Robert Silverberg

Captain J

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I'm a big Silverberg fan. I enjoy most of his older stuff, far more than his new stuff. Across a Billion Years was very good IMO. Other books of his, that I enjoyed a lot were

Time of the Great Freeze
Downward to the Earth
The Man in the Maze

There are a lot of others that are pretty good too. I don't really like a lot of his newer stuff, or his fantasy series, as I'm a sci-fi guy.

Used book stores are a really great place to find most of his books. I've gotten many there.
 

Leto

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For info, The Book of Skulls will be republished in January 2006, with a new postface.
 

GOLLUM

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Yep like Leto I'm a bit of a Silverberg fan and I particularly like the Majipoor series. I've read them all from first to last in order basically as they were being published, so this is an author I've very much grown up with.

Having said that I think the first set of 3 Majipoor books was the best of the bunch....:D
 

steve12553

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I have to credit one of Robert Silverberg's young adult books with making me a more thoughtful science fiction reader. I aquired a book called "Revolt on ALpha C" when I was in grade school through a of book ordering program based on it's title and a brief synopsis. I had to do with a colonization of a planet around Alpha Centari that was populated by a kind of super dinosaur (Right up my alley as a nine year old) and and the military attempt to prevent a colonial revolution (and of course one young soldier's decisions). I haven't reread it since then and I'm in my 50's now so that kind of tells you how vivid my memory of that book was. With the Majipoor books and other odds and ends over the years he's always a "go to" type author for me.
 

Foxbat

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Apparently Across A Billion Years was also written for the young adult market. I enjoyed re-reading it and I'm in my forties. It seems the Silverberg doesn't skimp on the quality control no matter what market he targets.

Or perhaps it's just that I find his work extremely easy to read and enjoy:)
 

GOLLUM

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Foxbat said:
Apparently Across A Billion Years was also written for the young adult market. I enjoyed re-reading it and I'm in my forties. It seems the Silverberg doesn't skimp on the quality control no matter what market he targets.

Or perhaps it's just that I find his work extremely easy to read and enjoy:)
No, he's just a master at his craft....:cool:
 

The Time Traveller

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I've read a lot of Silverberg. His earliest stories and novels are okay. He was mostly a hack in his early days but a professional hack. Of his early work Recalled to Life and Invaders From Earth and Masters of Life and Death are considered his best novels. I recently reread Master... and found the setting amazingly lame. It nearly all takes place in an executives office. The story is pretty good though.

In the late 60's and early 70's, he released a lot novels of very high quality. One I really liked that seems almost forgotten, which is really weird since it won the Nebula, is A Time of Changes. Many of the other excellent ones are:

Downward to the Earth
Thorns
The World Inside
Hawksbill Station
The Masks of Time
Nightwings
Book of Skulls
Dying Inside
Any short story collection from this period kicks also.

He retired for a time from SF and returned with Lord Valantine's Castle. This is an entertaining read but not didn't seem Silverbergian to me. Of his later novels, I liked Tom O'Bedlam and Kingdoms of the Wall the best.

The one trait I really like in his works is his protagonist's internal moral struggle. The protagonist self-questioning of what's right and wrong, usually having to go against the social norms of his society. And that society is a reflection of some aspect of our own.
 

GOLLUM

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Thanks for the update TT, I'm going to track down some of those you listed but unlike your good self I really liked Lord Valentine's Castle and am a big Majipoor fan basically having grown up with the books as they were being published.

It's one of my fav Science Fantasy works along with Wolfe's Book Of The New Sun of course...:D
 

merritt

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The Stochastic Man by R. Silverberg - wicked good book
"Man in the Maze" I read in the 70's as a teenager - perfect timing
 

jojajihisc

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I read The Seed of Earth, Hawksbill Station, Tower of Glass, The World Inside (my favorite), and Roma Eterna. The last one is a Roman Empire alternate history that is pretty entertaining.
 

GOLLUM

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I read The Seed of Earth, Hawksbill Station, Tower of Glass, The World Inside (my favorite), and Roma Eterna. The last one is a Roman Empire alternate history that is pretty entertaining.
I've got Roma Eterna but am yet to read it, so thanks for the heads up...:)
 

jojajihisc

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If I remember right the chapters were individual short story submissions for some sci-fi magazine. You'll be able to tell when you read it. It also helps if you have at least a slight understanding of Roman history.
 

J-Sun

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My take is similar to many others - especially The Time Traveller's - he was a "good hack" but still a sort of a hack up until the late 60s. Then he went through a new phase - still prodigiously productive, but of a higher quality and deeper content until the mid-70s. Then he took a break and came back with Lord Valentine's Castle and the subsequent two Majipoor books and some more excellent short stories. Then he seemed to sort of go into another hack mode, to be honest, churning out more Majipoor books and, other than what makes it into various anthologies, I haven't paid much attention to him. I started with and loved the Majipoor trilogy but was quite satisfied and never read the later Majipoor books. I read things like Tom O'Bedlam, which was an interesting take on "is it madness or first contact?' but wasn't great, and Star of Gypsies, which I liked even less. So I started backtracking instead. Stuff like Master of Life and Death was quite readable but also quite skippable. The best stuff comes from that c.67-76 period. I like Thorns less than many seem to and liked "Nightwings" better as a story than a fixup. Tower of Glass is damn near a classic but something I can't remember now marred it. A Time of Changes and The Stochastic Man are excellent. I have a special fondness for The Second Trip, though it doesn't seem to get much attention. I think Dying Inside is probably his classic. And Beyond the Safe Zone is approximately equivalent to a trio of his best collections from the early 70s and is indispensable. I'll read more from that period eventually.

He seems to be one of those writers that manages to straddle SF and Fantasy. Valentine Pontifex and The Majipoor Chronicles are (to me) much closer to Fantasy than Science Fiction so I wasn’t sure where to stick this post.


I could easily be remembering this wrong but I think there was a definite sense of an interstellar civilization and the idea that this was a melting pot of aliens and that this planet had belonged to a native species prior to being overrun. This was one of the main threads driving the whole thing. So I thought it was very much SF. What was cool was that it was simultaneously a sort of planetary romance with a "science fantasy" feel. From the point of view of the inhabitants, it was just the planet. They were just the beings. Kind of like how we might say, "Wow, Tatooine. A world out there with a spaceport and everything. Cool!" and Luke just sees a dirtball he wants to get off of. Now, Majipoor was an amazing, lush, fascinating planet and nothing like Tatooine, but I thought it was really fascinating how Silverberg made it seem simultaneously magical and taken-for-granted. I think the absence of beating you over the head with technology and hard science made it easy to miss the genuine science fictional underpinnings. Plus, fantasy got much more popular than SF and I gather the sequels began to be marketed as (and perhaps even written as) fantasy, but the first three were minimally but definitely SF - and Silverberg's career as a whole (at least until relatively recently) was decidedly SF-oriented, though never of the Clement style.

A really interesting novel written just before the Majipoor serie IIRC.

Just a note: Tom O'Bedlam was after the Majipoor trilogy, in '85, IIRC.

<snip>and Roma Eterna. The last one is a Roman Empire alternate history that is pretty entertaining.

Yeah, of what I've come across lately, the Roma Eterna stuff seemed the best. I actually debated getting that when I was in the book store though I ended up putting it back. "Some sci-fi magazine" would be Asimov's Science Fiction, mostly, along with some others. Another thing being marketed as a novel when it's a collection of stories - which does a disservice to the material as it probably would seem like a pretty disjointed novel rather than a cohesive collection.
 

jojajihisc

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Another thing being marketed as a novel when it's a collection of stories - which does a disservice to the material as it probably would seem like a pretty disjointed novel rather than a cohesive collection.

It didn't hurt Roma Eterna though. At least for me anyway. The book makes big leaps forward in time and is about a topic that transcends human lifespans - empire.
 

J-Sun

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Glad it didn't mess it up for you. I can't remember how well the blurb of the paperback I was looking at spelled it out and I knew (in a general sense) what it was, but I was just thinking that if someone was expecting, say, a tale of a particular set of characters within an imperial milieu, they might have been disappointed when it kept changing on them. :)
 

Dagny

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Bump.

I'm joining the party super late, but I just discovered Robert Silverberg. thanks to handy dandy search function, i didn't ahve to start a new thread! I blogged a big about Silverberg a bit ago, and what's the internet for, but to share?

" I've finally discovered Robert Silverberg, Sure, I see his books all over the place, but i never picked one up. My husband thrust Lord Valentine's Castle, along with all it's aweful 70's style high fantasy cover art into my hands, and told me "If you like Michael Moorcock, you'll probably like this", and he was right. Story is pretty simple, Valentine wakes up knowing his name and where he his, other than that, his memory is gone. Needing work, he ends up with a travelling troupe of jugglers while he tries to figure out who he is and what is going on. Revealed through dreams, he learns that he is the Lord Valentine, who rules on high from the Castle Mount. Through trickery and magic, Valentine has been ousted from his body, and the son of the King of Dreams rules in his stead.

Silverberg could have easily gone with high fantasy, high drama, high stakes, and more melodrama than you can shake a hobbit at. But he didn't. This book asks for nothing from the reader. That can sound like an insult, so let me explain. High fantasy requires the reader to remember lineages, worldly histories, lots of drama etc, things that for me can get in the way of enjoying myself. Hard scifi requires the reader to put up with and generally enjoy infodumps, interstellar empires of who knows what, and technobabble and the like. I am not knocking any of these things, but they are requirements that an author makes with a reader. I often enjoy the requirements. Sometimes however, I want nothing more than to sit back, relax, and enjoy myself. Lord Valentine's Castle gives me enjoyment. it gives me relaxation. Reading it is like sitting on the beach on a perfect day, listening to the waves lap on the shore, feeling the warm sun on my face. I have not finished the book yet, but so far it has been pure enjoyment. Maybe i'm misjudging it. Maybe there is plenty of melodrama that i'm missing or skipping over. Maybe Silverberg and his fans will be offended by my saying that the book requires nothing of me. Silverbergs prose is elegant, natural, and witty. If I were to have a son one day, i'd bet good money that the name "Valentine" would be on the boy's birth certificate. Mr Silverberg and fans, if that isn't the highest compliment an author could be paid, I don't know what is.
"

since writing that, i have finished the book, and immediately found a copy of Majipoor Chronicles. Chronicles is not as good as LVC, but still, very, very good and entertaining. i plan on hitting up a few libraries this weekend and clearing out their Silverberg collections.
 

AE35Unit

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I've not read much but I did enjoy his 'New Springtime' series. Two books so far, i diont think he made a third.

Also Hot Sky at Midnight was fun.Face of the Waters was, err ok.

Theres been others but i cant remember-need to get some classic recommendations!
 

Lady of Winterfell

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I recently read Lord Valentine's Castle, and I really enjoyed it. I thought the story moved along at a good pace, and I really enjoyed the plot. I just picked up Majipoor Chronicles as well, which is the next in the series.

AE, if you're interested in the books based on Majipoor, GOLLUM had a very helpful post for me that you might want to look at.
 

GOLLUM

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Yep, like Lady Of Winterfell suggests, Majipoor is pretty entertaining stuff.

Others by Silverberg worth investigating include: Book Of Skulls, Dying Inside, Nightwings and Sailing To Byzantium.....and presumbably Roma Eterna although I've not read it yet still!
 

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