planet which has six suns so there is no time on this planet when there is no sun or when there is no daylight. One fine day, an eclipse occurs and it is dark on the planet. Astronomers predict this happening and everyone is dreading the darkness. They don’t even know what stars mean as there is always sunlight. You should read this story to know more. It was amazing.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    Aaron King 1/29/12 Per. 6 Book Review: Nightfall by Isaac Asimov Reading has always been a seminal part of the human experience. It keeps the mind sharp and open to new ideas. Reading also maintains one’s vocabulary. If one never reads, he or she is more susceptible to the same “rusting” that an adolescent’s brain suffers over a long summer. On the other end of the literary spectrum, reading also helps the writers. Authors can use their writing to express emotions and ideas and, in a sense, “trans Aaron King 1/29/12 Per. 6 Book Review: Nightfall by Isaac Asimov Reading has always been a seminal part of the human experience. It keeps the mind sharp and open to new ideas. Reading also maintains one’s vocabulary. If one never reads, he or she is more susceptible to the same “rusting” that an adolescent’s brain suffers over a long summer. On the other end of the literary spectrum, reading also helps the writers. Authors can use their writing to express emotions and ideas and, in a sense, “transmit” these ideas to the reader’s mind. This communication can be highly influential: in reading Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, a 1906 novel which aimed to highlight the plight of the immigrant worker in America, former President Theodore Roosevelt was so pressured as to push forward the Pure Food and Drug Act as well as the Meat Inspection Act as a result. Here it is demonstrative that reading can have an influence even in government. It is for these reasons that it is highly practical that one finds time in his or her schedule to read. Whether one uses free time or schedules a specific time out of every day to read, it is seminal that he or she does so. My selection for this quarter’s reading assignment was Isaac Asimov’s Nightfall, published in 1990. Originally a short story written in 1941, Nightfall tells the story of a fictional planet Kalgash, one who is always accustomed to light, and what happens to it when that light is suddenly taken away from those who live on Kalgash. Throughout the duration of the novel, an innovative and striking storyline prompts the audience to question the philosophies of change, and provides sustenance for an evaluation and recommendation. Nightfall’s one setting is on the planet Kalgash, in the fictional city of Saro. The planet resides in a solar system with six suns, in a manner which keeps the planet constantly illuminated by at least two suns in most instances. Complete darkness is unknown to the planet. The story begins with 3 separate storylines, all of scientists who hail from Saro University. Firstly, Siferra 89, an archaeologist, makes a discovery that many prior civilizations all have been subjected to collapse routinely every 2000 years. Following this, Beenay 25, an astronomer, discovers an anomaly in the orbital path of Kalgash. After taking this unearthing to his professor Athor, Beenay and a team of scientists conclude that the only possible way this anomaly can occur is the consequence of another astronomical body that orbits Kalgash. Lastly, Sheerin 501, a psychologist, analyzes the effects of total darkness on the people of Kalgash, as they have never experienced such a phenomenon. Eventually, these stories intertwine to make the discovery that every 2000 years, this normally-unseen planetary body (referred to as “Kalgash Two” throughout the novel) makes its way within visible distance of Kalgash. It also just so happens that when this Kalgash Two comes into sight it blocks out the one sun in the sky of Kalgash in a rare day where this is the case. Consequently, Kalgash is enveloped in darkness and the effects of it eventually lead to the downfall of civilization, consistent with Siferra’s observations. Nightfall is a very unique novel. This is for more than one reason. The first and most basic reason is that it has a unique storyline. However, the more remarkable reason for its notability is because of its inimitable commentary on the human condition. More specifically, Nightfall goes to great lengths to discuss human reaction to change. Although the people of Kalgash are meant to be aliens, they are very human in nature. They share the same emotional responses, such as love; they share an adaptability to adverse living conditions, as seen in their efforts to rule out darkness as a factor; as well as their reactions when things go awry. It is intrinsic that people are not keen on change. As humans we are more likely to desire stability in life – change brings about things we are not prepared for. Asimov indirectly commentates on this in his novel. Because Kalgashians have sunlight every hour of the day, they grow accustomed to having light no matter what. The “out of sight, out of mind” ideology is a very relevant one here, as the people living on this planet do not concern themselves with that which they do not know. However, change comes in the book, and because the Kalgashians are so used to light, darkness brings about the end of their civilization, and they are forced to begin anew. Additionally, this has been happening routinely throughout the history of Kalgash. And so, Isaac Asimov is clearly elucidating on the obstinacy of humanity and its lack of an openness to change. Nightfall was a phenomenal read. Isaac Asimov did a superb job of weaving a critical thinking topic into a unique and highly interesting storyline. I am very interested in form of literature where the alternative is explored: that which is fantastic and imaginary. In a sense, that’s all that reading is: delving into the page and consequently into a world that is not your own, and I believe that Asimov grasps this idea quite well. The storyline is one of the most intriguing that I have ever read: it is so far from the truth and yet it is more relatable than other first-rate novels such as Harry Potter. With Nightfall I am able to ask: “What if it were like that here on Earth?” more easily than I can beg the question with Harry Potter, and because of that I feel it is a highly commendable novel. What also adds to its adequacy is that Asimov plaits into this interesting storyline is a thought-provoking set of themes that engage the reader to rethink life itself. What are the limits to which we should become accustomed to life’s daily phenomena? What should happen to humanity if we are to become too acquainted with the goings-on in our lives? Because these themes are so easily and masterfully woven into an already incredibly interesting storyline, I would recommend this novel to anyone without hesitation. Even if you are not interested in science fiction novels, you could surely read this novel from a philosophical, historical, or psychological viewpoint which makes it a highly commendable novel. Isaac Asimov, in his 1990 novel Nightfall uses a thoroughly fascinating plot with many twists and turns to compliment an exquisite thematic usage to express his thoughts and ideas. He, along with Robert Silverberg, wrote a novel that is exemplary of why I enjoy reading. They created with words such a vivid world for me to enter that I myself became subconsciously fearful of an impending collapse of civilization when I returned home from Kalgash. Reading, as seen here, has not only widened my imagination but also has expanded my horizons toward philosophical, psychological, and historical insights. Reading any book can do this: all one needs to do is pick up a paperback.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

    Meh. -_-" A complete waste of my precious time! Apart from a few deep thoughts at the end, the book had nothing, absolutely NOTHING to offer. "The dazzling brightness of the stars was terrifying! Eek!" How lame. :P Like seriously, why would everyone turn crazy if they went through darkness?!! Okay, it is kinda believable since the planet Kalgash is lit up by four or six suns all day and there's nothing called night. God I can't believe I'm even narrating this. I'm so lame. Pfft. But seriously, Meh. -_-" A complete waste of my precious time! Apart from a few deep thoughts at the end, the book had nothing, absolutely NOTHING to offer. "The dazzling brightness of the stars was terrifying! Eek!" How lame. :P Like seriously, why would everyone turn crazy if they went through darkness?!! Okay, it is kinda believable since the planet Kalgash is lit up by four or six suns all day and there's nothing called night. God I can't believe I'm even narrating this. I'm so lame. Pfft. But seriously, how would the brightness of the stars madden you if you're under light all your frigging life?? Another lame addition to the already lame story. The ending isn't convincing at all. Then again, maybe I'm just not intelligent enough to understand... :3 Besides having a not-in-the-least-bit-good plot, the book manages to make itself more ridiculous by having a childish, immature writing style and presentation. Who am I kidding? My 10 year old bro could write in a better style. And what was the need to add those idiotic numbers at the end of the name?! "Siferra 89, Beenay 127, Theremon 769" Blah blah blah. Idiots. The note in the book said they wanted to create an alien feel by doing that. My foot! :P Meh. Why did I spend so many hours tiring myself to read this stupid book?! God why??! _-_,

  23. 5 out of 5

    Keith

    Reread this after many years. The original short story by Asimov stayed with me for a long time as one of the most thought provoking scenarios that had been presented to me. For the first time the idea that sentient beings could be so radically different from us sank home (I was young and foolish). This was an important lesson that many writers of science fiction and fantasy could do with learning. I read the expanded version when it was releeased and felt oddly dissatisfied with it. Some of the Reread this after many years. The original short story by Asimov stayed with me for a long time as one of the most thought provoking scenarios that had been presented to me. For the first time the idea that sentient beings could be so radically different from us sank home (I was young and foolish). This was an important lesson that many writers of science fiction and fantasy could do with learning. I read the expanded version when it was releeased and felt oddly dissatisfied with it. Some of the elements causing this I laid firmly at Silverberg's door, the romance between Theremon and Seffira for example, but others, the acceptance of the devil they knew at the end for the book just didn't sit well, not given the avenue by which their decision was made. On the latest reading I have to say I enjoyed the book, the original concept is still intruiging, but the aftermath, the world laid waste by madness, just did not ring as true as the build up to it. I still have problems with the speed that the suns changed configuration in their sky and the seeming lack of civilisation on the opposite side of the planet, whether by lack of land mass or slow expansion is never made clear, where the effects would have been less severe.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brenda (aka Gramma)

    I consider the original 1941 story to be one of the best, but this almost makes it seem ridiculous. Instead of carefully crafted reveals, we get lots of details repeated so that by the time Nightfall comes I'm tired of hearing about it. Worse, by that time the story's been so diluted that something I thought was one key aspect of the original is completely lost. Okay, that was my rant and I know it sounds like I hated this, but I didn't. I didn't like it anywhere near as much as the original, but I consider the original 1941 story to be one of the best, but this almost makes it seem ridiculous. Instead of carefully crafted reveals, we get lots of details repeated so that by the time Nightfall comes I'm tired of hearing about it. Worse, by that time the story's been so diluted that something I thought was one key aspect of the original is completely lost. Okay, that was my rant and I know it sounds like I hated this, but I didn't. I didn't like it anywhere near as much as the original, but it was still an entertaining read with a few eyerolls. 2 1/2 stars rounded up to 3. Now I'll go think about what the folks in Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" were doing before and after the events in her story. Or what the couple in "The Gift of the Magi" did for Valentine's Day…

  25. 5 out of 5

    Clackamas

    ***Upgraded this book to an all time love. I keep rereading it and love it every time. Originally read 10/1994. Reread every year or so since then*** I love this kind of book. It introduces us to a world and characters before the disaster, follows them through it, and shows us the aftermath. It's very character-driven. It's surprising to read a book with so many characters that are being followed, and yet have them all fleshed out and three-dimensional so that you can actually care about them.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Early on I thought this was a 5 star story but it definitely faded for me in the last parts. I really enjoyed some of the science vs religion stuff.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    This is a sci-fi novel about the end of the world. Sort of. Isaac Asimov is the master of sci-fi short stories. He's a little-known author that has written one or two books. One of his stories is called "Nightfall", and is well worth reading. You should probably get a collection of his that includes that story, but if you search around enough, you can find the text online. Asimov works the short story perfectly. Many sci-fi books have to present an idea or explanation for some technology of phenom This is a sci-fi novel about the end of the world. Sort of. Isaac Asimov is the master of sci-fi short stories. He's a little-known author that has written one or two books. One of his stories is called "Nightfall", and is well worth reading. You should probably get a collection of his that includes that story, but if you search around enough, you can find the text online. Asimov works the short story perfectly. Many sci-fi books have to present an idea or explanation for some technology of phenomenon that is different than in our world, and unfortunately, they often do it in a pretty clumsy way. Not Isaac, though: he gets to the point, but doesn't shove it in your face. In this case, there's a planet with multiple suns, of which there is always at least one in the sky, thus keeping the entire planet in perpetual daylight. However, once every 2,000 years, a planet eclipses the single sun that happens to be in the sky, turning the world dark. The stories follows a group of astronomers that predict that the darkness will turn people mad, and cause them to destroy society. As a short story, it works perfectly. It presents a world that has one important difference from ours, and asks: so what? What would, or could, happen, with just that one change? A good sci-fi story will present one storyline, one outcome, but more importantly, it will present the question and let you consider what else might happen. As such, little inconsistencies or things that don't quite make sense aren't so important; the main question remains. But novels aren't mainly about presenting the question. They flesh out a possibility in great depth. Because of that, a few of the oddities stand out a little more, and detract a little from the story. People flock to a "Tunnel of Mystery" that just consists of darkness, instead of just drawing a shade? The scientists predict mass hysteria months before the eclipse, but then hardly prepare for it? And so on. In the end, though, the small problems don't really detract much from what is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Filip

    6 stars actually. Pun intended.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ana Kacmarynski

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Nightfall by Isaac Asimov, is a story about a planet called Lagash. There is a group of astronomers who believe their planet is on the brink of catastrophe. Lagash is a planet that has three suns. In the known past it has always been light, there is no night. But there are some very old reports saying that every 2,500 years there will an eclipse that will pass over the sun and bring total darkness. They even say that the lack of light will drive men to the brink of insanity, and in this moment t Nightfall by Isaac Asimov, is a story about a planet called Lagash. There is a group of astronomers who believe their planet is on the brink of catastrophe. Lagash is a planet that has three suns. In the known past it has always been light, there is no night. But there are some very old reports saying that every 2,500 years there will an eclipse that will pass over the sun and bring total darkness. They even say that the lack of light will drive men to the brink of insanity, and in this moment they won’t care what will happen, all they will think about is light so they will start a fire that will destroy the city. But there are some who don’t believe in the astronomers findings. The news men wont publish the astronomers findings and cultists feel so threatened by what the astronomers are saying they want to attack them. But as the city slowly falls into darkness, terror overwhelms the citizens and a crimson fire appears on the horizon. Nightfall is an exciting science fiction novel about the fear and doubt of the unknown in the world. This book was very attention grabbing and I would give it a 4 out of 5 stars because I thought it was overall a very good story, but I also found it a little bit confusing because of the strange names like Aton 77. I also love the symbolism Isaac Asimov included in the novel. The detail about how the stars were the thing that drove the men to light the city on fire and become insane reminded me of the symbolism of the beast in lord of the flies because the beast is just a representation of their fears and the evil inside the boys and the stars are just a representation of the astronomers fears, they don’t really exist.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    On the planet Kalgash, an archeologist, an astronomer, and a news paper reporter begin to realize that life as they know it is facing one of the most horrifying things the planet could ever know: Darkness. Kalgash knows only light, but evidence now points to a recurring event that happens every 2000 years - a solar eclipe that will plunge the world into night and the world into madness and terror. The blurb on the back of the book reads: Isaac Asimov's short story "Nightfall" first appeared in 1 On the planet Kalgash, an archeologist, an astronomer, and a news paper reporter begin to realize that life as they know it is facing one of the most horrifying things the planet could ever know: Darkness. Kalgash knows only light, but evidence now points to a recurring event that happens every 2000 years - a solar eclipe that will plunge the world into night and the world into madness and terror. The blurb on the back of the book reads: Isaac Asimov's short story "Nightfall" first appeared in 1941. It has since become recognized as a classic, its author a legend. But the short story isn't the whole story. Now, Dr. Asimov has teamed with multiple Hugo and Nebula Award winner Robert Silverberg to explore and expand one of the most awe-inspiring concepts in the history of science fiction. In this novel, you will witness Nightfall—and much more. You will learn what happens at Daybreak. What I learned was this would have been better kept as a short story than a novel. By the time "Nightfall" came, I was seriously wishing the characters would do themselves in and just end the story. This was also a lot like Lucifer's Hammer by Niven. The exception 1/3 of Nightfall is build up to Doom's day, 1/3 IS Doomsday, and 1/3 is post-civilization downfall. It was all tedious. I couldn't sympathise with any of the characters - they were just too two dimensional. No empathy. I also found there was just too much exposition. After a while my eyes just glossed over and I found myself skimming. An interesting premise, but should have stayed a short story.

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