Just finished Robert Silverberg’s Thorns. Thematically, it’s about two people whose lives have been changed in fundamental ways by technology. They aren’t happy about it, but at the end they learn to embrace both their new selves and their suffering.

Thorns was written in 1967. It’s instructive to realize that as much time has passed since 1967 as had passed between the first issue of Hugo Gernsback’s Amazing Stories (1926) and the writing of Thorns. If Thorns seems still fairly modern and relevant, perhaps that’s a tribute to Silverberg’s talent, or perhaps it reflects an ebbing of a cultural naivete that had been more prevalent in the ’20s.

Like Simak’s All Flesh Is Grass, which dates from the same period and which I re-read last week, Thorns is essentially optimistic. The world in which it’s set is pretty much a utopia, and the future of the main characters seems bright with promise.

I wish I were that optimistic.

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