Have you ever noticed the weird psychological effect where, if you're reading a new edition of a work, it just doesn't "feel" old (but if you're reading an old paperback with yellowed pages and a half-naked chick on the cover, it will undoubtedly feel dated?) Well, this copy of 'Nightwings,' which was written in 1968, does, admittedly, have the unclad female (tho' such a pretty, tasteful one!), but it's all new and shiny, and I didn't feel the story seemed dated at all. Interesting.
Silverberg gives us, in his Hugo-award winning 'Nightwings' an Earth approximately 35,000 years in the future. Humanity has risen, and (through hubris, bad political moves, and the unfortunate effects of trying to change the planet's climate) subequently fallen.
Society is strictly governed by membership in guilds, some of which fill expected places in society... politics, mercantilism, historians, service industries... and some groups which are odder, such as the beautiful butterfly-winged fliers, created by genetic engineering in the Second Age, or the guildless Changelings, monstrous-looking outcasts, mistakes engendered by that same tinkering.
Our lead character is a Watcher, his life devoted to using a cart of instruments which allow him to monitor space for unknown alien invaders. It is barely remembered why the Watchers were set up - they seem practically useless... but little known to humanity, the invasion is nearly upon Earth...
Through three linked novellas, we follow the elderly Watcher on a journey through three ancient cities... first Roum, where he loves the lovely flier Avluela, but she loves the grotesque changeling(?) Gorman... Invaders set him on the path to Perris, along with a prince in disguise, where he becomes an historian, and later, a traitor(?)... and then to fabled Jorslem, where Pilgrims may have their bodies renewed and their sins cast aside...
At different times, the book reminded me slightly of Tanith Lee's books of Paradys, of Arthur C. Clarke's The City & The Stars, of China Mieville's New Crobuzon.... and also, of Silverberg's own 'Valentine' series... but overall, it was itself... with a beautiful dreamlike quality... very nice.