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Beyond The Doors Of Death
Robert Silverberg and Damien Broderick
Phoenix Pick, 186 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.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: When the Blue Shift Comes
SF Site Review: The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg, Volume 7: We Are For the Dark (1987-90)
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

Damien Broderick
Some consider Damien Broderick to be Australia's premier SF novelist. He is the author of many non-fiction books on science, technology, and culture. He grew up in Reservoir, attended a seminary for a while and spent a fair bit of time at Monash University. Assorted careers -- including computer programming and editing a national magazine -- led him to writing. His works include The Judas Mandala and The Dreaming Dragons.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Uncle Bones
SF Site Review: K-Machines
SF Site Review: K-Machines
SF Site Review: Godplayers
SF Site Review: Transcension
SF Site Review: Not the Only Planet
SF Site Review: The White Abacus

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Greg L. Johnson

Beyond The Doors Of Death Beyond The Doors Of Death is an interesting little experiment in publishing that pairs a classic story by Robert Silverberg with a sequel by a less well-known Damien Broderick. The Silverberg story is "Born With The Dead," a 1974 novella that first appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Damien Broderick's "Quicken" is an original story, picking up almost to the day where "Born With The Dead" left off.

"Born With The Dead" was written at a time when Robert Silverberg's career was at a creative peak. Dying Inside had just been published and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction had proposed doing a special Robert Silverberg issue. Silverberg responded with the near-future story of Jorge Klein and his devotion to his dead wife, Sybille.

A breakthrough in technology has made possible the re-kindling of a human personality after death has occurred. There are some changes, physical, mental, and emotional. From Klein's perspective, the most important of these is a lessening of emotional response, to the point where Sybille, like the rest of the dead, is no longer interested in interacting with the living.

Klein's obsession with re-contacting his dead wife fuels the story of "Born With The Dead," and gives us glimpses into a new culture that is establishing itself within protected enclaves, and causing an increasing reaction from the rest of the world. That's pretty much where Silverberg left us at the end, with the beginning of a strange future, and a little understanding of its strange inhabitants.

What the story doesn't address is the how or the why of how the re-kindled dead came to be. That's where Damien Broderick's "Quicken" steps in, as Jorge Klein, now ambassador from the dead to the living, learns where the technology that created the dead came from, and where it leads to. As he does so, the story begins to jump ahead in space and time, first by months, then years, decades, and eventually an entire millennium, with flashes of the war between the living coming and going from Klein's consciousness.

Broderick succeeds in not only extending the story of "Born With The Dead," but also in adopting that stories tone and style, the muted emotional reactions of the dead infuse the narrative, making it read as if seen through a filter created by a different consciousness. The prose mimics the experiences of the dead even as it describes them, making the point once again that the most alien of viewpoints comes from somewhere in ourselves. "Quicken" succeeds because it carries on and expands the vision of a classic story, one that furthered its authors' reputation as a grand master, and provided a template by which a younger talent also gets to show his mastery of, and appreciation for, the classics.

Copyright © 2013 by Greg L. Johnson

Reviewer Greg L Johnson resides with the living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Greg's reviews have appeared in publications ranging from The Minneapolis Star-Tribune to the The New York Review of Science Fiction.

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