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The World Inside Paperback – September 28, 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the 1960s, professional population alarmist Paul Ehrlich made hilariously inaccurate prognostications of imminent Malthusian doom. While these predictions inspired some SF authors to depict crowded future worlds, Silverberg's 1971 quasi-utopian tale—less a novel than a collection of closely linked vignettes—presents a 24th-century Earth populated by 75 billion fanatically pro-natalist conformists. The product of centuries of artificial selection and social pressures, rewarded with (or forced to endure) frequent, meaningless sex, the citizens of the three–kilometer–high Urbmons are for the most part incapable of imagining other ways of life. Those few deviants who rebel are either forcibly cured or summarily executed. By modern standards this is a lean book, but Silverberg can bring a world to life with a few carefully chosen words, and a recent HBO option suggests it will appeal to present-day audiences. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Robert Silverberg is one of science fiction s most beloved writers, and the author of such contemporary classics as"Dying Inside", "Downward to the Earth, "and"Lord Valentine s Castle". He is a past president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the winner of five Nebula Awards and five Hugo Awards. In 2004 the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America presented him with the Grand Master Award. Silverberg is one of twenty-nine writers to have received that distinction.

Paul Boehmer is a seasoned actor who has appeared on Broadway, film, and television, including The Thomas Crown Affair and All My Children. Coinciding with another of his passions, sci-fi, Paul has been cast in various roles in many episodes of Star Trek. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: I Books (September 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743487230
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743487238
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,834,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Imagine the Earth in the year 2381. Imagine a society in which sexual frustration and jealousy and psychological hang-ups have all been eliminated by happiness drugs and universal sexual availability. Imagine that everyone sees all life as God's blessing and success is judged by how many children you've produced. Welcome to Robert Silverberg's Urban Monolith, a thousand-story building that houses 800,000 of Earth's 75 billion people.
Silverberg presents his ostensibly utopian future through the Faulknerian technique of dramatizing just a few seemingly random episodes in the lives of a small, but representative grouping of loosely interwoven characters. The story opens as a social scientist revels in the joy of a perfectly ordinary morning. The young man who slept with his wife is still there, an immediate indication of the sexual freedom that compensates residents for the total lack of privacy they must accept as part of the overcrowding. The young man is Siegmund Klumer, an up and coming 14 year old, who seems destined to become one of the Urbmon's leaders, and the novel is essentially his story, told indirectly by people who know, or respect, or at least share sexual partners, with him. But the real star of this show is the society itself, and the insidious way it provides for the needs of thousands of people, even while robbing them of their essential humanity.
As the story moves from one character to another, we are introduced to such marvels as automated child-care, futuristic rock concerts, and pleasure-giving drugs, but we also gradually begin to see the cracks in the façade of utopian perfection, and the terrible price the residents sometimes pay.
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Format: Paperback
As the "spotlight reviews" state, this is one of Silverberg's best, and handled in an unusual and engaging plot style.

Silverberg has invented a future "utopian" society where the earth supports 75 billion people "comfortably" in terms of physical resources -- and the society sees expanding that population rapidly as its main reason for existing. A clever balance of technology, energy efficiency, and agricultural balance all makes this seem possible.

What is so great about this to me is how Silverberg gradually brings to light the true horror of living in this society, by having us share the thoughts and experiences of a series of its members as the novel progresses.

In each case you see that on the surface, all seems well, yet ALL of these people are terribly unhappy and have no true sense of purpose or connectedness.

Why? Well, handling the population has required huge sacrifices. Absolute conformation to the norms is an absolute requirement. Failure to adhere to such norms is met with brainwashing, or for more aggregious cases (or where the brainwashing fails) summary execution by being dumped into the nearest matter-to-energy converter -- where your atoms "serve" society without causing any pollution. There is still a heavy class structure to society, with all the ill emotional effects that holds today, and the lucky few chosen for the top reap all the benefits -- NOT for the good of themselves more than for "the people".
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Format: Hardcover
The World Inside is one of Silverberg's best works, where he extrapolates into the future and then looks at human behavior. Picture Earth in the year 2381, specifically present day USA. The inexorable growth of population, driven by a quasi-religious fertility ethic has so pressured the available surface area, that new urban units have developed. Instead of cities, there are huge apartment complexes, many towers (grouped in a "constellation"), with each tower rising miles into the air, accommodating as many as 1000 levels, each with hundreds of apartments. In effect, each such "urban monad" or "urbmon" is a mini-city in itself and like any city has its own schools, medical facilities, waste management, technicians, office professionals and administrators. With this background, Silverberg writes a series of short stories that explore social interaction. With so many people in close proximity, conflict management becomes critical so the urbmon "eliminates" causes of conflict. Sexual attraction for instance is kept free of jealousy by making sexual relationships independent of marital links. Men and women can "nightwalk" into other's apartments for sex as casually as borrowing a cup of sugar. Families of 2 parents and 6-10 children occupy one apartment which is just one large room so children are taught from an early age to share toys and possessions. Privacy is unheard of and consequently nudity is free of taboo. The individual is socialized into subordinating his or her behavior and aspirations to the good of the urbmon society. And yet, since the urbmon inevitably requires maintenance, police and janitorial services, a clear stratification of society develops, with the lowly seeking to rise to the ranks of the Administrators on the top levels.Read more ›
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