Robert Silverberg’s Reflections: August 2013

‘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: ‘Translations’

The January 1987 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction featured a novella of mine called “The Secret Sharer”, the title of which I had borrowed from a story by Joseph Conrad. In an introduction to my “Secret Sharer” written for a collection of my stories soon afterward I said that I had “translated” the famous Conrad story into science fictional terms. In one basic sense that was true: Conrad’s story is about a ship captain who quite improperly provides sanctuary in his cabin for a stowaway who has hidden himself aboard his ship, and so is mine. But I was uncomfortable with that word “translated” all the same, for I felt that it was not quite the appropriate term for what I had done. What I believed I had done was to find a purely science fictional equivalent of Conrad’s basic story situation and produce something that I think represents completely original work, however much it may owe to the structure of a classic earlier story and insofar as completely original ideas in fiction are ever actually possible. . .


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