Tower Of Glass (Gollancz SF collector's edition) Paperback – 20 Apr 2000
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A tense and powerful novel from one of the most versatile and imaginative of all science fiction writers working at the height of his powers.
About the Author
Robert Silverberg (1935 - )
Robert Silverberg has been a professional writer since 1955, widely known for his science fiction and fantasy stories. He is a many-time winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards, was named to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 1999, and in 2004 was designated as a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America. His books and stories have been translated into forty languages. Among his best known titles are Nightwings, Dying Inside, The Book Of Skulls, and the three volumes of the Majipoor Cycle: Lord Valentine's Castle, Majipoor Chronicles and Valentine Pontifex. His collected short stories, covering nearly sixty years of work, are being published in nine volumes by SF Gateway and Subterranean Press. His most recent book is Tales Of Majipoor (2013), a new collection of stories set on the giant world made famous in Lord Valentine's Castle.
He and his wife Karen and an assorted population of cats, live in the San Francisco Bay Area in a sprawling house surrounded by exotic plants.
Top Customer Reviews
The androids, unbeknown to Krug, have developed their own society which is attempting to achieve Android Equality rights in two fundamentally different ways. The Android Equality Party is a visible politically active movement which campaigns for a change in legislation from the current situation in which androids are considered ‘property’ while others see their salvation in a religion centred around the figure of Krug ‘The Creator’.
This short but complex novel is – to a certain extent – exploring areas Philip K Dick had already explored in the preceding decade to better effect. Indeed, the novel seems influenced by Dick stylistically, particularly in Silverberg’s choice of names for his characters.
There is also something tragically Shakespearean about Tower of Glass. The unfolding of the drama is measured by the increasing height of the tower, which is in direct relation to the increase in Krug’s maniacal obsession with the project. Krug himself, although not a wicked man, becomes increasingly irrational and blind to the social developments within the race of androids which he created.
Well worth checking out.
To be fair to Silverberg, the androids of this tale are organic, hatched from vats rather than being machines designed cosmetically to look like people. If that sounds derivative of Brave New world, then it probably is. More so where Silverberg divides the androids into castes, ranging from intelligent alphas to the lumpen Gammas.
Silverberg, however, has his own message to make with this novel. What makes his androids androids rather than people is that they are not conferred true human status and created purely to be servants, and branded as such through their red skins. We can be sure that this sly old wordsmith was fully cognisant of the connotations of 'red skin' in this context. As the book drily remarks, here are 'things' that look and sound remarkably like people, and who might not acquiesce in their thing-status forever.
So here is a sub-race of synthetically-made sentient people. But what of who created them.
Simeon Krug is a massively powerful self-made tycoon. Simeon Krug has a dream, and that dream is to make contact with what appears to be a message from the stars. His androids have the job of building it, so it can transmit.
The taller the tower grows however, the less aware Krug seem to be of what may undermine his mission. The androids are getting restless as they seek affirmation of their humanity from the creator they secretly worship as a god. They are trying to get at him through his weak son and heir Manfred via his android lover, Lilith Meson. Silverberg does not mind creating the irony that Lilith is far more full-blooded as a woman ever can be than his neurotic young wife.Read more ›
So while Ringworld is full of leery nudity, Thundercats and dopey tripods and no plot of any real worth, Tower of Glass opts instead for story and characterisation. It's an operatic tragedy with timeless themes about the relationship of master and slave and the siren call of destiny; it's probably the defining Silverberg book. Although plainly inspired by the civil rights struggles in 20th century America, the book still feels fresh, because it's about division of society and the disconnection of the super-rich from everyday reality. The writing is bold and leaps out of the page with unbridled enthusiasm. Silverberg reportedly complains that the book was butchered by its editor, and while, with retrospect, this is perhaps detectable in the pacing, I wouldn't say my enjoyment was harmed.
Ignore my whining about how grievously this was pipped for an award and just buy the book. If you like classic sci-fi, this is a great mix of the Golden Age and the New Wave, it's the quintessential Silverberg novel (as you'll see from my reviews, I should know: I've read a whole lot of them) and it's just a brilliant piece of escapist fun. Enjoy. ...And if you see Larry Niven, punch him in the chest.
OK, don't do that.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Simeon Krug is a man with a vision. He has always wanted to contact extraterrestrial life and when a strange signal is received hundreds of light years away he decides the only way... Read morePublished on 12 Jun. 2013 by Bridgey
I have recently started reading Silverberg's classics and am really enjoying them. This one is a good read, and as usual has some interesting ideas and images in it. Read morePublished on 30 April 2013 by Amazon Customer
Simeon Krug is a man with a vision. He has always wanted to contact extraterrestrial life and when a strange signal is received hundreds of light years away he decides the only way... Read morePublished on 4 Mar. 2013 by Bridgey