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A Time of Changes

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  2,494 Ratings  ·  124 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 1971)
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May 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a surprisingly different read.

At the very first, I thought it was going to be an alien-Odyssey, a SF treatment of the greek legend, with just a hint of something truly interesting, culturally, in that the entire race, or nearly the entire race, is devoted to self-abnegation.

Imagine, then, instead of relying on the world-building adventure that it began with, it turned into a very distinctive novel of the drug culture that reflects 1971 perfectly, changing Ulysses into Timothy Leary, and
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Robert Silverberg is a legend, one of the all-time greats, and among these all-time greats he is probably the most underrated. He has Hugo and Nebula Awards up the wazoo but is relatively unknown compared to the giants of the genre like Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein, IMHO he belongs up there with them in term of accolades.

A Time of Changes is one of his best novels if his Goodreads page is anything to go by. However, if you have never read anything by Silverberg before you may want to start with
Apr 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, 2fiction, 1audio
Puritans to the stars? Something like that. As usual, Silverberg delves into a complex issue with realistic characters & manages to keep them distant enough that I never manage to care about them.

This has an interesting premise, a belief system of self-containment that our main character eventually fights. There are elements from many great classics, Heart of Darkness, The Scarlet Letter, & others. I could appreciate the complex theme, the world building, & tragedy, but it never suc
This is one of Silverberg’s best novels from his most prolific and creative period in the late 1960s/early 1970s, along with Downward to the Earth and Dying Inside.

It’s about a repressive human society on a distant planet called Borthan, in which the terms “I” and “myself” are obscenities, and “self-bearing” is a serious crime. It’s the story of Kinnall Darival, the second son of a Plutarch (essentially a prince), who must leave his home to avoid being a threat to his older brother’s claim to r
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
Ivan Lutz
Mar 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Nije loša, iako malčice zamorna. Fino zamišljen svijet i politički ustroj. (Npr. ne smiješ o sebi govoriti u prvom licu). Orginalna ideja. Silverbergova kritika na Zemljane i opijate jer jasna kao dan. Otvoren kraj je fino zamišljen, ali ipak romanu fali ono nešto. Osvojio je Nebulu, bio nominiran za Hugo i Locus, vjerojatno zbog te orginalnosti.
Što se stila tiče, ovo je malčice drugačiji Silverberg od onoga na kojega smo naviknula, ali i dalje tečan, jasan i vrlo vrlo jednostavan. Ne skrivam d
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
Jan 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
When settlers first colonized Borthan, they set up a society and a religion called "The Covenant" that makes "self-bearing" into a taboo. People cannot share their deepest thoughts with others, with the sole exception being one's "bond brother" and "bond sister". One can never say the words "I" or "me", because that indicates a sort of self-infatuation, or "self bearing". Those words are the most terribly obscene words one can possibly utter.

This science fiction novel is written as an autobiogr
Rachel (Kalanadi)
This book is far, far too preoccupied with its leading man's premature ejaculation.

The repetitive fact that he puts his penis in many willing receptacle women - but never sticks it in the one woman he truly lusts after - really distracted me from the story where he learns to bare his soul... or be human...


Guys, he gets high on a drug and it changes his life.

The End.

In case you're wondering, (view spoiler)
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 02, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hardcover, b-c
An excellently written novel by Silverberg. It is written in the form of a memoir by one who has gone into hiding after taking on a mission to change the ways of his world by freeing its citizens of the covenants constraint of the forbidden practice of acknowledgment of one's self. Had Silverberg come up with this idea and attempted this in the 1950's, it might have a pulpier title like, "The Man Who Dared Say "I". I'm glad the idea struck him twenty years later.
May 08, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nc-17
Storyline: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Writing Style: 2/5
World: 1/5

This is my fifth Robert Silverberg book, and it reaffirmed for me what I regard as his most distinctive quality: the wide divide between potential and execution. In his heyday Silverberg was reportedly writing 250,000 a words a month, and his books show it. They betray that they were hatched by an imaginative and rascally mind, stitched together by someone with an instinctual feel for plotting, and then glossed over with a stain of science
Nov 14, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  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
Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Gripping on-the-run memoir of an alien from a repressed culture seeking communal enlightenment via drugs. Hippie hallmarks of sex and psychedelics, but aged well.
Kim Zinkowski
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
B+. Read during my science fiction period where I endeavored to read all Hugo, Nebula & PK Dick
Kyle Sullivan
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
A clever criticism of society wrapped up with a medieval sci-fi cloak. Mr. Silverberg is a science fiction great and his writing here is his usual deft craft, even as it is couched in the sometimes rough and culturally distant personality of its protagonist. This book as an easy read and I recommend it for anyone who wants to get into Silverberg. The culture he builds here is based on a simple premise...but like the Puritans of America's Euro-foundational moment, that premise can create an entir ...more
Nov 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
A Time of Change is told as the memoir of Lord Kinnall Darival, exiled prince of Salla who has come to know the self. On Borthan—founded by stern, stoic humans of northern stock—personal pronouns are obscene, self-concern is a sin, and the worst crime is to let loose emotions that should be buried deep inside. “I love you” is a more vile obscenity to this culture than “fuck off” is to ours. This set of social norms that prohibit acknowledgement and repress the self is the Covenant, and the rule ...more
Dec 04, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi_general
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
Perry Whitford
'I am Kinnall Darival and I mean to tell you all about myself.'

That might not seem like such a momentous opening to a memoir, but if you were a citizen of Borthan, a distant planet colonized by a stoic group of Earth evacuees some two thousand years before, where the very concept of self is taboo, it's positively revolutionary.

A large but sparsely populated world where the settlers are primarily gathered on just one of its five vast continents, the people of Borthan are rigidly bound to the Cove
Marion Hill
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
3.5 Stars.

What is the strength or conviction of someone’s beliefs unless they are tested by temptation?

The Nebula Award winning novel A Time of Changes by Robert Silverberg attempts to answer the aforementioned question. Prince Kinnall from the planet Velada Borthan tells his story as a memoir about how he became tempted by a substance brought by a man from Earth named Schweiz. That temptation makes him questioned his religious beliefs and changes his life forever.

The substance that the Earthman
Nuno Magalhães
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: own, scifi
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
Nov 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Erik Graff
Feb 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Silverberg fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
Helen, Michael and Tom's mother, was a godsend to her sons and their friends during our early adulthoods. Director of Chicago's Womens' Athletic Club downtown, she was in the position to hire people for various positions. She helped me during the summer after college and for some time after seminary by hiring me as a security guard, working days in the first instance and nights in the second. The position was wonderful, entailing very little real work beyond occasional night rounds, allowing lon ...more
Jan 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Liked it beginning to end. A reasonably believably world and premise for a story.
Brent Ecenbarger
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
A Time of Changes by Robert Silverberg feels very dated reading it today, but this was still a story that I enjoyed overall. This is a quick read (my copy was just 183 pages), and there's enough chapter breaks that it felt every three pages or so had a decent sized page gap. The story is a first person narration by a man on an alien planet, thousands of years in the future from now, he is a descendent of a group of humans that moved across the stars to practice their strict religion without the ...more
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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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“In every man's life there is something he feels driven to do, something that pricks him at the core of his soul so long as it remains undone, and yet as he approaches the doing of it he will know fear, for perhaps to fulfill the obsession will bring him more pain than pleasure.” 3 likes
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