Fiction Reviews

Son of Man

(1971/2008) Robert Silverberg, Pyr, US$15., pbk, 225pp, ISBN 978-1-5901-02646-4

This is a 2009 reprint of Robert Silverberg's 1971 novel Son of Man. It concerns Clay, someone from the 20th century, who gets caught in a time flux and ends up in the far future. In these distant years hence, humanity has speciated into different forms. But the future Earth he ends up on seems to have life from different eras in Earth geological history. Befriended by one of the future humans, he goes on to explore this new world.

Son of Man is an interesting and not a particularly long novel. It is interesting because it reads with a feel reminiscent of Olaf Stapledon's First and Last Men (1930) such is the story's vertiginous scope which, though SF, reads a bit like a fantasy. Yet, with regards this last, it is also bit like some of Greg Egan's works (1990s 2000s) that are so hard SF, with ultra high tech that it reads as if peopled by weakly-Godlike characters.

For these reasons, not to mention Silverberg being a 20th Century SF grandmaster, this is a noteworthy book. Yet I have to confess, this is far from being my favourite Silverberg novel. The story appears (to me at any rate) a bit of an aimless wander and, while there are bags of sense of wonder, I am sufficiently old fashioned enough to like a bit more of plot to drive the narrative. But then maybe that's me. This though is certainly one for serious SF collectors.

Jonathan Cowie

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