Beyond the Doors of Death

I’ve reviewed Robert Silverberg’s “Born with the Dead” before, so I’m going to concentrate on Broderick’s continuation of the story.

Beyond the Doors of DeathThis isn’t the first time Robert Silverberg has been involved in one of these modern projects where a contemporary practicing writer expands or continues a classic work. He expanded three stories of Isaac Asimov into novels: Nightfall (1990), The Positronic Man (1992), and The Ugly Little Boy (1992). In 1989, he wrote “In Another Country“, sequel to C. L. Moore’s “Vintage Season”. (The 1990s saw several of these pairings including ones by Gregory Benford with Arthur C. Clarke and Harry Turtledove with L. Sprague de Camp.)

As far as I know, this is the first time Silverberg gets to play the role of master with his work setting the tone and standard for an “apprentice”.

I know little about Broderick’s work except for The White Abacus which I liked — but then I would be predisposed to liking a pairing of Jacobean drama and science fiction. He seems equally at home with general literature and science fiction, and, as a futurist, conversant with some cutting edge speculations of science and technology. He’s even written what looks to be a cautious argument for the existence of psychic powers.

He also seems, based on his review of Patrick Nielsen Hayden and David Hartwell’s Twenty-First Century Science Fiction, firmly enthused about future technology and thinks science fiction exists to be a vaccine for future shock.

Review: Beyond the Doors of Death, Robert Silverberg and Damien Broderick, 2013.

Robert Silverberg’s “Born with the Dead”, written in 1974, is a justly celebrated classic of science fiction. In a near future where the dead are “rekindled” and form a separate society of their own, a man obsessively seeks to understand and know his dead wife’s new existence. An icy parable of such precisely controlled tone and so lacking in rationalizing technology or science babble that it has as much the flavor of a weird story as of science fiction.

It has been widely anthologized, and the first half of Silverberg’s introduction to this book is taken from the story’s appearance in The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg, Volume 4: Trips. The second half talks about how Damien Broderick’s sequel, “Quicken”, came to be written. Silverberg made only three alterations in his story. Apropos to updating a 40 year old story, he changed two dates from 1993 to 2033 and the name of an airline.

Broderick picks up the story of the newly dead Jorge Klein. He becomes sort of an apostle of the Dead to the world of the warms as tension mounts. The dead, rich, freakish, and seemingly true immortals are resented and feared and fetishized. Continue reading

Clash of Eagles

I almost missed this one in the Amazon Vine list of review copies. I don’t do straight historical fiction and almost missed that this is alternate history.Clash of Eagles

I also don’t have a lot of interest in North American Indians pre-European contact – except the so-called Mound Builders aka the Cahokians.

But Romans and Cahokians?  Well, I’m glad I couldn’t resist.

I will even smugly note that I’ve read some of the books in Smale’s bibliography though nowhere near the hundreds Smale did. I see there have been a whole lot of books on the Mound Builders published since I read the reprint of Robert Silverberg’s non-fiction The Mound Builders.

Review: Clash of Eagles by Alan Smales, 2014.

Smale’s debut novel falls short of practicing the true alternate history faith yet has enough imagination and realism to recommend it. Continue reading