The Man in the Maze, by Robert Silverberg, is classic Science Fiction at its best

The one thing that occurs to me about the great, classic science fiction stories is how the writers could tell such complex, thoughtful, exciting stories, and do it in fewer than 200 pages. The Man in the Maze does that to perfection.

"Alas! Poor Yorick...I knew him well"It is a story of isolation and social alienation. I know that sounds strange; exciting and social alienation in the same description. The story is about a diplomat named Richard Muller. He is picked to go represent the human race to an Alien race, the first intelligent life humans had discovered. Something happens to him that opens a psychic ability and broadcasts his emotions, and feelings. Unfortunately humans can’t tolerate it and he becomes an outcast amongst his own people. He decides to put himself in isolation on an abandoned planet within a dangerous maze.

The maze is deadly to all who try to get through it, but Muller makes it through to the center where he can live in peace without any interaction with anyone. He sets up shop with supplies he brought as well as the local animals for sustenance. He believes he will live out the rest of his days there in his misery.

This is an extreme look at isolation and can hit a nerve with anyone. We all at one time or another feel isolated and want to be alone. It is strange how we hate the isolated feeling but contrive to be alone at the same time. This book highlights this part of the human condition beautifully.

After nine years Muller’s isolation is interrupted by earth coming a calling. Earth needs him for one more diplomatic mission. Another alien race has discovered them and is trying to enslave them, not knowing humans are thinking, feeling, people. Muller would be proof of that for these new aliens. The drama involved with the decision Muller has to make, coupled with the action of his fellow humans having to run the deadly maze to get to him, makes for a deep, yet action packed ride of a story.

Now I always have loved a good big book. I was excited when I got my last Harry Potter book and it was as monstrous as the previous one. Yet there is a stark beauty to a story with just a few named characters, a relatively simple premise, and galaxy spanning implications, told in a short amount of time. Silverberg manages to pack these weighty themes into an action packed tale with no feeling of rushing the pace. The Man in the Maze is a great piece of art to be enjoyed and cherished.

That’s not Silverberg to the right, just me.

 

Thoughts?

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Thankfull for books! Always keep one handy, they are a must have at all times.

There are many reasons to be thankful for books. Excitement, drama, education, enlightenment, and also they are the great sanity saver. Have you ever been in the doctors office and had to wait? Of course, that was rhetorical, because we all have. Getting you oil changed? The DMV? (shudder). Have you ever tried to read the dog eared, two year old magazines that are kept in these places. Except the DMV, they just have informational flyers and pamphlets. Yet if you are stuck there you will inevitably end up reading them. (shudder). These are the reasons I always try and make sure I have a book in reach. Sure I could use my phone and go to Facebook and see what my friends had for lunch, or what politician pissed them off today. I do not really care though, anyway it is a toss up whether the DMV pamphlets are more entertaining or not.

So I always have a book handy. That way, instead of listening to the mechanic tell someone they need more work than they came in for, or listen to the other patients talk about whatever is going on in their life, I can take a little trip. Maybe visit France in the Dickens The Tale of Two Cities. Or perhaps go to Pern, or Middle Earth, or a thousand other places that are far more entertaining than the above mentioned alternatives. There is also the added bonus of how time is different when you are reading. It goes much faster, and before you know it, your car is done, or it is your turn at the DMV, or the doctors. In fact it goes to fast sometimes and you are caught in the middle of something good when your name is called.That is annoying, but not near as maddening as it would have been without the wonderful distraction of the book of your choice.

What do books distract you from?

English: A photograph of the table of contents...

English: A photograph of the table of contents in The Writings of Charles Dickens volume 20, A Tale of Two Cities. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thoughts?