Masterworks Spotlight: Downward to the Earth

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.

Downward to the Earth is available as an SF Masterworks paperback and a Gateway eBook. You can read more about Robert Silverberg in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.