Thursday, February 23, 2006

Science Fiction - "Dying Inside"

This book, written by Robert Silverberg, was the February selection for my local SF book discussion group. The book is a sort of a diary of a man named David Selig, who was born with telepathic powers to read other people's minds, and now, as he is reaching middle age, this power is dying.

The story is set in mid-seventies New York. Despite his powers David Selig is a misfit and a looser. He barely gets by - his main source of income is ghost-writing papers for undergraduate students at Columbia University.

The book is barely a science-fiction book. Only the telepathic power is unusual and it seemed to me that the book could have been written without the need for it.

The chapters meander through various episodes of Selig's life. A lot of time is spent on relationships with various women. There seems to be plenty of sex - I would not have been surprized to read some of these chapters in "Playboy". Couple of chapters are just the ghosted papers Selig wrote - for example, there is one paper comparing "The Trial" and "The Castle" two books by Kafka.

In the end Selig seems to have lost his telepathic powers and he is still a looser.

I wasn't greatly impressed by the book. It didn't seem to go anywhere. It was barely a science fiction book. According to some reviewers (on Amazon and on back covers of some editions) this book was an attempt to make the SF genre more "literary". At least the book was easy to read - it had short chapters and was not that long.


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