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Sailing to Byzantium / Seven American Nights (Tor Double) Paperback – Jun 1989

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Product details

  • Paperback: 4 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Paperback First Edition edition (Jun 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812500792
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812500790
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 10 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,980,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
An exceptional pair of novellas in the Ace Doubles series.
Robert Silverberg's Sailing To Byzantium is set in a far future where most humans are immortal and there are only ever 4 cities at any one time. These cities are recreations of great cities from the distant past and are regularly changed. Charles Phillips is a New Yorker who has somehow been transported from the 1980's to this strange time. The story follows Phillip's quest to understand the world he finds himself in and also to understand himself. It is, as with all prime Silverberg, very well written and of exactly the right length for it's material.
Gene Wolfe's Seven American Nights is the journal of Nadan, a young Persian visiting a now third-world America, plagued with poverty and mutations to it's people. Why Nadan is there is not clear but it is possibly to loot archaeological treasures. Seven American Nights is Wolfe at his peak, teasing and ambiguous.
In summary both of these are exceptional works and this is highly recommended to anyone wishing to sample two of SF and Fantasy's greats.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Two of sci-fi's notable novellas 27 Sep 2002
By Joanna Daneman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
You can find "Sailing to Byzantium" as a stand-alone book in print, which is terrific, as it is a shame that this double Tor book is now out of print. "Sailing to Byzantium" is a must-read by Silverberg, one of science fiction's premier authors. He excels in the novella genre, and the writing in "Byzantium" is nothing short of exquisite. Silverberg creates an entire future society, yet reveals each fact with perfect timing, dropping them into place as precisely as a safecracker dropping tumblers into the lock of a safe. If you want to read a near-perfect short work of fiction, this is it.
Turn this book upside down and Gene Wolfe's celebrated "Seven American Nights" is on the other side. The story unfolds with a diary of an Iranian visitor to the ruins of a future United States. The diary tells a story of an adventure in a land of mutants and ruined treasure for the taking. But is the writer reliable in what he tells us? The uncertainty of the information is skillfully crafted and teases the reader almost unbearably along each of the seven nights.
Both these stories are top-notch examples of short fiction writing, and masterpieces of science fiction. If you find a copy of this, snap it up.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An excellent pairing of two science-fiction novellas which transcend their genre and are just great literature 20 May 2011
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This little book was the tenth entry in the Tor Double series, where two science-fiction novellas were published back to back, and you could read either by flipping the book over. The pairing of Robert Silverberg's "Sailing to Byzantium" with Gene Wolfe's "Seven American Nights" makes the book an attractive prospect, for these two novellas rank among the very best works of science fiction *as literature*.

Silverberg wrote "Sailing to Byzantium" in 1984. In this story, a man from our time finds himself in a far-future Earth where the sparse and utterly inexplicable population pass their time as tourists, visiting re-creations of famous cities from the past. The nature of this strange world and his place in it is gradually revealed. The emotional impact of the story is devastating, for Silverberg really makes you feel the protagonist's pain and alienation. Not only is the dramatic pacing excellent, but the prose is excellent as well. Plus, it's nice that Silverberg maintains a relationship with the literary canon with his references to Yeats' famous poem.

Wolfe's "Seven American Nights" was first published in one of Damon Knight's Orbit anthologies in 1978. It is the record of an Iranian visiting a bizarre post-apocalyptic America for less than honourable purposes, an ironic reversal of the phenomenon of 1960s hippies visiting the Middle East for drug tourism. The novella contains the hallmarks of Wolfe's finest writing: unreliable narration, casual revelations, fantastic world-building, the perpetual feeling that the reader isn't getting the whole story, and an ending that shows that all the plot's secrets were really right there in the text all along.

Inexpensive used copies of this Tor Double abound, so you're not taking much of a risk. However, the stories can be found elsewhere, and those collections might interest fans of the genre more. "Sailing to Byzantium" has been widely anthologized and it might be best to read it in the eponymous collection of Silverberg novellas, as the other material there is entertaining. "Seven American Nights" is the last story in the Wolfe collection The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories (sic!).
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