Now that I have a Kindle, I find myself easily swayed by those $1.99 ebook promotions. Amazon is smart with those impulse buys! Earlier this month, I impulsively Nightwings by Robert Silverberg, which won a Hugo Award in 1969 for best novella. The e-book from Open Road Media has an illustrated biography Silverberg along with photos. He’s a very prolific writer with multiple Hugo awards, but he’s new to me. Originally written as 3 novellas for magazine publication, this version combines all three parts into a short novel.
Nightwings opens up into a future Earth, thousands and thousands of years in the future–the Third Cycle of the human race. During the Second Cycle, the technology grew exponentially and humans made contacts with other beings. Like any good science fiction novel, the humans got cocky with their god-like power over the world, thus causing their downfall. Roum (formerly Rome) lay in ruins, with a mix of old relics such as skycrapers and new buildings. A mix of old and new like the Rome we know now.
In this future, the Watcher is part of a guild who uses a combination of old (Second Cycle) technology to “look” into deep space. He one of thousands who are looking out for an alien race who has put a claim on Earth since the Second Cycle, when humans mistreated some of their people. The planet is on the brink of invasion, but no one is truly ready. They’ve been on alert for so long, they believe the warning is just a fairy tale. The Watcher, along with his fellow travelers a Flier girl and a guildless Changeling, try to find their new roles on a changing planet.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a science fiction novel that drew me in like this one. My brain can’t always soak in enough of detailed world building, especially when it’s so different than the ground I walk upon. Nightwings was different because Silverberg drew up on familiar places and relics (albeit with a bastardized name, as would be expected since language evolves) like Roum and Jorslem (Jerusalem). After all, I was still on Earth, just Silverberg’s future version of it.
Even though Robert Silverberg’s writing is new to me, reading Nightwings felt like cuddling up with a familiar friend. I do love classic science fiction and will definitely read more of Silverberg’s works.
What are you reading this weekend?