FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #612: Alien Archives: Eighteen Stories of Extraterrestrial Encounters By Robert Silverberg

I’ve been reading Robert Silverberg’s science fiction stories for 50 years. Alien Archives collects stories from all decades of Silverberg’s long writing career. “Sunrise on Mercury” was a very early Silverberg SF story from the 1950s but it holds up with its suspense. I also enjoyed one of Silverberg’s Majipoor tales: “The Soul-Painter and the Shapeshifter.” “Gorgon Planet” was one of first Silverberg stories I ever read as a kid.

Another feature of Alien Archives that I enjoyed was Robert Silverberg’s detailed introductions to all of these stories. Silverberg discusses the editors he worked with at the time, the state of the publishing industry, and the tastes of SF readers. Very enlightening!

If you’re looking for a first-rate Science Fiction collection from one of the best writers in the genre, Alien Archives delivers. Are you a Robert Silverberg fan? Do you recognize any of these stories? GRADE: A

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Plurality of Worlds by Robert Sliverberg — i

The Silent Colony — 1

En Route to Earth — 7

The Way to Spook City — 17

Amanda and the Alien — 74

One-Way Journey — 94

Gorgon Planet — 117

The Shadow of Wings — 128

Flies — 141

Sundance — 154

Bride 91 — 172

Something Wild Is Loose — 187

Schwartz Between the Galaxies — 222

Diana of the Hundred Breasts — 246

Sunrise on Mercury — 275

Alaree — 292

The Soul-Painter and the Shapeshifter — 307

To the Dark Star — 330

Beauty in the Night — 343

14 thoughts on “FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #612: Alien Archives: Eighteen Stories of Extraterrestrial Encounters By Robert Silverberg

  1. Jeff Meyerson

    Ah, yes. I just read this a few weeks ago and would also give it an A. I had read all but a handful of stories previously, but I enjoyed rereading them. And, as usual, Silverberg’s introductions are a highlight of the book.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, I’ve read a lot of Robert Silverberg’s work over the years. He was amazingly prolific! And, more surprising, Silverberg’s quality control of his novels and stories is high. I loved the informative introductions to all these stories!

  2. Todd Mason

    I’ve read about a third of these…and, as I’ve noted elsewhere, he was the writer/editor of many of the items I first read in sf prose (as opposed to at least one comic book and any number of sf tv series and films in my youth–THE PRISONER made a strong impression on me in its 1969 summer repeats on CBS): VOYAGERS IN TIME, THE SF HALL OF FAME V. 1, BEYOND CONTROL, HAWKSBILL STATION (the novel version being the first non-public-domain classic of adult sf at book length I read…following Wells, Verne, Twain’s YANKEE, Edward Bellamy’s LOOKING BACKWARD…). Looks solid.

  3. Michael Padgett

    During most of the time I was reading SF regularly, which I stopped doing sometime in the 80s, Silverberg was a real favorite. Since then the only thing I’ve read is a crime novel called “Blood on the Mink”, written in the 60s and published by Hard Case several years ago, which was fairly entertaining. I also have a couple of Stark House twofers containing erotic novels written as Don Elliott, which I’ll get to eventually.

    1. george Post author

      Michael, I’m constantly amazed by Silverberg’s prolific career and the high quality of most of his writing. Silverberg was getting published when he was a teenager and maintained a high standard during his 50+ year career.

  4. Rick Robinson

    You may recall Silverberg is not a particular favorite of mine, but I have read more then half of these at one time or another. I’ve read “Sunrise on Mercury” twice recently in older SF anthologies, and though interesting, it’s not a favorite. I did read at least one of the Majipoor books, and liked it as much as any of his I read. Looking over the contents, I’d probably give this a B or maybe B+.

    1. george Post author

      Rick, the stories in ALIEN ARCHIVES vary in quality–since they were written over a 50-year span–but all in all I’m impressed by Silverberg’s attention to detail and quality.

  5. Steve Oerkfitz

    I love his introductions. I have his collected stories from Subterranean Press and his intros are almost as entertaining as the stories. My favorites of his are mostly novels such as Dying Insides, Up the Line and A Time of Changes.

    1. george Post author

      Steve, I love Silverberg’s introductions to his stories, too. Silverberg kept meticulous records so he’s able to tell you the day, month, and year he wrote each story. Silverberg also gets angry when magazines like OMNI “sit” on his stories for a couple of years before they published them.

  6. wolf

    I’ve read probably most of these, waas a big fan of his early writing in the magazines – but without a hint I can’t remember just from the titles …
    Seems I’m really getting old.
    A bit OT:
    Right now I’m in Hungary again – and most of my books are in Germany!
    And I’m not an ebook type unlike my wife who only reads ebooks now and of course the news on her smartphone …


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