A Time of Changes

By Robert Silverberg

Rating: 3 stars

I think it may be time to give up on Robert Silverberg. I didn’t dislike this book. It’s just that I didn’t hugely enjoy it either. Glancing back other the other Silverberg books that I’ve read and reviewed on GoodReads, it seems that for me, he’s a solid three-star author.

The idea behind this one (and, indeed, most other Silverberg books that I’ve read) has been interesting: a society where sharing, self and ego are so reviled that even using the first person (“I”, “me” etc) is one of the strongest cultural taboos they have. It was this that drew me in, and in some ways, Silverberg takes a good stab and describing such a society. But the loneliness of the society is told rather than shown, which I felt let the book down.

I also think the first portion of the book, spent describing the early life of Kinnall, our narrator, was too long. The book starts with Kinnall in exile in a harsh desert, waiting to be found and punished for his crime of “self-baring” (exploring self, ego and love), and introducing others to the same. What follows is a classic riches to rags story as Kinnall must flee for his life from his privileged childhood, endure hardships, build a new life for himself, and lose that in pursuit of his new awareness.

Some of the religious conversations were interesting, especially the motivation of the Earthman Schweiz (who tempts Kinnall down this path to begin with), who is searching for faith but can’t find it in his rationalist mind. Interesting, and could have been explored further.

Towards the end, I could see what was happening and got a bit bored. I did skip a few pages here and there, and skim others. So, like other Silverberg that I’ve read, a solid set of ideas, but the execution didn’t entirely work for me.

Book details

ISBN: 9780586039953
Publisher: Panther
Year of publication: 1971

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