About The Author 

Asimov Asimov was born in Russia, grew up in the United States, and eventually became a Professor of Biochemistry at Boston University. He was a well-known author, best known for his hard science fiction and popular science books.One of the most prolific writers of all time, he has written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. He has had works published in nine of the ten major Dewey Decimal Classification categories. Asimov is widely considered a master of the science-fiction genre and, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, they were the “Big Three” science-fiction writers during his lifetime. He coined the term “robotics, spome, and psychohistory.” He penned numerous short stories, among them, Nightfall which in 1964 was voted by the Science Fiction Writers of America as the best short science fiction story of all time, a title many still honour. He historically explained scientific concepts, going as far back as possible to a time when the science in question was at its simplest stage. His best-known work is the Foundation Series. Asimov received over a dozen annual awards for specific works of science fiction, as well as a half-dozen lifetime awards. He also received 14 honorary doctorate degrees from universities. The asteroid 5020 Asimov, the magazine Asimov’s Science Fiction, a Brooklyn, NY elementary school, and two different Isaac Asimov Literary Awards are named in his honour. Asimov was a long-time member and Vice President of Mensa International and President of the American Humanist Association.


About The Story

Nightfall was first written as a short storey by Isaac Asimov in 1941 and was then expanded into a full-length novel by Asimov & Silverberg in 1990 (Asimov & Silverberg, 1991). This storey is built around the concepts of darkness and light. The storey is set in a world with six suns, ensuring that the planet and its inhabitants, the people of Lagash, never see darkness. They only know eternal day. Sunlight never fades anywhere on the planet, since one of the six suns is always in the sky.

This has led to mankind evolving with an inherent fear of the dark. It is one of the most primal instincts that babies are born with on planet Lagash.

The story provides an interesting notion regarding the effects of darkness on people who have never experienced it. According to this notion, in such an event, everyone would go insane due to the darkness. On the planet Kalgash, where darkness is unknown to its inhabitants, Everyone is expecting to go insane from fear and claustrophobia. Despite the fact that the stars would be visible, In Asimov’s short story “Nightfall,” all the characters were intended to go insane due to being suffocated by darkness, but in the end, they were overwhelmed by the immensity of space and the countless numbers of stars they had never even dreamed of before. “Nightfall” aims to demonstrate this. However, we are unaware of the reality that there was not even a clue that there were hundreds of stars out there in space, so it overwhelms the Lagashians and causes them to become agoraphobic until nearly the last page. People have claustrophobia as well as agoraphobia. But the stark immensity of the universe eventually drove him nuts. 

The idea of “Nightfall” was actually suggested to Asimov by his editor, who quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature: “If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe, adore, and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God?” So, the opening lines of the storey were actually the true inspiration for the story. 

READ ALSO:  The Luncheon - Summary, Characters, Themes and Irony

Summary of The Story

Nightfall” is a classic sci-fi story. The story takes place on the planet Kalgash, which orbits the sun-like star Onos at a distance of around 1.2 AU (1.2 times the Earth-Sun distance).

There are five other stars in this system (Dovim, Tano, Sitha, Trey, and Patru), so Kalgash has the regular day/night cycle in relation to Onos, but one or more of the other stars is constantly visible in the sky. The sky is so bright that no other stars can be seen, and the residents have no idea about the rest of the universe. The motions in this system are probably sophisticated enough that the Universal Law of Gravitation was discovered only a few years before the events in the novel. The system’s total length is 110 light minutes (13.2 AU), and it includes all of Creation in the eyes of the planet’s inhabitants.

The story (in the novel) opens with an archaeological dig in which scientists uncover that many prior civilizations regularly extinguished themselves by fire in accordance with the religious writings of a prominent cult. At around the same time, a group of astronomers discovered that the observed motions of the system did not meet the predictions of the Law of Gravitational, and they proposed the existence of an additional invisible moon of Kalgash with a mass nearly equal to the planet. Every 2049 years, this moon would produce an eclipse of Dovim, resulting in a time of total darkness, mass mania, and civilization’s self-destruction.

Theremon 762 is a journalist who investigates some outrageous rumours that are being circulated by the scientists at Saro University. The institute’s director, Aton 77, has declared that very soon, all six of the suns would vanish to bring darkness to Lagash-which is actually a prophecy that many cult leaders following the “Book of Revelation” believe in.

READ ALSO:  The Lottery by Shirley Jackson - Summary, Analysis, Themes and Symbols

The cultists claim that mankind will be wiped off the face of Lagash if they do not repent for their sins. The stars would bring darkness and fire and destroy society as we know it.

Theremon wonders why a renowned scientist would believe in such “nonsense,” but Aton and his staff inform Theremon that there is evidence of several civilizations that preceded the current society. An event that appears to occur every 2049 years appears to have ended each of these civilization “cycles,” and Aton believes he has discovered a scientific explanation for this.

And he knows that they have reached the end of another 2049 year cycle. Theremon learns that every 2049 years, there is a rare star constellation that only leaves one sun, Beta, a dim red dwarf, visible in the sky. And precisely when that happens, another planet comes between Lagash and Beta, leading to a solar eclipse that immerses all of Lagash in complete darkness.

Theremon still does not believe that a good half an hour of darkness would lead to the end of civilization, but the more the last of the suns vanishes, the more he feels the terror of darkness that no human on Lagash seems to be immune to.

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below to subscribe to our newsletter