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The World Inside Paperback – March 2, 2010
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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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.)
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About the Author
Winner of four Hugo Awards and five Nebula Awards, Robert Silverberg is one of the giants of science fiction and fantasy. A Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master, he has written countless short stories, nonfiction books, and novels, including Dying Inside, A Time of Changes, and the bestselling Lord Valentine's Castle. Silverberg lives in Oakland, California, with his wife, writer Karen Haber.
Top customer reviews
The casual sex was interesting, for about 15 pages. Then you realize you've lost much of the mystery of sex and flirting. Yuck.
The assumption of the system is that only those who are insane would have thoughts about things like privacy, faithfulness, and trust. But in Urbmon 116 there are those who want to have some individuality in their lives. Charles Mattern is a minor functionary who is disappointed that he and his wife, Principessa, had to stop at only four children. Siegmund Kluver sees the perfectly patterned existence of the Urbmons as being flawed even though he is destined to one of the omnipotent leaders of the Urbmon. So he searches throughout the vast complex of Urbmon 116 trying to find some answer to the doubts and fears that drive him, knowing that his entire future is being put in jeopardy by his actions.
"The World Inside" started out as a series of short stories about a grossly overpopulated Earth. There is Aureau Holston, a childless woman who is afraid her lowly status will force her family to emigrate to a newly constructed building, away from the only home they have ever known. The other two key characters in the novel are Jason Quevedo, a historian whose study of the ancient past is changing his views about the Utopia in which he lives, and Michael Statler, who actually escapes to the world outside Urbmon 116 only to learn that such freedom is problematic as well. Through these characters Silverberg addresses some of the world's most important issues and takes them to the sort of logical but extreme conclusion that tales of science fiction are so capable of creating. The question is whether the gift of life is more precious that the quality of the individual.
As is the tradition in utopian and dystopian novels, we are introduced to this brave new world through the eyes of a visitor from a colony on Venus, who is being guided by Mattern. This is a minor flaw in the novel, because why this gives us the requisite neophyte to be educated, it points to colonies off world where things might not only be different, but better. However, Silverberg does manage to do all of this in a more concise novel than is often the case with dystopian stories. You can also tell that this is a novel written around the time of the Sixties since one character achieves their true understanding of the Ubrmon's hivelike existence by taking a drug, although that same key moment of insight is achieved by a key character without such artificial inducement. Reading this today the great irony is that the population of the Earth has increased alarmingly, yet overpopulation is not the pressing concern it was when Silverberg wrote this book and Frank Brunner did "Stand on Zanzibar."