Introduction & Overview of Nightfall

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Nightfall Summary & Study Guide Description

Nightfall Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Bibliography on Nightfall by Isaac Asimov.

In 1941, John W. Campbell, Jr., editor of the premier science fiction magazine at that time, asked one of the fledgling writers he mentored an intriguing question: What would happen if people saw the stars only once every thousand years? He postulated that people would go mad and asked twenty one-year old Isaac Asimov to write a story about it. The result was "Nightfall," now one of the most famous science fiction stories of all time. Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction in 1941, it now appears in dozens of anthologies, but is perhaps most easily found in Nightfall and Other Stories or another of Asimov's own anthologies The Best of Isaac Asimov.

To describe a population to whom the appearance of stars would be a rare phenomenon, Asimov created the planet Lagash where there are six suns and perpetual daylight. With no nighttime, the stars cannot be seen and therefore are not known. Astronomical science has not yet reached the point of being able to look beyond the suns. The concept of darkness is mysterious and frightening. However, scientists at Saro University are predicting a total eclipse of all the suns at once. They are aware, based upon archaeological studies, that civilization seems to have been destroyed about every two thousand years, the same time period of the occurrence of the eclipses. If the two are related, will the darkness once again cause a hysteria that will destroy the world? As the scientists prepare for calamity, they are joined by a newspaper reporter, and all hope to save future generations from fear through a record of factual knowledge. However, a religious cult is also predicting the phenomenon as a judgment against evil. "Nightfall" is a psychological thriller as scientists fight ignorance, zealotry, madness, and their own fears of the unknown.

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Nightfall from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.