Silverberg’s short novels are not so much “The books That Time Forgot” as much as they are “The Books That Got Buried” under a pile of his later work, given the author’s insanely prolific output. I picked these short novels, because they tend to stand multiple readings, at least by me, particularly Hawksbill Station.
Hawksbill Station largely concerns the memories of a revolutionary exiled to the distant past, along with many other political undesirables that the state is eager to dispose of. I get a strong sense of Orwell from this book which is, perhaps, natural for any story where a huge, domineering state plays a role. There isn’t that much hard science fiction in this book, but it’s Silverberg’s magnetic writing that grips me.
The Man In The Maze is the story of diplomat psychically maimed by an alien species during first contact. He re-purposes his life by exploring a lethal alien maze while pondering his past.
Downward to the Earth is yet another retelling of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Gunderson, the ex-administrator returns to ex-Terran possession- the planet Belzagor. He is both wracked by guilt from the way he treated the natives as well as drawn by a powerful nostalgia for the good old days. It’s a surprisingly accurate description of post-colonial cultures, even alien ones.
A common theme running through these books seem to be exiled extroverts coming up against a powerful, insurmountable antagonist, be it the state, time, a maze or an entire planet.
Happy Boxing Day!