Robert Silverberg

Robert Silverberg, Author, NYC


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Robert Silverberg

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Robert Silverberg (born January 15, 1935) is a prolific American author, best known for writing science fiction. He is a multiple winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

Life and work

Silverberg was born in Brooklyn, New York.

A voracious reader since childhood, he began submitting stories to science fiction magazines in his early teenage years. He attended Columbia University, receiving an A.B. in English Literature in 1956, but kept writing science fiction. His first published novel, a children's book called Revolt on Alpha C, appeared in 1955, and in the following year, he won his first Hugo, as "best new writer". For the next four years, by his own count, he wrote a million words a year, for magazines and Ace Doubles. In 1959 the market for science fiction collapsed, and Silverberg turned his ability to write copiously to other fields, from carefully researched historical nonfiction to softcore pornography for Nightstand Books.

In the mid-1960s, science fiction writers were starting to be more literarily ambitious. Frederik Pohl, then editing three science fiction magazines, offered Silverberg carte blanche in writing for them. Thus inspired, Silverberg returned to writing, paying far more attention to depth of character and social background than he had in the past and mixing in elements of the modernist literature he had studied at Columbia.

The books he wrote at this time were widely considered a quantum leap from his earlier work. Perhaps the first book to indicate the new Silverberg was To Open the Sky, a fixup of stories published by Pohl in Galaxy, in which a new religion helps people reach the stars. That was followed by Downward to the Earth, perhaps the first postcolonial science fiction book, a story containing echoes of some material from Joseph Conrad's work, in which the Terran former administrator of an alien world returns after it is set free. Other popularly and critically acclaimed works of that time include To Live Again, in which the personalities of dead people can be transferred to other people; The World Inside, a look at an overpopulated future; and Dying Inside, a tale of a telepath losing his powers, set at Columbia.

In 1969 his "Nightwings" was awarded the Hugo as best novella. He won a Nebula award in 1970, for the short story "Passengers", and two the following year (for his novel A Time of Changes and the short story "Good News from the Vatican"). He won yet another, in 1975, for his novella "Born with the Dead." In 1986 he received a Nebula for his novella "Sailing to Byzantium", in 1990 a Hugo for the novelet "Enter a Soldier. Later: Enter Another", and in 2004 he was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America. In 1970, he was the Guest of Honor at the World Science Fiction Convention.

Silverberg was tired after years of high production; he also suffered stresses from a thyroid malfunction and a major house fire. He moved from his native New York to the West Coast in 1972, and he announced his retirement from writing in 1975. In 1980 he returned, however, with Lord Valentine's Castle, a panoramic adventure set on an alien planet, which has become the basis of the Majipoor series -- a story cycle set on the vast planet Majipoor, a planet much larger than Earth, inhabited by no less than six types of planetary settlers. Following this release, he has kept writing ever since.

Silverberg has been married twice. He married his first wife, Barbara Brown, in 1956. The couple separated in 1976 and divorced in 1986. Silverberg married Karen Haber in 1987; Haber is also a science fiction author. The couple resides in Montclair, a small, wealthy enclave in the middle of Oakland, California.



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