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Starborne Paperback – July 1, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; Reprint edition (July 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553573349
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553573343
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,017,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Starborne, Silverberg takes the Utopia theme and turns it on its head. The scene is Earth many centuries in the future, where all of life's problems have been solved. But while humanity may be well fed, amply clothed, in perfect health, and rich beyond imagination, people are bored nearly to death. To bring a little spark back into the lives of humankind, the people of Earth band together to build a starship and begin the search for habitable planets in the rest of the universe. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

One of SF's most prolific writers, Silverberg (Hot Sky at Midnight, 1995, etc.) seems to be resting on his considerable laurels (which include four Hugos and five Nebulas) with this meandering and talky philosophical exercise. A multiethnic crew of 50 humans are aboard a starship, carrying enough genetic material to populate a new world, and thus to rejuvenate the human race, which is currently stagnating on Earth. As they hurtle through the galaxy seeking a habitable planet, the crew spends much of its leisure time discussing the higher reasoning and visualizing functions involved in playing the game of Go. The narrative focuses on Noelle, the blind mission communicator whose ability to converse telepathically with her sister jumpstarted the mission, and the year-captain, a monk-turned-xenobiologist who tries to hide his infatuation with Noelle. In time, a kind of static impedes communications between the sisters. Members of the crew postulate that "angels" of some type are causing the interference. Will continued attempts at communication destroy Noelle? Silverberg writes compelling prose, flocked with lovely imagery, as always, but this novel falls far short of Geoffrey Ryman's more elegiac and transcendent pieces using similar themes.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Robert Silverberg has been a professional writer since 1955, widely known for his science fiction and fantasy stories. He is a many-time winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards, was named to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 1999, and in 2004 was designated as a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America. His books and stories have been translated into forty languages. Among his best known titles are NIGHTWINGS, DYING INSIDE, THE BOOK OF SKULLS, and the three volumes of the Majipoor Cycle: LORD VALENTINE'S CASTLE, MAJIPOOR CHRONICLES, VALENTINE PONTIFEX. His collected short stories, covering nearly sixty years of work, have been published in nine volumes by Subterranean Press. His most recent book is TALES OF MAJIPOOR (2013), a new collection of stories set on the giant world made famous in LORD VALENTINE'S CASTLE.

He and his wife, writer Karen Haber, and an assorted population of cats live in the San Francisco Bay Area in a sprawling house surrounded by exotic plants.













Customer Reviews

And yes, I did finish it, although I don't know why as never feel obliged to finish books.
Daniel Wild
The way that the book is written in present tense, and the ever-changing 1st person role do not give the effect that Silverberg so obviously would like it to give.
Roald Andresen
This is the first novel by Robert Silverberg that I read and it does not show me where all the good qualities of this author resides.
Clemente Zamora Ramos

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Esther on August 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
Oh, the joy of discovering (long overdue, in this case) a truly accomplished author! It appears that Silverberg's been at this game for a number of years. However, that doesn't stop him from being right at the cutting edge of what, to me, Science Fiction should be all about. Earth has become safe, practically disease-free, and humans enjoy peace, longevity and total freedom from want. But there are aspects of human nature that remain unfulfilled when people live in perfect contentment. Earth's population is dwindling inevitably towards extinction. There are no challenges remaining to the human intellect, no calls for courage or sacrifice. So fifty intrepid and highly accomplished voyagers set out to discover a new horizon for humanity by virtue of nospace travel at many times the speed of light. The novel is almost wholly focused upon the ship and its occupants, particularly the year-captain, a Scandinavian hero of previous exploratory space missions to the moons of Jupiter, but also an ex-actor and ex-monk, who has a uniquely esoteric logical, analytical yet spiritual personality, deeply appealing but almost totally aloof; his friend and colleague from previous missions, Huw, a good-humoured, practical, reassuring presence in the face of any imaginable kind of adversity, and Noelle, chosen for the mission for her ability to communicate via telepathy with her identical twin sister Yvonne notwithstanding the distance between them. There is a sense of the epic voyage about this novel: Beowulf meets Odysseus meets the Mayflower. The prose is so beautiful that it is practically poetry. Not a word is wasted, and the simplicity of style conveys the complexity of ideas in this novel to perfection. Silverberg pays homage to the literary greats and the classics but is not once deflected from the joyful thrust of extraplanetary, superluminary SF. To fail to read this novel would be to miss a life-enhancing opportunity.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kiwireader K on April 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
Silverberg produced a weird, dreamlike feeling of surreality with this book that I found addictive. There was a cloud of doubt over everyone and everything, which kept the pages turning until the end. Highly recommend it.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Clemente Zamora Ramos on November 26, 1998
Format: Paperback
Such a disapointment! This novel has quite a few weak points that a veteran science fiction writer should not allow themselves, the narration is a bit jumpy, with a varying degree of detail being assigned to unexpected aspects, and some technical details look weird (that is, different from the expected and not explained by any alleged futuristic developments). The ending is not ellaborated enough, which makes you feel even more that the rest of the novel was too long for such a climax. This is the first novel by Robert Silverberg that I read and it does not show me where all the good qualities of this author resides. BTW, does anybody know what the author intention could be in going all that way (at some points the sentences felt forced) to deprive the year-captain from a normal name? And has anyone figured out whether there is any relationship between the "angels" (I don't want to spoil the end) and the psychic powers of Planet A?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Barrett on June 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
The first two-thirds of this book were intriguing, and as the crew discovered and explored planets, I was on the edge of my seat in suspense. The ending, however, is just plain stupid. Silverberg takes a crewmember's random guess and builds it into a non-believable and unrelated second plot line that finishes the book far too rapidly and unsatisfyingly.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a complete waste of time. It's a fast read, but it has no substance. It has no narrative tension. It has no characters. It is a sloppy amalgamation of all the "telepathy with aliens" stories every published, written in what is probably supposed to be chic and spare present tense. To be fair, I did enjoy one page of it, in which the aliens join with Noelle's mind, and it is described only in terms of the features of the brain. I found this a very effective narrative device. But the ending is entirely brainless. I plan to try a different Silverberg novel, if I can bring myself to do it.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Grimsley on August 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
If the last few pages of this well written book do not heighten your sense of wonder, you shouldn't read real SF. Stick to your weak novels made from TV shows. I was kissing the book after I finished. It was a very tight book. You felt as if in a dream state throughout. You could feel the harshness of the metal surrounding the crew. You could feel the Year-Captain's confusion. A beautiful piece of art. Not by any means the greatest, but not one to scorn. Silverberg is my favorite author, and this book was great art.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dave Deubler on April 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
Fifty brilliant men and women set off on an interstellar expedition to find a new home for humanity and end up discovering - themselves. That hokey summary aside, though, this is a solid novel from sci-fi grandmaster Robert Silverberg, featuring good characterizations, a believable star voyage, and some unusual planetary discoveries. This book borrows heavily from Robert Heinlein's fine juvenile Time for the Stars, which also features one half of a pair of identical twins who communicate telepathically in order to keep their star-going vessel in contact with earth. Like Heinlein's book, there's a strong element of the psychological mixed in with occasional landings on unknown planets, and extensive descriptions of the ship and its sociopolitical structure, although it should be admitted that Heinlein covers this territory far more thoroughly and convincingly. Where this book differs from Heinlein's is in the characters, who are much more grown up, and whose strengths and weaknesses are discussed more frankly than in Heinlein's book, which is told in the first person by a not-so-insightful teenaged boy. Unfortunately, for a book that is so strongly character-based, the year-captain, the explorer Huw, and Noelle, the blind telepath, don't seem all that overpoweringly realistic. Their behavior strikes one as too consistently rational, predictable, and altruistic. Quite a bit of this book focuses on irrelevancies like playing Go, the year-captain's longing to relinquish his authority, and the burgeoning romances between the main characters. The conclusion is pretty standard fare to most sci-fi readers, and has been done much more effectively by other writers. Overall, the thing most missing from this novel is originality, something that is usually Silverberg's strength.Read more ›
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