Jud Meyers has interviewed Robert Silverberg about the graphic novel adaptation of Downward to the Earth, now available from Humanoids, a chat that offers a fascinating insight into the work and background of the acclaimed SF author.
American author and editor Silverberg, best known for writing science fiction such as The Stochastic Man and Up the Line is a multiple winner of both Hugo and Nebula Awards, a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, and a Grand Master of SF.
Based on his bestselling novel about the effects of colonialism and the quest for transcendence, in Downward to the Earth, featuring art by Laura Zuccheri, the book adapted by Philippe Thirault, ex-lieutenant Eddie Gundersen returns to Belzagor, where he had left behind his youthful illusions, the love of his life and his shameful past as a coloniser. He finds the planet returned to its two intelligent species: the Nildoror and the Sulidoror…
Taking the lead on a scientific expedition to the borders of the indigenous lands, Gundersen must face his own demons and settle the score with a planet which still has hidden secrets.
“My comic-book era covers ages six through ten or so, which is roughly equivalent to the years of World War Two,” says Silverberg, asked if he was a fan of comic books as a boy. “But I was also reading prose books from a very early age.
“Eventually they came to have more to offer me than the adventures of Superman or Batman. The paperback boom was just beginning when the war ended in 1945, Pocket Books and the American version of Penguin Books as the pioneers, and when it did I shifted quickly from comic books to the very tempting 25-cent paperback books. (My Aunt Mary was very good about slipping me quarters to buy paperbacks).
“But between 1941 and 1945 or so I read all the big comic books, the ones that now sell for millions of dollars, and, no, I didn’t keep my copies and retire on the proceeds of their sale years later.
The comici that had the biggest impact on Silverberg was Planet Comics, around 1942, which set him on the path to science fiction.
“I had already discovered SF through the Buck Rogers comic strip that ran in one of the Sunday newspapers, but it was Planet Comics that really got me hooked,” he reveals.
If you’re intrigued to find out more about this inspirational title, PS Artbooks have collected the groundbreaking, awe-filled Planet Comics that appeared from Fiction House over a thirteen year period ending in 1953. Featuring Flint Baker, Reef Ryan, The Space Rangers, Gale Allen, Star Pirate, Mysta of the Moon, Norge Benson, plus many more.
• You can read the whole in-depth interview, in which Silverberg talks candidly about writing SF, being a writer and much more here on the Humanoids web site
• Downward to the Earth is on sale now in all good book and comic shops