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Friday, 25 October 2013

FFB – Second Trip

Prolific, gifted, storyteller Robert Silverberg has been producing work since 1955. Primarily known as a science fiction author, he has broken out of that ghetto from time to time (my favourite Silverberg non-sci fi book is Lord of Darkness (1983). Indeed, many of his books stretch the boundaries.

Second Trip was first published in 1972. Even so, the story seems just as fresh today.
The book begins:

Even the street felt wrong beneath his feet. Something oddly rubbery about the pavement, too much give in it. As though they had changed the mix of the concrete during the four years of his troubles. A new futuristic stuff, the 2011-model sidewalk, bouncy and weird. But no. The sidewalk looked the same. He was the new stuff.

Immediately, Silverberg thrusts the reader straight into the mind-world of Paul Macy who is a rehabilitated Nat Hamlin. Rehabilitation entails a brainwash, followed by an immersion in a false personality. But, fresh out of rehab, he encounters Hamlin’s old girlfriend, and a small piece of Hamlin awakens in his mind and grows to threatening proportions.

A Jekyll and Hyde tale, delving into the psyche of a disgusting violent sculptor and a manufactured personality. There are the literary, scientific and artistic allusions we’ve come to expect from the eclectic Silverberg, garnished with philosophy. His metaphors are always apt, description is pitched just right: brief, but enough to show, not to tell.

“She had a parched, ravaged look, though, as if fevers of the soul had been consuming her substance. Her eyes, though large and bloodshot, never were still. Always a birdlike flickering from place to place.”

This is Lissa, a drop-out psychic, who proves both friend and foe in Macy’s battle with his other self, Hamlin.

A psychological thriller in a believable near-future setting, concerning real characters, real emotions and realistically portrayed situations. Vintage Silverberg.


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