Nightfall ~ Isaac Asimov. If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore, and preserve for many generations. Isaac Asimov - "Nightfall". 1. (). 2. 3. If the stars should appear one night in. 4 a thousand years, how would men believe. 5 and adore, and preserve for. Asimov, Isaac - Nightfall and Other Stories - Isaac Asimov . Author: Asimov Isaac. 16 downloads Views KB Size Report. DOWNLOAD PDF.
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Asimov, Isaac - Nightfall and Other Stories - Isaac Asimov · Read more · Asimov, Isaac - Nightfall and Other Stories (SS Coll). Read more. Nightfall was first written as a short story by Isaac. Asimov in expanded into a full-length novel by Asimov & .. leostovrefisis.ga Nightfall ~ Isaac Asimov If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men [PDF]Nightfall by Isaac Asimov Book Free Download (
It was the 32nd story by Asimov, written while he was a graduate student in chemistry at Columbia University. Campbell asked Asimov to write the story after discussing with him a quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson :  If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore, and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God!
Campbell's opinion was to the contrary: "I think men would go mad". He and Asimov chose the title "Nightfall" together. His name appeared on the cover of Astounding for the first time, and the story made Asimov—who later said that before "Nightfall" neither he nor anyone else other than perhaps Campbell considered him more than a "third rater"—one of the industry's top writers.
Greenberg suggested Asimov find someone who would take his year-old short story and — keeping the story essentially as written — add a detailed beginning and a detailed ending to it. As Asimov relates in the Robert Silverberg chapter of his autobiography, " Eventually, I received the extended Nightfall manuscript from Bob [Silverberg] Bob did a wonderful job and I could almost believe I had written the whole thing myself.
He remained absolutely faithful to the original story and I had very little to argue with. Lagash has areas of darkness in caves, tunnels, etc. A skeptical journalist visits a university observatory to interview a group of scientists who warn that civilization will soon end.
The researchers explain that they have discovered evidence of numerous ancient civilizations on Lagash, all destroyed by fire, with each collapse occurring about 2, years apart. The religious writings of a doomsday cult claim that Lagash periodically passes through an enormous cave where mysterious " stars " appear.
The stars are said to rain down fire from the heavens and rob people of their souls, reducing them to beast-like savages. The scientists use this apparent myth, along with recent discoveries in gravitational research, to develop a theory about the repeated collapse of society. Setting[ edit ] The system of Kalgash has six stars named Alpha, Beta, etc. In the novel, Onos is the primary sun of Kalgash and is located 10 light-minutes away, similar to the distance from Earth to our Sun.
The other five suns are minor in comparison, but provide enough light to prevent the inhabitants of Kalgash from defining "night". The only other distance given is that Tano and Sitha form a binary star system about 11 times as far away as Onos. Onos — yellow dwarf — similar to the Sun Trey and Patru — class A or F main sequence stars , described as "white" — binary star system Tano and Sitha — class A, B, or O main sequence stars, described as "blue" — binary star system From what can be drawn from the text, Onos, the star appearing brightest and largest in Kalgash's sky, is the star that Kalgash orbits.
Onos, in turn, orbits around the binary system Trey and Patru, the other binary system Tano and Sitha, and the red dwarf star Dovim. In addition to these stars, the only other celestial object mentioned is Kalgash's moon, dubbed Kalgash Two by the scientists of Kalgash.
Kalgash Two follows an eccentric orbit around Kalgash and every years it eclipses Dovim, during a period when from one part of Kalgash, Dovim is the only star that would be visible. The characters of Nightfall travel to three separate locations on Kalgash. Most of the book is set in Saro City, which is situated near a large forest with trees, bushes, and graben scavenger animals. As stated in the introduction, the weather in the book is analogous to the meteorologic experiences of the characters in the book, and the region of Saro City receives rains that last several days.
The first major weather fluctuation mentioned in the book is the sandstorm that Siferra 89 avoided by hiding under a tarpaulin with her crew. The other weather event was the monsoon -like rains that occurred after Sheerin returned from a consultation in Jonglor, which is described as a northern city.
Siferra 89 travels to Beklimot, which is described as half a world away from Jonglor. Beklimot is located on the Sagikan Peninsula, near mountains. Beklimot is in a sandy, arid desert region.
I never realized before what a wonderful color yellow is. The top inch is charred and the flame just keeps shooting up out of nothing. This is a really efficient artificial-light mechanism. We made a few hundred of them, but most went to the Hideout, of course.
Then you set fire to it and the grease burns, little by little. These torches will burn for almost half an hour without stopping. It was developed by one of our own young men at Saro University. Latimer had carried his chair directly beneath a torch and continued reading, lips moving in the monotonous recital of invocations to the Stars. Beenay had drifted away to his cameras once more, and Theremon seized the opportunity to add to his notes on the article he was going to write for the Saro City Chronicle the next day -- a procedure he had been following for the last two hours in a perfectly methodical, perfectly conscientious and, as he was well aware, perfectly meaningless fashion.
The air grew, somehow, denser. Dusk, like a palpable entity, entered the room, and the dancing circle of yellow light about the torches etched itself into ever-sharper distinction against the gathering grayness beyond.
There was the odor of smoke and the presence of little chuckling sounds that the torches made as they burned; the soft pad of one of the men circling the table at which he worked, on hesitant tiptoes; the occasional indrawn breath of someone trying to retain composure in a world that was retreating into the shadow.
It was Theremon who first heard the extraneous noise. It was a vague, unorganized impression of sound that would have gone unnoticed but for the dead silence that prevailed within the dome.
The newsman sat upright and replaced his notebook. The silence ripped to fragments at his startled shout: The psychologist was at his side in a moment. Aton joined him. Even Yimot 70, high in his little lean-back seat at the eyepiece of the gigantic solarscope, paused and looked downward.
Outside, Beta was a mere smoldering splinter, taking one last desperate look at Lagash. The eastern horizon, in the direction of the city, was lost in Darkness, and the road from Saro to the Observatory was a dull-red line bordered on both sides by wooded tracts, the trees of which had somehow lost individuality and merged into a continuous shadowy mass. But it was the highway itself that held attention, for along it there surged another, and infinitely menacing, shadowy mass.
This place is built like a fortress. Aton, keep an eye on our young Cultist just for luck. Theremon, come with me. The stairs stretched below them in tight, circular sweeps about the central shaft, fading into a dank and dreary grayness. The first momentum of their rush had carried them fifty feet down, so that the dim, flickering yellow from the open door of the dome had disappeared and both above and below the same dusky shadow crushed in upon them.
Sheerin paused, and his pudgy hand clutched at his chest. His eyes bulged and his voice was a dry cough. Go down. Can you hold out a minute? The air passed in and out his lungs like so much molasses, and there was a little germ of screeching panic in his mind at the thought of making his way into the mysterious Darkness below by himself. Theremon, after all, was afraid of the dark! It was foul-smelling, and the smoke smarted his eyes almost blind, but he clutched that torch as if he wanted to kiss it for joy, and its flame streamed backward as he hurtled down the stairs again.
Sheerin opened his eyes and moaned as Theremon bent over him. Theremon shook him roughly. The offices on the ground floor still possessed what light there was, and Theremon felt the horror about him relax. Little scraps of hoarse, wordless shouts. But Sheerin was right; the Observatory was built like a fortress. Erected in the last century, when the neo-Gavottian style of architecture was at its ugly height, it had been designed for stability and durability rather than for beauty.
The windows were protected by the grillwork of inch-thick iron bars sunk deep into the concrete sills.
Theremon shot the bolts and they slid shut with a dull clang. At the other end of the corridor, Sheerin cursed weakly. He pointed to the lock of the back door which had been neatly jimmied into uselessness. Somewhere, dimly, far off, they could hear the battering of naked fists upon the door; and the screams and yells from outside had a sort of half reality. That mob had set off from Saro City with only two things in mind: There was no time to think of ground cars, or of weapons, or of leadership, or even of organization.
They made for the Observatory on foot and assaulted it with bare hands. And now that they were there, the last flash of Beta, the last ruby-red drop of flame, flickered feebly over a humanity that had left only stark, universal fear! The rest were clustered about the cameras, and Beenay was giving his instructions in a hoarse, strained voice. That will leave one of you to each camera. You all know about. Beenay passed a hand over his eyes.
Never mind, I see them! One is enough. The vague forms of the astronomers wavered and blurred, and the torches overhead had become only yellow splotches. Sheerin held out his hand. He closed his eyes against the Darkness and his mind against the chaos within it. No one heard them or paid attention to them. Sheerin stumbled against the wall. The place will hold them off. His word was pledged, and to break it would mean placing his soul in mortal peril.
Yet that word had been forced from him and had not been given freely. The Stars would come soon! He could not stand by and allow -- And yet his word was pledged. His nails cut the flesh of his palms as he tensed himself. He staggered crazily as he started his rush. There was nothing before him but shadows; the very floor beneath his feet lacked substance. And then someone was upon him and he went down with clutching fingers at his throat. He doubled his knee and drove it hard into his assailant.
At your cameras, men! Simultaneously he heard one last choking gasp from Beenay, and a queer little cry from Sheerin, a hysterical giggle that cut off in a rasp -- and a sudden silence, a strange, deadly silence from outside. And Latimer had gone limp in his loosening grasp.
With the slow fascination of fear, he lifted himself on one arm and turned his eyes toward the blood-curdling blackness of the window. Through it shone the Stars! Thirty thousand mighty suns shone down in a soul-searing splendor that was more frighteningly cold in its awful indifference than the bitter wind that shivered across the cold, horribly bleak world.
Theremon staggered to his feet, his throat, constricting him to breathlessness, all the muscles of his body writhing in an intensity of terror and sheer fear beyond bearing.
He was going mad and knew it, and somewhere deep inside a bit of sanity was screaming, struggling to fight off the hopeless flood of black terror. It was very horrible to go mad and know that you were going mad -- to know that in a little minute you would be here physically and yet all the real essence would be dead and drowned in the black madness.
For this was the Dark -- the Dark and the Cold and the Doom. The bright walls of the universe were shattered and their awful black fragments were falling down to crush and squeeze and obliterate him. He jostled someone crawling on hands and knees, but stumbled somehow over him. Hands groping at his tortured throat, he limped toward the flame of the torches that filled all his mad vision.
Aton, somewhere, was crying, whimpering horribly like a terribly frightened child. In the instant, the awful splendor of the indifferent Stars leaped nearer to them. On the horizon outside the window, in the direction of Saro City, a crimson glow began growing, strengthening in brightness, that was not the glow of a sun.
The long night had come again. You see, during the six-year period from to inclusive, I had sold and published thirteen science fiction stories, every single one of them to Astounding. During that period I had labored constantly with the feeling that I was not a writer at all, but merely a person who happened to click it off with one particular market, and that if anything happened to Astounding or to Mr.
Campbell, its editor, I was through. With great difficulty I finished the article and found, near the end, the utterly casual statement almost as an afterthought that Astounding was the one exception. I was retrieved, but I still felt in a most fragile situation.
Something might still happen to either Astounding or to Mr. Nothing did! At least so far! At this moment of writing, more than twenty years after that article, Astounding still flourishes, although it has a different publisher and has changed its name to Analog. And the durable Mr. Campbell is still its editor. I sold four more stories to Astounding in and before breaking the string. Then, in , a new science fiction magazine came into sudden, vigorous life under the energetic leadership of its editor, Horace L.
Gold searched strenuously for stories while the new magazine was being formed and he asked me if I would submit some. I hesitated, for I was not at all sure that Mr. Gold was, however, persuasive. I wrote two stories and he took them both. The first story, I felt, might have been a forced sale; he needed it for the maiden issue in a big hurry.
The second story, which appeared in the second issue, did not have to be bought, it seemed to me. I accepted the sale as deserved and a more-than-seven-year agony of self-doubt was relieved.
It is this second story which follows. But one thing--editors have the frequent urge to change the titles of stories. Heaven knows why! Some editors have it worse than others and Mr. Gold had a rather acute case. For some obscure reason, Mr. So I am seizing the opportunity now to change the title back to what it had been.
I have been waiting eighteen years for a chance. Green Patches He had slipped aboard the ship! There had been dozens waiting outside the energy barrier when it had seemed that waiting would do no good. Then the barrier had faltered for a matter of two minutes which showed the superiority of unified organisms over life fragments and he was across.
All alone, he was enough. No others were necessary. And the thought faded out of satisfaction and into loneliness. It was a terribly unhappy and unnatural thing to be parted from all the rest of the unified organism, to be a life fragment oneself. How could these aliens stand being fragments? It increased his sympathy for the aliens. Now that he experienced fragmentation himself, he could feel, as though from a distance, the terrible isolation that made them so afraid.
It was fear born of that isolation that dictated their actions. What but the insane fear of their condition could have caused them to blast an area, one mile in diameter, into dull-red heat before landing their ship? Even the organized life ten feet deep in the soil had been destroyed in the blast.
He engaged reception, listening eagerly, letting the alien thought saturate him. He enjoyed the touch of life upon his consciousness. He would have to ration that enjoyment. He must not forget himself. But it could do no harm to listen to thoughts. Some of the fragments of life on the ship thought quite clearly, considering that they were such primitive, incomplete creatures. Their thoughts were like tiny bells.
You know what I mean? They had a radiation bath for all men entering from outside. I suppose nothing happened. It was an accident. My shift, you know. There was no reason to overload the power line. There was equipment plugged into it that had no damn business near it. None whatsoever. People are stupid.
I hung around when the Old Man was checking into the matter. None of them had reasonable excuses. The armor-baking circuits, which were draining off two thousand watts, had been put into the barrier line. Why not this time? By those things outside. The barrier was down only two minutes. If anything had happened, if even a spear of grass had drifted across it would have shown up in our bacteria cultures within half an hour, in the fruit-fly colonies in a matter of days.
Before we got back it would show up in the hamsters, the rabbits, maybe the goats. Just get it through your head, Oldenn, that nothing happened.
In leaving, his foot came within two feet of the object in the comer of the room. He did not see it. He disengaged his reception centers and let the thoughts flow past him unperceived.
These life fragments were not important, in any case, since they were not fitted for the continuation of life. Even as fragments, they were incomplete. The other types of fragments now--they were different. He had to be careful of them. The temptation would be great, and he must give no indication, none at all, of his existence on board ship till they landed on their home planet. He focused on the other parts of the ship, marveling at the diversity of life.
Each item, no matter how small, was sufficient to itself. He forced himself to contemplate this, until the unpleasantness of the thought grated on him and he longed for the normality of home. Most of the thoughts he received from the smaller fragments were vague and fleeting, as you would expect. It was that which touched him so keenly. There was the life fragment which squatted on its haunches and fingered the wire netting that enclosed it.
Its thoughts were clear, but limited. Chiefly, they concerned the yellow fruit a companion fragment was eating.
It wanted the fruit very deeply. Only the wire netting that separated the fragments prevented its seizing the fruit by force. He disengaged reception in a moment of complete revulsion.
These fragments competed for food! He tried to reach far outward for the peace and harmony of home, but it was already an immense distance away. He could reach only into the nothingness that separated him from sanity. He longed at the moment even for the feel of the dead soil between the barrier and the ship.
He had crawled over it last night. There had been no life upon it, but it had been the soil of home, and on the other side of the barrier there had still been the comforting feel of the rest of organized life.
He could remember the moment he had located himself on the surface of the ship, maintaining a desperate suction grip until the air lock opened. He had entered, moving cautiously between the outgoing feet. There had been an inner lock and that had been passed later. Now he lay here, a life fragment himself, inert and unnoticed.
Cautiously, he engaged reception again at the previous focus. The squatting fragment of life was tugging furiously at the wire netting. The greedy ape! I wish we were back home and I never had to look another animal in the face again. Why hang around here, then? Feeding time is over. They send you off with speeches--and make a zoo keeper out of you.
I signed up because I wanted to do something important. New little hamsters looking up at you with soft, green patches of fur where the eyes ought to be. He engaged reception again and varied the focus. There were the moving runners in various shapes, the moving swimmers, and the moving fliers. Some of the fliers were quite large, with perceptible thoughts; others were small, gauzy-winged creatures. These last transmitted only patterns of sense perception, imperfect patterns at that, and added nothing intelligent of their own.
There were the non-movers, which, like the non-movers at home, were green and lived on the air, water, and soil. These were a mental blank. They knew only the dim, dim consciousness of light, moisture, and gravity. And each fragment, moving and non-moving, had its mockery of life. Not yet. He clamped down hard upon his feelings. Once before, these life fragments had come, and the rest at home had tried to help them--too quickly. It had not worked. This time they must wait.
If only these fragments did not discover him. They had not, so far. They had not noticed him lying in the corner of the pilot room. No one had bent down to pick up and discard him.
Earlier, it had meant he could not move. Someone might have turned and stared at the stiff wormlike thing, not quite six inches long.
First stare, then shout, and then it would all be over. But now, perhaps, he had waited long enough. The takeoff was long past. The controls were locked; the pilot room was empty. It did not take him long to find the chink in the armor leading to the recess where some of the wiring was. They were dead wires. The front end of his body was a rasp that cut in two a wire of just the right diameter.
Then, six inches away, he cut it in two again. He pushed the snipped-off section of the wire ahead of him packing it away neatly and invisibly into a corner of recess. Its outer covering was a brown elastic material and its core was gleaming, ruddy metal. He himself could not reproduce the core, of course, but that was not necessary.
He returned and grasped the cut sections of the wire before and behind. He tightened against them as his little suction disks came into play.
Not even a seam showed. They could not find him now. They could look right at him and see only a continuous stretch of wire. Unless they looked very closely indeed and noted that, in a certain spot on this wire, there were two tiny patches of soft and shining green fur.
In a sense, this was a celebration. They would be ready for the jump through hyper-space in two hours, and after that, two days would see them back on Earth. Brandy made him come out in splotches, but he was aware of the need of celebration--quite aware.
I would never have taken the chances you did to run them. You took the chance of coming here. Nonsense, Captain. Suppose he did not blow up his ship, as Saybrook did. Suppose he got back to some inhabited place. No proof, of course. Their entire organization of life has made tools unnecessary.
Oh, and, Weiss, would you spend some time with Drake? Would you oblige? Just thinking of poor Saybrook. Awhile back there had been a queer, momentary sensation, as though he had been turned inside out. It was alarming and he had searched the minds of the keen-thinkers for an explanation. But--he was weary of the ship. It was such a futile phenomenon. These life fragments were skillful in their constructions, yet it was only a measure of their unhappiness, after all.
They strove to find in the control of inanimate matter what they could not find in themselves. In their unconscious yearning for completeness, they built machines and scoured space, seeking, seeking. These creatures, he knew, could never, in the very nature of things, find that for which they were seeking. At least not until such time as he gave it to them. He quivered a little at the thought. These fragments had no concept of it, even. In their ignorance they would even fight it.
There had been the ship that had come before. The first ship had contained many of the keen-thinking fragments. There had been two varieties, life producers and the sterile ones.
How different this second ship was. The keen-thinkers were all sterile, while the other fragments, the fuzzy-thinkers and the no-thinkers, were all producers of life. It was strange. How gladly that first ship had been welcomed by all the planet! He could remember the first intense shock at the realization that the visitors were fragments and not complete.
The shock had give way to pity, and the pity to action. It was not certain how they would fit into the community, but there had been no hesitation. All life was sacred and somehow room would have been made for them--for all of them, from the large keen-thinkers to the little multipliers in the darkness.
But there had been a miscalculation. The keen-thinkers became aware of what had been done and resented it. They were frightened, of course; they did not understand. They had developed the barrier first, and then, later, had destroyed themselves, exploding their ships to atoms. Poor, foolish fragments. This time, at least, it would be different. They would be saved, despite themselves. John Drake would not have admitted it in so many words, but he was very proud of his skill on the photo-typer.
He had a travel-kit model, which was a six-by-eight, featureless dark plastic slab, with cylindrical bulges on either end to hold the roll of thin paper. It fitted into a brown leather case, equipped with a beltlike contraption that held it closely about the waist and at one hip. The whole thing weighed less than a pound. Drake could operate it with either hand. His fingers would flick quickly and easily, placing their light pressure at exact spots on the blank surface, and, soundlessly, words would be written.
He looked thoughtfully at the beginning of his story, then up at Dr. How did he ever get it through, by the way? When he was finished, he shorted the motors, and converted the entire ship into a thin cloud of vapor a millionth of a second later. The crew and himself along with it. You were in this from the beginning, Doc? It was practically a duplicate of Earth, with an abounding plant life and a purely vegetarian animal life. There had been only the little patches of green fur how often had he used that phrase in his speaking and thinking!
No living individual on the planet had eyes. Instead, there was this fur. Even the plants, each blade or leaf or blossom, possessed the two patches of richer green. Then Saybrook had noticed, startled and bewildered, that there was no conflict for food on the planet.
All plants grew pulpy appendages which were eaten by the animals. These were regrown in a matter of hours. No other parts of the plants were touched.
It was as though the plants fed the animals as part of the order of nature. And the plants themselves did not grow in overpowering profusion. They might almost have been cultivated, they were spread across the available soil so discriminately. How much time, Weiss wondered, had Saybrook had to observe the strange law and order on the planet?
And then there had come the incident of the white rats. That prodded Weiss. Hamsters were not the first animals involved. It was the white rats. Rats, of course, are very similar to human beings from a nutritional viewpoint. Naturally, only female white rats are taken. If only one sex was present, there was no danger of unchecked multiplication in case the planet proved favorable. Remember the rabbits in Australia.
It turned out suddenly that all the rats were bearing young. For my own information, Doc, how did Saybrook find out they were in a family way? In the course of nutritional investigations, rats are dissected for evidence of internal damage. Their condition was bound to be discovered. A few more were dissected; same results. Eventually, all that lived gave birth to young--with no male rats aboard! Saybrook said so and we corroborate him.
After the rats, the pet cat of one of the children was obviously affected. When it finally kittened, the kittens were not born with closed eyes but with little patches of green fur. There was no tomcat aboard. Every single one of them was in the early stages of pregnancy, leaving out of consideration those few who had been pregnant at the time of embarkation.
Saybrook never waited for any child to be born, of course. He knew they would have no eyes, only shining patches of green fur. How are your cells organized into a unified whole? Take an individual cell out of your body, even a brain cell, and what is it by itself? A little blob of protoplasm with no more capacity for anything human than an amoeba. But put the cells together and you have something that could invent a spaceship or write a symphony.
The bacteria fix nitrogen; the plants fix carbon; animals eat plants and each other; bacterial decay hits everything. It comes full circle. Each grabs as much as it can, and is, in turn, grabbed. Bacteria and plants produce food, on the excess of which animals feed, providing in turn carbon dioxide and nitrogenous wastes. Nothing is produced more or less than is needed.
The scheme of life is intelligently altered to suit the local environment. No group of life forms multiplies more or less than is needed, just as the cells in our body stop multiplying when there are enough of them for a given purpose.
One big cancer. Every species, every individual doing its best to thrive at the expense of every other species and individual. It makes sense out of the business of living. I can see their viewpoint toward us. Suppose one of the cells of your body could be conscious of the efficiency of the human body as compared with that of the cell itself, and could realize that this was only the result of the union of many cells into a higher whole.
And then suppose it became conscious of the existence of free-living cells, with bare life and nothing more. It might feel a very strong desire to drag the poor thing into an organization.