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What to Read #6 – Biting the Sun by Tanith Lee

November 27, 2013


I’m sorry this is up late.  The holidays are a stressful time for those of us in retail and I’m pet sitting this week, so I’ve been up early and out late checking on cats.  Including that cat who is coded “DO NOT TOUCH UNDER PAIN OF HOSPITAL VISITS!”  She’s a fun one.  Her name is Cloudy.   Here she is watching me while I was in the basement checking on the other cat.  I kept expecting her to kick down a bottle of lotion and tell me, “It rubs the lotion on its skin.”  So, that’s why this is late, but has nothing to do with the book we’re talking about today.  I just like telling you about my personal life.

biting the sunSo, our recommendation for this week is: Biting the Sun by Tanith Lee.  This is sci-fi so sci-fi-ish that it’s almost become epic fantasy.  (Also, it has a Kinkuo Craft cover, so it’s already high in my estimation.  Although, that can come around to bite me.  See my review of Od Magic.)
Biting the Sun is actually made up of two novels Don’t Bite the Sun (published in 1976) and Drinking Sapphire Wine (published in 1977).  The setting is the far distant future where all of the world’s population lives inside three domed cities.  There is no luxury that is unattainable, no frivolity that is too elusive.  The young are encouraged to amuse themselves, form temporary contracts, change their bodies into anything from the mindbendingly beautiful to the impossibly hideous.  And everyone does, rendering both extremes the norm.  It is more unusual to be plain than to look like you just stepped out of 14 hours in the makeup chair with Peter Jackson’s special effects team.
But what happens when one of those young people grows bored with all of this and wants to find something truly new?  What happens when the very thing that makes a utopia becomes unendurable?

silverThis book is amazing.  And much, much, much less heartbreaking than The Silver Metal Lover, which is my other favorite book by Tanith Lee.  (For the preservation of my mental health I’m only allowed to read it once a decade.  Much like Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Lions of al-Rassan.)  The philosophy is great and the imagery, as always, is transcendent.  The story is one that has stuck with me for over a decade and earned this book its place on my favorites’ shelf.

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