Important Robert Silverberg Novel, Back in Print

A classic population explosion novel, Robert Silverberg's The World Inside, with a contrarian point of view and lots of sex, will soon return to print — and could be the subject of an upcoming HBO series.

The writer Robert Silverberg absolutely tore through through the sf world in the early '70s, writing so much good stuff — Dying Inside and The Book of Skulls among them — he became hard to keep up with. He's fallen out of fashion, but some of this work has been slowly returning to print, and now Tor will reissue 1971's The World Inside in March.

Silverberg calls the the book "a satire or a speculation," and told io9:

It's a group of interlocking stories, with interwoven characters, set in a world about 300 yes in the future, in which to provide farmland for the enormous population, everyone lives in 800-story apartment complexes. They have their own sexual mores: People move from floor to floor in these giant buildings, searching for partners, and it's improper to refuse.

In the late '60s/early '70s there was a slew of sf novels about population anxiety, among them Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar, Harry Harrison's Make Room, Make Room (which became the 1973 film Soylent Green) and Disch's 334. Stanford biologust Paul Ehrlich became famous for his 1968 book The Population Bomb.

Continues Silverberg:

Everybody dreaded the coming Calcutta-fication of the world. (It didn't quite work out that way, at least not in the First World.) I said, Instead of writing an anti-population-explosion tract, I will depict a happily overpopulated world, and from the inside to let the reader see what it's like to live there — a world in which people have adapted.

The writer's renaissance — he says he's still recovering from a period 20 years ago when publishers wanted nothing but "commercial schlock... pirates in space" — may reach beyond the book world: As for the HBO series, Silverberg is not one to get his hopes up on adaptations, but he's optimistic about this one: "They keep paying me, so they must still be planning on making it. It could turn into Deadwood or The Sopranos — it would find a whole new audience."