Friday, July 27, 2012

Nightside City [BOOKS]

I picked up this 1989 novel at a used book store a while back because once in a while I crave a quick read and a standalone novel; so many of the books on my shelves are part of epic series.  I read a lot of books like Nightside City in my early teens, so there's also a nostalgia factor.  Nightside City falls into what you might call Noir SF.  The main character, Carlisle Hsing, is a down-on-her-luck private detective on the planet Epimetheus.  Due to its unusual tectonic configuration (any geologists, please excuse my complete ignorance of the field), Epimetheus rotates incredibly slowly and a sizable portion of the planet is in perpetual darkness.  The only settlement on the planet, Nightside City, was built on the nightside because the dayside is hit with such high levels of UV radiation as to make habitation impossible.  But now, centuries later, Nightside City is about to pass over the terminus and its residents are facing the inevitability that they need to find a way out.

Why then is a mysterious corporation buying up all the real estate for cut-rate prices in a doomed city?  That's the intriguing mystery that Hsing is hired to investigate.  I love a good mystery just like I love a good adventure hook in gaming.  Placing a good mystery in an interesting and original setting with solid characters makes for a winning novel, and Nightside City is certainly one of those.  The author, Lawrence Watt-Evans, does an excellent job of slipping in details about the history, culture, and technology of the story's setting without resorting to extended info-dumps.

All in all, a good, fun read.  I'm happy to report that some investigation reveals a sequel named Realms of Light was published in 2003.  Is it on my wish list?  Yes it is.

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