The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg Vol. 9: The Millennium Express 1995 – 2009
The author warns that output is slowing with his advancing years; it is to mourn. This is the ninth, 1995-2009, of a series sequentially enfolding Silverberg’s decades of astonishing productivity.
His own musings on his career as a writer, on his professional colleagues, are worth the buy alone. He recounts his own classical exposure to the Jacobean playwrights, to Virgil, Dante, Monteverdi, Bach, even Mann and Kafka and Joyce. And he laments, or at least acknowledges, his divorcement from “modern” interests.
Sixteen pieces, sci-fi or fantasy as open-ended wonderment or speculation, these stories are varied fascinations. The Tree That Grew from the Sky has interstellar genius pitted against the inertia of societal ignorance. The Church at Monte Saturno combines desire, demonic deception, and sexual exploration. All stories, even the most despairing, are gripping and offer vistas of possibilities.
Using incidentals for sensory immediacy so the reader feels the dust and sweat, the immediate anxiety, but with an unconstrained sense of life, this is like all of Silverberg’s material; gripping and evocative.
This collection is primarily editor-instigated, some instances pruned from or carved out of longer works, either stillborn or still gestating. Most are open ended with hope, as in Against the Current. I felt like a kid in a candy shop.
A fine ride and a finer read.