cover image Beyond the Safe Zone

Beyond the Safe Zone

Robert Silverberg. Dutton Books, $18.95 (472pp) ISBN 978-0-917657-60-3

For all the imagination of Silverberg's extraordinary SF, its most striking aspects in this genre of detachment and sublimated dreams are its emotional honesty and its connection to the real (sufficiently strange and dangerous) world. The reader feels that Silverberg is describing something of his own personal dilemmas as the protagonists constantly seek to ""only connect,'' becoming tourists in life as they shuttle between the poles of anomie and religious ecstasy, solitude and sexual union, in their vain search for faith, love and home. This hefty collection of 27 tales, some of novella length, can only be faulted for preferring Silverberg's more ambitious and abstruse work to some of his better if simpler stories. Still, the honor roll includes his witty critique of the SF mentality, ``The SF Hall of Fame''; his accounts of journeys (``Trips,'' ``Getting Across'') that allow their travelers to ``tune in upon their very own lives, gone somewhere far away''; the stories that pungently recall specific historic moments (``Caught in the Organ Draft''); and one of his very best, ``The Feast of St. Dionysus,'' an ex-astronaut's hesitant quest for oneness with the world he had left behind. Paperback rights to Warner. (April 24)