Reviewed date: 2004 Sep 3
In the distant future Earth is a backward planet. Its citizens have organized into a medieval guild structure, having his purpose and place in a guild. Life seems good, people are happy. But a threat lurks in the collective memory of the human race: the enemy. It is the duty of the Watchers' Guild to alert Earth when the enemy returns.
Nightwings is the story of a Watcher. This Watcher has dedicated his life to watching for the ever-impending attack, but his faith is gone; he no longer believes the invasion will ever come. On his journeys he is accompanied by two companions: a Flier, a fairy-like person created through genetic engineering; and a guildless Changeling. This is the story of the Watcher's journey, not just physically but spiritually too. Once he was proud of his work as a Watcher; now his faith has left him, he feels his work and his life are meaningless. Now changes are afoot, and as the world comes crashing down about him, and he must regain his lost faith.
This is a short, powerful story. It's more fantasy than science fiction, although the science plays an increasing role as the story progresses. I really can't come up with words to describe adequately describe it. Nightwings rates a three out of five.
Nightwings is bound together with Jack Vance's Hugo and Nebula award winning novella The Last Castle in Tor Double No. 15. Tor Doubles offer a great way to read novella-length science fiction, and if you can find Tor Double No. 15, I recommend it; it contains two excellent pieces of fiction.