Please welcome Alvaro Zinos-Amaro to The Qwillery.
Looking through Robert Silverberg’s bibliography, one doesn’t see a ton of book collaborations. Sure, there are a number of books including his name in shared credit with someone else’s on the cover. In his early days he partnered on a number of tales with Randall Garrett. Two—The Shrouded Planet and The Dawning Light--were published as novels by Robert Randall at the end of the 1950s. A gathering of their collaborative short stories was published in 2009 under the title A Little Intelligence.
Then there’s the debut novel of the “Fire in Winter” series, The Mutant Season, written in collaboration with Karen Haber, Bob’s wife. Obviously that arrangement—the husband-and-wife writing team, who also produced a number of short stories—is not one we’d think Silverberg would enter into with other writers.
What, then, of the three books Bob co-authored with Isaac Asimov: Nightfall, The Positronic Man, and The Ugly Little Boy? In this case Silverberg essentially wrote the novels himself based on approved expansion treatments of Asimov’s original stories.
Let’s examine nonfiction, another field in which Silverberg was very prolific. There is a book bearing the names of Silverberg and Arthur C. Clarke—Into Space—but this was an update by Silverberg of an earlier Clarke title, The Young Traveller in Space.
On the editing front, there’s a few more joint bylines. Volumes 11 and 12 of the famous New Dimensions anthology series were listed as co-edited with Marta Randall, who did the heavy lifting (these were supposed to be two transitional volumes that would pave the way for Marta to undertake Volume 13 solo). Bob also edited three Universe anthologies and a number of yearly Best of volumes with Karen.
That’s the bulk of collaborations.
For someone who’s published fifteen or even twenty books, it would represent a fair percent of collaborative output, but in Bob’s case—hundreds of books—it’s a drop in the ocean.
Looking through these past collaborative ventures made it particularly special to be invited to work on a joint fiction project with Bob. The result was one story, When the Blue Shift Comes, told across two novellas. It wasn’t a strict collaboration at the line level, as we each wrote one novella individually and didn’t meddle with the other’s piece (Mike Resnick was the series editor, and he insured consistency, etc.), but aesthetically and plot-wise it’s one narrative in two halves, not two standalone tales.
Getting to collaborate again with Bob on Traveler of Worlds was more intimate, since it meant spending a fair amount of time at his house and then going through the line edits of the manuscript with him for corrections and final approval. Our words again remain distinct, though, since each question and answer is clearly attributed to one speaker or the other.
Perhaps the closest literary collaboration arose when Bob invited me to contribute a story to an apocalypse anthology he was editing. His editorial suggestions tightened my story and provided an excellent behind-the-scenes look at his process. In a couple of lines, his words intermingled with mine!
Which leads to a nebulous but nevertheless pleasing claim to a unique trifecta:
As far as I know, I’m the only writer with whom Bob has shared authorship on a fiction book (Blue Shift), a non-fiction book (Traveler of Worlds), and whose work Bob has edited (my story “Prayers to the Sun by a Dying Person” appeared in This Way to the End Times).
What does that mean?
Obviously, it’s a testament to Bob’s patience!
Seriously, as I begin my career and his winds down, I’m lucky to have received such generous help and insight from a true master. I’ve learned a lot from each of these three experiences, and I’m excited to put these lessons to work as I craft current and upcoming projects.
Mentor, collaborator, editor—friend. Thank you, Bob.
Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg
Fairwood Press, August 16, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 280 pages
In addition to exploring Silverberg’s career, now in its sixth decade, this collection of transcribed conversations delves into aspects of Silverberg’s life—such as his extensive travel, passion for film, opera and classical music—not covered elsewhere.
A decade-and-a-half-long friendship, and working together on When the Blue Shift Comes, afforded Alvaro the opportunity to speak at length with Silverberg. The result: a remarkably candid series of conversations that will be of interest to science fiction readers and anyone curious about the writing life.
Alvaro is co-author, with Robert Silverberg, of When The Blue Shift Comes and Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg, which is currently eligible for Hugo nomination in the Best Related category and the Locus Award for best non-fiction.
Alvaro's more than thirty stories have appeared in magazines like Analog, Nature, Lightspeed, Galaxy's Edge, Lackington's, Farrago's Wainscot and Neon, as well as anthologies such as The Mammoth Book of the Adventures of Moriarty, The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Tales, The 2015 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide, Cyber World, This Way to the End Times, Humanity 2.0, An Alphabet of Embers and The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016.
Alvaro's essays, reviews and interviews have appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The First Line, Asimov's, Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Foundation, The New York Review of Science Fiction and Intergalactic Medicine Show. He also edits the roundtable blog for Locus.