A mathematical and political twist to the predictable oracular tale, the 1976 Hugo- and Nebula-nominated The Stochastic Man at first sight appears to be Robert Silverberg’s effort to legitimize one of SF’s favorite tropes, though he’s certainly not the first to try. Portraying telepathy as random probability forecasting in a political setting explains away many of the fanciful notions that might hinder the believability of yet-another SF work about preknowledge and predestination, but, considering earlier SF writers explored the same ideas with a similar conceit of logic, Null-A, and psychohistory, which, as Max Cairnduff cleverly reminds us in his review, is now called consulting, the attempt to blend superpowers with real-world reasoning is neither new nor fresh. What makes The Stochastic Man different from its pseudoscience ilk, aside from a gritty ‘70s essence, is that Silverberg draws from far older inspirations, adding a decidedly Faustian framework to this tale. Continue reading
One is finally getting around to the massive bibliography of Robert Silverberg, whom one likes to call the Susan Lucci of the Hugo Awards, (also otherwise known as Calvin Aaargh, the best pseudonym ever), the author most Hugo-nominated, but never Hugo-won, has won one over with his Nebula-winning “memoir,” A Time of Changes, about a far-future alien from a culture of severe self-suppression, where words like I, me, and myself are obscene and forbidden. One may only speak of oneself indirectly.
One really enjoyed this book.
I am Kinnall Darival and I mean to tell you all about myself (p. 17).
Obscene! Obscene! (p. 18).
“I! Me! I! Me! (p. 85). Continue reading