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Dying Inside
 
by
Robert Silverberg
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Dying Inside

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  2,863 ratings  ·  190 reviews
David Selig was born with an awesome power -- the ability to look deep into the human heart, to probe the darkest truths hidden in the secret recesses of the soul. With reckless abandon, he used his talent in the pursuit of pleasure. Then, one day, his power began to die...
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Published by Bantam Books (first published 1972)
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mark monday
Dying Inside is a sterling example of 70s New Wave science fiction. it is about a telepath whose powers are fading. dude is a miserable, depressive asshole who whines endlessly about his life. the end.

wait a sec, maybe that sounds like a bad read to you? well my friend, let me tell you... throw that impression away! this is a marvelous book from beginning to end. it is thought-provoking, often delightful, often hard-edged, completely enjoyable. Silverberg is such a masterful writer and many time...more
Jeffrey Keeten
"The sensory shutdown is not always a willed event, naturally. It happens to us whether we like it or not. If we don't climb into the box ourselves, we'll get shoved in anyway. That's what I mean about entropy inevitably nailing us all in the long run. No matter how vital, how vigorous, how world-devouring we are, the inputs dwindle as time goes by. Sight, hearing, touch, smell-everything goes, as good old Will S. said, and we end up sans teeth, sans eyes, sans tastes, sans everything. Or, as th...more
Stephen
4.5 to 5.0 stars. Robert Silverberg is one of those writers that has never disappointed me and Dying Inside is no exception. This is often considered Silverberg's best novel and, while not my personal favorite of his, it is easy to see why.

The story is told in the first person by a telepath, David Selig, who is slowly losing his ability to read minds. David, despite his ability to read minds, is almost completely isolated from the rest of society and is unable to form any close attachments. He...more
Jon
Jul 12, 2009 Jon rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: Beyond Reality July 2009 Selection
3.75 stars

I felt like the telepath, the mind-reader, the voyeur while reading this novel. Silverberg sucked me in to the mind of David Selig so completely that I had to force myself to take a break from the book after hours of voracious reading to come up for air and perspective. It appears to be the autobiography of a telepath, but reads like a confession of mind crimes, social ineptness and stunted maturity. He fears his gift is fading and dying, and he flops impotently against the impinging s...more
Sandi
I finished Dying Inside this morning and I'm still not sure what to say about it. Perhaps I should start by saying that I don't believe this is science fiction at all. I kept looking for the science part and it just wasn't there. I believe that it would have been classified as general fiction if it hadn't been written by a famous science fiction author.

I have to say that I have met few fictional characters that are more pathetic than David Selig. He's not pathetic because he's losing his telepat...more
Stefan
Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg is the painfully intimate portrait of David Selig, a man who has been blessed (or cursed, as he might say) with the gift of telepathy. He has learned to live with the ability, but now finds that his amazing power is slowly disappearing, leaving him ordinary again. Throughout the novel, Selig is literate, insightful and self-deprecating as he mercilessly dissects his own life. I found him less than likable, but completely fascinating. He leads an almost meaningle...more
Nikki
This is the first book I've managed to sit down and read straight through in quite a while, so I have to acknowledge here the quality of it first: it is one of those books that reminds you that speculative fiction of all stripes can be just as reflective on the human condition as any navel-gazing literary fiction. The characters are for the most part not very likeable -- there's something despicable in all of them, and especially in the narrator, Selig. But there are some amazing bits too: Selig...more
Apatt
Robert Silverberg is one of science fiction all time greats, there is no doubt about that in my mind. He belongs up there with Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein etc. If you have never heard of him it would be because he is the most criminally underrated sf authors ever. I have said virtually the same thing in my previous review of his book Nightwings, and I will probably be saying the same damn thing again next time I review one of his books simply because it bears repeating.

Among long time avid sf reade...more
Matt
Jul 07, 2008 Matt rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
One of the touchstone novels that seperates the true affectionado of science fiction from the more casual fan or the affectionado of pulp adventures with fantastic tropes.

I like pulp adventurers with fantastic tropes, but that's hardly the sum of either science fiction or fantasy.

Alot of people report being rather stunned by this book, as they didn't think science fiction was this broad or this well written. This is one of the books I turn to when pretentious literary snobs challenge my taste in...more
Simon
After reading a couple of only average Silverberg novels, it's great to have my faith in the author's ability reaffirmed by reading another of his greats.

Like The Book of Skulls this is almost only incidentally SF, that is more character driven than anything else. Yes, it is about someone who is a telepath, one of the classic tropes of the genre, but it is never really rationalised or understood. But that wasn't really the point, rather it was about how someone coped with being different from ev...more
Sam
This is an astounding piece of fiction. I refrain from calling this science fiction for several reasons: the fantastic elements, while central, aren't beyond the normal scope of mainstream fiction, the novel is a character study, and the novel has none of the classic clichés of science fiction.

I was very surprised when I started reading this novel to discover just how well-written it is (this being my first Silverberg endeavor). It must be admitted that Silverberg is not a stylist at the level o...more
Kelly
Dying Inside is a book I might never have picked up myself. I'm so glad I read it. As discussed in our group, Beyond Reality, it's not classic 'Science Fiction', but as it's written by a well known science fiction author, Robert Silverberg, it falls easily within the genre.

The human protagonist, David Selig, is 'enhanced'. He is a telepath and has been probably since birth. But his power is fading, and the story is about how he is coping with the loss, as he feels he is dying inside.

It's a sad...more
Michael
In his forward to "The Stars, My Destination," author Neil Gaiman says that one of things that dates the fastest in literature is science-fiction. That statement applies to "Dying Inside" which is clearly a novel of its time period, but still works today because the novel focuses on a character and not the technology involved.

David Selig is a man born with the strange ability to read people's thoughts. While many of us would think it's a blessing, David finds it a bit of a curse. David quickly...more
Sarah
Sometimes it's difficult to separate form from content. This is a well written book that explores a good concept - the downside of being able to read the minds of others - thoroughly. It's soft sf, content to explore the psychological and social ramifications of the gift/curse without providing explanation of how David Selig came into possession of it. In short, right up my alley.

So why the lukewarm rating? For starters, I found the book fairly dated. I have read my share of timeless SF, but th...more
Rob
...I can see why this is a notable book among it's contemporaries. Silverberg approaches the novel in a way you don't see a lot in science fiction novels. It is a pretty dark and introspective book. I'm not sure everybody will appreciate the ending but I thought it was fitting. Dying Inside is a book that can make the reader uncomfortable by laying bare the innermost thoughts and feelings of the characters. It usually isn't pretty, but like it or not, most of us will recognize a lot in what Seli...more
Elizabeth Hunter
I found this book intensely disappointing. I'm usually very impressed with Silverberg's work, but here he seemed to be channelling the same vein of zeitgeist that gave us Portnoy's Complaint and other laments of the middle-aged white/Jewish guy whose dick doesn't rise as quickly in his forties as it did in his teens.

The premise is excellent: a guy who's been a telepath all his life, mostly secretly, finds that his powers are fading and has to cope with the loss of his superpower and the prospec...more
Steven
“Living, we fret. Dying, we live. I'll keep that in mind.” Somehow this novel about a mind-reader losing his powers has a reputation for 'not really being science fiction.' I don't think it matters. I think a statement like that consigns genre fiction to a drumhead trial; in other words, the discussion of whether SF can be 'good' is already over. When talk starts about what is and isn't SF it just makes me realize how little I care about the lines that divide fiction. And I bet one of the reason...more
Ben
A very good but quite depressing read. For me it spoke of lonliness as the most terrible aspects of being human, as a price of being any kind of individual. Of how despite the unique aspects of our characters that enable us to be someone no one else can be: and so do and see things in a way no one else can our own problems and difficulties stifle our potential. That ironically lonliness despite being a personal interior emotion of isolation depends so much on the actions of the people around us....more
Heidi
(not finished/paused)

I'm roughly 40% into this book, but it's a really hard nut to crack - too hard for my taste.

Part of it reads like a psychiatric report. Everything else, seen through the eyes of the protagonist and written in first person present tense (something I've always struggled with) and with a somewhat stream of consciousness like quality to it, almost stinks of self-pity, coming from an unlikeable character with barely any redeeming qualities who seems to hate pretty much everyone a...more
Kris
If you met David Selig in real life, you wouldn't like him. In fact, you might even be repulsed. You know it, he knows it, the book knows it. There is an overwhelming sense of awareness at how unlikable the main character is, and he even asks the question, "Would I be this screwed up if I wasn't telepathic? Did my telepathy cause my misery, or would I be miserable anyway?"

Most books I've read in which the prominent characters possess some kind of supernatural ability usually have the character d...more
Bill
It's sad that Science Fiction as a genre isn't taken seriously as important
literature. If it was, then Dying Inside would certainly have gotten more
widespread attention or even considered for prestigious literary awards.

As it stands, I never would have heard of it if not for Goodreads.

I'm not giving this 5 stars, only because there were a couple of parts of
the story I could have done without, like our hero's term paper writings. Sorry,
strike one for a yawn or two.

But this is a special story. It'...more
Daniel Roy
Dying Inside should be required reading for everyone who ever doubted that SF is a legitimate form of literature (perhaps second on the list after Flowers for Algernon). It's not so much a story, as a psychological portrait of a man on the brink of self-loss, as he struggles with age and the withering of his own potential.

David Selig, the protagonist of Dying Inside happens to possess the ability to read others' minds; but it's a credit to Silverberg's craft that Selig's character, rather than b...more
Julie
I am a fan of Silverberg's writing, although I think "The World Inside" was his best book. The casual sex and drug use in this novel really date it to the late 60s and early 70s, but otherwise the theme is timeless: trying to understand and connect with our fellow human beings. I agree with the author's assumption that if we could read minds, really delve past the self-delusions we all have about ourselves, we would find that selfish motivations control all individuals. Even his sister is only r...more
Michelle
i didn't enjoy this book often, and though it's not very long, it was a slog to get through.

reading 'dying inside' was much like watching the performance of a stereotypically grim-faced soviet gymnast. the technique exhibited is near-perfect and utterly precise, but there's no connection with the spectator, no interaction transmitting joy for the art. considered by some to be silverberg's masterwork (and perhaps autobiographical), 'dying inside' is intensely focused on just one question: what ha...more
Peter Hiller
This book is very good, it's depressing but it is an attempt to deal with fundamental issues in humanity in a way that is interesting, with just enough sci-fi/fantasy veneer as to keep you thoughtful but off the true subject matter, which is sex and aging. A more reasonable ending would have meant five stars.

This book is about getting old, but more directly, it's about sex. It's all about sex. If you think of the book, and replace "mind reading ability" with "sexual potency and drive" you'll see...more
Sandy Parsons
This is an excellent portrait of a middle aged man. The character development was spot on. David is a racist, self-aggrandizing, sleazy, unfulfilled man. Silverberg really made me feel like I was David Selig's head. Which is unfortunate, because I didn't enjoy being there.

Maybe that was the point. We might make the assumption that being able to read minds would make someone more empathic, because we can have the intimate associations of what makes that person tick and have the ultimate understan...more
Christy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Miki Habryn
A thoughtful exploration of what life with a superpower would be like. Unfortunately, the answer is "dreadful", a theme that's explored with a clarity and perception that is, frankly, depressing. Well written, but much better suited for being deconstructed than read for enjoyment.
Michael Seidlinger
"Living, we fret. Dying, we live."

This one does real well, digging under my skin, showing me what it's like to succumb to one of my biggest fears of all: the expiration of ability, whatever that ability may be.
Tudor Ciocarlie
An absolutely brilliant book about what really means to be able to reads minds and why telepathy isn’t a good idea.
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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 Legends II Majipoor Chronicles (Lord Valentine, #2)

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“It was like that all the time, in those years: an endless trip, a gaudy voyage. But powers decay. Time leaches the colors from the best of visions. The world becomes grayer. Entropy beats us down. Everything fades. Everything goes. Everything dies.” 8 likes
“I'm an urban New Yorker to the last molecule.” 2 likes
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