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The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg, Volume 7:
We Are For the Dark (1987-90)

Robert Silverberg
Subterranean Press, 384 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: The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg: Volume 6, Multiples, 1983-1987
SF Site Review: The Last Song of Orpheus
SF Site Review: Dangerous Dimensions
SF Site Review: The Last Song of Orpheus
SF Site Review: The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg, Vol. 4: Trips 1972-73
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

The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg, Volume 7: We Are For the Dark (1987-90) Subterranean Press has been collecting many, although not all, of Robert Silverberg's short stories since they published To Be Continued in 2006. The series has now reached the late 1980s with volume 7, We Are For the Dark, which brings together ten stories, many of which have historical backgrounds, from "Enter a Soldier, Later: Enter Another" to "Lion Time in Timbuctoo."

In "To the Promised Land," Silverberg began a series of linked alternate history stories which culminated in the publication of the fix-up novel Roma Eterna. This story is a version of the Hebrews' Exodus from Egypt in a world where Moses failed and centuries later, another attempt is made. Rather than trying to cross the Red Sea, the Hebrews are attempting to build the world's first spaceship. There is a sense of optimism in the story which dates back to an earlier period when science fiction stories had protagonists building rockets in their back yard and going on exciting missions. By mixing this simplistic view with the more nuanced religious issues, Silverberg manages to create an engaging story, which he was then able to use as a background for additional stories, although none of the others are included in this volume.

History also plays a role in his shared-universe story "Enter a Soldier, Later: Enter Another," about a computer simulation that tries to recreate the personalities from various times in history. The story served as the basis for the Silverberg-edited Time Gate anthologies and earned Silverberg a Hugo Award. A series of dialogues between the scientists who are running and observing the simulation and the reconstructed versions of Francisco Pizarro and Socrates, there is little action in the story, but it does make the reader question the philosophical issues raised not just by the reconstructed individuals, but also by the scientists who are running the experiment.

Other shared world stories included in the collection are "Lion Time in Timbuctoo," again set in a universe created by Silverberg, this time in his novel The Gate of Worlds, which he opened up to John Brunner and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro in 1991, and "In Another Country," a sequel of sorts that Silverberg wrote to C.L. Moore's "Vintage Season," originally published as part of the Tor Double series. His tribute to Isaac Asimov, "The Asenion Solution," may not have been a shared world story by its strictest definition, but it was written for Foundation's Friends, an Asimovian Festschrift, and drew inspiration from Asimov's own End of Eternity as well as a dispute between Asimov and Silverberg.

However history was not Silverberg's only inspiration during this time, as reflected by "Chip Runner," a dark story about a boy's eating disorder and the psychiatrist who tries to help him, only to eventually come to understand the boy's frame of mind more closely than he thought possible. "The Dead Man's Eyes" is a murder mystery inspired by folklore that has more than a passing similarity to Silverberg's friend Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy story "The Eyes Have It." While Garrett was able to use magic as the driving force for the story, Silverberg casts it in a more scientific vein, which weakens that aspect of the tale, although his characters make up for it.

We Are For the Dark doesn't exhaust Silverberg's work in the late 80s, and, of course, in the more than twenty years since "A Tip on a Turtle" was published in Amazing Stories, Silverberg has published more than fifty additional stories, leaving several additional volumes in the series, each of which will demonstrate that Silverberg continues to be innovative in his story-telling.

Copyright © 2012 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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