Fifty years after making his first professional story sale, SFWA Grand Master Silverberg offers a compendium of 23 top-notch tales, ranging from 1954's "Road to Nightfall" to 2002's "With Caesar in the Underworld." Younger SF authors should take note: these short works represent all that science fiction can and should be. A few border on fantasy, such as the poignant "Born With the Dead" (
with its theme of loss. Others reflect the experimental trends that emerged in the 1960s and proved unpopular with fans, such as "Schwartz Between the Galaxies" (1973), which remains less readable than the author's usual. "Sailing to Byzantium" (1985) may be Silverberg's ultimate triumph, a dazzling mix of archeology and haunting fantasy. In the brief introductory essays to each section, divided by decade, as well as the illuminating essays for each story, Silverberg comes across as neither unduly modest nor arrogant. One of the great rewards of this generous book is the journey of discovery, watching his growth from stories capably told but still in debt to their pulp antecedents to high-quality fiction that is indubitably Silverberg's own. (May 24)
Silverberg received the SFWA's Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award at the Nebula Awards ceremony this past April.