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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting
I am certain that everyone has at some point wished that they could read minds, it's one of those childhood dreams that often sticks way into adulthood when we still wonder about what each other is really thinking about. Dying Inside shows the torment that such a power could bring, as the main character David, upon realising that his power is abating speaks about how his...
Published on 21 Sep 2005 by D. M. York

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dying of boredom
I have come to the conclusion that Robert Silverberg is an author that I can either love or hate. Unfortunately this book fell into the hate category.

I really enjoyed reading Invaders from Earth and Tower of Glass so went a bought a few more of his books, Son of man was the next one that I picked up and thought it was awful, I hoped maybe this was just a...
Published 8 months ago by Bridgey


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, 21 Sep 2005
By 
D. M. York (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dying Inside (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
I am certain that everyone has at some point wished that they could read minds, it's one of those childhood dreams that often sticks way into adulthood when we still wonder about what each other is really thinking about. Dying Inside shows the torment that such a power could bring, as the main character David, upon realising that his power is abating speaks about how his life has been affected and in some ways ruined by it.

This book was far more intimate and emotional than I had initially expected. David recalls his life in a very matter-of-fact sort of a way, which is probably what gives the novel its power because it seems all the more real that way, the way things are explained suggests the inhuman apathy that a telepath could inhibit. What is steadily revealed is that his ability prevents him from being close to any other person, and in the same breath omnipotently intimate and aware of their most private thoughts. What makes the story even more real is that David is not an especially pitiable nor likeable person. The story demonstrates that his power manages to alienate him from society rendering him a mere supernatural voyeur who in spite of his intelligence lives a very meagre and solitary life.

I found this book an unexpected pleasure, even though in some places it can be quite sexually graphic, and some may say that the story does not go anywhere, it is more about becoming aquainted with David's personality, so you can understand just what it is that he is loosing.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful exploration of the human psyche, 26 Jun 2005
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This review is from: Dying Inside (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
I initially read this book about four years ago and it made a lasting impression, so I re-read it again recently and found it just as absorbing.
One thing should be pointed out from the start as one reviewer has noted, this isn't full-on SF. Steer clear if that's what you're looking for (incidentally there are other books in S.F. Masterworks series that are not hard SF e.g. I am Legend). I should also add that I do not personally believe in the existence of powers such as telepathy or ESP! So, to the book itself...
Dying Inside charts the life of 41 year old David Selig and his gift/curse of being able to read people's minds. It explores his struggle for self-understanding and the manner in which his ability both elevates and alienates him from humanity. The story is told through a variety of narrative devices such as the re-reading of old letters, flashbacks to past events, and Selig's present situation as his power begins to ebb away. The themes dealt with in the novel are intensely human and concern love, rejection and acceptance, ageing, and what it means to understand and know others. I found Silverberg's approach to the concept of telepathy to be intensely vivid and convincing, as Selig veers from God-like omnipotence with his power through to being a despairing misfit; all of which is expressed through Selig's day-to-day life and encounters, such as his relationships, work and social identity.
In structure the novel does not follow any real plot and at times it lacks cohesion, but this seems to work in the novel's favour as it mirrors and reflects Selig's character. It also contains some beautiful descriptive writing (particularly toward the end of the novel). To put the novel into context, it was published in 1972 in a decade where the author hit a rich vein of form, with books such as The Man in the Maze and The Stochastic Man.
Overall, on a personal level this remains one of my favourite SF novels. If you're looking for a futuristic storyline, built around science and technology then this won't be for you. But if this and the other reviews intrigue you then I'd certainly recommend you give it a read.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great bit of 'soft' SF!, 19 Jan 2006
By 
A. Morley (Ripley, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dying Inside (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Dying Inside is a brilliant snapshot of a telepath on the verge of losing his powers. There isn’t much of a plot but the protagonist David Selig and his relationships are so interesting that you don’t really need one. I don’t enjoy reading about heroes and how they save the world from doom. This story is one of those novels about the ‘lazy-bum’ anti-hero that I like and his downtrodden, self-loathing attitude appeals to my sense of justice and underdog spirit.

David Selig makes his money by writing lazy Columbia students’ term papers for them. By reading their minds he can quickly learn about their writing styles and the capacity with which they would be able to write it if they did it themselves. Through flashbacks we learn of Selig’s previous relationships especially with his sister. Here Silverberg is spot on in his wry observations of adoption and how it affects step-siblings.
The best parts of the novel are where we get to see Selig make use of his telepathy. One of his ‘customers’ is a giant, black, basketball player. Through probing his mind we see the burning hatred inside him (a black being put down by a Jew in his opinion) which touches on race issues but never becomes preachy. Also there is a flashback to his youth where he has to fight a much larger opponent in a boxing match. He uses his power effectively to dodge the punches but his satisfaction is muted by the fact that the other kids think him weird. (Kinda like in Spiderman when Tobey Maguire beats somebody up in the school hallway).
Overall very good – 8.5/10
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good on every level, 25 Oct 2003
This review is from: Dying Inside (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
It is Manhattan, 1976 and David Selig is looking back on his life, a story which is delivered to us in first person, sometimes personally addressing a long-lost love in the hope that she may be reading this, and now and again objectively and dispassionately in the third person.

Selig is 42 and confesses immediately that from an early age he was able to read the thoughts of others, although apparently unable to project his thoughts into their minds.

Previously, novels which have dealt with telepathy are most often associated with Homo Superior; generally benign upgrades on Homo sapiens for whom telepathy is an essential tool for communication and understanding.
Silverberg presents a different view in that Selig's talent makes him anything but superior. At a very early age he realised that he was different and learned to hide his telepathy from everyone. Growing up, the very ease with which he is able to analyse others' motives and opinions prevents him from developing the social skills with which to initiate and maintain real relationships.

During the course of the novel he encounters one other like himself, Tom Nyquist, a man seemingly at ease with his telepathy and with whom Selig shares an uneasy friendship, since the freakish talent is one of the few things they have in common. Nyquist has no qualms about exploiting his talent to work the stock-market, lifting sensitive share information from the minds of those in the know and selling the tips on to a regular cadre of investors.
Selig employs his talent only to produce written-to-order term papers for students at a local university, tailoring the essays to their individual strengths and weaknesses and guaranteeing them a minimum mark of B+.

The only other person in Selig's life - his adopted sister Judith - is bound to him by both familial relationship and her long experience of Selig's talent. It is interesting that Silverberg has created this character as a sister only in name (i.e. not genetically connected) and yet still taboo in terms of a true sexual relationship one presumes, particularly within an orthodox Jewish community.

Their relationship is a prickly yet indissoluble one, and as John Clute points out in his scholarly foreword to this volume, he has 'married her more deeply than any man she sleeps with'.

Selig's insights into the human soul give him a unique view of the human condition, mostly depressing since he is able to see the truth behind the smile; the hidden motives underlying seemingly kind words and actions.
His one experience of true happiness within a human mind occurred in his childhood where he slipped into the mind of a farmer, experiencing the old man's almost Buddhist sense of enlightenment and oneness with the natural world around him.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dying of boredom, 17 Dec 2013
This review is from: Dying Inside (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
I have come to the conclusion that Robert Silverberg is an author that I can either love or hate. Unfortunately this book fell into the hate category.

I really enjoyed reading Invaders from Earth and Tower of Glass so went a bought a few more of his books, Son of man was the next one that I picked up and thought it was awful, I hoped maybe this was just a glitch and tried Dying inside next. Although not as poor as Son of man I still struggled to get through it.

We follow David Selig, a telepathic with powers that are fading away (hence the title). Selig is a funny character he relies on his 'gift' to earn a living but also views it as his biggest curse. We are allowed to relive some of the key areas in his life and how his telepathy came to help or hinder his situation. Girlfriends and family members unknowingly allow him into the darkest recesses of their mind including how they feel about him. I thought I would really enjoy this story and hoped the book would have a lot to offer, but for me I just got very bored.

The main story of the book is focussed around Selig's modern life, he is trying to ilk out a living by writing exam scripts for students so that they can effectively cheat. This is where Silverburg really lost my attention as a reader, whole chapters are dedicated in solely reciting the essays word for word. I am unsure if this was just the author being pretentious/self indulgent or he thought it would actually add to the tale. I was bored to tears.

I am now at a crossroads with reading anymore of his novels. I have never come across an author before where I find such a diversity in his works and such a range of likability. Maybe I will try one more.... and just keep my fingers crossed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing..., 30 Jun 2013
By 
D. Doyle (Europe) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dying Inside (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
I purchased this novel based on my huge enjoyment of the the 'Book of Skulls' by the same author. However, what I discovered was that there was too many similarities between the Jewish character in the Book of Skulls and David Selig's character in 'Dying Inside'. Sometimes, as a reader, you want to get the same thing twice, but in this instance I was looking forward to the contrast in characters and the chemistry of their interaction. Unfortunately, I was looking in the wrong place...

'Dying Inside' is effectively one man's journey to normalcy from having a fantastic gift which he has used purely for narrow self-indulgence. For that reason, its hard to have too much sympathy for the main character as he effectively squandered his gift and subsequently engages in ongoing self-pity and bitterness. One would have expected the character to have developed some wisdom in relation to humanity through his gift, but instead his perceptions of his fellow human beings are quite trite. So, when he loses this gift for mind reading, it comes across in many ways as a deserved and long-overdue outcome for a person who was emotionally parasitical.

Having said that, there is some genuine sympathy for the character's circumstances. Although his gift gives him pleasure, he is also burdened by guilt in how he used it (and continues to use it). Other people also find him creepy to an extent, and this has an impact on his socialization. Another telepath with whom Selig has an acquaintance uses his powers with arrogance and glibness and is widely accepted by his 'victims' - in sharp contrast to the Selig who is never popular. Also, the way in which Selig recounts his two major love affairs is both touching and poignant.

Overall I would not recommend this book very highly. The exploration is not so much of telepathy as an exploration of the accumulated moral failings of the main character and his singular failure to make anything of his life - mostly due to his negative outlook. The plot driver could just as well have been one of an addiction, or the loss of a loved one. The fact that the author wrote it during a time when his marriage was failing is probably quite influential, not so much in theme perhaps but in tone (that's not meant as a criticism, just an observation).

Frankly, although I finished the book quite fast, it depressed me. It compares unfavorably with Flowers for Algernon - a really great novel with somewhat similar themes. Despite being a poignant read, Flowers for Algernon remains uplifting due to the attitude and courage of the main character. David Selig's character, by contrast, is completely lacking in that regard.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the Finest Novels of Science Fiction: A Most Gripping and Poignant Portrayal of a Telepath, 15 Nov 2010
By 
John Kwok (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dying Inside (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Long hailed as a classic of 1970s science fiction literature, Robert Silverberg's "Dying Inside" is an emotionally riveting character study of a telepath confronting the loss of his power. Set in the near future - in this case the later 1970s - "Dying Inside" is a compelling exploration of the mind of telepath David Selig; a gripping and poignant examination of himself as he recalls his past , considers the present, and fears for a future without his telepathic powers. It is also an incredible journey cast as a fictional memoir, recalling how David became aware at a young age of his unusual mental ability. Remembering too the tangled web of loves won and lost, especially with those rare few who became fully cognizant of his telepathy. Silverberg draws heavily on his undergraduate life as a Columbia student, and his Jewish-American heritage, but this tale is no mere fictional recasting of Silverberg himself; instead David Selig comes across as a most credible, and realistic, character who barely shares some of the traits which readers may choose to associate with Silverberg himself. So wonderful a character study is "Dying Inside" that it shouldn't be regarded as one of the finest science fiction novels of our time; it is quite simply, a superb work of 20th Century American literature written by one of the most elegant prose stylists working in science fiction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 1 Jan 2009
This review is from: Dying Inside (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
One of the finest SF novels in the SF masterworks series. This is not hard-science SF, it is more human based rather than science. It is set in the 1970's but you get the impression this could be set at any time.
The hero of the story is a psychic who is living on the fringes of society, unable to hold down a normal job because he can read others minds. He is too sensitive to handle this gift, and has withdrawn from other people.
The book concerns his getting middle aged and losing his psychic abilities. But at the same time he gains back his humanity - a moving story.
This is SF as literature, rather than science - blurb.
A classic book - read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great SF Novel, 28 April 2007
This review is from: Dying Inside (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
I really love the SF Masterworks collection. This book was a present from my wife as she know I love science fiction. It was very different to the other book I had read from the SF Masterworks but just as satisfying. It was the first book I had read by Robert Silverberg (previously seeking out books by Philip K Dick). I agree with other reviewers that it does not seem like science fiction but SF is not just about science fiction ( it stands for Speculative Fiction after all!). Anyway, i really enjoyed it, it was intelligenly written and felt very complete just like other book by Robert Silverberg.

Buy it!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The essential early mid-life crisis sci-fi novel, 15 Jan 2012
By 
Dr. At Morley - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dying Inside (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Let's be honest - it's a guys book.

But what a book.

If you're male, over 30, read it.

Fantastic.
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Dying Inside (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Dying Inside (S.F. MASTERWORKS) by Robert Silverberg (Paperback - 14 April 2005)
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