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In a world where humanity has colonized the solar system and begun to explore more of the local galaxy, a vast audience follows real-life stories presented by wealthy media mogul Duncan Chalk. Chalk feeds on the pained emotions of others. He plays cruelly with his staff, but gorges on the mass emotions generated by the dramas he orchestrates.

Chalk pairs Minner Burris, an emotionally withdrawn space explorer who was captured and freakishly surgically altered by aliens, with Lona Kelvin, a suicidal seventeen-year-old girl who donated eggs for a fertility experiment that produced one hundred babies, none of whom she has been allowed to adopt or even see. Chalk promises to solve their personal problems in return for a joint performance tour.

The two enjoy each other’s company and become lovers as their mutual weaknesses somehow strengthen them, but their emotions then move them to conflict. Their breakup allows Chalk to break his promises but keep them on the hook by making new offers. Burris knows Chalk’s promise was empty—the changes are irreversible and the surgery has also “improved” his body in unexpected ways that he won’t give up. By accident, he learns of Chalk’s true nature, and an encounter exposes the full depth of his pain to Chalk. Burris has convinced Kelvin to join him on a trip back to where he was mutilated, where they will confront the aliens and, they hope, undergo alterations that take them beyond their weakened humanity.

An early exploration of media exploitation and a deep look at freak-show entertainment on a mass scale, this novel was one of the earliest of Silverberg’s mature masterworks.
Published: Open Road Media an imprint of Open Road Integrated Media on
ISBN: 9781497632431
List price: $7.99
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This book was well written and quite interesting with a good, solid premise and believable, dynamic characters. So, why didn't I like it? First of all, I didn't really like any of those characters, no matter how well-developed and genuine they were. The premise, which is that an unbelievably fat, disgustingly rich emotional vampire pairs up two very damaged people so that he can get a thrill off it when their relationship implodes, made me mildly queasy. The world-building was excellent, probably the best part of the book, but each of the disparate scenes (a low-rent tenement, a high-class restaurant built on the outside of a dome, the South Pole resort, the Moon Carnival, the high-class hotel on Titan) seemed cold and sterile, despite being imaginatively described. All in all, not Silverberg's best.more
Excellent beginning, up there with the poetry of the novella that makes up the first section of Nightwings, that falters when the two main characters actually meet. It's hard to care much about their relationship, but the concept of the novel -- bringing two damaged people together in order to enjoy their pain as they develop mutual hatred, is an excellent one and this is a must-read for Silverberg fans.more
A disappointing book. A romance is set up between two people who have been badly scarred by their experiences. The man benefiting is an eater of emotions who feeds on human pain.The first character was surgically altered by aliens, but we never learn anything of real value about the aliens or why they did this to him.The second character was used as an egg donor for 100 babies, but we get little understanding of why she consented to this or why she was chosen for the experiment.The book seems to exist mainly to allow for a tour of the Moon and of Titan, but this doesn't really advance the plot. The whole novel would probably have worked better as a short story.Sex scenes are laughable - women climax immediately without any need for foreplay...I'd expected a more interesting story from a book in the Gollancz SF reprints series.more
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Reviews

This book was well written and quite interesting with a good, solid premise and believable, dynamic characters. So, why didn't I like it? First of all, I didn't really like any of those characters, no matter how well-developed and genuine they were. The premise, which is that an unbelievably fat, disgustingly rich emotional vampire pairs up two very damaged people so that he can get a thrill off it when their relationship implodes, made me mildly queasy. The world-building was excellent, probably the best part of the book, but each of the disparate scenes (a low-rent tenement, a high-class restaurant built on the outside of a dome, the South Pole resort, the Moon Carnival, the high-class hotel on Titan) seemed cold and sterile, despite being imaginatively described. All in all, not Silverberg's best.more
Excellent beginning, up there with the poetry of the novella that makes up the first section of Nightwings, that falters when the two main characters actually meet. It's hard to care much about their relationship, but the concept of the novel -- bringing two damaged people together in order to enjoy their pain as they develop mutual hatred, is an excellent one and this is a must-read for Silverberg fans.more
A disappointing book. A romance is set up between two people who have been badly scarred by their experiences. The man benefiting is an eater of emotions who feeds on human pain.The first character was surgically altered by aliens, but we never learn anything of real value about the aliens or why they did this to him.The second character was used as an egg donor for 100 babies, but we get little understanding of why she consented to this or why she was chosen for the experiment.The book seems to exist mainly to allow for a tour of the Moon and of Titan, but this doesn't really advance the plot. The whole novel would probably have worked better as a short story.Sex scenes are laughable - women climax immediately without any need for foreplay...I'd expected a more interesting story from a book in the Gollancz SF reprints series.more
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