Reading: Robert Silverberg — Thorns

Another of the second-hand pile that resulted from reading Jo Walton’s Among Others, and another of those big names of science-fiction. Whereas Philip K. Dick is easily equal to what I seem to have decided about him — probably because of Bladerunner, and Frederik Pohl was just so cleverly done that I’ll probably read more of him, Robert Silverberg and Thorns along with a couple of other ’60s/’70s authors I’m reading is just bizarrely awful.

There is certainly a kind of science-fiction that is build around an imagination of the future and the fantastic, with little else in the way of story-building or character-development, and this book, which I only finished out of amused perversity, is one. It does in fact seem to have both a story and actors, so perhaps it’s a specific, dated rendering of these vessels, who serve more to be tropes for ‘man’ and ‘woman’ than full individuals where the two-dimensionality lies. More curiously though, is the nature of the primary theme of the work.

Pain is instructive, is the first line and the last sentence, and in-between is recognisable only as a kind of BDSM play, voyeuristic, indeed psychic vampirism of others’ suffering, enjoyment of both receiving and inflicting pain, other lines or remarks that are like a code easily deciphered. It’s an odd and substanceless work, about which the cover art for once is quite apt.