Dying Inside Essay - Critical Essays

Robert Silverberg


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Dying Inside appeared relatively late in Robert Silverberg’s voluminous literary career. He has written and edited scores of books. In at least one way, Dying Inside typifies his writing. Unlike Isaac Asimov, who is more concerned with the technical science aspects of science fiction, Silverberg seems especially interested in character; he shows how human personalities are affected by scientific phenomena and reflects on the political and social implications of such phenomena. For example, there is little explanation of how and why Selig has his special powers: They simply exist. Silverberg attempts to establish some scientific plausibility by explaining that Selig’s receptive ability is greater during a high pressure system when the humidity is low. Readers discover that he is losing his powers, but neither they nor Selig knows why.

These details seem secondary to Silverberg’s main interest, which is to present an extraordinary fictional situation and explore its metaphorical possibilities. At one point in the text, for example, Selig’s sister asks him whether his loss of his power is like a loss of sexual potency. This level is further developed by some of the diction and imagery Silverberg uses to describe Selig delving into others consciousness: He enters and he penetrates. This analogy underscores the theme of alienation, for Selig is unable to establish true intimacy in either a sexual or a platonic relationship. The point...

(The entire section is 549 words.)