Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Downward to the Earth-Robert Silverberg

Downward to the Earth

Robert Silverberg

Orb, Aug 7 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9780765331731

After years of exploiting the natives of Holman's World, the human Company left. Though the Company never looked back at what they did to the flora, fauna and two sentient populations (the elephant-like Nildoror and the ape-like Sulidoror), a remorseful Gundersen returns to Belgazor as the planet has returned to its pre Company name. He seeks redemption for what he did as a manager.

Gundersen meets the last of the humans at the decaying hotel. He is taken aback to observe the Sulidoror are doing many of the assignments the Company enslaved the Nildoror into doing when he last was here. He heads to the interior where the Nildoror allow him to continue if he returns with the human who committed an atrocity against their species. Later he meets transformed by the Nildoror rebirth ritual Kurtz and decides to undergo the same.

This is a reprint of a classic 1970 science fiction in which Robert Silverberg makes his two alien species seem genuine as he questions what is sentient (similar to Avatar). Readers will feel Gundersen’s guilt as he seeks atonement for what he allowed to happen to the indigent species including the abrupt departure by the earthlings after years of enforced servitude. With a nod to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, this is a strong look at the Europeans leaving Africa in the 1960s.

Harriet Klausner

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