WE ARE FOR THE DARK
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
The seventh volume of Subterranean Press’s Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg, We Are For the Dark, covers a four year period, from 1987-90. Containing ten stories ranging from short stories to novellas, including the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning “Enter a Soldier, Later: Enter Another” demonstrates that Silverberg was not willing to rest on his laurels, but rather was adding to his legacy in the late 1980s.
Reading these stories in close proximity drives home just how much Silverberg was using history as the basis of his stories. “Enter a Soldier, Later: Enter Another” posits a virtual reality program which allows recreations of Francisco Pizarro and Socrates to debate each other. “A Sleep and a Forgetting” looks at a world in which Temujin became a Christian living in Istanbul rather than the conqueror Ghengis Khan, and “To the Promised Land” created a word in which Rome didn’t fall (and led to a lengthy series of stories collected in Silverberg’s Roma Eterna). Silverberg also returns to his 1966 novel The Gate of Worlds with "Lion Time in Timbuctoo," pointing out that his interest in alternate history is not something he discovered in the late 1980s, but is something which has long been part of his career.
History isn’t the only thing Silverberg was using as his muse in the 80s. he was also keeping up with technological advancements, as demonstrated not just with the virtual reality concepts in “Enter a Soldier, Later: Enter Another,” but also in the ideas which he used in the much darker “Chip Runner,” about a young boy who is allowing his body to waste away, despite the efforts of both his parents and psychiatrist.
Silverberg also pays tributes to other authors in the stories included in We Are For the Dark. Most obvious is his Isaac Asimov tribute, “The Asenion Solution,” which includes references to Asimov’s The Gods Themselves. “In Another Country” is a sequel to C.L. Moore’s Vintage Season. Perhaps the least obvious tribute story is “The Dead Man’s Eyes,” which uses the same concepts as those used by Silverberg’s friend and one-time collaborator Randall Garrett in his 1964 Lord Darcy story “The Eyes Have It.”
Originally published more than thirty years after Silverberg broke into publishing, these stories included in We Are for the Dark are indicative of the mature author Silverberg has become and form an interesting counterpoint to not only the earlier collections issues by Subterranean, such as To Be Continued, but also Haffner Press's recently published Tales from Super-Science Fiction, which includes several of the stories that a younger Silverberg honed his craft on.
Silverberg has published numerous stories after those collected in We Are For the Dark, leaving enough work for potentially several more volumes from Subterranean Press and including works which are in every way as strong, entertaining, and as those collected in the seventh volume. With luck all will be published and Silverberg will continue to add to his oeuvre before the project is complete.
|The Dead Man's Eyes||In Another Country|
|Enter a Soldier. Later: Enter Another||The Asenion Solution|
|To the Promised Land||We Are for the Dark|
|Chip Runner||Lion Time in Timbuctoo|
|A Sleep and a Forgetting||A Tip on a Turtle|
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