Written well (1977) before Martin's highly-acclaimed but not-yet-with-an-end-in-sight Song of Ice and Fire series, Dying of The Light is a novel that shows many of the skills that that series has been appreciated for - complex interpersonal relationships, deft characterizations, believable world-building, to the degree that you want to just step right in and look around the corners to see what else is there - because you *know* that something is...
I actually finished this book really wishing that Martin had written other books in this universe because it was so fascinating - even though the story itself takes place in an extremely small, isolated sphere.
The scenario, I thought, was very Iain Banks-ish...
A 'rogue' planet in a parabolic(?) orbit is only swinging close enough to its stars to support life for 50 years. The civilized universe decides to take advantage of this and throw a festival much like a World's Fair, each planet displaying their arts, technology and unique culture - but only for a brief time.
At the time of the book, the festival is over. The vast majority of the participants have left, as the planet slowly plunges back into cold and night.
But one man (Dirk T'Larien) races through space to that planet - because he has received a token from an old love, one that he had promised, no matter what, to answer...
But when he arrives, things are not as he expected. His welcome is odd. His old lover, an ecologist, is busy studying the dying of the planet's ecosystems.
She's married - or 'betheyn' - to Vikary, a man from a harsh, warlike culture, and is also bound sexually and culturally to his partner.
But another old friend of hers is also there - and he speaks, in confidence, telling Dirk that she really wants to be rescued - that she is enslaved and oppressed.
A psychosexual drama ensues between these four - one with plenty of action and violence, but also dealing with the frictions and attractions between personalities, the complexities of human relationships and the differences between cultures.
Really a great book.