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The Man in The Maze by Robert Silverberg
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The Man in The Maze (original 1969; edition 2004)

by Robert Silverberg

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389727,583 (3.7)5
Member:DenzilPugh
Title:The Man in The Maze
Authors:Robert Silverberg
Info:I Books (2004), Mass Market Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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The Man in the Maze by Robert Silverberg (1969)

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Showing 5 of 5
Wow, the sexism of the novel seems to have aggravated a few people, I suppose justifiably, but still, I can live with that. Great story, complex, varied, clever use of advanced tech, cleverly created galactic political structure. Also complex and tortured characters. Lots of sex, which appealed to me at a young and impressionable age. I have re-read this a number of times over the decades. It is a good story. ( )
  Traveller1 | Mar 30, 2013 |
My reactions to reading this novel in 1993. Spoilers follow.

I liked a lot of things in this novel.

This alien maze was much more lush and exotic seeming with is nature as a romantic alien archaealogical site than the maze in Algis Budry’s Rogue Moon. (I read this novel to compare it to that work.) I liked the throaway bits of description (political, cultural, environmental) Silverberg gives for the various worlds of man -- proving the truth of one reviewer saying Silverberg takes the material of space opera and recasts it into a more literate form. I liked the various technological details – the matter duplicators, drones, computer projection of probability, “women cubes” – that reminded me that the current crop of sf stories dealing with the implications of nanotechnology and computers and virtual reality are really not that new in the their concerns and findings, only in the window dressing of their rationales. I liked the giant aliens from a gas giant who see down the entire electromagnetic spectrum, who need to telepathically control other species to build their technologies.

I liked Silverberg’s skill at weaving the details of Richard Muller’s past with his self-exile on Lemnos. I liked Ned Rawlins as the young reflection of the earlier Muller: ambitious, moral, removed from humanity but also desireous of company. I liked the thematic tension – symbolized in Muller’s repulsive telepathic emmissions of his emotions – between man’s repulsiveness (the physical repulsiveness of his pores, his guts, his skull – in contrast to the many sexual and sensual references in this novel – and his spiritual repulsiveness of lusts, xenophobia, fears, despairs, regrets) and his potential, his superficial beauty and grandeur, his cleverness. The novel says, in its rejection of Muller’s “sophomoric cynicism”, that man has to do the best he can with his nature, to adopt Boardman’s seemingly world-weary but really wise pragmatism.

However, I felt the novel fell a little short in a couple of respects: convincing me that naked emotions from Muller would be that bad and that Muller hated humanity (though it could be argued that he really didn’t). The ending, Muller’s soul being drained, was a bit abrupt too. ( )
  RandyStafford | Feb 17, 2013 |
pulled this sci-fi novel from the depths of my bookshelves, looking for the magic that existed in the writings of the masters of the genre. In so many science fiction books of the 50's and 60's, writers like Isaac Asimov, Clifford D. Simak, and Robert Heinlein concentrated on the ideas, the aspects of mankind progressing out of their own microcosm here and out to the universe. Once in the stars, most sci-fi writers found that the universal themes they thought about were also at the very core of their own minds. To go outward, you must go inward. Robert Silverberg did a fantastic job in combining Roddenberry with Jung.

Each of the main characters are introverted, brooding, well constructed men who decide the fate of the human race even while examining their own emotions. Dick Muller, the damaged soldier who lives on the planet of Lemmos and its large, deadly maze constructed by aliens from a long forgotten civilization. Charles Boardman, the confident manipulator of men, armies, worlds, whose weary nostalgia reveals an old man who tires in his actions even as he moves forward. And Ned Rawlins, the naive, ideological crew member of Boardman who, as a child, knew Muller. Boardman and Rawlins' mission is to retrieve Muller from his self-imposed exile in the maze which only he has mastered.

The maze is, of course, a symbol of the inner workings of a man's mind. The maze is so well described by Silverberg, in direct prose that gives a vagueness of dimension and detail while allowing the imagination to fill in the rest. (I say this because there are too many authors, like Terry Brooks, for instance, that will describe every tree in the forest. Sometimes it's best to let the reader's mind make some of it up.) I also think that the 1978 Mass Market version which I have has the best cover, portraying the maze as an ornate, spiraling city of rooms and walkways, of endless deadly traps and machinations.

In chapters spread throughout are the histories of the three men. What made Muller different, what the aliens he met did to him, and why he was shunned from the rest of humanity afterwards. What desperate mission do they need him for, even to risking the lives of men who must go into the maze, knowing that one false move will send them into spikes, boulders, or lakes of fire.

In the end, we see mankind's outlook on his world and his future. The stoic, the cynic, the righteous, even the epicurean. It made me wish the book was longer, that the days spent in the maze were longer, the delving into the maze that is the human psyche was more complete. I felt as if there was something Silverberg was looking for, and it was he that could not finish the maze, and so had to leave it undone, damaged somehow. At the end, when Muller returns to the maze (and by saying that, I'm revealing nothing), he goes to retrieve something he'd lost. And maybe that was what Silverberg felt as well.
***

I will say one more thing about the novel, which to me meant absolutely nothing, as I've come to expect this from most sci-fi authors. The women in the story are simply sexual tools, empty bodies with breasts and long hair. They are the short skirted crewwomen walking down the halls of the Enterprise. And while this would make the modern reader bristle with politically correct righteousness, I do not think it takes away from the book itself. When you read sci-fi from the 50's and 60's, you must realize that there are few if any women characters with strong character traits. You have to look at works by Sherri S. Tepper, Ursula K. LeGuin, even Orson Scott Card, to find them. In other words, you pick the book up recognizing that the main characters will be men, and you find the underpinnings of the man's mind to be such. Enjoy the dark, brooding characters, and don't let modern ideas about writing come into play. It would be same as criticizing writers of times past from putting in strong, liberated African-Americans, or removing the prejudiced feelings of Whites from older books. You have to read these books about the future as works from the past. And find, like so many other classic works of literature, that their are lessons even in the oldest of writings. ( )
  DenzilPugh | Nov 6, 2012 |
I loved this book the first time I read it in high school. I went though quite a quest to find a copy (before they re-released it). This is one of the books I read each year. The themes of Silverberg depicts are done without too much preaching and I find the story extremely engaging. ( )
  cranjetta | Apr 19, 2007 |
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert Silverbergprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Punchatz, DonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walotsky, RonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Muller knew the maze quite well by this time.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0380001985, Paperback)

Continuing the third in a series of authoritative new editions of the novels of Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Robert Silverberg. During his heroic first encounter with an alien race, Dick Muller was permanently altered, hideously transformed in a way that left him repulsive to the entire human race. Alone and embittered, he exiled himself to Lemnos, an abandoned planet famed for its labyrinthine horrors, both real and imagined. But now, Earth trembles on the brink of extinction, threatened by another alien species, and only Muller can rescue the planet. Men must enter the murderous maze of Lemnos, find Muller, and convince him to come back. But will the homeless alien, alone in the universe, risk his life to save his race, the race that has utterly rejected him?

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:34 -0400)

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