enhanced] DD-B

Book Note: Robert Silverberg, Other Spaces, Other Times

I read this book about 3-Oct-2009. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 2009. This note was last modified Sunday, 25-Oct-2009 16:11:33 PDT.

This note does not contain major spoilers for the book.


Another memoir from an old-line (though newer old line by now) SF writer. I've enjoyed many of these over the years, and this one is one of the best. No spoilers, because this is non-fiction.

Silverberg really had quite a magical career. He started off very young and very enthusiastic—and somehow, after a tiny bit of practice, able to produce publishable fiction by the yard to deadline. It looks to me, combining what he said in this book with some outside information, that he was making double the median income from his writing before he graduated from college.

And, later on, he was able to produce work that rose to the top of the heap in the genre, and helped the breakout to where SF is widely studied in English departments. Which I would have said was a very different kind of skill than the first.

He breaks the rule he alludes to early on about not talking about money or who one has slept with. He breaks only the first part, though, and that's the part I'm actually more interested in. The economics of writing and publishing, and of general life, over the course of my lifetime, has always interested me, and it makes it possible to understand the commercial position of the writers better. On the second part, he's so discrete that, except for his referring to two women as his wives (at different times), I would find it impossible to deduce from this book that he even might have ever slept with anyone.

This book must be put together from other biographical pieces, lightly edited, plus some newly-written material. Each section ends with a date, which is not explained, but which is presumably when it was originally written or published. This occasionally gives rise to some whiplash, but once I figured it out, I got along with it well enough. It means that many of the accounts are less dependent on his current memory, too.

In addition to the text, there is a lot of well-reproduced artwork, mostly covers and illustrations related to his stories, but including some photographs too. There are even some full-page reproductions of cover art without the type over them. I enjoyed seeing these a lot.

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David Dyer-Bennet