Exotic Adventures of Robert Silverberg

I’ve entered the sort of territory MPorcius Fiction Log occasionally covers: disreputable and little known works by famous science fiction writers. Here it’s not Barry Malzberg but his friend Robert Silverberg.

Review: Exotic Adventures of Robert Silverberg, eds. Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle, 2021.

Since at least the mid-1990s, Playboy’s fiction editor Alice Turner would turn down Silverberg stories set in contemporary times but foreign lands. They were “IRS stories”, she said, merely written to justify taking a vacation as a business expense.

But, in 1957, there were those who wanted that sort of thing from Silverberg.

In “Adventurous Beginnings”, editors Deis and Doyle tell us how Silverberg came to write for several different magazines when the market for Silverberg’s short story science fiction rapidy dried up when several magazines lost their national distributors. (The back story is the distributors were bought up because they owned valueable real estate they were using as warehouses, and the land was worth a lot more developed for something else.) Silverberg was a staff writer under various pseudonyms for William Hamling’s science fiction magazines.  When Hamling decided to publish Exotic Adventures, he sought Silverberg out since he was already placing stuff in other men’s magazines.

In between tales of treasure hunting, man vs. nature, encounters with Nazis and Commies, and sex (lots of sex though not very explicit), the so-called men’s adventure magazines were quite popular. I myself lived in their tail end in the 1970s. (As a young lad, I bought a copy of Saga – not for the half nudes of some actress named Dyan Cannon but because it was a special Bermuda Triangle issue.)

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