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Downward To The Earth (S.F. Masterworks Book 56)

Downward To The Earth (S.F. Masterworks Book 56) [Kindle Edition]

Robert Silverberg
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product Description


...An intelligent New Wave classic from the mid-1970s which blends mysticism, world-building and literary references in an inventive mix... ...This is perhaps SF's finest tribute to Joseph Conrad, both in its keen moral sense and its portrayal of a vividly realised alien forest... (Roz Kaveney TIME OUT )

Product Description

One man must make a journey across a once colonised alien planet. Abandoned by man when it was discovered that the species there were actually sentient, the planet is now a place of mystery. A mystery that obsesses the lone traveller Gundersen and takes him on a long trek to attempt to share the religious rebirthing of the aliens. A journey that offers redemption from guilt and sin. This is one of Silverbergs most intense novels and draws heavily on Conrad's Heart of Darkness. It puts the reader at the heart of the experience and forces them to ask what they would do in the circumstances. First published in 1970

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 313 KB
  • Print Length: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Gateway (29 Sep 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005OAI9RW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #78,406 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Silverberg's 'Heart of Darkness'? 29 Feb 2004
The fours stars are given bearing in mind a comparison to Silverberg's other work. A superb and versatile SF writer, Robert Silverberg's 'Downward to Earth' isn't in the same league as classics such as 'Down the Line', 'Tower of Glass',and the SF Masterworks series' own 'The Book of Skulls'. It's still a pretty good read, though, and if you liked any of the above it serves as a pleasant enough time-waster.
There are plenty of swipes at the history of colonialism as Gunderson returns to what he knew when it was under earth rule as 'Holman's World'. It's now know as Belzagor and the dominant life-form appears to be the Nildoror, who, apart from a few subtle differences, resemble elephants. The book becomes reminiscent of 'Heart of Darkness' as Gunderson embarks on a journey in search of various humans who decided to stay after control of the planet was given back to the natives, among them an enigmatic individual named 'Kurtz'.
The author keeps things going with his usual skill and the denouement is worth the wait. From a lesser or unknown author this would probably merit five starts but it's Grade 'B' Silverberg
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Aliens are not always humanoid.... 20 Nov 2005
Holman's World, now known as Belzagor, a planet occupied by not one but two intelligent races, was once Edmund Gundersen's home. He was a Company man, having a career and a life there, ten years previously. Why has he returned? Because he is haunted by his time there. He knows that he must embark upon a journey of discovery, not only to uncover this planet's great secret, but to be part of it, fully and completely. And embark upon it he does, at great risk....
Robert Silverberg proves what a fertile imagination he has in this powerful and moving SF novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Literary and transcendant. 17 July 2009
By Behan
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you share my usual distaste for aliens and can't put it on hold, you should skip this. Otherwise, dive in.

The formula is the same as Dan Simmon's SF award-magnet "Hyperion (Gollancz S.F.)", but "Downward to the Earth" came first and is superior in my opinion. It's a quest through a wondrous alien landscape, based somewhat on a classic (Conrad's "Heart of Darkness"); the aim of the quest is some kind of transcendental atonement; the journey and its recollections provide back story, colour and mystery.

The jungle world that the hero travels through is intoxicating, strange and sensual, and while everything that occurs on it is ludicrous, it all somehow works. I found myself drawn in by the dreamlike, druggy unreality of this book and, in that hazy context, could believe in the character's compulsion to see the elephantine natives participate in their "rebirthing" ceremony, his fear to take part in it himself, his resolution to do so regardless. I wasn't even put off by realising early on what the nature of this mystery was likely to be, as I'm sure that Silverberg expects us to guess what the hero is in for before the hero sees it himself. There is no anticlimax, only inevitability; we still share our man's triumph when he completes his quest to become both a true expression of himself and something more than human.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Odd but good 30 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I enjoyed this book and it was nothing like I expected, which is rare. I have been reading the Silverberg classics recently and so far they have all been good. This one has ideas that in other hands might just feel silly, but they don't. The book never feels like hard work, but till manages to paint a detailed picture of what is going on and the setting. My favourite Silverberg is still man in the maze, which I highly recommend. But this is worth a read for a sci-fi fan who likes books that don't follow stereotypical space ships, hi tech and standard alien ideas.
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