Science Fiction Book Review

Son of Man

Son of Man (1971/2003) Robert Silverberg, Gollancz, 9.99, pbk, 192pp, ISBN 0-575-07501-5

Clay is caught up in a time-flux and arrives on a far distant Earth lacking a Moon. He finds that the achievements and the famous of his time have been long forgotten, but so have hunger and death. The intellectual, and sexually ambivalent, beings of this future can dissolve their bodies and fly through space and time and, with their help, Clay embarks on a strange journey to seek some perspective on his condition - a human from the Dawn of Man exploring the time of the Son of Man...

Silverberg has enjoyed a long career, from winning the Hugo for Most Promising New Author in 1956 to editing the forthcoming anthology Legends II (2003). For many SF commentators (including myself, if I may adopt that mantle for a moment) his best period of work stretches from 1967 to 1976 and includes some 25 novels (his output has always been prolific), at least a dozen of which are considered classics of the field. Son of Man appeared the same year as A Time of Changes and The World Inside, of which the last is probably the best. Son of Man is best described as science fantasy (rather than as SF per se), but the label means nothing, given that any SF novel dealing with the far future can be similarly defined. This is reprinted as one of Gollancz's 'Yellowjackets' (SF Collectors' Edition), which, though slightly more expensive over all, beautifully complements their SF Masterworks series (typically 9.99 vs. 6.99). Other Silverberg Yellowjackets include Thorns (1967/2000) and The Masks of Time (1968/2002), while The Book of Skulls (1972/1999) was the twenty-third title in the SF Masterworks series.

Tony Chester

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