Sunday, November 5, 2017

First-Person Singularities

First-Person Singularities by Robert Silverberg
Three Rooms Press: 10/31/17
eBook review copy; 384 pages
ISBN-13: 9781941110638

First-Person Singularities by Robert Silverberg is a very highly recommended collection of eighteen stories by Silverberg all told in the first person singular. This is a wonderfully written collection of many favorite stories that showcases Silverberg's enormous talent over five decades, from 1956 to 1997, or from when Silverberg was 21 to when he was 62. The volume features an introduction by John Scalzi. Each story is then introduced by Silverberg and he also shares additional inside information about it. 

Contents include:

Ishmael in Love: A well-educated dolphin is in love with a human woman. Quote:"Misguided human beings sometimes question the morality of using dolphins to help maintain fish farms. They believe it is degrading to compel us to produce fellow aquatic creatures to be eaten by man. May I simply point out, first, that none of us work here under compulsion, and second, that my species sees nothing immoral about feeding on aquatic creatures. We eat fish ourselves."

Going Down Smooth: A computer is a little bit off balance, perhaps crazy, in this story. Quote: "They call me mad, but I am not mad. I am quite sane, to manypower exponential. I can punctuate properly. I use upper- and lower-case letters, do you see? I function. I take the data in. I receive well. I receive, I digest, I remember."

The Reality Trip: An alien being wearing a human disguise is trying to fend off the unwanted attention of a fellow resident in the Chelsea Hotel.

The Songs of Summer: A story featuring multiple first person narrators. A man travels to the future and tries to take control.

The Martian Invasion Journals of Henry James: A retelling of Wells’s tale of Martian invaders as if the invasion had been experienced firsthand by Henry James.

Push No More: A sexually inexperienced Jewish boy happens to be a poltergeist.

House of Bones: The story of a man who finds himself stranded many thousands of years in the past.

Call Me Titan: Typhoeus, one of the Titans awakes, and looks for members of the old pantheon.

Our Lady of the Sauropods: A scientist visits the L5 space satellite/habitat where the reconstructed dinosaurs are kept. Quote: "What a brilliant idea it was to put all the Olsen-process dinosaur-reconstructs aboard a little and turn them loose to recreate the Mesozoic! After that unfortunate San Diego event with the tyrannosaur, it became politically unfeasible to keep them anywhere on earth..."

There Was an Old Woman: A man, one of thirty-one identical siblings, writes about his mother, a scientist with a theory. Quote: "Each of us was slated for a different profession. It was the ultimate proof of her theory. Genetically identical, physically identical except for the minor changes time had worked on our individual bodies, we would nevertheless seek out different fields of employment. She worked out the assignments at random..."

The Dybbuk of Mazel Tov IV: Mazel Tov IV is a planet that has been colonized by Jews fleeing from persecution by their fellow Earthlings. Quote: "But there was no arguing the phenomenon away. There was the voice of Joseph Avneri emerging from the throat of Seul the Kunivar, and the voice was saying things that only Joseph would have said, and Joseph had been dead more than a year. Call it a dybbuk, call it hallucination, call it anything: Joseph’s presence could not be ignored."

Caliban: "The tale of the one ugly man in a world of people who have made themselves look like movie stars."

Passengers: Aliens can take over human minds, as "passengers" and control them. Quote: "It is always like that when a Passenger leaves us. We can never be sure of all the things our borrowed bodies did. We have only the lingering traces, the imprints."

Now Plus N, Now Minus N: A story written in the first-person plural about somebody who is getting stock market information from his future self and relaying it to his past self.

The Iron Star: The after effects of a supernova are noted on a distant world when an alien race is encountered.

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: "My mind is cluttered with other men’s fantasies: robots, androids, starships, giant computers, predatory energy globes, false messiahs, real messiahs, visitors from distant worlds, time machines, gravity repellers. Punch my buttons and I offer you parables from the works of Hartzell or Marcus, appropriate philosophical gems borrowed from the collected editorial utterances of David Coughlin, or concepts dredged from my meditations on De Soto. I am a walking mass of secondhand imagination. I am the flesh-and-blood personification of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame."

To See the Invisible Man: A man is sentenced to one year of invisibility.

The Secret Sharer: This story is a rewriting of Conrad's plot where a ship's captain finds a stowaway on board.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Three Rooms Press.

No comments: