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Book Review: Alien Archives: Eighteen Stories Of Extraterrestrial Encounters By Robert Silverberg
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Alien Archives by Robert Silverberg

Alien Archives: Eighteen Stories of Extraterrestrial Encounters
Paperback | Kindle
Written by Robert Silverberg
Publisher: Three Rooms Press
Release date: October 29, 2019

Alien Archives: Eighteen Stories of Extraterrestrial Encounters is a career-spanning collection highlighting some of the best science fiction short stories and novellas from celebrated author Robert Silverberg. With all-new forwards from the author himself, readers are given greater insight into the motivations and process behind each story.

There is quite the variety of tales being told here, too. Some of these stories are humorous slices of life while others trend to darker tales of survival. Some are told from an alien point of view while others focus on the human beings affected by their encounters. But, despite these differences in style and theme, all the stories are believably written with sympathetic protagonists with whom you can easily relate, regardless of species.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I LOVE short stories and novellas, more than any other literary format. No time or word is wasted. Everything that happens (usually) has significance to the story. If you are not in the mood for one particular tale, you can skip to another that more suits your tastes in that moment, and return back when you want without missing a beat. So, yes, this collection is right up my alley.

I find Silverberg’s writing to be very compelling and it kept me wanting to engage further instead of jumping ship, which can be the downside of a collection of short stories by contrast to what I said above… If you don’t like a certain story, you can skip it and never return and rarely be missing out since they don’t intermingle with each other, plot-wise. Thankfully that does not happen here. At least, not for me. I enjoyed every tale and kept going.

I do have to admit, though, that prior to reading this collection, I had never heard of Robert Silverberg. While I’m not very well versed in some of the great science fiction books and stories of the last century, I am familiar with a lot of the names behind them. But Silverberg’s writing never came across my line of sight. Please! Put away the torches and pitchforks! I am now firmly “in the know” and very happy to be here. Even if it is a lot later than many.

But what I loved almost as much as the stories themselves were the new introductions from Silverberg. I loved being guided through how each story came about. Be it a last-second story pumped out to match a piece of artwork that the publisher had already obtained or a years-long journey through technological failure that makes you question if the story will ever see the printed page. Silverberg is just as enticing with this behind-the-scenes non-fiction as he is when his focus is more on the alien and human characters in his fiction.

As great as it is to be able to observe both the evolution of Silverberg’s writing and share in his recollections of the process, I feel that given my lack of familiarity with his writing, I’m not getting as much out of the exchange as I might if I knew him and his style better. I’d be curious to hear what those of you who are already fans of his work think about this collection given your more expanded knowledge. Please share!

From the publisher:

Every day we are discovering new worlds in far-reaching galaxies which may or may not sustain life as we know it. In Alien Archives: Eighteen Stories of Extraterrestrial Encounters, sci-fi Grand Master Robert Silverberg collects his finest short stories and novellas about one of the genre’s most enduring themes.

Spanning fifty years of writing from the Science Fiction Grand Master, this collection of alien encounters features new introductions to all fifteen stories, including the Hugo Award-nominated “Schwartz Between the Galaxies” and HBO adapted “Amanda and the Alien.” In these pages lie tales of a young man venturing into the occupied territory of an alien conquered United States to rescue his brother, three visitors from a very strange alien world arriving on Earth and meeting a tragic fate, and a dangerous life-form from a far-off world finding that suburban California holds some beings that are even more dangerous than it is.

With Alien Archives, Silverberg puts us in contact with extraterrestrial beings of all shapes, sizes, and personalities―some fearsome, some outlandish, and some just plain fun. The Associated Press says, “Done Silverberg’s way, science fiction is a fine art.” With sheer force of imagination and incredible storytelling skills, Alien Archives confirms that Silverberg’s classic work continues to resonate for readers today.

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