I'm trying to find a short story that I read in the mid to late 90's, or perhaps as late as the early 2000's. I believe, but am by no means certain, that it was published in Asimov's Science Fiction, but I went through the magazine's bibliography from 1990-2005 on the Internet Speculative Fiction Database and was unable to find a title that sounded promising with a synopsis to fit. To be clear, there were a number of stories with promising titles for which I could find no synopsis at all. Unfortunately it's also entirely possible that I read the story in a secondhand collection of stories from the 50's or 60's and am just remembering wrong, though my recollection of the style and tone of the story was definitely more modern. Sorry for the uncertainty.

The setting of the story was Earth in the near future. The Sun had been completely obscured by something (passing cloud of space dust/alien veil of darkness/something else entirely) and the people of Earth were slowly starving and/or freezing to death in the dark.

The characters were two men who had built a bunker to try to wait out the darkness. The oceans had already frozen over, and the men were waiting for the atmosphere to cool enough for it to liquefy then freeze.

The other plot point involved some passing travelers, one or two men and two women, and it was either stated or implied that the bunker dwellers were planning on murdering the men in order to take the women captive.

I clearly recall that the blurb at the beginning of the story stated that this was going to be written into a book at some point, but I was never able to find that book, and my googling abilities have had no success at finding the story itself. The cloud in Fred Hoyle's "The Black Cloud" behaves very similarly and has similar consequences, but it's not that.

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    This sounds similar to 'A Pail of Air', by Fritz Leiber, but that lacks the murderous ending.
    – Liesmith
    Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 23:21
  • @user14111 I went back after writing this and had another crack at the titles that sounded promising. There were 8 or so, and I eventually was able to find descriptions for 4 or 5, and discovered that 2 were poems. The only one that I was not able to find a synopsis of was surprising: Greg Benford's "Soon Comes Night", a Nebula Award nominee from August 1994. Oddly, that's all I can find out about it. The combination of famous author and award nomination buried any actual information about the story. Commented Jan 16, 2016 at 3:20
  • The novella "Soon comes night" is illustrated on the cover of the August 1994 Asimov's. Acto the editorial blurb it's "part of Gregory Benford's extended future-history series [which I haven't read—bof] that includes In the Oceans of the Night, Across the Sea of Suns, Great Sky River, and Tides of Light. These four books will be released by Bantam this summer along with a new novel, Furious Gulf. The events in the following story link the first two books with a sixth and concluding volume—[continued in next comment]
    – user14111
    Commented Jan 16, 2016 at 4:30
  • [continued from previous comment]—an untitled book that is now being written." That would be Benford's Galactic Center series, which I haven't read. For some reason, neither the ISFDB nor Wikipedia lists "Soon Comes Night" as part of that series. I haven't read "Soon Comes Night" yet—it's a novella, not a short story—do I have to read it, or do you have enough now to rule it out? It's set in the far future, and at least part of it takes place far from Earth, in the center of the galaxy.
    – user14111
    Commented Jan 16, 2016 at 4:43
  • @user14111 Thanks for the research. If it's part of the Galactic Center series, it's not my story. (They are worth reading, by the way, if you like far future fiction in which humans are not the lords of the universe. The last book or two get a bit strange.) Commented Jan 16, 2016 at 4:48

1 Answer 1


Doesn't sound like a perfect match, but it seems similar to Central Heat by David Dvorkin, released as a paperback in 1988.

An alien species warps the sun out of existence and humanity goes underground to survive. Lots of speculation about "what is going on out there" driving the plot.

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