Robert Silverberg’s Worlds of Wonder

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Robert Silverberg is an acknowledged master of science fiction. The only writer to win five Nebula Awards, he is also a two-time Hugo Award winner and a past president of the Science Fiction Writers of America. So when Silverberg writes about the art and craft of creating science fiction, those interested in the genre, especially fledgling writers trying to break into the field, should take notice and listen.

Robert Silverberg’s WORLDS OF WONDER begins with an autobiographical essay in which Silverberg recounts his struggle to become a published science-fiction writer. He quotes from his own early work to illustrate his growth as a writer and to show the painful progress of learning “the way it’s done.” The stories that follow--most were first published in the pulp magazines of the early 1950’s and have since become classics--are among Silverberg’s favorites. The collection is eclectic, containing stories as diverse as James Blish’s “Common Time,” an often-reprinted tale in which a voyager confronts the fluidity of perceived time while traveling faster-than-light, and Frederik Pohl’s startling “Day Million,” a love story set ten thousand years into the future. Other well-known stories include Damon Knight’s “Four in One,” Bob Shaw’s “Light of Other Days,” and Alfred Bester’s “Fondly Fahrenheit.”

The stories, still as fresh and vital as when they were first written, are worth rereading yet again. It is Silverberg’s critical essays after each one of the stories, however, that are of the most interest. They are a bounty of practical advice for the budding author. Drawing on sources as diverse as H.D.F. Kitto’s GREEK TRAGEDY and Robert Heinlein’s HAVE SPACE SUIT WILL TRAVEL, Silverberg discusses plot, characterization, dialogue, pacing, and the bag of tricks all writers must have at their disposal. Always entertaining and informative, WORLDS OF WONDER is a mini-workshop conducted by one of the top-ranking masters of science fiction.