- Paperback: 624 pages
- Publisher: Ibooks (Oct. 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743498011
- ISBN-13: 978-0743498012
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,046,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Phases of the Moon: Stories of Six Decades Paperback – 1 Oct 2004
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
The introductions in this book are quite amusing and informative, describing his relationships with such figures as Frederik Pohl (who played an important role in his career). But beware! A few of these introductions contain spoilers for the stories that follow. I would suggest that you read the story first, and then the introduction.
The stories from the 1950s are good, but it's in the 60s that Silverberg really hits his stride. The classic story To See the Invisible Man (adapted for an episode of The Twilight Zone in the 1980s) is as fresh as if it had been written yesterday. One of the stories from the 1960s, Flies, is somewhat unpleasant, although it contains important philosophical themes. I think it could be skipped.
You might start out your reading with Sundance, which is considered by many to be among the top ten or twenty science fiction short stories of all time. Other equally great classics include the novellas Nightwings, Born with the Dead, and Sailing to Byzantium.
This book is a bargain at the price, giving you 600 pages of great science fiction. More information about the author can be found at [...] and there's an Yahoo online chat group at theworldsofrobertsilverberg where once in a while the author himself drops by.
If you like science fiction at all (and even if you don't) you owe it to yourself to buy this fine collection by one of the greatest science fiction authors of all time.
Where does this stuff fit in in the universe of sci-fi works? Well, to use a very basic taxonomy: Telepathy and time travel? Check. Aliens? Quite a few, but around the margins and rarely as characters. Spaceships? As needed. But robots? Computers? Not so much. It's more about yearning and transcendence than about technology or society or especially plausible futures. For all the themes of human perfectability, the point of view is usually that of a confused, overwhelmed, and/or manipulated protagonist, and in the end most here is about the feelings of smallness and inadequacy, or the limitedness of human existence. However, there is definitely a lot of feeling-- you may get a little misty when the wistful melancholy of loss and uncertainty really hits. Lovers in these stories have very romantic barriers to overcome. There's vivid language and often very vivid, dazzling settings (the "ancient" cities of "Nightwings", "Saling to Byzantium", etc.)-- you can tell Silverberg worked hard! (Especially since he mentions it a lot in the introductions.)
So it's a decent soft-headed mystery-of-man's-place-in-the-universe sort of science fiction. Not as deep as it might seem, but often very unique, heartfelt, and well-written. If you can humor the occasional over-seriousness, quite entertaining. And actually there are a few good lighter yarns. I had never read any Silverberg before, but this volume feels pretty comprehensive-- a good place to start and to end too, probably. I'd guess it would be most suitable for harder-core crate-digging sci-fi fans. I suppose I am one, but I found it worthwhile.