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The Masks of Time

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  415 Ratings  ·  30 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 1968)
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Jan 30, 2013 Sandy rated it it was amazing
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
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.

Charles Dee Mitchell
Jun 25, 2014 Charles Dee Mitchell rated it it was ok
Shelves: mid-century-sf
I have read, enjoyed, and given positive reviews to enough Silverberg novels that I am comfortable with writing this one off as boring.
Bryan Schmidt
Sep 20, 2016 Bryan Schmidt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Compelling, inspiring, thoughtful and challenging. My favorite Silverberg after Lord Valentine's Castle and the first two Prestimion books. Truly powerful and stands the test of time. A must read.
Dan Quigley
Mar 19, 2017 Dan Quigley rated it liked it
At first, I thought this book was going to be a 5-star. Just like Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange World, we are introduced to the same type of intriguing main character, Vornan-19, fraud or time traveler, and he starts out by doing and saying really interesting things. If only Silverberg could have sustained the interest he generated in his premise. After the introduction to the main character (9 pages), we don't see him again for 80 pages, almost 40% of the way into the book. Instead, we get t ...more
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
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
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
Chris Fellows
Mar 15, 2013 Chris Fellows rated it it was ok

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

(view spoiler)
David Strand
Jan 23, 2017 David Strand rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brandyn Murillo
Sep 07, 2016 Brandyn Murillo rated it liked it
I thought this was interesting book to say the least, and there seems to be a lot of comparison with Stranger in a Strange Land (which I have not read). Because one can already figure out major parts of the book with the already existing comments, I only have to say that I do think Silverberg could have exploited the plot of the book many times over to convey lots of interesting themes.

That being said, Silverberg does play with the concept that Vornan-19 (the mysterious time traveller) has been
Dec 17, 2008 Charles rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf

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
Jun 19, 2011 Ian rated it liked it
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
Apr 04, 2010 Trice rated it did not like it
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
Edward Gold
May 19, 2008 Edward Gold rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 12, 2014 Sarah rated it it was ok
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
Marion Hill
Jun 29, 2015 Marion Hill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Not one of my favorite novels in during Silverberg's his most prolific period, 1967-1975. A story that revolves a visitor from another planet named Vornan-19. Is he a messiah from the future? Or is he a charlatan? The rest of the book is told through a well-known professor who has been asked to determine if Vornan-19 is the real thing. It is a novel of the late 1960s. Sex and more sex is prominent in this novel. Silverberg is a skilled storyteller and The Masks of Time was quite readable. Just n ...more
Scott Davis
Oct 02, 2014 Scott Davis rated it did not like it
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
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. :-)
Giuseppe Palladino
Non il miglior libro di Silverberg, mi aspettavo qualcosa di decisamente più intelligente, qualcosa in linea con tutti i suoi libri letti fin'ora. Niente, il fantomatico personaggio del futuro non è un granché, il finale molto banale, d'altronde erroneamente preannunciato. In particolare sono i Device del 1999 che non sono stati per niente centrati. Ripeto, approssimativo, da un autore del genere non mi aspettavo un passo falso del genere. Fate altro!
Carl McGee
Aug 01, 2008 Carl McGee rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
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.
Jul 10, 2011 Bradley rated it liked it
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. =)
Victor Whitman
Jun 29, 2014 Victor Whitman rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 13, 2010 Rita rated it really liked it
Gotta love Silverberg.
Feb 23, 2015 Danceswithcats rated it it was amazing
Brilliant and vivid. It has lingered.
Tome Addiction
Feb 19, 2013 Tome Addiction rated it liked it
Shelves: time-travel
Silverberg touches on time travel and religion from what I recall. I only gave it a 3 so a quick entertaining book but not memorable.
Carol English
Jul 27, 2013 Carol English rated it did not like it
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."
Joe rated it liked it
Sep 04, 2008
George rated it liked it
Aug 31, 2012
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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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“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?” 3 likes
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