Robert Silverberg Silverberg, Robert (Vol. 7) - Essay

Silverberg, Robert (Vol. 7)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Silverberg, Robert

Silverberg, an American novelist and short story writer, has written many volumes of science fiction—under his own name and several pseudonyms—and almost as many nonfiction works. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 1-4, rev. ed.)

The Cube Root of Uncertainty … is a collection of twelve stories: six Old Silverberg (before 1967) and six New Silverberg. Old Silverberg is an idiot ("But it takes all sorts to make a continuum," he philosophically decided), but New Silverberg is something else: a highly colored, gloomy, melodramatic, morally allegorical writer who luxuriates in lush description and has a real love of calamity…. I find myself in real trouble in evaluating New Silverberg. I don't like his feverishness or his intense, mad romanticism, and I suspect Mr. Silverberg (as Old Silverberg, the extremely self-conscious and clever hack) needs some time to get out of his system all the sophomoric dark doom that most of us—far less technically expert—dealt with during our apprenticeships. The book contains the famous "Passengers," "To the Dark Star," "Neighbor," and "Halfway House." "Sundance," the best of the lot, achieves a playing with reality that is often aimed at in science fiction but seldom realized. Mr. Silverberg gets better and better. (pp. 66-7)

Joanna Russ, in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (© 1971 by Mercury Press, Inc.; reprinted from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction by permission of the publisher and Curtis Brown Ltd.), April, 1971.

[Dying Inside] is no more SF than any other literate novel about growing older on the outskirts of an American university. It is about alienation rather than aliens. Selig [the protagonist] is a Jewish heterosexual counterpart of Isherwood's Single Man, and like George is eaten up with self-pity. Indeed, the mode—heavy, egocentric, lachrymose—is too boring to sustain an idea which might have made one of Robert Silverberg's outstanding short stories. (p. 269)

The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd., 1974; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), March 15, 1974.

The title of Robert Silverberg's The Stochastic Man says much about the changing styles and needs of commercial sf. Even ten years ago the use of 'stochastic' would have meant an instant rejection slip…. Today, however, a thorough grounding in structuralism and psycholinguistics is as indispensable to a certain type of commercial sf hero as the ray-gun and space-suit were to an older generation…. [The] novel is a fast and literate read, perhaps an early example of a new kind of sf whose chief interest will be its reflection of popular response, not to science and technology but to modish intellectualism: Chomsky and Levi-Strauss rather than rockets and laser beams. (pp. 821-22)

J. G. Ballard, in New Statesman (© 1976 The Statesman & Nation Publishing Co. Ltd.), June 18, 1976.