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Downward to the Earth
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Downward to the Earth > Downward to the Earth: Finished (Spoilers)

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Adelaide Blair | 995 comments Mod
This topic is for those who have finished the book. Spoil Away!


Adelaide Blair | 995 comments Mod
Ok, that was maybe one of my favorite reads so far in this group. For most of the book, it feels like a horror story, and then it gets all metaphysical in the end. I'm not sure that the end is a strong as the rest of the book, but it wasn't disappointing in any way. I dunno. I need to think about this a bit more.


message 3: by Kelly (last edited Apr 08, 2019 06:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kelly | 76 comments I liked it well enough. I can see the similarities with Heart of Darkness. But I never thought that much of Heart of Darkness. It was a 'meh' read for me. I like this one much better. I think Silverburg is an excellent world builder as an author.

I lived for 8 years in Europe, and ironically, Gunderson's cringing from the tourists is something I could sadly identify with. My husband and I always tried to be polite guests, but we occasionally saw absolute horror show tourists from America (ok, there were other countries as bad, we just tended to notice the Americans). They came to explore a different culture but they disdained everything. would go on about how terrible the (food, transportation, accommodations, you name it) was, how much better America was. And the worst expected everyone to bow down and kiss their feet because 'they were Americans'. At that point, my husband and I would pretend to be Canadian. :P Thankfully, most (90%, at least, with only 2-3% the nightmare tourists of legend) were really decent people. But there were the few....

But for all I enjoyed the book, the ending left me rather, um, 'meh'. It was just so.... 60's. I ran into the same problem with Arthur C. Clark's Childhoods End. But at least Silverburg didn't go all the way to loss of identity like Clark did. So I would have given the book up to the end 4 stars, but knocked it back to 3 after that. For me, the journey was the great part. The destination left me rather flat. Maybe I'm just too devoted to the idea of individuality to accept the whole 'we must be one to move forward' concept. So it got a little too 60's existential for me at the end.

But I really did like the journey. I didn't know if I would like Gunderson much at the beginning, but I liked his development as a character. And Silverburg was always great about 'showing' not telling. One thing that really disappoints is when an author gives you all the back story in a chapter or two. This had a natural progression of learning about the world and the history of the characters. So while not a favorite read, it was an enjoyable one for me. :)


Cate | 12 comments I joined Classic Trash last year, and have read 4 or 5 books with the group. I think Downward to the Earth is my favorite, and I'm grateful to the person who recommended it.
What I liked was that Silverberg kept the view of Belzagor to Gundersen's experience, and didn't show us everything from an omniscient viewpoint. I followed Gundersen as he discovered information about the nildor and sulidor and Silverberg did a great job of communicating his wonder, confusion and ultimate spiritual awakening. Nietzsche said "If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you." That is what happens to Gundersen. He finally sees how terribly he and the Company misunderstood and exploited the Belzagor situation, and it changes him inside to the point where he is ready to evolve into a new life form, a human adapted to Belzagor. He literally can't go back "home" again. I was worried for Gundersen since Kurtz and others had tried to go through rebirth, but were not spiritually ready so they became non-human monsters.
I found the religious themes of sin, forgiveness, mercy and being "born again" fascinating when presented through alien intelligent beings. I felt the nildoror were a lot more merciful than humans would have been in the same situation.
Great ready, thanks to the group.


Adelaide Blair | 995 comments Mod
Cheryl requested the book back in 2015. (It can take a while to get to stuff.) This was a very pleasant surprise. Thanks Cheryl!


message 6: by Cheryl (last edited Apr 12, 2019 12:53PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cheryl | 886 comments Adelaide wrote: "Cheryl requested the book back in 2015. (It can take a while to get to stuff.) This was a very pleasant surprise. Thanks Cheryl!"

You are welcome! Now if MY book would only get here.

My state library system uses volunteer couriers to deliver the books from one library to the other. Evidently, some of the couriers were away on vacation the last two weeks (it was "spring break" here for the schools) so the delivery has been a bit slowed down. It SHOULD be here before the end of the month.


Cheryl | 886 comments I just finished the book. It was very late 1960s/early 1970s New Wave SF, with the drugs (venom), sex, and metaphysics that was so prominent in that time. Very good world building, and I really liked the aliens.

I sort of guessed that the two intelligent species were really versions of the same one, and that the rebirth was a cycle back and forth between them. Like Cate mentioned in her post, the story does give an interesting alien version of being "born again". Even though the book was pretty short, it gave you alot to think about. Definitely a different kind of SF book.


Adelaide Blair | 995 comments Mod
Yeah, I'm really glad we read this one. I probably NEVER would have picked it up on my own. I'd like to read some more by this author.


Kelly | 76 comments I agree! Definitely wouldn't mind reading more of his work. :)


message 10: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John | 42 comments Group. The similarity of this books' main character, Nildorors and the Aliens in "Footfall" border on plagiarism. This novel was written in 1969 by Robert Silverberg and Footfall was written in 1985 by Larry Niven and Jerry Pounelle. The manners of these two different species, one is warlike and one is docile, but the similarities can not be mis-understood. Footfall does not fall into the rules of what our group considers as "classic" but if you wish to compare this novel to "Downward to Earth" it is there. Have not been unable to stop reading "downward to earth" Great read.


message 11: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John | 42 comments Finished the novel. In 1969 was reading "lord of the ring" or "dune" and any Author C. Clark I could find so this author never crossed my path. That changed as of yesterday. No spoilers here, you will have to take the journey your-self but it will be pleasant. Enjoy. Keep Reading


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