Nightside the Long Sun

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Set in the same world as Wolfe’s BOOK OF THE NEW SUN series, this book might best be enjoyed by those already familiar with that world, and interested in its occupants. Patera Silk, the main character in this tale, is what can best be translated as a priest of the local church on a world that is actually a huge spaceship, where the gods that are worshipped speak through what must be computer monitors.

But the gods have not spoken for a long time, except for a sudden revelation which came unbidden to Silk’s consciousness just before he found out that his church (called here a manteion) has been sold to a person of dubious character. So Silk sets out to get his church back. He consults with a petty criminal from his church, who helps him find the man who bought the property. Unfortunately, Blood, the man who made the purchase, is himself a criminal, but of the sort that has a lot of money and power. Silk finds himself breaking into Blood’s home and later working for him in hopes of earning enough money to buy the church property.

The ideas are interesting, but at times the presentation is difficult. Some dialogue, rendered in the slang of this world, is difficult to follow. Background information that might give the story more depth is lacking, perhaps because it is included in previous books. And the end ... well, perhaps it is explained in the next volume, as it is not entirely clear here.