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Robert Silverberg

From Academic Kids

Robert Silverberg (born January 15, 1935 in Brooklyn, NY) is a prolific author best known for writing science fiction, a multiple winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

Silverberg, a voracious reader since childhood, began submitting stories to science fiction magazines in his early teenage years. He attended Columbia University, receiving an A.B. in English Literature in 1956, but he kept writing science fiction. His first published novel, a children's book called Revolt on Alpha C appeared in 1955, and in the following year, he won his first Hugo, as "best new writer." For the next four years, by his own count, he wrote a million words a year, for magazines and Ace Doubles. In 1959 the market for science fiction collapsed, and Silverberg turned his ability to write copiously to other fields, from carefully researched historical nonfiction to softcore pornography for Nightstand Books.

In the mid-1960s, science fiction writers were starting to be more literarily ambitious. Frederik Pohl, then editing three science fiction magazines, offered Silverberg carte blanche in writing for them. Thus inspired, Silverberg returned to writing, paying far more attention to depth of character and social background than he had in the past and mixing in elements of the modernist literature he had studied at Columbia.

The books he wrote at this time were widely considered a quantum leap from his earlier work. Perhaps the first book to indicate the new Silverberg was To Open the Sky, a fixup of stories published by Pohl in Galaxy, in which a new religion helps people reach the stars. That was followed by Downward to the Earth, perhaps the first postcolonial science fiction book, a book with echoes of Joseph Conrad, in which the Terran former administrator of an alien world returns after it is set free. Other popularly and critically acclaimed works of that time include To Live Again, in which the personalities of dead people can be transferred; The World Inside, a look at an overpopulated future; and Dying Inside, a tale of a telepath losing his powers and set at Columbia.

In 1969 his “Nightwings” was awarded the Hugo as best novella. He won a Nebula award in 1970, for the short story “Passengers,” and two the following year (for his novel A Time of Changes and the short story “Good News from the Vatican”). He won yet another, in 1975, for his novella “Born with the Dead.” In 1970, he was the Guest of Honor at the World Science Fiction Convention.

Silverberg was tired after years of high production; he also suffered stresses from a thyroid malfunction and a major house fire. He moved from his native New York to the West Coast in 1972, and he announced his retirement from writing in 1975. In 1980 he returned, however, with Lord Valentine's Castle, a panoramic adventure set on an alien planet, which has become the basis of a series, and he has kept writing ever since.

Selected works


As editor

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External links

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