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The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg, Vol. 4: Trips 1972-73
Robert Silverberg
Subterranean Press, 416 pages

Robert Silverberg
Robert Silverberg was born in New York City in 1935. In 1949 he started a science fiction fanzine called Spaceship and made his first professional sale to Science Fiction Adventures, a non-fiction piece called "Fanmag," in the December 1953 issue. His first professional fiction publication was "Gorgon Planet," in the February 1954 issue of the British magazine Nebula Science Fiction. His first novel, Revolt on Alpha C, was published in 1955.

In 1956 he graduated from Columbia University, with a major in Comparative Literature, and married Barbara Brown. After many sales, he earned a Hugo Award for his promise (the youngest person ever to do so). In the summer of 1955, he had moved into an apartment in New York where Randall Garrett, an established science fiction writer, lived next door; Harlan Ellison, another promising young novice, also lived in the building. Garrett introduced Silverberg to many of the prominent editors of the day, and the two collaborated on many projects, often using the name Robert Randall. He divorced his first wife in 1986 and married writer Karen Haber the following year. He now lives in the San Francisco area.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Son of Man
SF Site Review: The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg, Volume One: To Be Continued
SF Site Review: Phases of the Moon
SF Site Review: Roma Eterna
SF Site Review: The Longest Way Home
SF Site Review: Nebula Awards Showcase 2001
SF Site Review: The Book Of Skulls
SF Site Review: Lord Prestimion
SF Site Review: Sorcerers of Majipoor
SF Site Review: The Fantasy Hall of Fame
SF Site Review: The Alien Years
SF Site Review: Legends: Stories by the Masters of Modern Fantasy
SF Site Review: The Avram Davidson Treasury
SF Site Review: Sorcerers of Majipoor

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg, Vol. 4: Trips 1972-73 Robert Silverberg's Trips offers a rather strange and perhaps skewed look at his writing. Covering two years at the beginning of the 70s, when the New Wave was still aiming for relevancy and the "old guard" was trying to find its place in the brave new world created by the New Wave authors, Silverberg found himself writing against his own style, often, as he explains in his introductions, producing efforts which didn't quite feel right to him.

However, while some of the stories in Trips don't stand up to the test of time, many of them do. "Born with the Dead," which went on to win a Nebula Award for Silverberg, is perhaps the most successful of the stories included, but others, such as the titular "Trips" or "The Dybbuk of Mazel Tov IV" stand the test of time. These stories show that no matter how much Silverberg was feeling that times were changing around him, he could still tell a good story.

Silverberg portrays the period as a time of rampant narrative experimentation, and his stories do demonstrate the sort of thing that was happening. "Breckenridge and the Continuum," for instance, is a less than successful trying to be too many things and almost consciously trying to set itself apart from the other stories in Silverberg's canon.

Generally, Silverberg's concerns about his writing are less in evidence within the text of his stories, and only come to light in the introductions which in some ways give a better indication of the times than the stories themselves. In these pieces, Silverberg talks about personal issues he was having and relates them to the way the world was changing in the early 70s. They provide a context for the stories which can stand on their own, but which are stronger for having a background against which to read them.

While the introductions add quite a bit to the collection, the strength is in the stories, nearly all of which, even when Silverberg is at his most experimental, manage to stand up to the passage of nearly four decades. The few stories that show their age, like the anthropological tale "Schwartz Between the Galaxies," can be seen as indicative of the period in which they were written. They remind the reader that all authors can have weak outings, perhaps especially when trying to shoehorn themselves into a newer style of writing than they are used to.

For the most part, Trips is a good introduction to Silverberg's writing. There are a few very strong pieces and a few which haven't aged well, most of the stories demonstrate Silverberg's creative quality and show a journeyman's ability to both entertain and make the reader think about the situation he has proposed.

Copyright © 2009 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a seven-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings. He is the publisher of ISFiC Press. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.


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