Robert Silverberg’s Reflections: June 2017



‘Where Silverberg goes today, the rest of science fiction will follow tomorrow’

Isaac Asimov


Reflections is a regular column by multi-award-winning SFWA Grandmaster Robert Silverberg, in which he will offer his thoughts on science fiction, literature and the world at large.

This month: ‘Advertisements for Myself’

Advertisements for Myself is the name of a book of essays, poems, fragments of unfinished novels, and short stories by Norman Mailer, published in 1959, which stirred a considerable bit of attention at the time. It has nothing to do with science fiction, which these columns are ostensibly about, but bear with me a moment.

The book is a perfect example of an ego trip. Mailer’s intention was to demonstrate his achievements as a writer by way of demonstrating his importance as a human being, and, since his achievements as a writer were significant, he did have no small importance as a human being. He wanted everybody to know about it, too. Every selection in the 532-page book is preceded by an “advertisement” in which he explains its value, and, by extension, the value of Norman Mailer as man and writer. He also feels free to do quick profiles of about a dozen of his literary contemporaries, generally in a blunt and acidulous way. (“Salinger is everybody’s favorite. I seem to be alone in finding him no more than the greatest mind ever to stay in prep school.”) (“Kerouac lacks discipline, intelligence, honesty, and a sense of the novel.”) I can’t think of another writer, even a certain highly opinionated science fiction writer renowned for uninhibited speech, who would have committed himself to a set of eviscerations of that sort in a widely distributed book . . .


You can read the rest of the column here, and find Robert Silverberg’s eBooks here – including Reflections and Refractions, a collection of his non-fiction columns. Please note: each column will remain on the site for one month only.