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Robert Silverberg

Robert Silverberg(1935- )
Robert Silverberg began to write while studying for his BA at Columbia University. He has won five Nebula Awards, four Hugo Awards, and the prestigious Prix Apollo. He is the author of more than 100 science fiction and fantasy novels and more than 60 nonfiction works. He’s also edited more than 60 speculative fiction anthologies.

Revolt on Alpha C: Inaugurates the start of one of Sci-Fi’s most beloved careers

Revolt on Alpha C by Robert Silverberg

A quick glance at The Quasi-Official Robert Silverberg Web Site will reveal that the author, during the course of his 60-year career, managed to somehow come out with no fewer than 75 science fiction novels, 180 “adult” and crime novels, 450 (!) sci-fi short stories and novellas, 125 adult/crime short stories, and 70 books of nonfiction… not to mention the 130 or so anthologies for which he served as editor! But all great writing careers have to begin somewhere, and for Robert Silverberg, that beginning was his 1954 novel Revolt on Alpha C.

Actually, Silverberg had already seen one of his short stories, “Gorgon Planet,” released earlier that year, but Revolt on Alpha C was his first full-length work to see publication. Originally printed as a hardcover book by a company called... Read More

The 13th Immortal: One of Silverberg’s earliest novels

The 13th Immortal by Robert Silverberg

The 13th Immortal is one of Robert Silverberg's earliest novels, and though it's not considered one of his great works, I certainly enjoyed it thoroughly and recommend it to those who like short science fiction novels from the 1950s. It's a post-apocalyptic story about twelve immortals who have divided most of the world among themselves into separate Empires, leaving a few other places to whoever claims them. Those few key other spaces include a mutant city, a computerized city with no human inhabitants, and the larger space of Antarctica.

The main point Silverberg makes in this novel is that human beings are to blame for their own fall, and everyone in this new future realizes that the apocalypse was a "technology-born nightmare." Therefore, there is a general commitment to live as much as possible without being dependent on technology:

"The old ways returned to the world ... Read More

Master of Life and Death: Early Silverberg

Master of Life and Death by Robert Silverberg

Future Grand Master Robert Silverberg’s fifth sci-fi novel, Master of Life and Death, was originally released as one-half of one of those cute little “Ace doubles” (D-237, for all you collectors out there), back to back with James White’s The Secret Visitors. Published in 1957, this was one of “only” three novels that Silverberg would release that year (the others were The Dawning Light and The Shrouded Planet), a fairly paltry number, one might think, for this remarkably prolific author… until one realizes that he also came out with no fewer than 82 (!) short stories and novellas that year in the sci-fi vein, plus 19 “adult” stories. On average, that comes to around a story every three or four days, PLUS ... Read More

Invaders from Earth: A perfect little sci-fi adventure

Invaders from Earth by Robert Silverberg

There is apparently a marked difference in the novels that sci-fi great Robert Silverberg wrote before 1967 and the ones he penned from '67 to eight or nine years after. Those two dozen novels of the 1954-'65 period, it has been said, are well-written, polished, plot-driven tales reminiscent of the pulp era of sci-fi's Golden Age. But after author/editor Frederik Pohl gave Silverberg freedom to write as he chose in '67, a new, more mature, more literate quality entered Silverberg's work, and the two dozen novels that he wrote during this second phase of his career are often cited as his best. Having just completed seven books from this late '60s/mid-'70s period, I was curious to check out one of the author's earlier works, just for comparative purposes.

At random, I selected 1958's Invaders From Earth, Silverberg's ni... Read More

Starman’s Quest: Silverberg doesn’t want you to read it

Starman’s Quest by Robert Silverberg

Editor’s Note: Being in the public domain, Starman’s Quest (1958) is available free in Kindle format. You can add audio narration for $2.99.

There’s an author’s note attached to various versions of Starman’s Quest at Amazon that goes like this: “This book is a very early and not very good work of the author, who has tried to prevent the issue of a new edition of it. Unfortunately, since it is no longer protected by copyright, he can't prevent its distribution, but he recommends that you choose some other book of his to read.” The audio version I listened to has a less dire warning: “This was my second novel which I wrote when I was 19, in my junior year at Columbia. I’ve written better ones since. But readers interested in the archaeology of a writing career will probably find much to e... Read More

Planet of Death: Action-packed, light on theme

Planet of Death by Robert Silverberg

Planet of Death by Robert Silverberg is an enjoyable read, but it was the first story/novel I've read of his that was this light on theme, which for me is central to good literature. I know that exploring complex themes is also of primary concern for Silverberg because he emphasizes theme in almost all of the forty-plus stories he included in his short story collections covering the period of time before his writing Planet of Death in 1960. In fact, of all the early stories I've read by him, only a few were written as pure action with no thematic attempt on his part.

Silverberg discusses in several places in the introductions to his short stories in In the Beginning and Read More

Recalled to Life: Ungrateful dead

Recalled to Life by Robert Silverberg

True to his word, after announcing his retirement from the science fiction field in 1959, future Grand Master Robert Silverberg’s formerly prodigious output fell off precipitously. Although he’d released some 16 sci-fi novels from the period 1954 – ’59, not to mention almost 250 (!) sci-fi short stories, AFTER 1959 and until his major return in 1967, his sci-fi production was sporadic at best. In 1960, Silverberg only released one sci-fi book, Lost Race of Mars (a so-called “juvenile”), and in 1961, not a single full-length affair; only two short stories. In 1962, however, in a slight return to form, Silverberg released Recalled to Life and The Seed of Earth. The year 1962 was hardly an idle one for Silverberg, ... Read More

The Seed of Earth: A generally pleasing work from one of sci-fi’s best

The Seed of Earth by Robert Silverberg

Men of a certain age may recall a particular trepidation that was attendant with the coming of their 18th birthday; i.e., the fear of being drafted into the armed forces. From 1940 until January ’73, males here in the U.S. could be drafted, even during peacetime, to fill vacancies in the Army and other services, and well do I remember the sigh of relief that many breathed when the draft disappeared, in favor of an all-volunteer system. But, as Robert Silverberg’s 1962 novel The Seed of Earth had already demonstrated, conscription could entail far more intimidating prospects than a mere two-year Army hitch.

For the future Grand Master and multiple Hugo and Nebula Award winner, The Seed of Earth came at the tail end of his first phase of writing. S... Read More

Time of the Great Freeze: Cold Comfort

Time of the Great Freeze by Robert Silverberg

Given that global warming seems to be an almost universally accepted fact of life these days (except by obstinate conspiracy theorists such as my buddy Ron, who also denies that men ever walked on the moon), it might strike a reader as strange to come across a sci-fi novel that posits the advent of a new Ice Age in the early 23rd century. And yet, such is the case with Robert Silverberg’s Time of the Great Freeze, a novel that first saw the light of day as a Holt, Rinehart & Winston hardcover in 1964. This was right in the middle of Silverberg’s supposed “retirement” period from science fiction, which began in ’59 and ended when editor Frederik Pohl induced the author to come roaring back in ’67. The year 1964 saw Silverberg release only one other sci-fi novel, Read More

Needle in a Timestack: Ten wonderful and wonderfully entertaining pieces

Needle in a Timestack by Robert Silverberg

Having read some two dozen novels by Robert Silverberg over the past couple of years, I recently decided that it was high time for me to see what the Grand Master has accomplished in the area of the shorter form. As if by serendipity, while shopping the other day at the Brooklyn sci-fi bookstore extraordinaire Singularity, I found a volume of Silverberg short stories that, as it’s turned out, has fit the bill for me very nicely. Released in 1966, Needle in a Timestack gathers 10 short tales together from the period 1956 – ’65, out of the 581 (!) short stories, novellas and novelettes that Silverberg has thus far given us. (Readers who are understandably dubious regarding that seemingly superhuman number are urged to go to the author’s Quasi-Off... Read More

Thorns: The new maturity of Robert Silverberg

Thorns by Robert Silverberg

Although Robert Silverberg had been a prodigiously published author prior to 1967, that year is often spoken of as being something of a watershed time for him. Before then, the author had written no less than two dozen sci-fi novels, starting with 1954's Revolt on Alpha C not to mention dozens upon dozens of short stories (over 80 in 1958 alone, according to a certain Wiki site). But in 1967, a new maturity and literary quality entered Silverberg's works, to the surprise of both his fans and fellow writers. In 1967, Silverberg came out with no less than six novels (!): The Gate of Worlds, Planet of Death, Those Who Watch, The Time Hoppers, To Open the Sky and Thorns. For this reader, a recent perusal of that last title has served to demonstrate what that "new maturity" of Silverberg's precisely entailed. R... Read More

Those Who Watch: Compulsively readable and quite touching

Those Who Watch by Robert Silverberg

There is a certain aptness in the fact that I penned this review for Robert Silverberg’s Those Who Watch on January 15, 2015. That day, you see, happened to be Silverberg’s 80th birthday, so my most sincere wishes for many more happy and healthy birthdays must go out to the man who has become, over the years, my favorite sci-fi author.

These days, of course, Silverberg is one of the most honored and respected writers in his chosen genre; a multiple winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards, not to mention a Science Fiction Grand Master. Hard to believe then that, back in 1959, Silverberg, facing a diminishing market for his work and chafing under the literary restrictions of the day, announced his retirement from the field. Since 1954, he’d already come out with some 15 sci-fi novels, plus aro... Read More

The Time Hoppers: Headache-free time travel

The Time Hoppers by Robert Silverberg

This longtime sci-fi buff has a confession to make: Some time travel stories leave me with a throbbing headache. Not that I don’t enjoy them, mind you; it’s just that oftentimes, the mind-blowing paradoxes inherent in many of these tales set off what feels like a Mobius strip feedback loop in my brain that makes me want to grab a bottle of Excedrin. Thus, it was with a bit of decided trepidation that I ventured into Robert Silverberg’s The Time Hoppers, but as it turns out, I needn’t have worried. Silverberg is amongst the most lucid of science fiction imaginers, and here, even when setting forth those inevitable temporal paradoxes that come with all time travel stories, he does so clearly, and in a way that gave this reader no problem whatsoever.

Read More

To Open the Sky: Silverberg comes roaring back

To Open the Sky by Robert Silverberg

It shouldn’t come as too great a surprise that future Grand Master Robert Silverberg dedicated 1967’s To Open the Sky to writer/editor Frederik Pohl. It was Pohl, after all, who induced Silverberg to begin writing sci-fi again on a full-time basis, after the author’s “retirement” from the field in 1959. As then-editor of “Galaxy” magazine, Pohl (who helmed the publication from 1961-’69) promised Silverberg a greater freedom in his writing, with fewer of the literary shackles that had restrained the author till then (not that anyone would have ever realized it, based on the author’s amazingly prolific output from 1954-’59, and the very high quality of that work). But with his new license to create, Silv... Read More

The Man in the Maze: Your attention, please, Mr. Cameron

The Man in the Maze by Robert Silverberg

In one of Robert Silverberg’s novels from 1967, Thorns, the future sci-fi Grand Master presented his readers with one of his most unfortunate characters, Minner Burris. An intrepid space explorer, Burris had been captured by the residents of the planet Manipool, surgically altered and then released. Upon his return to Earth, Burris was grotesque to behold, resulting in one very withdrawn, depressed, reclusive and psychologically warped individual indeed. And a year later, in the author’s even more masterful The Man in the Maze, we encounter still another space explorer who had been surgically altered by aliens, but this time, the alterations are mental, rather than physical, although no less devastating to the subject’s sense of se... Read More

The Masks of Time: A fantastic piece of work

The Masks of Time by Robert Silverberg

I had long thought that Philip K. Dick's 1964-'66 period was the most intensely productive and prolific streak that any sci-fi author of note has ever enjoyed, with nine major novels produced during those three years. But as it turns out, Robert Silverberg, seven years P.K.'s junior, has got him beat by a mile. During the three-year period 1967-'69, Silverberg somehow managed the superhuman feat of releasing no less than 15 novels — six in '67, three in '68 and six again in '69 — and all of them, reportedly, of a very high and literate quality. Silverberg's fiction began to mature immensely in '67, by which time he had already released some two dozen full-length sci-fi novels since his first in 1954, and a look at the book in question, 1968's The Masks of Time, will serve to reveal how capable a writer he had become by this point. ... Read More

Hawksbill Station: A grippingly well-told yarn

Hawksbill Station by Robert Silverberg

Although it had been over 45 years since I initially read Robert Silverberg's novella "Hawksbill Station," several scenes were as fresh in my memory as if I had read them just yesterday; such is the power and the vividness of this oft-anthologized classic. Originally appearing in the August '67 issue of Galaxy magazine, the novella did not come to my teenaged attention till the following year, when it was reprinted in a collection entitled World's Best Science Fiction 1968. Silverberg later expanded his 20,000-word story to novel form, which was duly published as a Doubleday hardcover in October '68. (So why then does the author's "Quasi-Official Web Site" list the book as a product of 1970?) It has taken me all these years to finally catch up with Silverberg's fix-up novel, but I am so glad that I did. To my delighted surprise — and I only say "surprise" because the author has long expressed his... Read More

Nightwings: One of Silverberg’s more charming creations

Nightwings by Robert Silverberg

Originally appearing as three separate but linked novellas in the pages of Galaxy magazine, Robert Silverberg's Nightwings was, remarkably, the author's 35th science fiction novel in 15 years; just one of six that he came out with in 1969 alone (the others being Across a Billion Years, the remarkable Downward to the Earth, Three Survived, To Live Again, and Up the Line). Released during one of Silverberg's most prolific and highly creative phases, during which he pushed back the para... Read More

To Live Again: Silverberg in the full flush of his considerable power

To Live Again by Robert Silverberg

By the time Robert Silverberg released To Live Again in 1969, he had already come out with no less than three dozen science-fiction novels and several hundred short stories, all in a period of only 15 years! The amazingly prolific author had entered a more mature and literate phase in his writing career in 1967, starting with his remarkable novel Thorns, and by 1969 was on some kind of a genuine roll. Just one of six sci-fi novels that Silverberg came out with that year (including the Nebula-winning Nightwings and my personal favorite of this author so far, Downward to the Earth), To Live Again initially appeared as a Doubleday hardcover and, surprisingly, was NOT nominated for a Hugo or Nebula award. To this... Read More

Up the Line: Fornicating in ancient Byzantium — shameless time travel porn

Up the Line by Robert Silverberg

Robert Silverberg was clearly a big fan of sex back in the late 1960s, and I’m sure he wasn’t the only one. But in Up the Line, he absolutely revels in it. He doesn’t miss a chance for his (all male) characters to fornicate with women at every possible opportunity both in the future and the past, in dozens of exotic time periods in Byzantium, Constantinople, Rome, etc. The act may be as old as time, but that doesn’t stop Time Courier Judd Elliot from trying to bed his great-great-great grandmother Pulcharia with a lusty enthusiasm and complete disregard for all social taboos that have existed for millennia. Sure, it’s generally a serious no-no in society to screw your ancestors, but when she is as saucy a sex-kitten as Pulcharia, well who can blame Judd? At least that is the irreverent... Read More

Across a Billion Years: An optimistic story about humanity

Across a Billion Years by Robert Silverberg

In Across a Billion Years (1969), Robert Silverberg introduces us to Tom Rice, a young archaeologist in training, who is writing to his twin sister on their 22nd birthday in 2375. While Tom feels some guilt that he is on the most exciting field trip in the history of Earth while his paralyzed sister is confined to a hospital bed, he is still eager to tell her about his work and he knows that she is just as eager to hear about it.

Tom’s diverse team, which includes some non-human specialists, is visiting a site where they hope to uncover artifacts of the High Ones, an ancient race of superior beings who were travelling in space before humans existed. They haven’t been seen in a long time and are presumed to be extinct. Tom’s team hopes to get clues about the High Ones’ physiology and culture as well as to find out what happened to them. When they dig up a... Read More

Downward To The Earth: Coexisting beauty and horror

Downward to the Earth by Robert Silverberg

Up until recently, I hadn't read Robert Silverberg's brilliant sci-fi novel Downward to the Earth in almost 27 years, but one scene remained as fresh in my memory as on my initial perusal: the one in which the book's protagonist, Edmund Gundersen, comes across a man and a woman lying on the floor of a deserted Company station on a distant world, their still-living bodies covered in alien fluid that is being dripped upon them by a basket-shaped organism, whilst they themselves act as gestating hosts to some parasitic larvae. This scene, perhaps an inspiration for the similar happenings in the Alien film of a decade later, is simply unforgettable, but as a recent rereading of the book has served to demonstrate, it is just one of many superbly rendered se... Read More

The World Inside: Could humans be happy living this way?

The World Inside by Robert Silverberg

In the year 2381, the Earth contains 75 billion people. Despite the dire warnings of 20th century prophets, humans have not exhausted the Earth’s resources. There is plenty of food for everyone, but because 90% of the land must be covered in farms, most of the people live in Urban Monads — 1,000-story skyscrapers housing 800,000 people each. Citizens aren’t allowed out of their building, and many aspects of society are rigidly monitored. Everyone is married at age 12 and each couple is encouraged to have as many children as they can because fertility and children are blessings from god.

In such a close community, it’s dangerous for people to be protective of private property or possessive of their mate, so sharing is actively encouraged. Thus, everyone has sexual access to everyone else and men are expected to go “night walking” to find other partners while their wives stay home an... Read More

Son of Man: A stoner book

Son of Man by Robert Silverberg

Back in the 1970s, there was a certain type of film that, whether by chance or design, became highly favored by the cannibis-stimulated and lysergically enhanced audience members of the day. These so-called "stoner pictures" — such as Performance, El Topo, Pink Flamingos and Eraserhead — played for years as "midnight movies" and remain hugely popular to this day. Well, just as there is a genre of cinema geared for stoners, it seems to me that there could equally well be a breed of literature with a genuine appeal for those with an "altered consciousness." That we don't hear of such books is perhaps due to the fact that reading requires more in the way of active mental work than does film gazing; reading is not as passive an activity, generally speaking, as watching a film, and entails more of an exercise of the imagination.

But if there ever WERE such a genre of literature as the... Read More

A Time of Changes: Silverberg finally wins the Nebula Award

A Time of Changes by Robert Silverberg

After four years of successive losses, sci-fi great Robert Silverberg finally picked up his first Nebula Award in 1972. His 1967 novel Thorns had lost to Samuel R. Delany's The Einstein Intersection, his brilliant 1968 novel The Masks of Time had been bested by Alexei Panshin's equally brilliant Rite of Passage, 1969's time travel tale Read More

Dying Inside: Inside the mind of a mind reader

Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg

Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg is the painfully intimate portrait of David Selig, a man who has been blessed (or cursed, as he might say) with the gift of telepathy. He has learned to live with the ability, but now finds that his amazing power is slowly disappearing, leaving him ordinary again. Throughout the novel, Selig is literate, insightful and self-deprecating as he mercilessly dissects his own life. I found him less than likable, but completely fascinating. He leads an almost meaningless life, has no friendships and hardly any real relationships, and despite being worldly and erudite, he is also depressingly small-minded.

Getting such an intimate view into Selig’s mind is at times a painful experience: despite his pettiness, sexism and occasional racism, you can’t help but feel for him. The bitter irony of Dying Inside Read More

The Second Trip: A trip worth taking

The Second Trip by Robert Silverberg

In his 1969 novel To Live Again, Robert Silverberg posited a world of the near future in which it is possible for the very rich to have their personae recorded and preserved, and later placed in the mind of a willing recipient after their own demise, as a means of surviving the death of the body and sharing their consciousness with another. It is a fascinating premise and a terrific book, and thus this reader was a tad apprehensive at the beginning of Silverberg's similarly themed novel The Second Trip. Would Silverberg merely repeat himself here, to diminished effect, and offer his audience a mere rehash of an earlier great work? As it turns out, I needn't have been concerned. Silverberg, sci-fi great that he is — especially during this, his remarkable second phase of writing, las... Read More

Tower of Glass: Enough ideas for several novels

Tower of Glass by Robert Silverberg

Tower of Glass (1972) is another of Robert Silverberg’s ambitious novels from his most prolific period in the late 1960s/early 1970s. In that time he was churning out several books each year that were intelligent, thematically challenging, beautifully written stories that explored identity, sexuality, telepathy, alien contact, religion and consciousness. At his best, he produced some masterpieces like Downward to the Earth and Dying Inside, as well as some dreadful books like Up the Line, but his unfettered imagination and prolific energy were undeniable.

Unfortunately, a wealth of ideas can sometimes overwhelm even the best books, and I think Tower of Glass Read More

The Book Of Skulls: A far cry from Daytona Beach!

The Book Of Skulls by Robert Silverberg

Because he has garnered no fewer than eight Hugo and Nebula Awards over the years, has been inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Hall of Fame, and has been, since 2005, anyway, an SFWA Grand Master, it might be difficult to credit the notion that Robert Silverberg might also be a writer of horror. And yet, there it is, the 55th book under discussion in Jones & Newman's excellent overview volume Horror: Another 100 Best Books; namely, The Book of Skulls, which first saw the light of day in 1972, the same year that its author released the masterly Dying Inside. Though its claims for being listed as a sci-fi novel are as debatable as its claims to being labeled horror or fantasy, the book WAS nevertheless nomi... Read More

Born With the Dead: Three shorter pieces from one of science fiction’s best

Born With the Dead: Three Novellas About the Spirit of Man by Robert Silverberg

Born With the Dead gathers together three of Robert Silverberg's mid-career science fiction novellas into one remarkably fine collection. With a length greater than a short story or novelette but shorter than a full-length novel, these three tales clock in at around 55 to 70 pages each, and all display the intelligence, word craft and abundance of detail common to all of Silverberg's work in the late '60s to mid-'70s. Although subtitled "Three Novellas About the Spirit of Man" on its original 1974 release, the collection features a trio of tales that, strive as I might, I cannot find a common denominator among. Two of the stories concern how mankind deals with the subject of death, while the third has man's relation to religion and God as its central theme. OK, I HAVE thought of some commonalities among all three: They are all wonderful exemplars of modern-day sci... Read More

The Stochastic Man: Silverberg very near the top of his game

The Stochastic Man by Robert Silverberg

Although his previous output had for several decades been nothing short of prodigious, by the mid-'70s, sci-fi great Robert Silverberg was finally beginning to slow down. The author had released no fewer than 23 sci-fi novels during his initial, "pulpy" phase (1954-1965), and a full 23 more from 1967-1972, his second, more mature, more literate period. And following 1972's Dying Inside — whose central conceit of a telepath losing his powers has often been seen as corresponding to Silverberg's self-professed, supposed diminution of his own writing abilities (not that any reader would ever be aware of it) — for the first time in the author's career, there were no new sci-fi novels for several years.

But as it turned out, Silverberg still had two more major works up his sleeve before calling it quits in 1976 (before he came roaring back with his MAJIPOOR CYCLE, starting in 1980): Read More

Shadrach in the Furnace: Intriguing, exciting, tense

Shadrach in the Furnace by Robert Silverberg

It’s the summer of 2012 and the Earth is a disaster. A deadly virus has killed most of the world population and those who remain will eventually succumb to its organ-rotting effects if they are not given an antidote before they start to show symptoms. All of the national governments have collapsed and the world is now ruled by the opportunistic dictator Genghis II Mao IV Khan with the help of the bureaucrats who do his bidding. All of them have been inoculated against the virus and, according to the Khan, they are working on increasing their supply of the antidote so it can be distributed to the people. Meanwhile, the Khan spends his day in his room, observing the dying people with the surveillance equipment that watches every part his domain.

One of the Khan’s most important advisors is his doctor, Mordecai Shadrach, a tall attractive black man whose implanted sensors constantly alert him of ... Read More

Lord Valentine’s Castle: A vast imaginative world

Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg

Valentine has been wandering the planet of Majipoor for a couple of years, but has almost no memory of where he’s been or what his life was like before. When he discovers that he has a talent for juggling and joins a troop of entertainers, he becomes more connected to his world and aware that something is wrong with him. After experiencing some “sendings” in dreams and hearing about the dreams of others, he begins to realize that he is Lord Valentine, one of the four rulers of Majipoor, whose soul has been put into some other body. So, with a loyal group of friends, he sets out to get some answers and to try to make things right.

Lord Valentine’s Castle (1980) is considered a classic SFF novel and, therefore, it’s one I’ve been planning to read (and expecting to love) for years. Indeed, there is much to love about Robert Silverberg’s world of Ma... Read More

Majipoor Chronicles: Explore more of Majipoor

Majipoor Chronicles by Robert Silverberg

In the first novel of the Majipoor series, Lord Valentine’s Castle, Valentine was aided in the labyrinth by Hissune, a clever and hard-working young street urchin. When Valentine was restored to his position as coronal, he elevated Hissune to a government job in the labyrinth. This was certainly a big step up for Hissune, but he soon discovers that government work is pretty dull. To alleviate the boredom, he talks his way into the Registry of Souls, the place where Majipoor’s residents have been placing some of their memories for thousands of years. Pretending that he’s doing some research for his archiving job, Hissune is able to call up and re-live the memories of ten Majipooreans. At first he starts off small, living as a young woman in a remote but developing area of the planet. When he doesn’t get caugh... Read More

Valentine Pontifex: A worthy conclusion to Valentine’s tale

Valentine Pontifex by Robert Silverberg

In Lord Valentine’s Castle, Robert Silverberg created an exotic planet filled with peoples and landscapes, all bursting with imagination. Silverberg also gave his audience a strong, lovingly crafted main character in Lord Valentine, a man recovering after his throne was wrongfully swept out from beneath his feet. The conclusion of the tale, Valentine Pontifex, is the other side of the coin, however. How does Valentine deal with the weighty exigencies of leadership, all the while getting older? Not as fresh or original as Lord Valentine’s Castle, Valentine Pontifex is nevertheless a fair read that continues to define Silverberg’s take on science fantasy on the vast planet Majipoor.

Ten years have passed since Lord Valentine retook the throne that was rightfully his, and in the time s... Read More

Sailing to Byzantium: Move it to the top of your to-read stack

Sailing to Byzantium by Robert Silverberg

I just finished listening to the audio version of Sailing to Byzantium. It was read convincingly by Tom Parker, who transported me in time along with Charles, the lead character. Charles is from New York City, and he is a twentieth-century man, a curiosity in the world of the story. His 1984 is long gone, yet he doesn't quite understand how he's been transported in time to the 50th century. The people of this time, the "citizens," will tell him very little actually. They consider Charles to be a "visitor." Charles doesn't know how long his visit will be though. He is confused and tries to go with the flow, but keeps finding it hard to do so in this very odd future world.

In the 50th century ("of what," he wonders at one point), there are very few citizens. There is a small world population compared to 1984 (and especially compared to our time). All the citizens look almost identical — ... Read More

Star of Gypsies: A beautiful story about exile, wandering, and coming home

Star of Gypsies by Robert Silverberg

In 3159 AD humans have spread across the universe, colonizing other planets. The spaceships that took them to the stars were piloted by the special “magic” of the Romany people. The Romany “Gypsies” have always been mistreated by the people of Earth who never realized their true history and nature. The Gypsies are not actually human. They are the remnant of an ancient race who escaped from their home planet thousands of years ago when it became inhospitable to life after its sun flared. According to prophecy, after the third solar flare the sun will be stable and the Romany can return home. Meanwhile, while they wait, the Gypsies have roamed the Earth and have used their skills to help humans get to space.

But it’s been so long, and as the Romany people have begun to settle down and get comfortable on other planets, their urgency to return home is diminishing. Because of this complace... Read More

The Secret Sharer and Other Stories: Silverberg achieves greatness

The Secret Sharer and Other Stories by Robert Silverberg

The Secret Sharer and Other Stories by Robert Silverberg is available on Audible and offers a top-notch performance by Robertson Dean. The title is a little misleading, I think. There are only three selections included, and only one is a short story. The other two seem to be novellas. However, based on the way Silverberg’s works have been repackaged and republished over the years, even those distinctions are difficult to make: For example, We Are for the Dark is included in both his collected short stories volume seven, We Are for the Dark: 1987-1990, and in the collection Sailing to Byzantium: Six Novellas. In listening to all three selections, I noticed that The Secret Sharer and We Are for the Dark are both much longer than "Good News from the Vatican." The short story is a good one, but I absolutely loved the two... Read More

In the Beginning: Tales from the Pulp Era by Robert Silverberg

In the Beginning: Tales from the Pulp Era by Robert Silverberg

I've been enjoying reading Silverberg's early story collections lately, and I particularly enjoy that he, like his friend Harlan Ellison in his story collections, includes not only an autobiographical introduction to the book, but also memoir pieces before every story. As a result, his collections become two books in one: part short story collection and part portrait of the artist.To be honest, I think I like both parts equally.

In the Beginning: Tales from the Pulp Era consists of sixteen stories written from 1955 to 1959. It overlaps in time period with To Be Continued (1953-1958): Volume One of The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg (the definitive collection); however, the two books do not print any of the same stories.For Silverberg fans, then, both books are essential. I... Read More

The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg Volume One: To Be Continued 1953-1958

The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg Volume One: To Be Continued 1953-1958 by Robert Silverberg

Though To Be Continued: 1953-1958 is the first official volume of the definitive collection of Robert Silverberg's short stories, it should be read after In the Beginning: Tales from the Pulp Era (1955-1959), a collection of short stories that overlaps with To Be Continued only in terms of chronology: There are absolutely no stories duplicated in the two volumes, and in To Be Continued, Silverberg makes frequent reference to In the Beginning which, like To Be Continued, has the same autobiographical introductions to every story.

Having now read these first two volumes, I am fairly certain Silverberg would want readers to finish In the Begin... Read More

The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg Volume Six: Multiples 1983-1987

The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg Volume Six: Multiples 1983-1987 by Robert Silverberg

Since 2006 Subterranean Press has been publishing all of the SFF stories that Robert Silverberg wants in his “definitive” collection in chronological order. I’m a fan of Silverberg’s stories, so I think this series is wonderful — it’s a sure way to get one copy of each of his most important stories in eight tidy volumes. Volume six, titled Multiples, contains fourteen stories and novellas published in the mid-1980s.

In a general introduction to Multiples, Silverberg talks about the state of the short story market in the mid 1980s — how most of the pulps had gone under and been replaced by original anthologies in the 1970s and then by slick magazines in the 1980s. The biggest and best-... Read More

The Last Song of Orpheus: Old story told beautifully

The Last Song of Orpheus by Robert Silverberg

Finally. After all of the conflicting information we get from the numerous myths, legends, writings, and operas about Orpheus, we have the true story told by Orpheus himself as he writes his life story for Musaeus (with some help from Robert Silverberg).

In The Last Song of Orpheus, all the bits and pieces of Orpheus's life are tied together into a single chronological narrative and Orpheus tells his own version of how he obtained his famous lyre and used it to charm Pharaoh,  the Furies, Persephone, Charon the Styx ferryman, and Cerberus the three-headed dog. He also tells the tale of his disastrous voyage with Jason and the Argonauts when they set out to recover the Golden Fleece and he relates some juicy tidbits about other heroes of legend such as Heracles and (my favorite) Odysseus. Some things he's kept to himself, "neither confirming n... Read More

Times Three: Three stories about time travel

Times Three by Robert Silverberg

Time travel is one of Robert Silverberg’s favorite themes and he gives us three of his best time travel novels, and an introduction to each, in the collection Times Three from Subterranean Press.

Hawksbill Station (1968) is about a camp for 21st century American political dissidents who are permanently exiled to... the late Cambrian era. Hawksbill Station is a stark and lonely place — it’s all rocks, ocean, and trilobites. With no meat, no women, and no way back, most of the men eventually go mad. Every once in a while they get supplies and news from Up Front when a new exile arrives. One day a new guy shows up and he’s acting rather suspiciously. What could this mean for Hawksbill Station?

This is a story about freedom of speech, friendship, lo... Read More

The Emperor and the Maula: Laylah, you’ve got me on my knees

The Emperor and the Maula by Robert Silverberg

As of this writing, in September 2017, Grand Master Robert Silverberg has come out with no fewer than 78 sci-fi novels, almost 450 short stories and novellas, around 70 books of nonfiction, and around 185 novels of, um, “adult fiction,” in addition to having edited over 130 anthologies. He has garnered for himself four Hugo Awards and six Nebula Awards in the process. The man’s prolific work pace is understandably legendary. Thus, it might strike some that his fans’ clamoring for more, yet more, is wholly unreasonable. After all, the man is currently 82; doesn’t he deserve a break, and a restful retirement? (The author, to his loyal readers’ chagrin, has not released a full-length novel since 2003’s Roma Eterna, while 2013’s Tales of Majipoor Read More

Magazine Monday: Weird Tales

Weird Tales celebrates “Uncanny Beauty” in the Summer 2010 issue (No. 356, and the most recent issue available as of this writing). The best story in the magazine, though, is one that is off-theme. “How Bria Died,” by Mike Aronovitz, is the tale of an unorthodox teacher who may well have taken his unusual teaching methods a step too far for the universe to abide.  This horror story is fresh, original and written from a position of real authority:  Aronovitz teaches English in a school much like the one in which his story is set.

Kat Howard’s “Beauty and Disappearance” is a surreal tale of disappearing bits of statues, soon followed by the disappearance – at first intentional, and later not so much – of other bits and pieces of other thing... Read More

Magazine Monday: Asimov’s, September 2011

The September 2011 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction is a mixed bag, with a couple of amazing stories and a few not so amazing. One of the former is “The Observation Post,” by Allen M. Steele. A recurring motif in science fiction is visitors from the future watching hot points in history, and for this story that hot point is the Cuban Missile Crisis. The story begins with a voyage in a blimp that seems fictional, like something out of a steampunk story, until one realizes that the Navy really did use a few blimps until November 1962, one month after this story takes place. Placed up against this reality that feels fictional, Steele puts something fictional that feels real: observers watching how events play out in alternative universes, and pinpointing precisely what action causes what reaction.

“The Odor of Sanctity,” by Ian Creasey Read More

Magazine Monday: Asimov’s, July 2012

Megan Lindholm’s “Old Paint” is the thoroughly enjoyable novelette about an old car beloved by a family that lets it roam free. The car comes from a time before cars were completely automated, when one could still actually drive them oneself instead of just programming in a destination. It’s so old that its nanotech paint is of a wood veneer on the side of a station wagon. The car is useful, if not exactly a favorite of the teenage boy in the family who’d like something a bit racier. At least, it’s useful up until the time it goes wild because of virus unleashed by a hacker group that did it just to prove they could. Lots of cars wrecked themselves in the days following the original infection, but Old Paint manages to behave itself sufficiently to live on, recharging himself when it needs it and traveling the country. The car tells the kids more about their mother than they’d ever k... Read More

Magazine Monday: Asimov’s, October/November 2012

Sheila Williams, the editor of Asimov’s, says that the annual October/November issue is “slightly spooky.” There are a few frights in the magazine, as well as some solid science fiction, but overall, I was generally disappointed in this double issue.

Alan Smale’s novella, “The Mongolian Book of the Dead,” was not one of the disappointments; to the contrary, it is a nicely imagined tale of what might happen if the Chinese decide to mount a military invasion of Mongolia — an independent landlocked country sandwiched between Russia and China. I enjoyed Smale’s use of folklore, fantasy and politics as seen through the eyes of an American caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, a man who serves as a linchpin for the plans of an ugdan, the female equivalent of a shaman. The shadow of Chinggis Khan an... Read More

Magazine Monday: Asimov’s, February 2013

The February 2013 issue of Asimov’s is a delight from cover to cover. This time around, it’s the longer pieces that really given it is heft.

“The Weight of the Sunrise” by Vylar Kaftan is a fascinating alternate history novella that offers a pointed perspective on American history, serving as a sort of bookend to the recent film, “Lincoln.” Slavery was an evil obvious even to those who practiced human sacrifice and saw nothing wrong with incestuous marriages of royalty, as did the Incas, as Kaftan makes clear. Kaftan envisions an Incan civilization that has escaped the ravages of Spanish conquistadors with military cunning. Smallpox still troubles the Incas, though they have learned in this tale, unlike in life, to manage it through quarantine, thanks to the insight of a great physician. This makes it a strong and wealthy civilization in the 18th century when the Amer... Read More

Magazine Monday: Asimov’s, April/May 2013

The April/May 2013 issue of Asimov’s leads off with a difficult but exciting novella by Neal Asher entitled “The Other Gun.” It portrays a complicated universe in which humanity has found itself at war with a race called the prador, which is ruthless, merciless and completely uninterested in compromise. It has already exterminated several species when it runs into humans, and a survivor of one of those wars, a member of a hive species, has allied itself with humans. The narrator of this tale is a parasitologist and bio-synthesist who was working on a biological weapon to be used against the prador when he was reassigned to work for the Client, as he knows the survivor of another species. The Client has somehow managed to steal a prador cargo ship, and is using it to hunt down pieces of a doomsday weapon called a farcaster that had been broken up and scattered across the galaxy. The narrator no longer has a human body in any sense that we... Read More

Magazine Monday: Asimov’s, February 2014

The first of three novelettes in the February 2014 issue of Asimov’s is Derek Künsken's “Schools of Clay,” a space opera that is almost incomprehensible. It concerns a race of beings that is modeled on bees, apparently, with queens, workers and new generations of princesses. These beings mine asteroid belts and seem to be partly machine and partly organic (though their nature is never spelled out, one of the serious shortcomings of this story). Some of these beings have souls, and some do not, though what “soul” means in this context is unclear. Diviya is the viewpoint character, a medic or mechanic or both, caught between castes. And he is a revolutionary, for the workers have become dissatisfied with their status. A need for the colony to migrate — a pod of predatory shaghāl has come after the colony, beings whose nature and aims are not explained — comes too early for the plans of the revolutionaries, but Diviya encourages them to rise up regar... Read More

SHORTS: Zelazny, Reisman, Stufflebeam, Silverberg, Moraine

Our weekly exploration of free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories we've read that we wanted you to know about.

“A Rose for Ecclesiastes” by Roger Zelazny (1963, text and audio free on EscapePod, originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction). 1964 Hugo nominee (short fiction)

In this classic and much-anthologized tale of life on Mars, Gallinger, a brilliant linguist and poet with an antagonistic personality, is part of an Earth mission to study the humanoid Martian natives. The Martians are long-lived but slowly dying society, though Gallinger sees evidence of their past greatness in their buildings and culture. As he studies their ancient texts, tutored by M’Cwyie, the ancient Mart... Read More

The Living Dead: Zombies aren’t the point

The Living Dead edited by John Joseph Adams

I never knew there were so many ways to tell a zombie story. I pretty much thought that the George Romero version was it — dead people wandering around holding their arms out in front of them and calling out “braaaaaaains,” looking to munch on the living. I never did know why they had to hold their arms that way, but they all did — I thought.

John Joseph Adams has chosen his material wisely in The Living Dead, a collection of short stories about zombies by some of the biggest and best names in the horror business, as well as the newest and hottest. I resisted this book for a long time because I’ve never been fond of zombies, but upon diving in, I discovered that the zombies aren’t really the point; the point is to tell a good story. And these authors do that, with a vengeance.

My favorite story is “Almost the Last St... Read More

The Book of Dreams: A small but satisfying collection

The Book of Dreams edited by Nick Gevers

The Book of Dreams is a small but satisfying collection of short stories that are thematically, albeit loosely, connected by the theme of "dreams." The book features original stories by Robert Silverberg, Lucius Shepard, Jay Lake, Kage Baker and Jeffrey Ford, and was edited by Nick Gevers for Subterranea... Read More

Warriors: Diverse, entertaining, rewarding

Warriors edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois

FORMAT/INFO: Warriors is 736 pages long divided over twenty short stories and an Introduction by George R.R. Martin. Each short story is preceded by biographical information about the author and a short description of their contribution to the anthology. March 16, 2010 marks the North American Hardcover publication of Warriors via Tor.


“The King of Norway” by Cecelia Holland. I’ve never read anything by Cecelia Holland before, but the author is described as “one of the world’s most highly acclaimed and respected historical novelists.” Not surprising... Read More

Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword & Sorcery

Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword & Sorcery edited by Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders

Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword & Sorcery is a book I’ve been eagerly anticipating ever since it was first announced in 2009. I was particularly excited about the anthology’s impressive list of contributors which includes several authors I enjoy reading like Glen Cook, Greg Keyes, Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie, Garth Nix, Tim Lebbon, Caitlin R. Kiern... Read More

Brave New Worlds: Dystopian Stories

Brave New Worlds: Dystopian Stories edited by John Joseph Adams

Even people who don’t usually read science fiction will often be familiar with a few classic titles in the “dystopian SF” sub-genre. After all, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and of course the famous Aldous Huxley novel Brave New World are some of the few SF titles that have entered the mainstream literary canon to such an extent that they’ve become assigned school reading for many students. However, novel-length dystopian SF didn’t stop with those venerable classics, and can even be said to be thriving at the moment. See, for example, the recent success of Paolo Bacigalupi’s debut The Windup Girl ... Read More

L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future: Volume 30

L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future: Volume 30 edited by Dave Wolverton

The Writers of the Future contest is held in high regard within the SFF field, largely because of the many fine writers who have had a boost to their early careers through it and the prominence of the judges (and despite its association with L. Ron Hubbard, of which more later). This volume contains some excellently-written stories and some which weren't to my taste but were well done anyway.

I'll go through the contents in detail. We start with pages and pages of boosterism from past winners, judges etc., which I skipped. Dave Wolverton's introduction can probably be skipped, too, as it just says how good it is to be a judge and how great the stories are.

Each writer, includ... Read More

Marion and Terry report on the 2013 Nebula Awards Weekend

The 48th Annual Nebula Awards weekend was held by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America at the San Jose Convention Center in northern California from May 17 through 19, 2013. Terry Weyna and I, who both live in Northern California and both are aspiring writers, decided to see what a bunch of published writers get up to when they party together.

Gene Wolfe and Teri Goulding

Marion Deeds: I think what surprised me most is how light on programming the weekend was. I thought there would be sessions about the nuts and bolts of a writing career, but I guess that SFWA members already have a pretty good idea about that. Still, I thought we’d hear about things like the new Amazon publishing arms, the Night Shade Books mess, that sort of thing. Read More

Who’s your favorite Golden Age writer?

Robert Silverberg was the Master of Ceremonies at the Nebula awards, which Marion and I attended a few weeks ago.

Robert Silverberg, Master of Ceremonies

Silverberg told stories about the writers of the Golden Age, like Clifford Simak, Damon Knight, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and even lesser known writers like Silverberg’s own mentor Randall Garrett.

There were clearly three “eras” in the room; the Golden Age (1938-1946 if you trust Wikipedia); the New Wave (1960s-1970s, again, Wikipedia) and the current era which I want to call The New Golden Age, based on the quality of ... Read More

More speculative fiction by Robert Silverberg

Beyond Armageddon — (1988-1989) Publisher: Millions of years in the future, a small tribe of humans emerge from an underground cocoon to reclaim the planet for themselves.

Robert Silverberg 1. At Winter's End 2. The Queen of Springtime Robert Silverberg 1. At Winter's End 2. The Queen of Springtime

Robert Silverberg 1. At Winter's End 2. The Queen of Springtime, The 13th Immortal, Master of Life and Death, Collision CourseCollision Course — (1958) Publisher: The crew of the XV-ftl was looking forward to shore leave, vacation, and a chance to see their families after a month in space. But once they brought back the news that they had discovered aliens, they were doomed to another, and longer, journey. Accompanying them on the return were several technical experts, who seemed to be more interested in squabbling with each other than meeting the first alien race in the history of humankind. But face to face with the blue humanoid Norglans, everyone began to realise just how important these first meetings could be — for they could make the difference between peaceful coexistence in space and interstellar war!

Robert Silverberg Stepsons of Terra, The Silent Invaders, Invaders from DeathThe Silent Invaders — (1958) Publisher: The story involves an alien race who have surgically altered themselves in such a way as to pass for human. They are infiltrating Earth with plans to take it over. But gradually the hero, one of the alien spies, finds that he is becoming more and more human. Eventually he goes native, and the invasion fizzles out. Silverberg is a good enough writer to almost convince you that an alien can become a human when he looks and acts like a human. But he does not completely persuade.Robert Silverberg Stepsons of Terra, The Silent Invaders, Invaders from Death

Stepsons of Terra — (1958) Publisher: What do you do when your planet is under threat from aliens, you have travelled light years to make contact with Earth (after 500 years of silence) and you then find no-one cares? A classic novel by the Hugo and Nebula award winner.

Robert Silverberg Stepsons of Terra, The Silent Invaders, Invaders from Death, Aliens From SpaceAliens From Space — (1958) Publisher: It started off like an ordinary day for Dr. Jeffrey Brewster, assistant professor of psycho-sociology at Columbia University. He’d been six weeks old when the first crude satellites were flung into space back in 1957. During his childhood there had been Moon rockets and the space stations — then the joint American-Russian-manned expedition to the Moon in 1965, right after the collapse of the Soviet dictatorship. Mars and Venus had been reached as he grew up and a permanent base was established on the Moon in 1973. Now the day’s papers reported that an expedition was ready to leave for Callisto, moon of Jupiter. But Dr. Brewster had a class to make and he was late. That was when the telephone rang and Mari, his wife, said, “Long distance from Washington.” The caller was Colonel Chasin of Unsecfor — United Nations Security Force, the global and international army that policed the world in these days of relative peace and harmony. Chasin explained that a serious matter had come up, something …

Robert Silverberg Stepsons of Terra, The Silent Invaders, Invaders from Death, Aliens From Space, The Planet KillersThe Planet Killers — (1959) Publisher: In The Planet Killers, the Security Computers of Earth Central determine that the frontier world of Lurion will launch an all-out attack on Earth in 67 years, sending Agent Roy Gardner to the rough-and-tumble planet to ensure that doesn’t happen — even if it means blowing Lurion to interstellar dust! In The Plot Against Earth, agent Lloyd Catton must work with skeptical, suspicious alien agents to bust a hypnojewel racket, unveiling a multi-planet conspiracy threatening the Earth itself! In One of Our Asteroids is Missing, independent miner John Storm discovers an impossible asteroid rich with fabulously valuable metals and minerals, only to find his claim stolen, along with all computer records indicating that he had ever existed! Never before reprinted since their original appearances and with a new introduction by the author, these three novels of science fiction adventure blaze back onto the scene, revealing early masterworks of one of the genre’s most gifted and celebrated storytellers!
Robert Silverberg Stepsons of Terra, The Silent Invaders, Invaders from Death, Aliens From Space, The Planet Killers, Starman's Quest, Lost Race of Mars, Planet of Death

Lost Race of Mars — (1960) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Are the Old Martians really a lost race — just withered mummies lying in dark caves? Or are they still alive — somewhere on the red planet? Sally and Jim must find out. They must help their father discover if the Old Martians still exist. His life work as a scientist is at stake! But it’s not easy. They are only visitors to the Mars colony in this year 2017. And no one really wants them there.
Robert Silverberg Stepsons of Terra, The Silent Invaders, Invaders from Death, Aliens From Space, The Planet Killers, Starman's Quest, Lost Race of Mars, Planet of Death.Regan's Planet

Regan’s Planet — (1964) Publisher: In 1492, Colombus discovered America. In 1992 Claude Regan had to make it happen again! The US needed a shot in the arm as the twentieth century entered the last decade. And a World’s fair celebrating five hundred years of American civilisation might just do the trick. Regan was the trickiest, most ruthless promoter in the country. And the first thing he realized was that Earth wasn’t big enough to hold the kind of fair he wanted So he built a new world!Robert Silverberg The Seed of Earth , Time of the Great Freeze, Conquerors from the Darkness

Conquerors from the Darkness — (1965) Publisher: A thousand years in the future, the earth has been conquered by an alien race and covered by a single sea. Dovirr Stargan, who is disgusted with the servility of his life on the floating city of Vythain, longs to become one of the Sea-Lords, who roam the sea as powerful protectors of the cities. Dovirr gets his wish, but the return of the alien race brings unexpected and critically dangerous crises to his new life as he learns the real, sometimes terrible, significance of power.

Robert Silverberg The Seed of Earth , Time of the Great Freeze, To Open the Sky, The Gate of Worlds

The Gate of Worlds — (1967) Publisher: In this alternate history novel, the Bubonic Plague sets the stage for a world where the West is powerless. After the Black Death has wiped out most of the European population, there is little defense against Turkish invasion and expansion, and by the 1980s, the major world powers are the Russians, the Turks, the Aztecs, the Incas, and the Japanese. Dan Beauchamp, a young Englishman whose heart longs for fortune and adventure, travels to industrial Mexico and discovers that he has a lot to learn.

Robert Silverberg The Seed of Earth , Time of the Great Freeze, To Open the Sky, The Gate of Worlds, Across a Billion Years

Across a Billion Years — (1969) Publisher: A brother’s “message cubes” to his twin sister relate the unusual adventures of the archaeological expedition he accompanies into space in the twenty-fourth century.

Robert Silverberg The Seed of Earth , Time of the Great Freeze, To Open the Sky, Those Who Watch , The Masks of Time, Nightwings,Three Survived, The Man in the Maze

Three Survived — (1969) Publisher: Tom Rand, a practical engineer, and two other men are the only survivors of a spaceship explosion. Marooned on a hostile planet, they are being held captive by a group of “aliens.” Their one slim chance of survival is to reach a rescue beacon placed on the planet years before by men from Earth. Can the three survivors escape what seems like certain, immediate death? And if they do, can they make their way through a jungle filled with untold dangers and reach the beacon in time?

Robert Silverberg World's Fair 1992 science fiction book reviews

World’s Fair 1992 — (1970) Publisher: Bill Hastings was one in a million. He was the winner of a planet-wide contest, and the prize was a chance to spend a year working at the 1992 World’s Fair. For the young xenobiology student, it was the opportunity of a lifetime. Fifty thousand miles above the Earth, a gigantic satellite moved in its elegant orbit. It would be Bill’s home for a year, and host to hundreds of thousands of visitors. The 1992 World’s Fair was to be an orbital extravaganza, and Bill Hastings thought that his dreams had come true. He had a lot to learn.

Robert Silverberg The Stochastic Man , Lord of DarknessLord of Darkness — (1983) Publisher: Set in the 17th century and based on a true-life historical figure, this novel is a swashbuckling tale of exotic lands, romance, and hair-raising adventures. Andrew Battell is a buccaneer on a British ship when he is taken prisoner by Portuguese pirates. Injured and ailing, Andrew is brought to the west coast of Africa where his only solace is Dona Teresa, a young woman who nurses him back to health. Once his health is restored, Andrew’s only hope to return home is to first serve his Portuguese masters, but it is a hope that dwindles as he is pulled further and further into the interior of the continent, into the land of the Jaqqa — the region’s most fierce and feared cannibal tribe — overseen by the powerful Lord of Darkness. Survival means becoming one with the Jaqqa; if he can endure their gruesome rites and initiations. Originally published in 1984, this story by a master of science fiction and fantasy demonstrates the timelessness of any great adventure and will provoke thought in a new audience on the determination to persevere at any cost.

Robert Silverberg The Stochastic Man , Lord of Darkness, Gilgamesh the KingGilgamesh the King — (1984) Publisher: We’re used to hearing about the latest tell-all memoir from one of today’s sports figures, political insiders, or celebrity wannabes. But what if we discovered that one of history’s greatest heroes had written his life story? That’s the premise behind Robert Silverberg’s amazing novel Gilgamesh the King. The journey begins when six-year-old Gilgamesh’s father dies. As he grows to manhood and eventually ascends to the throne, he faces many challenges along the way: political intrigue, war, the burden of leadership. But none are as difficult as his intense internal struggles against loneliness and his own mortality. Weaving together historical data, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and his own fertile imagination, Silverberg creates a rich and compassionate portrait of a man who lived about 2500 B.C.

Robert Silverberg The Stochastic Man , Lord of Darkness, Gilgamesh the King, Tom O'Bedlam Tom O’Bedlam — (1985) Publisher: “I know more than Apollo. Fort oft when he lies sleeping I behold the starts at mortal wars And the wounded wekin weeping.” –Tom O’ Bedlam’s song. Tom, like the medieval Tom O’Bedlam, can’t decipher the meaning of the images plaguing his mind. Much like the wondering and mad Tom of the medieval ballad, the Tom O’ Bedlam of 2103 doesn’t know what to make of the images that keep cluttering his mind. To preserve the last shred of his sanity and keep these never-ending wonders a secret, he feigns insanity. But then a probe that has traveled over four light years away transmits the very pictures that have been haunting Tom’s dreams. In this post-industrial world on the verge of a total collapse, Tom has become humanity’s spokesperson to the distant planet that may be his world’s salvation.

Robert Silverberg The Stochastic Man , Lord of Darkness, Gilgamesh the King, Tom O'Bedlam, Star of Gypsies, To the Land of the Living To the Land of the Living — (1989) Publisher: Set in an Afterworld — where everyone who has ever lived reawakens when they die to live again and die again, seemingly for ever — this novel tells of the warrior-king Gilgamesh’s journey in search of a gateway to the land of the living. Based on the author’s novella “Gilgamesh in the Outback”.

Robert Silverberg The Stochastic Man , Lord of Darkness, Gilgamesh the King, Tom O'Bedlam, Star of Gypsies, The Mutant Season The Mutant Season — (1989) With Karen Haber. Publisher: Starting in the 1400s, children with gold-colored eyes and strange abilities — telepathy, telekinesis, and the like — began to be born into the world. For centuries, these “mutants” kept themselves hidden for fear of persecution, but in the latter part of the 20th century, they found more and more acceptance among the rest of society. But now, in 2017, the murder of a prominent politician brings the “mutant” population into direct conflict with “normal” people, and the outcome will forever change the planet.

Robert Silverberg The Stochastic Man , Lord of Darkness, Gilgamesh the King, Tom O'Bedlam, Star of Gypsies, The Mutant Season Letters from Atlantis — (1990) Publisher: It was a legendary island, a fantastic island. Atlantis. Or as its prince called it, Athilan. Roy had traveled through time with his partner, Lora, to find it — and now he was tantalizingly close to its shore. Time travel allowed Roy’s consciousness to enter the mind of the heir to Atlantis’ throne, and what he found disturbed him. Strange dreams. Impossibly futuristic inventions and machines. How could such an advanced city exist at this time? The rest of the world was, as Lora witnessed in her travels, a dark, barbaric land still thawing from the ice age. Roy had been preparing for the odd isolation of time travel, but nothing had prepared him for his final arrival on Atlantis — a shimmering city far beyond his imagination! Roy knew this island’s fate. According to legend, it would vanish into the sea. Roy also knew he had a limited amount of time to decipher the strange message in the Prince’s mind — visions of cataclysmic events, mysterious rites to a faraway star. If Roy was in an Atlantis unlike anything the researchers had predicted, then what were its secrets? And when would it be destroyed? Robert Silverberg The Stochastic Man , Lord of Darkness, Gilgamesh the King, Tom O'Bedlam, Star of Gypsies, The Mutant Season, The Face of the Waters

The Face of the Waters — (1991) Publisher: Silverberg, winner of four Hugos and five Nebulas, presents a riveting tale of an epic voyage of survival in a hostile environment. On the watery world of Hydros, humans live on artificial islands and keep an uneasy peace with the native race of amphibians. When a group of humans angers their alien hosts, they are exiled — set adrift on the planet’s vast and violent sea.

Robert Silverberg The Stochastic Man , Lord of Darkness, Gilgamesh the King, Tom O'Bedlam, Star of Gypsies, The Mutant Season, Kingdoms of the Wall Kingdoms of the Wall — (1992) Publisher: The village of Jespodar nestles in the foothills of a world-dominating mountain known to all as “The Wall.” Poilar Crookleg has grown up in Jespodar training hard and hoping that he will be chosen for the annual Pilgrimage, a group journey to the top of the mountain from which no pilgrim has ever returned both alive and sane. The pilgrims seek to replicate the legendary journey of a distant ancestor who scaled the mountain and, so the story goes, met with the gods. The Pilgrimage is a a life journey, an overwhelming challenge and a sacred honor and Poilar feels blessed when he is finally chosen to lead it. But not all is as it first seems. Along the journey lie hazards of all kinds, both vilently dangerous and seductively beguiling and to triumph in the climb is to confront a revelation so surprising and so disturbing that none, not even the smartest and best prepared, are likely to survive. What belief and what devotion leads so many to hope for such a challenging task and what will be the ultimate result of such dedication? Only The Wall itself can reveal the destiny for those who undertake the Pilgrimage.Robert Silverberg The Stochastic Man , Lord of Darkness, Gilgamesh the King, Tom O'Bedlam, Star of Gypsies, The Mutant Season, The Face of the Waters, Thebes of the Hundred Gates

Thebes of the Hundred Gates — (1992) Publisher: Edward Davis, a rookie of the Time Service, has already made several successful jumps to the past. Now he is given his most important mission. Two members of the Service have disappeared in ancient Egypt and Edward Davis’s assignment is to locate and rescue them. But is he ready for all that Egypt has to offer and for the surprising truths he discovers as he explores this ancient land of myths and mysteries — truths that jeopardize his own mission and return back to the future?

Robert Silverberg The Stochastic Man , Lord of Darkness, Gilgamesh the King, Tom O'Bedlam, Star of Gypsies, The Mutant Season, Kingdoms of the Wall, Hot Sky at Midnight Hot Sky at Midnight — (1993) Publisher: Several decades into the future, the long series of corporate and government decisions has left the Eath in a state of disaster, almost uninhabitable. The icecaps have melted. The ozone layer is destroyed. A few areas are livable with the help of breathing masks and injections to protect the skin. The only true refuge, for all who can afford it, has become the near-space orbital colonies built and run by private companies and open only to those who are willing and able to pay. Valparaiso Nuevo is one of these colonies. Run by a shadowy dictator known only as the Generalissimo, it exists as a haven for hustlers, conspirators and people looking for an edge. Victor Farkas, operative of the megacorporation Kyocera-Merck Ltd., is blind but gifted with hypersensitive “blindsight.” He comes to Valparaiso Nuevo in search of a renegade geneticist of legendary skill. Back on Earth, Nick Rhodes, head of Samurai Industries, which attempts to breed humans that can thrive in the horrendous conditions on Earth, struggles with his conscience as he manipulates genetic structures and lives. Paul Carpenter works for a Japanese mega-corporation, seeking promotion and survival, but loses his job as a ship captain after a mutiny. As these men’s lives intersect with Jolanda — a talented sculptor, a passionate lover and a secret plotter — they find themselves embroiled in a scheme to take over Valparaiso Nuevo. Their goals may be individually motivated but the deadly combination of ambition, distrust, greed, stupidity, and lust leads toward a dramatic conclusion. In HOT SKY AT MIDNIGHT, a bleak picture of future Earth and a complex plot peopled with dark, rich characters, come together as one of Silverberg’s finer novels.

Robert Silverberg The Stochastic Man , Lord of Darkness, Gilgamesh the King, Tom O'Bedlam, Star of Gypsies, The Mutant Season, Kingdoms of the Wall, Hot Sky at Midnight, Starborne Starborne — (1995) Publisher: Is utopia a death sentence for mankind? Does living in a perfect world destroy all that makes us human? Fifty men and women, living prefect lives, decide to give it all up to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Equipped with enough genetic material to populate a new planet, these fifty set out to travel to the farthest reaches of the galaxy, with their only link to home a fragile telepathic bond between a blind crew member and her sister back home. Starborne is a thoughtful, introspective look by one of the Grand Masters of science fiction at what it means to be human and to live a life of meaning.Robert Silverberg The Stochastic Man , Lord of Darkness, Gilgamesh the King, Tom O'Bedlam, Star of Gypsies, The Mutant Season, Kingdoms of the Wall, Hot Sky at Midnight, Starborne, The Realm of Prester John

The Realm of Prester John — (1996) Publisher: The famous science fiction writer pieces together the life history of the myth of Prester John, the Christian potentate of the East, Emperor of Ethiopia… a romantic and fabulous tale ‘As exotic and complex as a mosaic in a Coptic chapel’ San Francisco Chronicle.

Robert Silverberg The Stochastic Man , Lord of Darkness, Gilgamesh the King, Tom O'Bedlam, Star of Gypsies, The Mutant Season, Kingdoms of the Wall, Hot Sky at Midnight, Starborne, The Alien Years The Alien Years — (1998) Publisher: It Was The Worst of Times… Fifteen feet tall, the Entities land in cities across Earth. Ignoring humankind, they wall themselves in impenetrable enclaves, enslaving a few willing collaborators with their telepathic PUSH. Then they plunge humans into a new Dark Age without electricity, allowing us to live — but no longer as a dominant species. But a few refuse to submit to fate, including the Carmichael family, whose patriarch, an aging colonel devoted to resistance, will inspire a daring new generation of dissidents. United in spirit, these diverse rebels — an aging hippie, a cold-blooded Muslim assassin, a prodigal son, and a renegade hacker — will carry on the colonel’s legacy as they attempt to kill the mysterious Prime Entity and free the planet.Robert Silverberg The Stochastic Man , Lord of Darkness, Gilgamesh the King, Tom O'Bedlam, Star of Gypsies, The Mutant Season, Kingdoms of the Wall, Hot Sky at Midnight, Starborne, The Realm of Prester John, Shadow on the Stars

Shadow on the Stars — (2000) Publisher: A THRILLING ADVENTURE that ranges across time and space, pitting one man against a invading alien horde that threatens a colony world, and against a hidden conspiracy to conquer Earth. Blair Ewing must battle Klondi hordes, Sirian plotters, the forces of history, and the nature of time itself. It’s a lot to ask of one man — but supposing there were more than one? This classic early Silverberg novel folds an exploration of time-travel paradoxes into the story of one man’s fight to save two worlds at once.

Robert Silverberg The Stochastic Man , Lord of Darkness, Gilgamesh the King, Tom O'Bedlam, Star of Gypsies, The Mutant Season, Kingdoms of the Wall, Hot Sky at Midnight, Starborne, Cronos, The Longest Way Home

The Longest Way Home — (2002) Publisher: One of the most renowned and respected literary artists in the field of science fiction, Robert Silverberg transports us once again to a spectacular, deftly conceived world in transition — and propels us on a remarkable odyssey of survival and self-discovery. The Longest Way Home. The Folk were first to arrive on this faraway planet, pushing aside the docile, intelligent aboriginal races they encountered. The ‘Masters “followed to subjugate the careless, complacent fellow humans who preceded them here. And so it has remained for ages... Fifteen-year-old Joseph Master Keilloran has known only privilege, respect, and civility. Born to take over the reins of House Keilloran when he comes of age, he awakens one night in the Great House of distant relatives to the thunder of battle — a terrifying din that has not been heard on this peaceful world since the original Conquest. All around him are devastation and death, as the local Folk rise up to wreak vengeance on the unsuspecting, unprepared Masters. With the aid of a stillfaithful servant, Joseph barely escapes with his life. But now he is stranded and alone 10,000 miles from his home.Damned by his birth and class — surrounded by enemies who would kill him if they found him — Joseph must now embark on a journey of unimaginable distance toward a home that may also already be in ruins. His odyssey will be more terrible — and more wondrous — than he ever imagined, as a world he was kept sheltered from comes alive before him. Venturing deep into the lives and cultures of remarkable Indigene peoples — driven to hunt, scratch, and scheme for his survival — a resourceful young Master mill be created anew as he is forced to reassess his homeworld and his place in it. Despite what is waiting for him at the finish, nothing here will ever be the same again. And Joseph will become a man before his long journey ends.

Robert Silverberg The Stochastic Man , Lord of Darkness, Gilgamesh the King, Tom O'Bedlam, Star of Gypsies, The Mutant Season, Kingdoms of the Wall, Hot Sky at Midnight, Starborne, Cronos, Roma Eterna Roma Eterna — (2003) Publisher: No power on Earth can resist the might of Imperial Rome, so it has been and so it ever shall be. Through brute force, terror, and sheer indomitable will, her armies have enslaved a world. From the reign of Maximilianus the Great in A.U.C. 1203 onward through the ages — into a new era of scientific advancement and astounding technologies — countless upstarts and enemies arise, only to be ground into the dust beneath the merciless Roman bootheels. But one people who suffer and endure throughout the many centuries of oppressive rule dream of the glorious day that is coming — when the heavens themselves will be opened to them… and the ships they are preparing in secret will carry them on their “Great Exodus” to the stars.

Robert Silverberg The Stochastic Man , Lord of Darkness, Gilgamesh the King, Tom O'Bedlam, Star of Gypsies, The Mutant Season, Kingdoms of the Wall, Hot Sky at Midnight, Starborne, Cronos, Roma Eterna, When We Went to See the End of the WorldWhen We Went to See the End of the World — (2012) Publisher: Before The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, brought apocalyptic fiction into the mainstream, there was science fiction. No longer relegated to the fringes of literature, this explosive collection of the world’s best apocalyptic writers brings the inventors of alien invasions, devastating meteors, doomsday scenarios, and all-out nuclear war back to the bookstores with a bang.The best writers of the early 1900s were the first to flood New York with tidal waves, destroy Illinois with alien invaders, paralyze Washington with meteors, and lay waste to the Midwest with nuclear fallout. Now collected for the first time ever in one apocalyptic volume are those early doomsday writers and their contemporaries, including Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin, Lucius Shepard, Robert Sheckley, Norman Spinrad, Arthur C. Clarke, William F. Nolan, Poul Anderson, Fredric Brown, Lester del Rey, and more. Relive these childhood classics or discover them here for the first time. Each story details the eerie political, social, and environmental destruction of our world.


More by Isaac Asimov & Robert Silverberg

Isaac Asimove NightfallNightfall — (1990) Publisher: These two renowned writers have invented a world not unlike our own — a world on the edge of chaos, torn between the madness of religious fanaticism and the stubborn denial of scientists. Only a handful of people on the planet Lagash are prepared to face the truth — that their six suns are setting all at once for the first time in 2,000 years, signaling the end of civilization!

Isaac Asimov Child of Time, NightfallChild of Time — (1991) Publisher: Based on an Asimov short story, “The Ugly Little Boy”. A children’s nurse is hired as part of a scientific project aimed at bringing a living being from the past to the present. A four-year-old Neanderthal boy is snatched from his home and hurled 40,000 years into a terrifying future.

Isaac Asimove NightfallThe Positronic Man — (1992) Publisher: In a twenty-first century Earth where the development of the positronic brain has revolutionized the way of life, beloved household robot “”Andrew”” struggles with his unusual capacity for emotion and dreams of becoming human.