The unifying theme of this collection of stories from science-fiction grandmaster Silverberg—spanning five decades, from 1956 to 1997—is that they're all told in the first person singular.
The sheer diversity of storylines is nothing short of extraordinary. In “House of Bones,” a time traveler is marooned more than 20,000 years in the past and is forced to assimilate into a tribe of nomadic cavemen. “Ishmael in Love” chronicles a bottle-nosed dolphin’s attempt to woo a human researcher with whom he's fallen in love. The Nebula Award–winning “Passengers” tells the tale of a man living in a future where aliens have invaded Earth and can temporarily take possession of human minds and hijack their bodies. “Going Down Smooth” is told from the perspective of a computer, designed to help psychoanalyze troubled human patients, that finds itself slowly losing its sanity. “Caliban” chronicles a normal man’s plight in a world where everyone looks like a model. But arguably the most memorable story is “The Reality Trip,” about an alien spy—a beetle-ish creature living inside a humanlike body made of synthetic flesh—who must deal with an amorous woman who lives, as he does, in Manhattan's Chelsea Hotel and is bent on seeking an intimate relationship with him. While the first-person theme might not add much to the book for science-fiction aficionados, the high quality of the stories makes this book a master class in first-person narrative for aspiring writers. Additionally, each story is preceded by a short introduction by Silverberg that offers invaluable insight into the cultural landscape, the publishing industry, and the author’s personal life at the time of writing.
Decades after being originally published, most of these stories are still just as entertaining and powerful as they were when first released. A singularly unique collection.