A Time of Changes
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A Time of Changes

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  1,532 ratings  ·  68 reviews
In the far future, Earth is a worn-out backwater and humanity is spread across the galaxy on worlds that began as colonies, but now feel like home, each with its own long history of a thousand years or more, and each with its own unique culture. One of the strangest is on Borthan, where the founding settlers established the Covenant, which teaches that the self is to be de...more
Mass Market Paperback, 205 pages
Published 1975 by Panther (first published January 1st 1971)
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Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardDune by Frank HerbertFlowers for Algernon by Daniel KeyesAmerican Gods by Neil GaimanThe Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
Nebula Award Winners
18th out of 32 books — 63 voters
Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardDune by Frank HerbertThe Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinRendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. ClarkeAmerican Gods by Neil Gaiman
Nebula Award for Best Novel
43rd out of 51 books — 176 voters


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Stephen
4.0 to 4.5 stars Another intelligent and provocative story by Robert Silverberg who seems to have a real gift for evocative stories. This strong, emotional tale involves the journey of a repressed member of a repressed society to open himself up and find his “self."

The novel is set on a distant planet (originally colonized from an Earth over-populated and polluted). The planet's population lives by the "Covenant" whose most notable characteristic is the complete and utter denial of "self." Words...more
Amy Sturgis
This 1971 novel won the Nebula Award and was nominated for the Hugo, but I have to confess I found it to be quite underwhelming.

Robert Silverberg offers a first-person memoir of a future human (descended from Earthlings) on a far distant planet. In his society words like "I" and "me" are considered obscenities. Burdening others with one's individuality, sharing one's self with them, is held to be a sin that should be limited whenever possible. When he meets a man from Earth with a rare and illeg...more
Matt
Jul 22, 2008 Matt rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of Robert Silverburg, British sci-fi, or soft sci-fi
'A Time of Changes' is classic Robert Silverburg of the sort that he rightly recieves acclaim for, but it suffers in my opinion from the fact that Silverburg makes no attempt at all to really maintain the fantastic conceit which is at the heart of the story. That conceit of the story is a world where self-deprication is so esteemed as virtuous and putting oneself forward is likewise deemed immoral, that no one is allowed to refer to oneself in the first person. The pronoun 'I' therefore is a tru...more
Lyn
A Time for Changes by Robert Silverberg is difficult to rate and even more difficult to review. I can begin by saying that I liked it.

Silverberg tells a good story, he’s a fine writer and his narration draws the reader in. Set in the distant future, on a planet inhabited by humans for thousands of years, but still with the knowledge of far off earth as an anachronistic home, we follow the life of Kenal, second son of a king in a strictly primogeniture hierarchy. The world is also strictly in th...more
Sandy
After four years of successive losses, sci-fi great Robert Silverberg finally picked up his first Nebula Award in 1972. His 1967 novel "Thorns" had lost to Samuel R. Delany's "The Einstein Intersection," his brilliant '68 novel "The Masks of Time" had been bested by Alexei Panshin's equally brilliant "Rite of Passage," '69's time travel tale "Up the Line" had succumbed to Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Left Hand of Darkness," while 1970's unforgettable "Tower of Glass" had been beaten by Larry Niven's...more
Nuno Magalhães
Aug 08, 2011 Nuno Magalhães rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Tempo de Mudança é um romance muito interessante e profundo de Robert Silverberg, distinguido com um prémio Nébula, um galardão concedido anualmente pelo Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) para os melhores trabalhos de ficção científica/fantasia publicados nos Estados Unidos durante os dois anos precedentes. Este livro, escrito nos inícios da década de 70 do séc. XX, no rescaldo de Woodstock e de uma década de 60 em que se assistiu a uma grande liberalização de costumes e à co...more
Michele
My reactions to Silverberg are very uneven. I absolutely loved the creepy yet alluring The Book of Skulls and the dystopian The World Inside but have never been able to get into, let alone finish, any of his Majipoor series which he seems to be so well known for. This one left me ambivalent. I think sometimes he tries a little too hard with his social messages -- in this case, I suppose, the value of love (published in 1971, surprise, surprise).

The main character, Kinnall Darival, is a member of...more
Chris
This is a brilliant piece of thoughtful science fiction. As has been said elsewhere, this is science fiction that is really dealing with the times in which the book was written. The story takes place in a far future where refering to one's self in the first person or sharing one's innermost thoughts is largely banned. After encountering a former resident of Earth, the protagonist learns of a drug (a drug that sounds eerily like cocaine) that allows the users to delve within each others innermost...more
Jim
Aug 15, 2007 Jim rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like thoughtful science fiction
Shelves: read-sci-fi
Often it's one line that makes a book. With this book it was a single concept, a world where speaking in the first person singular is taboo, to use the word "I" is the worst kind of swearing. Needless to say it's also a world where opening up oneself is a very private thing reserved for a highly select few. Into this world, as so often happens, comes a man, an earthman as it happens, with a different point of view about what is right and wrong. The fact is, throughout history, right and wrong ha...more
Michael R.
No stars.

A friend had said Robert Silverberg was a great SF writer, so I kept an eye open for one of his books and found this one.

The basic plot behind this SF world is that referring to yourself as 'I', 'me', 'my', or 'myself', is the equivalent of swearing and a big taboo.

So of course, the main character, Lord Kinnall, goes around calling himself 'I' all the time, and quite proudly too, until finally his girlfriend slaps him. This turns out to be the highlight of the book. Sorry for the spoile...more
Ана Хелс
По-скоро философски роман, отколкото фентъзи или фантастичен такъв. Леко объркващ. Силно въздействащ, макар и в някаква степен мъничко наивистичен. Меланхоличен, тъжноват и замислящ. Дори по-скоро умислящ.

История за свят отвъд звездите, в някаква форма на търговска империя със щипка технология, но без приложение на космически пътешествия или вариативна генетика. Има телефон и нещо като бронетранспортьори, но пък няма пистолети или интернет. Умовете са ограничени от един северен манталитет на зат...more
Bookbrow
One of the better Silverberg novels, one that makes you respect Silverberg's knack of telling people stories within a sci-fi conext, the world building here reminds one of the valentine's castle novels, a rich tapestry that is both old and new. This book is surely one of the highlights of Silverberg's career and far more timeless than some good efforts like Dying Inside, etc. Recomended even for reader's who don't normally read spec fiction.
Jeff Adams
One thinks this was a fascinating book. One would highly recommend it to fans of the Sci Fi genre.

OK - the phrasing of those comments make sense only if you've read the book.

Set in an alien world that was colonized by humans many generations ago, this story is written as a personal memoir. It tell not only his story, but the story of their culture, which at its founding, adopted a religious "Covenant" that forbids sharing of one's self, to the point where even the use of personal pronouns are...more
Pavlina Kutsarova
For me this book meant more than to others, because I had personal connection with it even before I started reading. I found it in my dad's things an year ago. He had a bookmark on page 136, and I believe he hadn't read more of it after that point. So I decided I should, at least, read as much as he did.
While I was reding, I felt as if I was connected with him again in a way... Not the way it is described in the book, but I felt as if he was still here. The year was 1993 (this edition was publis...more
Chris
Robert Silverberg is the closest thing I can think of as a living human writing machine. Insert idea, out comes a story. Genre is inconsequential. He has written probably anything that one can be paid to write: short fiction, novellas, novels; mystery, western, erotica, non-fiction, and of course, science-fiction. Take a look at his "quasi-official" site of www.majipoor.com, and you can see the mind-boggling amount of wordage he has churned out.

This book is from the period when he returned to s...more
David
Was worried from the preface I'd find an intense and impenetrable Dalgren. The author writing that he 'never wanted to write a book with such a restrictive conciet' i.e. not allowing reference in the first person.

Instead a very readable book. I, me, my are all used, but furtively, and illicitly. This is tantamount to dropping a c-bomb casually into small talk.

The true story here is the journey from a very isolated existence perpetuated by social norms into one that is connected and enlightened.

T...more
port22
Borthan is a planet populated by people who refer themselves as "one" instead of "I". The self is despised as a weakness and one never reveals his innermost feelings and thoughts. "Self-baring" is a crime.

The book is about the story of Darival, written in first person, it tells how he encounters a way out of the imposed confines of the mind.

It is an absorbing read, but is the story of only one single person, it would've been an interesting mental project to develop it on a grander scale and work...more
Alice Lee
This is really closer to 2.5 stars than 3, but well.

Oh, I suppose I would've liked it more if I had grown up in the 70s, or witnessed the transition in American culture from the 60s to the 70s. Or maybe I'd like it more if the writing was better. It wasn't bad, it just lacked a certain quality that I was expecting out of Silverberg - more artful prose, for one. The narrator's voice throughout was pretty dry, at no point was it compelling enough for me to temporarily forsake my knowledge of rece...more
Marc Goldstein
A human colony world where the dominant religion bans individual expression. People are only allowed to express personal feelings to their bond-brother or bond-sister, or to a “drainer” – a professional clergyman who listens to confessions for a fee. Narrator journeys from prince to pauper and back again. His greatest unspoken desire is his romantic desire for his bond-sister. He runs into a merchant from Earth, who causes him to question his religion. The merchant introduces the narrator to a d...more
Jon
This book won the 1971 Nebula award for Best Novel, so I read it as part of my project to read all such award winners. I vaguely recalled starting to read it before and never being able to make it through.

Well, I got to the end, and then remembered reading the whole thing. Can't remember when -- 5 years ago or 20?

The middle is very nice -- pure Silverberg world-building in the style of Lord Valentine's Castle (aside: this book won the Nebula, and none of the Majipoor books was nominated??!). Th...more
Raj
Aug 01, 2013 Raj rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: sci-fi
I think it may be time to give up on Robert Silverberg. I didn't dislike this book. It's just that I didn't hugely enjoy it either. Glancing back other the other Silverberg books that I've read and reviewed on GoodReads, it seems that for me, he's a solid three-star author.

The idea behind this one (and, indeed, most other Silverberg books that I've read) has been interesting: a society where sharing, self and ego are so reviled that even using the first person ("I", "me" etc) is one of the stron...more
Kait
After colonizing a distant planet, settlers eventually fall out of contact with Earth and develop a unique culture that is rather Ron Swanson-esque in that it forbids "self-baring", i.e. discussing anything about yourself with others.

The novel is written as an autobiography; a princeling, after a life on the lam, meets and Earth man. They do drugs together (really) and their minds mystically connect, changing the protagonist forever. He decides his culture has been doing things all wrong and st...more
Philippa
Really cool concept - a society where self-denial and repression are so crucial that not only can you not talk about your feelings or yourself, it's considered obscene even to use the pronouns "I" and "me." The execution is disappointing though; mostly the characters talk about themselves plenty, but using words like "one" or "this one" instead of "I." They don't come across as a different culture so much as the same culture with very slightly different grammar (along with some oddly stilted spe...more
Peter
The story is the first-person memoir of a human on a distant world, born to a society where words like "I" and "me" are considered obscenities, the sharing of your self with others a sin that should be limited as much as possible. When he encounters a man from Earth with a rare and illegal drug, he finally begins to question his society and tries to act against it, at great cost.

The book was written in 1971, and it feels it. In fact, if I'd known nothing about the book in advance, I would have g...more
Alan
Nov 14, 2009 Alan rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Seekers after self, so to speak
It's a truism widely held that science fiction isn't so much about the future or the exotic locales it portrays as it is about the here and now, refracted through the lens of otherness. A Time of Changes certainly bolsters that theory. It won a Nebula award when it was published, possibly because of that very resonance with a particular time and place—but in the cold light of the 21st Century, it seems a little harder to read.

The story has two main quirks that intersect to create this impression...more
Susan
This is a difficult book for me to rate. I think it might be a good concept, but perhaps not worked out all that well. But then, I can't think what I would suggest changing. It may just be that it's more dated than some of Silverberg's other works, and doesn't move as well to a different time.

The 1st-person protagonist Kinnall Darival lives in a far future world originally settled by travelers from earth. In his society, "self-baring" is prohibited, to the extent that words like "I" and "me" are...more
Mark
More cerebral fiction from Robert Silverberg. This one takes place on the planet Borthan, founded centuries ago by the ultimate stoics. On Borthan, "self" is suppressed -- it is considered weak to confess your problems to others, keeping things in and resolving them personally with the gods is what's in order. This attitude has driven the culture so profoundly that use of the terms "I" and "me" are considered extremely obscene.

Into this society is born Kinnall, a prince of the region whose broth...more
Victor Whitman
Another excellent book by one of my favorite writers. It was written in 1971 so there is a big acid influenced theme in it but other than that, it isn't dated at all and I really liked it. Rarely do I say this, but I think it would have been even better if he'd expanded the ending by a 100 or more pages. It sort of peters out at the end.
Ricky Orr
This was an interesting story that was set on a planet that was originally settled by Earthlings. Very deeply embedded in the culture of this planet was a prohibition of exposing ones inner self to others. The use of the words "I" or "me" was a grossly vulgar. Self-bearing was a criminal offense.

The narrator meets a visiting Earthling who knows of a drug that will if taken with others will allow the users to see into each others souls, and know everything about them. The narrator becomes infatua...more
Janito Vaqueiro Ferreira Filho
The book is very well written. Towards the ending it really passes on a feeling of how the protagonist 'touched' the souls of others. I'm not giving it 5 stars because some things could have been better, such as the development of Halum's character.

Still, it is wonderful food for thought, especially after reading Nexus, by Ramez Naam.
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Robert Silverberg is one of science fiction’s most beloved writers, and the author of such contemporary classics as Dying Inside, Downward to the Earth and Lord Valentine’s Castle, as well as At Winter’s End, also available in a Bison Books edition. He is a past president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the winner of five Nebula Awards and five Hugo Awards. In 2004 the Sc...more
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