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Nightwings: 01/02/10

Nightwings is one of those books in my early acquisitions from the days when I had first fallen in love with books and was buying in bulk from the Friends of the Library sale at my local library. I've had the book on my to be read shelf for twenty years (or roughly 2/3 of my life!).

Nightwings is a short book set in the far future where our current modern civilizations have fallen, the world is inhabited in part by extra terrestrials and the earth civilization that remains mimics old medieval society except that there are some futuristic conveniences.

While I was reading the novel I noticed that there were three long chapters. What I didn't realize (and I could have done my homework, but I didn't) is that they are actually three short stories. These were originally published in Galaxy from 1968-9. I should have realized this because Nightwings reminds me most of "Against the Current", the very first FSF short story I ever read for Silverberg's efficient use of language. In his longer books he tends ramble.

The stories follow a Watcher whose job in life is to search the skies four times a day. He is looking for signs of a returning alien invasion. When it comes from an unexpected source he and the rest of the world have to come to terms with a sudden and drastic change to their lives.

What I liked best about Nightwings was the way Silverberg lets Watcher describe the future world and how he learns more about the history between now and whenever it is that Watcher lives. There are enough clues and ties to present time to make his future seem tangible.

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