Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Masks of Time” as Want to Read:
The Masks of Time
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Masks of Time

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  318 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Vornan-19 fell from the sky, naked, and landed on the Spanish steps in Rome on Christmas afternoon toward the end of the Millennium. And for Leo Garfield things would never be the same. For he is an acknowledged expert in the time reversal properties of sub-atomic particles...and Vornan-19 claims to come from far in the future. Whether or not he is telling the truth, a ner ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 28th 2002 by Victor Gollancz (first published January 1st 1968)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Masks of Time, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Masks of Time

Dune by Frank HerbertStranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. HeinleinDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. DickThe Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
Classic Science Fiction - 1960-1969
28th out of 84 books — 88 voters
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerOutlander by Diana GabaldonThe Time Machine by H.G. WellsTimeline by Michael CrichtonSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Best Time Travel Fiction
423rd out of 1,017 books — 3,291 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 594)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Vornan-19 has travelled back in time to the present day (the late 90s, as imagined in the early 70s). His mission is to warn vaguely about an impending millennial catastrophe and have sex with a lot of people.

It transpires that there's some doubt about whether he's really a time-traveller. But there's no doubt at all about the sex.

I had long thought that Philip K. Dick's 1964-'66 period was the most intensely productive and prolific streak that any sci-fi author of note has ever enjoyed, with nine major novels produced during those three years. But as it turns out, Robert Silverberg, seven years P.K.'s junior, has got him beat by a mile. During the three-year period 1967-'69, Silverberg somehow managed the superhuman feat of releasing no less than 15 novels--six in '67, three in '68 and six again in '69--and all of them, ...more
Aug 14, 2013 Ian rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: sf
I have read this story perhaps twice before, now thrice, since it first came out. It is entertaining in the complex, word rich fashion of Silverberg, but it has the deficiency of lacking a firm resolution. The story revolves around a man from the future—or is he—who travels to 1999 to visit our world. He is not a scientist nor a traditional explorer, but rather a self-described "tourist", absent hard knowledge of his own era, and showing only sporadic interest in the contemporary. He travels thr ...more
Roddy Williams
Following Heinlein's 'Stranger in a Strange Land' which showed an 'innocent' Messiah transforming human society and creating chaos, Silverberg presents us with a much more structured and indeed literary examination of Humanity's need for faith, and what a double-edged sword that may be.
The setting is 1999, or at least it begins on Christmas day 1998 when Vornan-19, a visitor from the far future, manifests naked in a public square in Rome.
The date is symbolic for the purposes of the novel, since

A strangely bloodless knock-off of "Stranger in a Strange Land" with some nice apocalyptic flourishes a la Hieronymus Bosch.

(view spoiler)
Clark Hallman
Silverberg has been one of my favorite science-fiction authors for more than 30 years, but I haven’t read him for awhile. I've had this book on my shelves for a long time and recently came across it. I have always been fascinated by the concept of time travel so I decided it was time to read it. The book takes place in 1999 and Silverberg accurately predicts the widespread paranoia and doomsday expectations that many people embraced as the new millennium approached. In his story the Apocalyptist ...more
Bev Hankins
I'm not sure if I've changed or this is just one of Robert Silverberg's duds. Once upon a time I loved Robert Silverberg--in all of his 1960s-era, free-love, hippie-culture weirdness (Dying Inside, anyone?). But The Masks of Time seems over the top to me--at least now. Maybe the teenage/college age me still would have loved this one. The 40ish/middle-aged me....not so much.

So...what we have here is time travel. We begin with Professor Leo Garfield, a physicist, who has spent his career searching

The flaws are many. Where to begin? Well, there’s the ridiculously hackneyed 60s era (filtered through the mind of an SF writer) way of talking about sexuality. For people who could push the imagination so far in some ways you’d think that at least one of them might have pondered some basic questions about gender and sexuality.

Of course, it all fits once you realize that one of the central driving premises is the absolute terror expressed by two main characters (and treated
Scott Davis
Horrible perverted book. In present time a scientist is trying to figure out the basics of time travel. His friend is figuring out unlimited power from the atom. Right about that time a weird guy comes from a thousand years in the future and he says they have unlimited power where he comes from. Sounds good so far. Tell us more. Then the story goes absolutely no where but meandering stories of perverted sex. With no ending.

Threw it in the trash.

P.S. By the way I love old sci fi. lol
while the insights into how the future might look are interesting, this is very obviously written by a man. The female characters in the book ate defined by their level of sexuality and painted as either frigid and unwelcoming, teasing, or overtly sexual. none of them have any real depth. the men on the other hand are given actually personalities, interests and characteristics. This served to make it wholly unrealistic. The 2 stars are for the accurate representation of mass hysteria and religio ...more
Otis Campbell
what do you dream?
you close your eyes
and fold your arms
do you pray in the sky
in the sky, up in the sky?
i wear the mask
i wear a mask
Fall 2008: This seemed a bad version of Robert Heinlein's 'Stranger in a Strange Land,' lacking the philosophical intention present in Heinlein's book (which itself is definitely not a Heinlein bk I'd usually recommend anyway). In 'Masks of Time' there were lots of social issues that appear in the background of this novel, but that Silverberg didn't actually address directly - it just seemed like the world had gone mad and this visitor from the future was another excuse to increase the madness, ...more
Victor Whitman
I liked this story of a man from the future (or con man) who floats down on the Spanish steps in year 1999 and turns the world
inside out.
Charles Dee Mitchell
I have read, enjoyed, and given positive reviews to enough Silverberg novels that I am comfortable with writing this one off as boring.
May 25, 2008 Eric rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
This is probably the most singularly unique book on time travel I have ever read. This is not told from the point of view of the time traveler, but from the perspective of a person in our time (1999). Interestingly, this book was written in the late 1960's.

I would recommend this book to anyone. It is well-crafted, insightful, and so totally different from traditional stories that it will broaden the way you think.
J. Allen Nelson
A fun and enjoyable trip to the "future" of 1999 that was so common at the time. Shows the author at the start of his renaissance and his love of writing is clearly evident in his work at this time. Although the world did not quite turn out this way at the end of the century, the novel definitely is accurate in how people respond to "messiahs" that appear in their midst, and the ending is the only one that could make sense. :-)
Carl McGee
Enuff said. Silverberg vears wildly between really superb writing to fluff pieces. This one is one of the latter. I'll quickly forget it. In fact, I read it years ago and did just that. When I finished it the other day, I realized I'd all ready "been there, done that." Don't know if it's the book..............or me.
A very compelling story that is far better than a lot of the paranormal romances I have been reading lately. It made me frantically turn the pages with burning need. Only the subject matter makes me turn it away from my permanent collection. Pure sci-fi, I am very picky about what I keep. =)
Carol English
I would have said this is worth mentioning as the worst book I have ever read but today that charge was rivaled by Silverberg's own "To Live Again."
Erik Graff
May 17, 2009 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Silverberg fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
Fair, dated science fiction novel about messianism at the now-passed millennium.
Pablo Hoffman
Interesting plot, but awful ending
Gotta love Silverberg.
Robert marked it as to-read
Jan 20, 2015
Virditas marked it as to-read
Jan 14, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 19 20 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Past Master
  • And Chaos Died
  • The Embedding
  • Half Past Human
  • The Jagged Orbit
  • The Year of the Quiet Sun
  • The Road to Corlay
  • Juniper Time
  • Against Infinity
  • Celestis
  • To Crush the Moon (The Queendom of Sol #4)
  • Black Easter (After Such Knowledge, #2)
  • Frontera
  • The Exile Waiting
  • The People of the Wind
  • Crescent City Rhapsody (Nanotech, #3)
  • Picoverse
  • No Enemy but Time
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
More about Robert Silverberg...
Lord Valentine's Castle (Lord Valentine, #1) Legends The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Volume 1 Dying Inside Legends II

Share This Book

“He met me at the airport; it was ten in the morning, Washington time, when I arrived, after having taken a plane that left Los Angeles International at 10:10 A.M. Los Angeles time. Who says time-reversal is hard to accomplish?” 2 likes
More quotes…