->''"If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore, and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown!"''
-->--'''Creator/RalphWaldoEmerson'''

->''"I think men would go mad instead."''
-->--'''Creator/JohnWCampbell''', dissenting from the above quote


''Nightfall'' is a short story and novel by Creator/IsaacAsimov. The original short story was first published in 1941, one of Asimov's earliest published works, and the first critically successful work of his career. The story had since been republished in many anthologies and was familiar to science fiction fans. The 1990 novel was an expansion of the short story, which only covered what became the second third of the novel. Creator/RobertSilverberg collaborated with him on the novel. The original story won a special Hugo award as the best science-fiction short story of all time.

''Nightfall'' is about a planet with six suns that therefore never experiences true night. The plot follows an archaeologist, an astrophysicist, a psychologist, and a journalist in the months leading up to a scientifically predicted solar eclipse - the eponymous "nightfall" which plunges the planet into chaos. They also deal with a cult whose holy book predicts the eclipse as well, and who have been planning for it for upward of two thousand years.

Unless otherwise noted, all references here are to the novel.
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!!Tropes include:

* AdamAndEvePlot - A would-be rapist's justification for his actions.
* AlienSky - To us, the world of the story. To the characters in the story, the night sky, and especially [[spoiler:the stars]].
* AllMythsAreTrue - The holy book of the cult is actually a remarkably accurate historical accounting.
* AmusementParkOfDoom - Since the thing everyone's most afraid of is darkness, someone has the great idea of making a funfair horror ride that goes for fifteen minutes with no light whatsoever. Strong-willed people who take it are temporarily reduced to quivering wrecks. Weak-minded ones go permanently insane. The ride does not last long.
* AncientConspiracy - 2049 years is a long time to wait to try to take over the world.
* AndManGrewProud - The holy book, again.
* AnyoneCanDie - Not all the main characters make it out alive.
* ApocalypseAnarchy: They basically burn down their entire civilization in the freakout; then the survivors start over from scratch. By the time of the next eclipse, the only record of the previous one is in mythology.
* ApocalypseHow - Class 1. Danger of Class 2.
* TheArk - A bunker in an old particle accelerator complex.
* AsimovsThreeKindsOfScienceFiction - Social.
* AttemptedRape - After the eclipse. Proves fatal for the would-be attacker.
* BadMoonRising - The central third of the plot.
* BinarySuns - Kalgash has two pairs of binary suns!
* CallARabbitASmeerp - "Thargola's Sword" for Occam's Razor. A few other things. Mostly averted in favor of TranslationConvention, as seen below.
* EndlessDaytime: Well, ''almost'' endless...
* FirstTimeInTheSun: Inverted by it being the first time under the night sky, and subverted in that this is anything but a CrowningMomentOfAwesome for those who see it.
* FantasticNamingConvention: The inhabitants of the planet Lagash have a name followed by a number, e.g. Sheerin 501, Beenay 25, etc.
* GoMadFromTheRevelation: The plot involves the main characters frantically trying to prevent their civilization from suffering this when they finally experience darkness for the first time. [[spoiler: While the darkness is bad enough, what ''no one'' is prepared for is the billions and billions of stars that suddenly appear in the night sky. This leads to the far more devastating revelation that their solar system, which they had originally believed to be the extent of the entire universe, is merely a tiny part of it.]]
* InsignificantLittleBluePlanet - When one character [[spoiler:sees the Stars, he realizes that the universe must not merely be made of the six suns, Kalgash and Kalgash 2.]]
* {{Irony}}: Everyone is trying to prevent their society from going completely mad once they experience the darkness caused by the eclipse. [[spoiler: Unfortunately, no one was prepared for the billions of stars that appeared in the night sky, and the revelation that their society, which they had previously believed to be the entire universe, was only a tiny part of a much greater whole. It's not just the darkness that drives everyone mad, but the billions of lights that can be seen ''in'' the darkness.]]
* ItWillNeverCatchOn - At one point, discussing the aversion to darkness universal among the populace, an example of a world with a single sun, exposed to an average of 12 hours of darkness per day is posited. It's ridiculed as a useless thought experiment, because darkness is considered so inimical to life that such a world would be barren and dead.
* JustBeforeTheEnd
* MadnessMantra: Happens at the end of the short story, when the [[spoiler:six suns set but the stars in the night sky reveal themselves, leading the character of Aton to start crying and saying "Stars--all the stars--we didn't know at all. We didn't know anything. We thought six stars in a universe is something the Stars didn't notice is Darkness forever and ever and ever and the walls are breaking in and we didn't know we couldn't know anything--"]]
* MohsScaleOfScienceFictionHardness - Pretty much rock-solid. Posits no new technology or science, the only thing that makes this science fiction at all is the setting.
** However, it's nearly impossible for a stellar system with the described properties to exist - either the orbits would be unstable, or the suns would be too far apart for the permanent day (which must be a bright day, otherwise the stars would be daytime visible, since the setting is in the middle of a globular cluster).
* NegativeSpaceWedgie - One of the theories the physicists propose to explain a perturbation in the planet's orbit.
* NumberedHomeworld - "Kalgash 2", the previously unknown moon.
* PrimalFear - An entire planet that has never known darkness. People of all ages sleep with nightlights. What would happen if this world encountered true darkness ''en masse'' without sufficient preparation?
* TorchesAndPitchforks - Emphasis on the torches, in a collective attempt to stave off darkness.
* TranslationConvention - From the foreword:
-->''"...We could have told you that our character paused to [[CallARabbitASmeerp strap on his quonglishes before setting out on a walk of seven vorks along the main gleebish of his native znoob]], and everything [[WillingSuspensionOfDisbelief would have seemed ever so much more thoroughly alien]]. But it also would have been ever so much more difficult to make sense out of what we were saying, [[AndThatsTerrible and that did not seem useful]]."''