The Nightingale was the most advanced craft in the entire fleet of Mercy ships belonging to the Gentle Order of St Francis Dionysos. On its maiden voyage, its life bays packed with refugees, the Nightingale disappeared. Despite strenuous efforts no trace of it could be found.
Then, a year later, a distress signal was heard and the Nightingale reappeared. It was damaged in ways that meant its survival in space was a miracle. But of its previous cargo of life-forms there was no sign. Only one creature remained alive within the ship, and that was its captain, Jon Wilberfoss.
Wulfsyarn is the story of the Nightingale, and of Jon Wilberfoss. It is told by Wulf, an autoscribe who has the task of observing Wilberfoss in the aftermath of his return. For the captain of the Nightingale is a condemned man: condemned by the Gentle Order, and self-condemned by a burden of guilt so intense his mind refuses to acknowledge it. Over the long period of Wilberfoss' tortured convalescence in a peaceful monastery garden on the planet Tallin, Wulf watches and waits, recording the mosaic of Wilberfoss' life: his childhood and adolescence, his entry into the Gentle Order, his marriage (to a native Tallin woman), and the great moment when he was chosen as captain of the Nightingale.
But can Wulf bring Wilberfoss to finally face the truth of what happened on the Nightingale's fatal first and last journey?
Phillip Mann was born in 1942 and studied English and Drama at Manchester University and later in California. He worked in the New China News Agency in Beijing for two years but has lived in New Zealand since 1969, working as a theatre critic, drama teacher and university Reader in Drama. As well as writing novels, he has written a number of plays and stories for Radio New Zealand.