Monday, May 09, 2011

Musings and Meditations by Robert Silverberg

Robert Silverberg is one of the great writers of the SF world, in both senses of the world: he's responsible for some of the best paragraph-by-paragraph writing and most literary stories in the genre, both during his 1967-76 personal Renaissance and (particularly in his short stories) afterward, and he's well-known for being incredibly prolific throughout most of the phases of his career. (According to my count, that '67-76 period saw Silverberg publish twenty-three novels -- admittedly, novels were shorter then, but he was writing plenty of other things as well.)

And, in common with other reams-of-output writers of the field -- his mentor and friend Isaac Asimov, for example -- Silverberg has also written a lot of other things besides SF, from the softcore porn that nearly every writer of his generation dabbled in in the '60s to pay the bills to major nonfictional works on Prester John and the Mound Builders of ancient America. That also led -- since SFnal magazines love dependable copy from name writers -- to a thirty-year writing monthly essays for Galileo, Amazing, and then Asimov's on whatever struck his fancy that month.

The first half of those essays -- speaking roughly -- was collected, over a decade ago, as Reflections and Refractions. (Other pieces, from various places, were recently assembled into the autobiography-in-fragments Other Spaces, Other Times, which I reviewed last year.) And the back fifteen years of those essays -- roughly the Asimov's years -- have now been brought together as Musings and Meditations, by the newish New York small press Nonstop.

Musings is a collection of various random things, of course -- it couldn't help but be, seeing as how it's made up of whatever Silverberg most felt like writing about near his deadline for the last decade and a half -- but Silverberg is engaging and assumes the tone of authority whether he's writing about whale-watching, cuneiform, writing advice, the great dead masters of SF, or the New Wave. I may not agree with him 100% on all of his topics -- for one thing, he generally assumes the rah-rah we're-all-in-this-ghetto-together attitude of the embattled mid-century SF world, which isn't as helpful for evaluating the true worth and best works of that era's writers as it might be -- but he's always pleasant to read, and he is deeply knowledgeable about all of the topics in this book.

No comments:

Post a Comment