Don't Bite the Sun

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Don't Bite the Sun
DontBiteTheSun byTanithLee cover.jpg
Cover of Don't Bite the Sun
Author Tanith Lee
Cover artist Brian Froud
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Science fiction, Utopian fiction, Dystopian fiction
Publisher DAW Books
Publication date
1976
Media type Print
Pages 158
ISBN 9780879974862
Followed by Drinking Sapphire Wine

Don't Bite the Sun is a 1976 science fiction novel by Tanith Lee set in a utopian world which the main character comes to reject. The main character and her friends are wild, crazy "Jang" teenagers whose lifestyle is full of reckless behaviour, promiscuous sex, repeated suicide (on dying they are reborn), and a constant search for thrills. Over the course of the story, the nameless narrator fails to relate to her seven Jang friends but finds herself, feels emotion, and learns love.

Synopsis[edit]

Setting[edit]

On a desert planet in the distant future, humanity inhabits three domed utopian cities: Four-BEE, Four-BOO, and Four-BAA. Humans have no responsibilities; their daily needs are served by quasi-robots which even run the government through a Committee. Young humans known as "Jang" are rigidly expected to do whatever they please, indulge in various forms of drugs, have sex (as long as they marry first, even if it is just for the afternoon), and live for their own pleasures. They can visit, have their dreams constructed for them, buy or steal anything they want at will, and even sabotage the city (though the robots instantly repair any damage). Robots handle everything, and nothing is left for the humans to do. Nor can they die in any meaningful sense; when they do, they are resurrected in a body customised to their wishes.[1]

Technology[edit]

In addition to being resurrected at will, the inhabitants of the city possess various future technologies. They can travel by bird plane or bubble or teleportation through a Body Displacer. Their children go to hypno-school to learn complex math that will never be used again, all while completely asleep. Their cities are completely climate-controlled. Outside the domes, however, lie uninhabitable desert, plagued with sandstorms, volcanic eruptions, and furry, long-eared beasts that wander the great expanses.

Plot[edit]

The book opens with the narrator visiting a close friend after his fortieth suicide-by-birdplane. Offended by his insensitivity, she kills herself, then, in a new body, embarks on a series of mundane attempts to amuse herself, including stealing a white fluffy desert animal that she keeps as a pet, programming elaborate dreams for herself, having unsatisfying sex with her peers, and employing a wide variety of legal drugs. Incapable of making emotional connections with anyone, she finds her life increasingly unsatisfying, though her demanding and difficult pet does interest her.

Soon after going through the mundane rituals of her life the narrator feels like she should not be a Jang teenager any more. However, the quasi-robots who run the city determine that she is not ready to become an older person. Soon she tries looking for a useful job, but to no avail: robots and computers perform every useful task. She then attempts to have a child, but is unable to find a suitable partner, tries to have a child with herself, and ends up causing the child to die. Unable to fill the emptiness she feels, she joins an expedition to explore the deserts outside the city. During this expedition, the narrator realises the beauty of life outside of the domes and she gains a strong emotional connection with her stolen pet. However, it is then accidentally killed, devastating her. Upon returning to the city, she is still unable to make lasting emotional connections with her peers. She considers death and wonders if she really belongs in the city or somewhere else.[1]

Characters[edit]

Jang[edit]

  • Danor – A friend of the narrator's who loses the ability to "have love" successfully and becomes celibate, surrounded by adoring fans. Predominantly female.
  • Hatta – An unusual character. Unlike the other Jang members, Hatta is not obsessed with outward beauty but instead focuses on individualism, going so far as to always be physically ugly. Loves the narrator and wants her to accept him for his inward beauty.
  • Hergal – A young Jang male fascinated with suicide, sex, and ecstasy. Bird-plane enthusiast.
  • Kley – A friend of the main character.
  • Lorun – The epitome of a Jang male. The narrator falls in love with him while she searches for a suitable parent for her child-to-be.
  • Sarl – Lorun’s Jang friend.
  • Narrator – The main character. She has only known the Jang way of life, but tires of it and wants more out of life.
  • Thinta – A predominantly female person who wants to become a cat but cannot. One of the narrator's close friends.

Older people[edit]

  • Glar Assule – A self-styled archaeologist who sets out to explore desert ruins on an expedition.
  • Narrator’s Makers – Both male older people who created the Narrator and looked after her until after she graduated from hypno-school.

Other[edit]

  • Pet – The pet was a possession of value for the main character. It had white fur, whiskers and orange eyes. It resembled a dog.
  • Quasi-Robot – The Quasi-Robot is a robot that has human qualities.
  • Quasi-Robot Medicine Man – The Quasi-Robot Medicine Man is there when the main character wakes up in Limbo.

Context[edit]

Tanith Lee wrote Don’t Bite the Sun in the early 1970s, and it represents the New Wave of science fiction, in which feminist writers played a substantial role.[2] Fantastic fiction can be a way of describing an imperfect world that can provoke social change. Women writing science fiction as part of the New Wave “recuperate[d] female archetypal roles that have fallen into stereotypes; … recover[ed] a lost matriarchal tradition in myth and history … deal[t] explicitly with woman-centered issues such as rape and gender inequality … and … reenvision[ed] traditional fantasy from a feminized perspective of caring and community.”[2] Don't Bite the Sun formed part of a projected trilogy (with Drinking Sapphire Wine and an unwritten third novel); such long novels and multibook series became increasingly common during the 1970s.[2] Don’t Bite the Sun features considerable technology developed in the 1970s, including robots, game rooms and virtual reality, and compact computers.[3]

Tanith Lee also credits feminist writers such as Elizabeth Bowen and Angela Carter as significant influences during her early career.[4] While she did not consider herself a feminist author during the period in which she wrote Don't Bite the Sun, she later acknowledged her feminist influences[5] The New Wave fascination with soul-crushing dystopian worlds is apparent in Don't Bite the Sun[5] but is subverted into an apparent soul-crushing utopia.

Reception[edit]

Don’t Bite the Sun has received largely positive reviews on online sources such as Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and Goodreads. The standalone book Don’t Bite The Sun has 4.2 of 5 on Goodreads with 228 ratings, with reviewers citing its light yet fantasy-rich storyline and referring to it as a "comfort book" that readers like to escape to, although some consider it challenging for a first-time reader.[6] It has 4.5 of 5 stars on Amazon with 11 total reviews to date. The omnibus edition Biting the Sun, which includes the sequel, has 4.23 of five on Goodreads with 813 ratings, 4.8 of 5 stars on Amazon with 40 reviews (only five rate it less than 5 of 5), and 4.5 of 5 on BarnesandNoble with 15 ratings.[7] Biting the Sun is the 22nd most popular item on alibris.com for work authored solely by Tanith Lee and her highest-ranked Amazon title. Review bloggers have described Don’t Bite the Sun as "a fun, addictive read"[8] "written in a wonderful vernacular style." [9]

Editions[edit]

There are three available editions of Don’t Bite the Sun. The book was originally published in February 1976 by science fiction, fantasy, and horror publisher DAW Books[10] as a mass-market paperback with a front cover by English fantasy illustrator Brian Froud[11] Don’t Bite the Sun was re-released by DAW on 7 August 1979, again as a mass-market paperback,[10] this time under a new cover by Spanish artist Enrich Torres.[12] In 1987, Starmont House Inc. published a hardcover offset of the 1976 DAW Books edition. The illustrator is unknown and not credited.[13] All three editions differ only in cover illustrations and publishers.

In 1999, Bantam Books combined Don’t Bite the Sun and its sequel, Drinking Sapphire Wine (originally published by DAW Books in February 1977) in a single volume, Biting the Sun.[14]

Publishing history[edit]

Don’t Bite the Sun, as well as Biting the Sun, is one of the many books Tanith Lee has written that has been translated into different languages and published in other countries. In total, Don’t Bite the Sun and Biting the Sun has been translated into 8 different languages including English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Swedish.[15][16]

Dutch[edit]

  • De Dageraad De Jang-generatie (1976) Mass-market paperback. Cover illustration by Ruvanti.
  • Meulenhoff Het Jang-fenomeen (1981) Mass-market paperback. Cover illustration by Paul Lehr.

English[edit]

French[edit]

  • Librairie des Champs-Élysées. Paris. Ne Mords Pas Le Soleil. (1979) Mass-market paperback. Translated by Maxime Barriere[15]
  • Presses-Pocket. Paris. Ne Mords Pas Le Soleil. (1991) Mass-market paperback. Translated by Maxime Barriere. Cover Illustration by Wojtek Siudmak[15]

German[edit]

  • Arthur Moewig Verlag. Germany. Beiss nicht in die Sonne. (1982) Mass-market paperback. Translated Irmhild Hubner. Cover Illustration by Don Maitz[15]

Hebrew[edit]

  • Elisar Publishing House. Israel. Al Tin ‘ats Shinekha Ba-Shemesh. (1982) Trade paperback. Translated by Tamar Stern. Cover Illustration by Brian Froud[15]
  • Astrolog. Israel. Al Tin ‘ats Shinekha Ba-Shemesh. (2001) Trade paperback. Translated by Tamar Stern. Cover Illustration by Brian Froud[15]

Italian[edit]

  • Libra Editrice. Bologna. Non mordere il sole. (1978) Dustwrapper over paper covered books. Translated by Roberta Rambelli[15]

Japanese[edit]

  • Sanpen Books. Tokyo. Baiteingu Za San. (2004) Paperback. Translated by Sanae Tamaki. Cover Illustration by Shou Shi Su Masayuki Design[16]

Portuguese[edit]

  • Distri Editora. Lisbon. Nao Mordam O Sol. (1985) Trade paperback. Translated by Maria Teresa Pinto Pereira. Cover Illustration by Catarina Rebello[15]

Swedish[edit]

  • Delta Forlags. Stockholm. Bit Inte Solen. (1977) Trade paperback. Translated by Gunnar Gallmo[15]
  • Delta Forlags. Stockholm. Bit Inte Solen. (1979) Laminated Paper Overboards. Translated by Gunnar Gallmo[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Lee, Tanith. Don't Bite the Sun. 1st Ed. New York : Bantam Books, 1976. Print.
  2. ^ a b c Reid, Robin. Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Greenwood Publishing Group. 1 and 2. (2009): n. page. Web. 18 October 2012.
  3. ^ Nakate, Shashank. "Technology in 1970s." Buzzle.com. Buzzle.com, 27 2012. Web. 18 October 2012. <http://www.buzzle.com/articles/technology-in-1970s.html>
  4. ^ "Innsmouth Free Press." Innsmouth Free Press. Innsmouth Free Press, 17 November 2009. Web. 15 October 2012. <http://www.innsmouthfreepress.com/blog/?p=3360>
  5. ^ a b Clute, John, and Peter Nicholls. "Feminism." Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993. Print.
  6. ^ Goodreads: Don’t Bite the Sun Reviews. Goodreads. 17 October 2012 <http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/974195.Don_t_Bite_the_Sun>
  7. ^ Goodreads: Biting the Sun Reviews. Goodreads. 14 October 2012 <http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/373009.Biting_the_Sun?origin=reg_path>
  8. ^ Daniels, Matthew. “Reflected Pensiveness.” Weblog post. Wordpress. 25 February 2009. 14 October 2012 <"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 December 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-25. >
  9. ^ S, Anne. "Biting the Sun –Rediscovering Tanith Lee." Weblog post. Blogspot. 17 October 2008. 14 October 2012 <http://catpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/10/biting-sun-rediscovering-tanith-lee.html>
  10. ^ a b Pattison, Jim, Paul Soanes, and Allison Rich, http://www.daughterofthenight.com ["Daughter of the Night: An Annotated Tanith Lee Bibliography"],Daughter of the Night, April 2003
  11. ^ Pattison, Jim, Paul Soanes, and Allison Rich, http://www.daughterofthenight.com/tla07a.html ["Daughter of the Night: An Annotated Tanith Lee Bibliography"],"Don't Bite the Sun- DAW Books First Edition", Daughter of the Night, April 2003
  12. ^ Pattison, Jim, Paul Soanes, and Allison Rich, http://www.daughterofthenight.com/tla07b.html ["Daughter of the Night: An Annotated Tanith Lee Bibliography"],"Don't Bite the Sun- DAW Book Second Edition", Daughter of the Night, April 2003
  13. ^ Pattison, Jim, Paul Soanes, and Allison Rich, http://www.daughterofthenight.com/tla07c.html ["Daughter of the Night: An Annotated Tanith Lee Bibliography"], "Don't Bite the Sun- Starmont House Edition", Daughter of the Night, April 2003
  14. ^ Lee, Tanith. Biting the Sun. Bantam Books: 1999
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Pattison, Jim, Paul Soanes, and Allison Rich, http://www.daughterofthenight.com/tla003.html [“Tanith Lee Bibliography – Separate Publications – Page 3”], ‘’Daughter of the Night’’
  16. ^ a b c Pattison, Jim, Paul Soanes, and Allison Rich, http://www.daughterofthenight.com/tla004.html ["Tanith Lee Bibliography – Separate Publications – Page 4"], Daughter of the Night
  17. ^ p.pinto effectively editing hamlyn paperbacks sf list ab initio. email: arachne@i-m-t.demon.co.uk