The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson is one of the most imaginative, original, frustrating, and difficult-to-read novels that I have ever managed to finish. It is a fantasy (science-fiction?) book like no other, or at least the first half of it is. The second half is a long, drawn-out, not very good pulp story. I am really glad I read the book, but was a bit gladder when I finished it.
A couple of years ago, my father bought me an ebook called Awake in the Night Land by John C. Wright. Unexpected, not only because I didn’t specifically remember talking with him about the first one (although I almost certainly did), but also because I had never read an ebook before. In fact, the only device I had, other than my PC, that could display an ebook was my Ipod. So, I put it on my Ipod, and didn’t really pay much attention to it.
Then, my first child was born. All of a sudden, I often found myself awake in the middle of the night, in a dark and quite house, gently rocking in a chair, trying to stay awake. I soon discovered that an Ipod, which could be held in one hand and glowed in the dark, was a great way to read in such situations. Thus, I dropped once more into the Night Land.
John C. Wright’s book is a wonderful follow-on from the original. While obviously it doesn’t have the creativity of the original, it has the good sense to focus on the elements of the setting that are the most unique and interesting, and uses those to tell fascinating stories. However, like William Hope Hodgon’s book, this one is also long, extremely slow in places, often obscure, and filled with big words, some of which are made up, some of which are not, and some of which I’m not sure about.
Essentially, if you liked the original book, you will almost certainly like this one. You might even like it more. If you didn’t like the original, well, scratch this one off your list.
By the time I had finished the first three or four stories, my daughter was older and sleeping well, and my night time reading dropped to zero. I moved backed to books printed on paper. However, with the recent birth of my son, the Ipod has come back out and I have just finished Awake in the Night Land, some two years after I started.
It is the first ebook I have ever read!