Owing to a technical error, Robert Silverberg’s Reflections piece did not update for October. This is now rectified so we’re re-presenting this piece with the correct link . . .
‘Where Silverberg goes today, the rest of science fiction will follow tomorrow’
This month: ‘Star (Psi Cassiopeia)‘
It was a casual glance into an old book catalog that led me, a few months ago, to the unexpected discovery of a towering masterpiece of early science fiction, a book completely unknown to me and, I suspect, to you as well.
The catalog was an old one issued by Lloyd Currey, an East Coast bookseller from whom I bought many books over the years while I was building my SF library. Currey is still in business, but my library is so thoroughly built by now that storage space is starting to be a serious problem, and I have begun culling items that I think I am unlikely to refer to again — among them a two-foot shelf of Currey catalogs, which I have passed along to the great critic and encyclopedist John Clute for his reference use. Before shipping the catalogs off to Clute, though, I skimmed through them, an unwise move, as it turned out, because now and then I came upon a listing of some book I felt I needed to own and promptly obtained it, so I ended up with no net gain of shelf space at all.
For example, I saw this in a 1982 catalog:
DEFONTENAY, C[HARLEMAGNE] I[SCHIR]. Star (Psi) Cassiopeia. Boston: Gregg Press, 1976. 1st US hardcover ed. A masterpiece of nineteenth century SF, Star is not only one of the earliest “space operas,” but also the first work of its scale in the SF field. The story concerns a world leveled by plague, the flight of a few survivors to other planets and the settlement of Star.
That caught my attention. A nineteenth-century interstellar space opera . . . ?
You can read the rest of the column here, and find Robert Silverberg’s eBooks here – including Reflections and Refractions, a collection of his non-fiction columns. Please note: each column will remain on the site for one month only.