Saturday Art: Influential Authors: Robert Silverberg
As is often the case, I’m not sure which of Robert Silverberg’s books I first read. In fact, it may well have been an anthology of some sort where he was both a contributor of a story or two as well as the editor. Here’s his Goodreads.com bio:
Robert Silverberg is one of science fiction’s most beloved writers, and the author of such contemporary classics as Dying Inside, Downward to the Earth and Lord Valentine’s Castle, as well as At Winter’s End, also available in a Bison Books edition. He is a past president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the winner of five Nebula Awards and five Hugo Awards. In 2004 the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America presented him with the Grand Master Award. Silverberg is one of twenty-nine writers to have received that distinction.
I’ve long known that Silverberg was and is a prolific writer but when I took a look at his wiki, I was a bit stunned. By my count he has 78 mostly science fiction books, 30 collections of short stories, 30 more anthology collections he has edited, and 77 non-fiction books. Needless to say, I have not come remotely close to reading all of his books.
I think I am most impressed by his non-fiction, even though I don’t think I have read any of it (looking through the titles and his pseudonyms none of them look familiar). Yet, the titles cover a lot of periods of history and biographical figures that I have found fascinating. Seventy-six of his 77 non-fiction works were written from 1960 – 1974, a period when the sci-fi field was in a lull but even during this period, he still was writing one or two award winning sci-fi books each year.
As I say, I’m not real sure which of Silverberg’s books I first read. I know I have read and enjoyed Lord Valentine’s Castle, the first of his Majipoor series. I have also read Majipoor Chronicles and Valentine Pontifex, the second and third Majipoor books. Another of his novels I know I have read and enjoyed is Gilgamesh the King, set in 2500 BCE. Gilgamesh the King is based upon the Epic of Gilgamesh derived from cuneiform tablets dating to 2100 BCE. There is a second Silverberg Gilgamesh book that takes him into the after life.
I’ve probably read more of the short story anthologies that Silverberg has edited and contributed to over the years. I had a period of probably ten to fifteen years where I read more short stories than novels. during this time, I know I read Legends I and Legends II (both more short novel collections than short stories), Worlds of Wonder, Nebula Awards Showcase, 2001, Voyagers in Time, and Tomorrow’s Worlds.
One surprising thing about Silverberg is how little of his writing has been used for TV or movies either one. His IMDB page shows only five writing credits. The most well known film is Bicentennial Man starring Robin Williams and based on an Asimov short story of the same name and an Asimov/Silverberg collaboration titled Positronic Man. Otherwise, there are a couple of TV movies, one short movie and an episode of the re-make of The Twilight Zone.
Picture from Johan A licensed under Creative Commons