Somebody out there finally wised up and started getting these novels back into print. Back in the seventies Robert Silverberg wrote a string of novels that are simply unreal in their consistant high quality. Not only did many of them tackle ideas that SF had merely toyed with or completely ignored but each was a distinct entity. This one isn't as groundbreaking as some of the other, more famous ones (A Time of Changes or Dying Inside being probably the best known) but is an excellent read in its own right. The concept here is blissfully simple and has been tackled dozens of times by other authors . . . a man claiming to be a visitor from the future lands in the present day (in this book 1999, the future when it was written). The man, Vernan-19, states that he is here merely to look around and experience the sights, a team of scientists from a variety of disciplines assigned to escort him aren't so sure, but they can't prove it either way and that inability to prove becomes almost maddening. Silverberg does a good job of twisting expectations around, the book isn't told from the POV of the future guy, but from one of the scientists, whose own work is in the physics of time travel, so Vernan is kept at arm's length. In fact, the central question in the book, whether Vernan is indeed a man from the future or just a faker, is left up in the air, as well as its sister question, just what is his purpose for doing all this? His impact on the world at large is shown in broad detail and for the most part his fictional 1999 feels a lot like ours. The characters are drawn with his usual eye for details, even without seeing into their thoughts the reader gets a good sense of them. What impresses most in this novel is Silverberg's economical style of storytelling, this is a brief book that presents its premise, extrapolates it to entertaining effect and then wraps up, leaving questions dangling in the air. The prose is sharp and lean, with no needless flourishes of flowery sentences to muddle the story. Once past a somewhat slow beginning, it moves at a good clip, never going too fast or lingering on one idea for too long. In the end, the book really isn't about the man from the future, but the people he affects and changes and how they deal with it, and once changed, where they go from there. Not the most attention grabbing of his novels, but excellent in its own quiet way and just as worthy as his other novels from this period. Grab it if you see it.