TRAVELER OF WORLDS: Conversations With Robert Silverberg, by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro. Fairwood Press (www.fairwoodpress.com), 2016, 275 pp., $16.99. ISBN 978-1-933846-63-7. Click here to purchase.
There’s no denying it. Hundreds of writers have been influenced by the oeuvre of Robert Silverberg, whom some call Silverbob. I had the pleasure of meeting Silverbob back in the late 1980s when he was guest of the Philadelphia SF convention, Philcon.
(I remember during an interview for my own fanzine at the time, OGRE, I asked a lot of questions about Silverberg’s novel, DYING INSIDE. Where did the title come from? I asked. “It just popped inside my head,” Silverberg said. After receiving the manuscript for DYING INSIDE, Silverberg’s editor called him and asked him if he was all right. “I’m fine,” he said, or words to that effect.)
But I thoroughly enjoyed this question-and-answer biography of a beloved and master storyteller and speculative fiction artiste. I was particularly intrigued when the interviewer, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, asked Silverberg about his favorite books. DYING INSIDE stands as his favorite, as it does mine: a story of horrible loss that just resonates, a beautiful and transcendent piece that goes incredibly unrecognized and misunderstood by people familiar with Silverberg.
(I remember a long-ago biography and interview in the defunct ALGOL Magazine, back in 1979, I believe, when Silverberg brought up the Corinthians’ bible passage about those who have no love, but are just a banging gong, a clanging cymbal, talking about his early days as a hack and how he came to put aside the hackwork and write some meaningful stories; shortly thereafter we were blessed with such everlasting and well-awarded tales such as “Nightwings” and “Good News from the Vatican” and “Pope of the Chimps.” And “To See the Invisible Man” and UP THE LINE and the WORLD INSIDE, HAWKSBILL STATION, and it goes on and on, my friends. If you have not read Silverberg, you are Missing Something.)
But Robert Silverberg makes me jealous. I envy those who can write like that. But more so, I envy his memory.
It seems when you read this Q&A that Silverberg doesn’t have to sleep much. (Like the characters in that Nancy Kress novel about how they are brilliant and they are humanity’s descendants.) Really. Silverberg seems to be able to recall almost everything.
I would think for a writer that would be a gigantic tool, to have total recall! To have an eidetic memory: when it comes to writing something, the recollection at will would be the strongest advantage you could have.
I wish my own memory was less decrepit.
Zinos-Amaro asks Silverberg an awful lot of questions, striking on exactly what makes Silverberg an icon of the SF field. We come to see what incredibly extensive travel, with no real need for sleep and a photographic memory can do for you. From his extensive, well-cataloged travels throughout the globe, we have been blessed with not only many brilliant novels and stories, but memories . . . oh, to have a photographic memory . . . what supremacy you can have as an artist . . .