Robert Silverberg’s Reflections: November 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: The Plurality of Worlds

 A decade ago — it was the column published in the January 2004 Asimov’s  — I wrote an essay titled “Neque Illorum Ad Nos Pervenire Potest,” which is Latin for “None of us can go to them, and none of them come to us.” The phrase was that of the twelfth-century philosopher Guillaume de Conches, writing about the supposed inhabitants of the Antipodes, the lands that lay beyond the fiery sea that was thought to cut Europe off from the as yet unexplored Southern Hemisphere. I used it to express my belief that we are never going to have any close encounters with the inhabitants of other solar systems. They’re just too far away. Despite the best efforts of such people as my friends, the brothers Jim and Greg Benford, who even now are working to drum up interest in an interstellar voyage, the distance even to the nearest star is so great that only by magical means (a faster-than-light drive, for instance) are we likely to get to an extrasolar planet and return.


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