cover image Among Strangers

Among Strangers

Robert Silverberg. Subterranean, $50 (760p) ISBN 978-1-64524-069-3

SFWA Grand Master Silverberg (Voyagers) demonstrates why he merits that plaudit in this superior collection of three novels and one short story linked by the theme of humanity encountering intelligent alien life, or, as he puts it in his introduction, “reach[ing] out to meet others with uncertain hands.” “Those Who Watch” begins with an explosion over New Mexico that turns out to be a crashing spaceship; the ship’s three crew members survive and successfully pose as humans until three Earthlings see through their disguise. “The Man in the Maze” offers a less traditional story line, inspired by Sophocles’s tragedy Philoctetes and centered on diplomat Richard Muller. Muller’s the first human to contact the inhabitants of Beta Hydri IV—and he becomes a pariah upon his return to Earth. Silverberg shifts gears dramatically in “Tom O’Bedlam,” in which all of Earth’s governments have collapsed, and the eponymous lead has visions of fantastic crystalline beings that others dismiss as psychotic episodes. The anthology is enhanced by Silverberg’s introductions to each piece, which provide the personal and editorial background to the stories. Lovers of first contact fiction owe it to themselves to pick this up. (June)