Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Strangely enough, I found this one a real treat to read. It might have something to do with the fact that I read A Time of Changes, The World Inside, and it all within the same day, somewhat in spirit of how damn quick Silverberg wrote these great classics. :)
And because I read them all back to back, I found that being this familiar with the artist's text made al three books flow like water, common themes kissing intimately and oh so sexually. Like connection. Basic human connection. The first novel revelled in the breaking down of the barriers of self. The second novel, for all it's permissive sex, alienated everyone from deep and meaningful interactions. And then, the the third, David Selig, a powerful telepath living in the Baby Boomer generation here on earth, even with the gift to break through, could never quite make the bridge of intimacy.
Is it a tragedy? Yes. He squanders his talents as a kid and loses his ability as he ages, getting more frantic with time, and yet it's still the question of intimacy that each little vignette keeps coming back to. The novel's scenes jump through time, circling and circling back to peck at this theme, diving deeper into the the problem of telepathy, of squandered gifts, and all the while, we as readers are treated to an honestly delightful and revealing look, so I assume, into Robert Silverberg, himself.
I say this because David Selig is absolutely rich with humanity, being funny, flawed, intensely sexual (I think there *might* be a theme here), unabashedly intellectual, lazy, drug exploratory, and an all-around *real* guy. He's just as fucked as the rest of us, and there's so many things that ground him in the text, so many stream of consciousness moments, and so many insightful reflections, that I couldn't help being utterly, confoundedly, impressed.
It'd be awesome even as a traditional fiction tale, utterly mainstream, but it just so happens to have telepathy. In today's market, this one would probably do very well and no one would blink twice. There's much worse blurring of the lines out there.
Yeah. I'm looking at you, David Mitchell.
For those of you looking for one of those true classics of the SF field, who want a taste without truly wanting to commit to a learning curve, you could do much worse than read this one. It might as well be a novel about a man's descent into sexual impotency, of the rage and fear and embarrassment and loss of connection and identity. It's just that clever, that deep, and that good.
Nominated for '73 Hugo, right on the heels of the other two novels, both of which were nominated for the '72 hugos, both in the same year. Does anyone think that Silverberg was out to prove something during this time frame? Hmmm? The fact that he managed to be so prolific and write such good stuff should be a testament of anyone's real talent, and my hat goes off to him! Bravo!
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