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Les Profondeurs de La Terre

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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  1,180 ratings  ·  69 reviews
Gundersen returned to Holman's World seeking atonement for his harsh years as colonial governer. But now this lush, exotic planet of mystery was called by its ancient name of Belzagor, and it belonged once again to its native alien races, the nildoror and the sulidoror. Drawn by its spell, Gundersen began a harrowing pilgrimage to its mist-shrouded north, to witness a stra ...more
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Published May 1st 2002 by Livre de Poche (first published 1969)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,378)
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mark monday
gentle elephant things in the jungle; furry man-shaped things in the mist. our hero, former colonial station chief, returns to this strange planet much changed. the planet itself has changed: its residents no longer considered mere animals, beasts of burden to be used as humans see fit... they are people. a surprisingly liberal future-Earth now recognizes these beings as sentient, as does our hero. he returns to this place, full of regret for past actions, craving understanding and redemption, y ...more
Bryn Hammond
Elephant-people, misunderstood as beasts by the human empire; homages to colonialist fiction – Kipling & Conrad; an ex-oppressor’s journey out of darkness, into a slightly psychedelic light and the breakdown of species-barriers or perhaps the notion of species. Silverberg has an ear for music in his conjunction of words. Exactly why I read SF.
Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

After being back on Earth for eight years, Edmund Gunderson returns to the formerly colonized planet Belzagor where he used to be one of the human rulers of the two intelligent species who live there — the nildoror, who look much like elephants, and the sulidoror, who look like apes. While Gunderson was on Belzagor, he considered these species to be soulless and stupid, but now that the humans have given up their control of the planet, he realizes that he
...more
Sandy
Up until last week, I hadn't read Robert Silverberg's brilliant sci-fi novel "Downward to the Earth" in almost 27 years, but one scene remained as fresh in my memory as on my initial perusal: the one in which the book's protagonist, Edmund Gundersen, comes across a man and a woman lying on the floor of a deserted Company station on a distant world, their still-living bodies covered in alien fluid that is being dripped upon them by a basket-shaped organism, whilst they themselves act as gestating ...more
Simon
This edition came with a really interesting introduction by the author himself in which he explains how he thought this was not very good when it was first published and, at first, taken aback by how well it was received. He even withdrew it after it was nominated for a Nebula award to make way for, what he thought was the better book, Tower of Glass. I have to say that I think this is one of his better efforts and certainly better than "Tower of Glass".

Silverberg also tells us how it was inspir
...more
AC
Very nice. Much of it, in fact, is magical. So there is science fiction that I can like and admire! My hate-hate relationship with SF has ended.
Charles Dee Mitchell
In his introduction to the edition I read, Silverberg says that as he wrote this book he worried that it was nothing more than a failed Conrad imitation. Conrad and Kipling are inspirations here, and he conceived the novel while in Africa in the late sixties, a time when almost all the old colonial holdings had gained liberation. His creation of a planet after "relinquishment" is convincing and entertaining. His sentient alien creatures, who remind earthlings of elephants, are sympathetic and fa ...more
jzthompson
At some point in the last year it occurred to me that I'd not read any SF in close to five years... At school I'd always taken pride in defending the SF genre against sniffy English teachers that would have preferred me to be reading Jane Bloody Austen instead of something a 14 year old boy might actually enjoy. Even then though I did realise that a lot of the SF I read was lacking in some regards. The prose could be stiff... the characters had a tendency to the cardboard*... the resolutions to ...more
Mark Strumke
This is an old sci-fi book by Robert Silverberg written in the 70’s. What I really about this book (and books of it’s period) is that Silverberg was able to write a short (200 pages or so) book that managed to tell a very engaging story in one self contained novel. It seems that nowadays you can’t find a sci-fi or fantasy book that’s less than 400 pages long or is not one book of a trilogy (or more). While I do like to read a well done series of books, I’m more impressed by writers like Silverbe ...more
Endre Fodstad
This one was a real slog to get through. Silverberg's attempt to create a science fiction Heart of Darkness was unfortunately not an overly successful one - overall, the book is not very engaging. Gunderson never emerges as an interesting character and the Nildoror/Sulidoror seem (admittedly, this is 40 years after it was written) a bit to clicheed to work for me. The "plot twist" is also made so blindingly obvious from very early in the book that Gunderson's discovery loses its effect near the ...more
Stephen
First published in 1969 "Downward to the Earth" is both a book of the period and classic Silverberg. Classic Silverberg in the sense that so much of the book is about Gunderson's psyche. This Silverberg illustrates, explores and dissects well as he did in "Dying Inside" and in some of his short fiction. Silverberg is one of the best in sci fi at getting into a character's head.

Of the period because in the end drugs and/or religion open the doors to enlightenment and the resolution of the psychic
...more
Adam
"Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the Earth." Ecclesiastes 3:21 And so begins this book by Robert Silverberg — one of the best wordsmiths around writing in any genre. The novel is about Gunderson and his return to the planet Belzagor to re-explore the world where he'd lived and worked for 10 years but where he'd never had the chance to fully understand the place. And so he goes deeper into that world, the creatures that live ther ...more
Amanda
Old fantasy/sci-fi, where the resident aliens look like elephants. But they're sentient, and have their own developed language...
And this space ranger who had been stationed on their planet goes back to make amends. It was pretty good, a little silly at times (hooray for sexy hallucinations!), but quick and fun.
Shawn Scarber
Silverberg writes one of the more interesting post colonial commentaries. This is a little bit like Heart of Darkness, but I think it's a lot more like other Silverberg novels; a long journey to a rebirth experience. Hopeful and uplifting, this is one of the better late 60s science fiction novels.
Frank Taranto
Silverberg shines again! based loosely on Conrad's Heart of Darkness, the story is the heroes search for atonement by going through the rebirth process that his company had once exploited.
Chris
Downward to the Earth gets its title from Ecclesiastes 3:21, but I have always associated it with my mis-remembering of Psalm 118:25- ‘Adhaesit pavimento anima mea’ of the Vulgate- as ‘my soul cleaves downward to the Earth’. Silverberg drags me downward to the earth. I find nothing seductive in the godless worlds of Asimov, or Egan, or Heinlein. They are not places I want to live. The actions of the characters are not actions I want to emulate. For the worlds of Foster- long ago- and still, some ...more
Pacyfa
A rather short novel about a human ignorance and pomposity in the face of an alien intelligence. Main character is seeking that understanding and also forgiveness for past sins.

A mixed bag this one, Silverberg takes quite a direct route with the story with simple straight-lined plot which is good for a quick read but did not draw me into the world. This is a re-read of an old book in my library and I did not remember much of the book since the last read (must have been few years). Might be sligh
...more
Matthew Lloyd
Things the book did that I liked:
There are some interesting ideas about how life works on other planets. The alien life was, in general, suitably alien. The resemblance of the Nildoror to elephants was perhaps a bit weak, but the plants, insects, fungi, and other presumably non-intelligent life were suitably alien in a way which is actually quite rare in SF - the only better example which immediately springs to mind from my "read" list is Embassytown.
Pretty much everything which we find out abou
...more
Chris
Years ago, Edmund Gunderson worked for the Company on Holman’s World, a lush jungle planet with two sentient native species: the nildoror, large elephantine herbivores, and the sulidoror, a race of hairy simian-like creatures with powerful claws. Neither had the means to make or use technological devices or buildings, and so most of the Company employees considered them little more than talking animals, using them as beasts of burden for manual labor. Times, and opinions, change. After nearly a ...more
Marc Goldstein
Edmund Gundersen returns to the planet he once governed eight years ago. The two intelligent native species have resumed control of the planet. The Nildoror resemble elephants; the Sulidoror suggest carnivorous apes. Gundersen wants to participate in the Nildoror rebirth ritual. His life has been foundering since the planet returned to native control, and he feels guilty for enslaving the Nildoror. He asks a Nildoror elder for passage to the northern mist country, where the rebirth ceremony is p ...more
T.L. Evans
Downward to the Earth by Robert Silverberg is a blatant rip-off (no, not homage to or inspired by, rip-off) of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, peppered with an over developed sense of post-colonial malaise, which is then further undermined by an ending inspired by Timothy Leary. The twist in this book, intended to differentiate it from Conrad's wonderful tale, is blatantly obvious from very early on in the novel. The subsequent thematic twist undermines the message of Conrad's work and leaves ...more
Rjurik Davidson
Have just reread this for a piece I've written for the journal, Foundation. It's one of the great science fiction novels. Beautifully imagined, wonderfully composed - this is a novel which I very much recommend. Perhaps a step behind Le Guin's 'The Left Hand of Darkness', but very much in the same vein, and in the same style.
Mathew
Every book is an adventure. Not every book can take you with it. But I was with Mr. Silverberg and Mr. Pinchot every step of the way. Emotionally, I was committed to a situation that I will likely never find myself in. When it was over, I was sad and introspective. Excellent literature.
Andreas
Belzagor is a planet with two intelligent species, one of them resembling in appearance our elefants. Humans have tried to conquer it but finally were forced to leave. Edmund Gundersen, the former administrator of the planet, returns after eight years. He knows that he behaved wrongly and goes on a kind of pilgramage to repent.

The reader is taken on an interesting journey. Robert Silverberg has created an exotic planet with real aliens. After two thirds though I felt a little bit bored. The even
...more
Sol  Gonzalez
Gundersen acaba de tomar su retiro como administrador imperial y regresa a Belzagor, planeta en el que estuvo durante unos años como máxima ley, porque durante su estancia no pudo terminar de comprender a ese intrincado planeta. Según la política de descolonización, consistente en dar la independencia a todos los alienigenas con lengua y cultura propia, Belzagor es dejado en manos de sus pobladores nativos.

La raza nativa de Belzagor son paquidermos en una sociedad inteligente que no desarrollaro
...more
Michael
Wow.

Some very deep themes are explored here, including species identity, the soul, nature vs. nature, transformative theology.... I loved the homages to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, too.
G33z3r
Silverberg writes a relatively short novel of alien/human contact, comparing culture and religion and discussing the nature of a soul. Nicely written, as a human returns to a planet to atone for his previous employment as a slave master to the native population.
Eric
The ex-administrator of a formerly conquered alien world returns to the planet to find redemption due to his guilt over the enslavement of the natives through alien mysticism.
Lisa Ard
Author Robert Silverberg pays homage to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness with this science fiction novel first published in 1969. Gunderson returns to the planet Belzagor eight years after Earth relinquished rights to the colony. The native nildoror and sulidoror accept his presence and his quest to the misty, northern lands, where Gunderson hopes to witness the rebirthing ceremony of the nildoror. Along the way, readers learn of Gunderson’s past, meet his former colleagues, and follow his pilg ...more
Trevor
I can't say that I didn't enjoy this book because I did, it was the ending that let it down for me. The main character feels like he has turned into a messiah!
Maybe he has but it felt so contrived that I was a little uncomfortable with it.

Overall the storyline was interesting with some nice plot twists along the way as we discover all about this world and it's creatures. I even bought into the fact that one of the intelligent species resembled elephants on our planet. I mean, who's to say what d
...more
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Sci-fi and Heroic...: Downward to the Earth 24 39 Oct 16, 2014 03:45AM  
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4338
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

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