In the period between 1967 and 1972 there’s a very good argument for declaring Robert Silverberg the best science fiction writer in the world. In half a dozen years of extraordinary creative output, Silverberg produced thirteen Hugo-nominated novels, novellas and stories, winning twice; thirteen Nebula-nominated novels, novellas and stories, winning three times; and a John W. Campbell Award-winner.
The works he produced in this period are still some of the stand-out books of the genre: Thorns, Nightwings, A Time of Changes, Dying Inside and The Book of Skulls, to name just a few. And, of course, Downward to the Earth . . .
One man alone in an alien landscape – SF’s Heart of Darkness by one of the field’s acknowledged greats.
One man must make a journey across a once colonised alien planet. Abandoned by man when it was discovered that the species there were actually sentient, the planet is now a place of mystery. A mystery that obsesses the lone traveller Gundersen and takes him on a long trek to attempt to share the religious rebirthing of the aliens. A journey that offers redemption from guilt and sin.
This is one of Robert Silverberg’s most intense novels and draws heavily on Conrad’s Heart of Darkness . It puts the reader at the heart of the experience and forces them to ask what they would do in the circumstances.