Dying Inside

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Dying Inside
Cover of first edition (hardcover)
AuthorRobert Silverberg
Cover artistJerry Thorp
CountryUnited States
GenreScience fiction
PublisherCharles Scribner's Sons
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardcover & Paperback)
LC ClassPZ4.S573 Dy PS3569.I472

Dying Inside is a science fiction novel by American writer Robert Silverberg. It was nominated for the Nebula Award in 1972,[1] and both the Hugo and Locus Awards in 1973.[2]

Publication history[edit]

It was originally serialized in the American magazine Galaxy Science Fiction between the July 1972 and September 1972 issues.[3]


The novel's main character, David Selig, is an undistinguished man living in New York City. David was born with a telepathic gift allowing him to read minds. Rather than use his ability for any greater good, however, Selig squanders his power, using it only for his own convenience. At the beginning of the novel, David earns a living by reading the minds of college students so that he can better plagiarize reports and essays on their behalf.

As the novel progresses, Selig's power becomes continually weaker, working sporadically and sometimes not at all, and Selig struggles to maintain his grip on reality as he begins to lose an ability on which he has long since grown dependent.[4]

The book contains a number of memorable elements, such as David's relationship with a fellow telepath he meets as a young adult, or his strained interaction with his estranged younger sister (who has long distrusted him because of his ability), or his obsession, during one section of the novel, with proving that his girlfriend, a woman named Kitty, is also telepathic after he discovers that he can't read her mind. There is also a moment where David's power causes him to vicariously experience his girlfriend's acid trip, and a bravura sequence in which the adolescent Selig, during a visit to a farm, enters the minds of, variously, a fish swimming in a stream, a hen laying an egg, and a young couple in the midst of passionate sex.


Michael Dirda, reviewing the 2009 reissue in the Washington Post, described Dying Inside as:

... widely regarded as Robert Silverberg's masterpiece. ... It's insane that 'Dying Inside' should be subtly dismissed as merely a genre classic. This is a superb novel about a common human sorrow, that great shock of middle age -- the recognition that we are all dying inside and that all of us must face the eventual disappearance of the person we have been.[5]

Ted Gioia at Conceptual Fiction, wrote:

Issues of aging and decline, maturity and grace--rarely dealt with in any popular fiction, and with a few exceptions (such as Flowers for Algernon) almost completely neglected in sci-fi--are the key themes at work here. They are handled so deftly and vividly that one inevitably wonders about the connections between David Selig the character and Robert Silverberg the author.[4]

Silverberg has called it "as mundane in texture as any novel I've ever written."[6]

Literary and other allusions[edit]

Dying Inside makes frequent references to various artists, writers and other academics, including:


  1. ^ "1972 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-11.
  2. ^ "1973 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-11.
  3. ^ Clareson, Thomas (1983). Robert Silverberg: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography. Boston, MA: G. K. Hall & Co. p. 36.
  4. ^ a b Gioia, Ted. "Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg". ConceptualFiction.com. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  5. ^ Dirda, Michael (9 April 2009). "Michael Dirda Book Review: 'Dying Inside' by Robert Silverberg". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  6. ^ Zinos-Amaro, Alvaro (2016). Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg. Fairwood Press. ISBN 978-1933846637.

External links[edit]