- Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Bantam USA (31 Dec. 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0553581309
- ISBN-13: 978-0553581300
- Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 2.5 x 17.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 572,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Biting the Sun Mass Market Paperback – 31 Dec 1999
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On a planet devoted to seeking pleasure no matter what the cost, where the dead can be re-incarnated continually, a band of rebel teenagers bucks the system to seek the more subtle joys of the soul.
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....
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The world is portrayed through the eye's of a young predominantly female (you can change gender at the drop of hat) narrator who is coming to realise the hollowness of this seeming perfect existence.
This is a brilliant far future fantasy, comparable with Michael Moorcock's 'Dancers at the end of time' trilogy, where rediscovery of ancient emotions leads to redemption for the central characters. Fans of both science fiction and fantasy should find somthing to please them in this book.
As with many books in the genre, the science of Lee's ultra-realized society is incredibly fuzzy. (Lee contrives a monetary process based on turning emotional output into energy. All any citizen has to do is plug in and trade effusion for products or services.) The fuzzy science seems okay to me, since Lee (like Bradbury) is a metaphorical thinker and presents the reader with some beautifully rendered passages in exchange for suspension of disbelief.
Lee's themes are indicative of the times in which the books were written (the 1970's): cross-dressing (by switching bodies), free love, and artificial titillation vs. "real" experience, for example. One might consider this book in that odd class of works that a friend of mine calls "hippy-fi".
Having just applied two labels (dystopian and hippy-fi), however, I wouldn't say that this book is making enough of a statement to be included as a significant work in either list. My biggest complaint is that the endings of both Don't Bite the Sun and Drinking Saphire Wine (now published in one volume as Biting the Sun) seemed contrived to me. Lee appears to be headed toward some statement of import - one more complex than the obvious idea that a real life is better than a virtual one - but somehow stops short in both works. They have that sense of someone coming up against a self-imposed word count.
I won't argue that this is one of my more brilliant reviews, but I wanted to stick in my "say-so." After reading the other Amazon.com reviews on this book, I was really excited to read it. Perhaps because of my high expectations, I found it to be a bit of a disappointment.
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