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Monday, December 22, 2014

Robert Silverberg on Getting Your Life Back On Course

Eton College has formed and shaped
some of England's greatest leaders. 

What do you do when you realize that you've gotten off-track? Your first inclination is obvious: just get back onto your desired course, right? But what if every effort you make to steer yourself back toward the road leads you down a false path, and you end up back in the wilderness again? How can it be that you've gotten so lost, when the way ahead seemed so clear?

For David Selig, in Robert Silverberg's novel Dying Inside, life seems to have veered wildly off-course. Because he was able to read other peoples' minds, he knew what those around him were feeling and thinking. He could anticipate their reactions, and structure his interactions with them accordingly. Yet he ends up friendless, and earning his living by ghostwriting term papers for students at his old university. You can bet he didn't plan on that happening!

People may not know that he can read minds, but the way he interacts with them usually puts them on edge, at least in the long term. He's had friendships, lovers, and jobs, but none of them lasted. Perhaps it would have been better had he announced to the world that he could read minds: at least then he would have been a celebrity, perhaps a prized talent utilized by the government. But he always feared the other possibility more, that people would revile him for his gift, and that he would end up an experimental lab rat. It's difficult to fault his logic, as his sister Judith, the one person he tells--or at least, the single nontelepath he tells--ends up hating him as a result. So, while he can immerse himself in the lives of everyone around him, he only ends up feeling more alone.

If only he had spent more time developing other abilities, instead of merely exploiting the gift he was born with. 

Dragon Dave

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