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Dying of the light by George R. R. Martin

Dying of the light (1977)

by George R. R. Martin

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Written well (1977) before Martin's highly-acclaimed but not-yet-with-an-end-in-sight Song of Ice and Fire series, Dying of The Light is a novel that shows many of the skills that that series has been appreciated for - complex interpersonal relationships, deft characterizations, believable world-building, to the degree that you want to just step right in and look around the corners to see what else is there - because you *know* that something is...
I actually finished this book really wishing that Martin had written other books in this universe because it was so fascinating - even though the story itself takes place in an extremely small, isolated sphere.
The scenario, I thought, was very Iain Banks-ish...
A 'rogue' planet in a parabolic(?) orbit is only swinging close enough to its stars to support life for 50 years. The civilized universe decides to take advantage of this and throw a festival much like a World's Fair, each planet displaying their arts, technology and unique culture - but only for a brief time.
At the time of the book, the festival is over. The vast majority of the participants have left, as the planet slowly plunges back into cold and night.
But one man (Dirk T'Larien) races through space to that planet - because he has received a token from an old love, one that he had promised, no matter what, to answer...
But when he arrives, things are not as he expected. His welcome is odd. His old lover, an ecologist, is busy studying the dying of the planet's ecosystems.
She's married - or 'betheyn' - to Vikary, a man from a harsh, warlike culture, and is also bound sexually and culturally to his partner.
But another old friend of hers is also there - and he speaks, in confidence, telling Dirk that she really wants to be rescued - that she is enslaved and oppressed.
A psychosexual drama ensues between these four - one with plenty of action and violence, but also dealing with the frictions and attractions between personalities, the complexities of human relationships and the differences between cultures.
Really a great book. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Singsong poetry in motion. A dark vision of the future where death becomes beautiful. ( )
  Trentazoid | Nov 3, 2015 |
An interesting, complex debut novel from George RR Martin, Dying Of The Light is an old-school planetary romance that reminded me quite strongly of both Cordwainer Smith and CJ Cherryh, oddly enough, though the setting is pure Jack Vance. Worlorn is a wandering world that enjoyed a brief heydey when, passing near a specatcular star system, it was transformed into a festival world where all the primary centres of human civilisation built cities to house thousands and even millions of inhabitants in an extravagant display of wealth and technology. Now the planet is drifting back into the dark and the cold is closing in and only a few last remnants of the festival throngs remain.

One of those remnants, a former lover, summons Dirk t'Larien to Worlorn. Gwen is caught in an odd marriage to a Kavalar, a marriage that in the eyes of Kavalar society, reduces her to the status of property. Furthermore, a particular faction of a die-hard conservative Kavalar holdfast are on Worlorn hoping to revive a forbidden tradition: the hunting of humans for sport. Caught between his love for Gwen, his growing respect for her husband, who is on Worlorn to thwart the hunters and his troubled search for his own sense of self, Dirk becomes enmeshed in the struggle and the divided loyalties and the battle between the old and the new, haunted by the spectre of death on a dying planet.

Martin's strengths as a world-builder and a story-teller are on full display here. The universe he creates is far bigger, richer and deeper than the planet of Worlorn, though nearly all the action takes place there. Did he ever revisit it, I wonder? Did he intend to? His facility for conjuring history and romance and mystery out of a few brief asides and suggestive comments and names is part of what makes him such a pleasure to read. His frank examination of a martial culture, bound by codes of honour and formal bonds and the attraction it holds for both the romantically inclined and the aimless and the lost prefigures the proud medieval chivalric culture of the Seven Kingdoms, as does his unflinching study of its dark side: the horrifying misogyny and the violence inflicted on those deemed unworthy or outside that culture.

The books ends oddly: after a frantic, edge-of-the-seat hunt, there is a period of waiting and then an anti-climax, followed by a coda that ends without a resolution, though not without resolve. It fits the setting and the theme perfectly, though, and speaks to Martin's integrity as a writer and fidelity to his vision. I hope that once the Song is finished he might consider a return to science fiction. It's clearly his first love. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
This book was a little hard to get into but once you do you are hooked. The characters are pure George RR Martin in that there is no, for the most part, good or bad guy. Once you get to know them they all have faults and good points making the novel really fun to read. ( )
  Fearshop | Aug 20, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
George R. R. Martinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Burns, JimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Foss, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kidd, TomCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morrill, RowenaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pugi, Jean-PierreTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A Rachel, que una vez me amó
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A rogue, an aimless wanderer, creation's castaway; this world was all those things.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553383086, Paperback)

In this unforgettable space opera, #1 New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin presents a chilling vision of eternal night—a volatile world where cultures clash, codes of honor do not exist, and the hunter and the hunted are often interchangeable.
A whisperjewel has summoned Dirk t’Larien to Worlorn, and a love he thinks he lost. But Worlorn isn’t the world Dirk imagined, and Gwen Delvano is no longer the woman he once knew. She is bound to another man, and to a dying planet that is trapped in twilight. Gwen needs Dirk’s protection, and he will do anything to keep her safe, even if it means challenging the barbaric man who has claimed her. But an impenetrable veil of secrecy surrounds them all, and it’s becoming impossible for Dirk to distinguish between his allies and his enemies. In this dangerous triangle, one is hurtling toward escape, another toward revenge, and the last toward a brutal, untimely demise.
Dying of the Light blew the doors off of my idea of what fiction could be and could do, what a work of unbridled imagination could make a reader feel and believe.”—Michael Chabon

“Slick science fiction . . . the Wild West in outer space.”—Los Angeles Times

“Something special which will keep Worlorn and its people in the reader’s mind long after the final page is read.”—Galileo magazine
“The galactic background is excellent. . . . Martin knows how to hold the reader.”—Asimov’s
“George R. R. Martin has the voice of a poet and a mind like a steel trap.”—Algis Budrys

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:08 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

When Dirk t'Larien returns to Worlorn, he finds that Gwen Delvano is no longer the woman he once knew. She is bound to another man and to a planet trapped in twilight. Amid this bleak landscape is the clash of cultures in which there is no code of honor.… (more)

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