I read the first half (third?) of a novella in a 1970s/early 80s copy of Analog or similar. I'd like to read the rest.

The story takes place on a planet that is flying through space on its own. Normally in deep space it would be frozen solid, but during the period of the story it is flying through a group of stars and will, for a period, be habitable and brightly lit. As it approached the closest, it became a huge interstellar tourist attraction and everyone who was everyone had to go.

The plot takes place some period (couple of years?) after the peak, and the planet is slowly depopulating again. The protagonist visits when he receives half of a two-half ring from a former girlfriend - they had promised to always come to the aid of the other if they recived the other half.

He arrives to find she is now the girlfriend/wife/concubine of a major factional leader who has been threatened somehow, and she's asking for him to look into it. The leader is a tarzan type who is less than happy with the "help".

  • I remember this one. I don't think it was a ring, but something they called an "esper crystal". The protagonist is kind of a schlub and ends up having to do personal combat against one of the locals. It was definitely in Analog.
    – zeta-band
    Sep 11, 2017 at 21:54

1 Answer 1


Dying of the Light, a 1977 novel by George R. R. Martin; a shorter version titled "After the Festival" was published as a four-part serial in Analog, April–July, 1977.

Wikipedia summary:

The novel takes place on the planet of Worlorn, a world which is dying. It is a rogue planet whose erratic course is taking it irreversibly far from its neighboring stars into a region of cold and dark space where no life will survive. Worlorn's 14 cities, built during a brief window when the world passed close enough to a red giant star to permit life to thrive, are dying, too. Built to celebrate the diverse cultures of 14 planetary systems, they have largely been abandoned, allowing their systems and maintenance to fail.

The cast is a group of characters who are also flirting with death. Dirk t'Larien, the protagonist, finds life empty and of little attraction after his girlfriend Gwen Delvano leaves him. Most poignant of all, the Kavalar race, into which she has "married," is dying culturally. Their home planet has survived numerous attacks in a planetary war, and in response they have evolved social institutions and human relationship patterns to cope with the depredation of the war. Yet now that the war is long past, they find themselves trapped between those who would recognize that the old ways need to be reviewed for the current day and those who believe that any dilution of the old ways spells the end of Kavalar culture.

The battles, then, of all these varying actors are played out beneath the dying light falling on Worlorn. By the novel's end, many of the characters have died, though the author leaves some endings deliberately ambiguous. Nonetheless, they have all faced their fears of death and of life.

  • I hated the resolution-less ending. Sep 12, 2017 at 3:47
  • 1
    Interestingly, the exact same issue of Analog came up in this thread: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/169360/… It seems I only had ONE issue of Analog during that entire period - I clearly remember the cover. Sep 12, 2017 at 10:49
  • I loved the ending, the point is "that" character agreed to take part in that thing he'd been putting off and running from. The larger theme is that it is risk and change that give life meaning. The entire planet is dying, but it was wonderful while it thrived, Kavalar society is dying because of it's fixed and outmoded ways, it needs to change to survive. Doing the thing he ran from shows the character has embraced life, with all it's dangers (my two cents). Sep 12, 2017 at 13:33

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