- School & Library Binding
- Publisher: San Val (October 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0613212266
- ISBN-13: 978-0613212267
- Product Dimensions: 18 x 11.1 x 3.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 204 g
- Average Customer Review: 30 customer reviews
Biting the Sun School & Library Binding – Oct 1999
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Tanith Lee, winner of the August Derleth Award and several World Fantasy Awards, is best known as a fantasy and horror writer, but she has written several fine SF novels, two of which, Don't Bite the Sun and Drinking Sapphire Wine, form a duology now available in the single volume Biting the Sun.
The far future has brought freedom not only from material want but also from rules, responsibilities, and risk. You can change bodies and genders like clothes, make love with whomever you want, live forever, and kill yourself as often as you like. You can have everything, except a meaningful life. Then one day a restless soul discovers an act so shocking and terrifying that human society has forgotten its existence. --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
From the Inside Flap
In a world dedicated to pleasure, one young rebel sets out on a forbidden quest--.
Published for the first time in a single volume, Tanith Lee's duet of novels set in a hedonistic Utopia are as riveting and revolutionary as they were when they first appeared two decades ago.
It's a perfect existence, a world in which no pleasure is off-limits, no risk is too dangerous, and no responsibilities can cramp your style. Not if you're Jang: a caste of libertine teenagers in the city of Four BEE. But when you're expected to make trouble--when you can kill yourself on a whim and return in another body, when you're encouraged to change genders at will and experience whatever you desire--you've got no reason to rebel...until making love and raising hell, daring death and running wild just leave you cold and empty.
Ravenous for true adventures of the mind and body, desperate to find some meaning, one restless spirit finally bucks the system--and by shattering the rules, strikes at the very heart of a soulless society.... --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
As I read this story I envied the characters, who seemed to have it all, until I realized I was reading about MY LIFE! Some of us can identify with being protected from pain and reality during childhood to the point it's embarrassing. Others (not me, sigh) can identify with being forced to live "the good life". This book is about all that, being forced to endure pleasure after pleasure, endlessly, and never being allowed to die.
I won't describe the plot since other reviews here below have done that. But I will give some observations. I noticed that the reader is never told how this paradise in a bubble came to be, so that the reader is left wondering how and why humans must endure perfection. But it does demonstrate that somewhere in the distant past, humans must have thought that eliminating work, trial and suffering, and shoving all kinds of silly pleasures down people's throats, would be a good idea. Since today humans DO envision such a life of carefree existence, this book is a major warning to what might happen to future generations who would have to endure an underserved heaven without having known anything else.
Philosophically this book was quite engaging and interesting. The story though, did sometimes bore me to tears--often I found myself just as bored as those trapped in paradise, lol. But it didn't fail to touch me to the core. I easily became lost in the book's panoramas, and desert wastes, dreaming along with those who dreamed, rebelling with those who rebelled. I liked it...I'd pass it on to a friend.
Tanith Lee has a great use of language, and while she explores new language in this text, it mostly flows well, and conveys visual and emotional meaning without being distracting from a tale that builds towards a conclusion (in the second book) that is rewarding and joyful.
While books like Brave New World also delve into this space, Tanith Lee's vision is more hopeful and good hearted, and her focus is excellent.
I am not a Tanith Lee fan, atleast not until I read this book. I recommend it if you are going to try a new old author.
The book is really two novels in one. The first, "Don't Bite the Sun," deals with traditional dystopian themes, all written in Lee's brilliant, colorful prose and enacted by a crazy and fascinating set of characters. From the beginning the story throws you off balance and pulls you in: come on, what other novel opens with its narrator committing suicide? In the futuristic city of Four-BEE a strict age-based caste system dictates its inhabitants' lives, particularly the lives of the Jang, whose adolescence seems to last at least fifty years. You can do anything when you're a Jang. Drink, do drugs, marry, have love, kill yourself, all as many times as you like in whatever body you prefer; the only thing you can't do is...stop being a Jang. Thus when the anonymous, mainly-female protagonist decides to rebel against Four-BEE, but it's hard. When nothing is forbidden, what can you protest? Apparently there's something, because the second novel, "Drinking Sapphire Wine," deals with the other half of the story: what happens when the narrator finally ticks off the Powers That Be and is exiled from Four-BEE. Although I understand that the books were originally published as separate works, they mesh seamlessly into one another. In theory one could read "Drinking Sapphire Wine" without reading "Don't Bite the Sun"...but why miss the fun? Lee's Four-BEE is a weird and wild place, where pure hedonism is ultimately revealed to be hollow, but it's a delight to read about.
(By the way, I would like to agree wholeheartedly with the prior reviewer: the moment "the pet" entered the action, I thought immediately of Tanaquil's peeve. Those of you who have no clue what we're talking about...read "Black Unicorn" and its sequels and find out!)
Having enjoyed immensely both "The Silver Metal Lover" and "Biting the Sun," two very different looks at the future, I will continue look out for more of Lee's science fiction. Meanwhile, those of you that have never read "Biting the Sun," stop wasting your time reading this review, go out and read the book! Not as though the Quasi-Robots will enforce this suggestion, but unless you do so, I doubt the following song will make much sense: "I only want to have love with you, for you are so derisann..."