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Publisher's Summary

Their hotel was beautifully situated, high on the northern slope of the huge artificial mound known as the paneium that was sacred to the goat-footed god. From here they had a total view of the city: the wide noble boulevards, the soaring obelisks and monuments, the palace of Hadrian just below the hill, the stately and awesome Library, the temple of Poseidon, the teeming marketplace, the royal lodge that Mark Antony had built after his defeat at Actium. And of course the Lighthouse, the wondrous many-windowed Lighthouse, the seventh wonder of the world, that immense pile of marble and limestone rising in majesty at the end of its mile-long causeway. Black smoke from the beacon-fire ar its summit curled lazily into the sky. The city was awakening.

It looked like the past, on Earth. But times had changed...and changed...and changed.

There were ghosts and chimeras and phastasies everywhere about. A burly thick-thighed swordsman appeared on the porch of the temple of Poseidon holding a Gorgon's severed head and waved it in a wide arc, grinning broadly. In the street below the hotel gate, three small pink sphinxes, no bigger than housecats, stretched and yawned and began to prowl the curbside. A larger one, lion-sized, watched warily from an alleyway: their mother, surely. Even at this distance he could hear her loud purring....

©1984, 1985 Agberg, Ltd (P)1999 by Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"A beautifully worded novella from a highly respected author is made even more enjoyable by the reading of Tom Parker. His precise, cultured voice adds to the wonder felt by the protagonist, and his calmly assured tones give the listener a feeling of comfort." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about Sailing to Byzantium

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Far future world with immortality and AI

Robert Silverberg's Sailing to Byzantium is a short novella of a far future Earth where the bulk of the population enjoys immortality and abundant leisure. A major pastime consists in recreating historical cities as sort of amusement parks. The narrator is someone from the 20th century brought to this world who encounters a general apathic decadence as well as other individuals from other historical times that seem designed solely for entertainment value. While there is a love interest, he struggles to adjust to the mores of the era.

Silverberg plays with the notion of a society advancing to the degree that there seems nothing left to do. At the same time, there's a bit of sociocultural context that precludes acceptance of certain realities. Finally, there is the theme of consciousness, identity, and even the soul arising out of advanced technologies. Sadly, this looks like a conceptual piece that Silverberg just never resolved within himself to fully flesh out.

The narration is well done (oddly, performed by an excellent narrator but under a pseudonym this time) with excellent character distinction and fine pacing.

2 people found this helpful

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imaginative

An unusual future "time travel" theme. Silverberg's prose is exquisite. A favorite of his novellas.

3 people found this helpful

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A pop cultural necessity

and light hearted and fey even when dealing with dark material. a quick and pleasant listen.

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Exceptional

Silverberg is an author of amazing depth and imagination and this story does not disappoint. Perfect narration...

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Lovely story

The narration is well suited to the prose , soothing and sensual like warm breeze.

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Classic Sci-fi

Silverberg comes from the era of Classic Sci-fi, in the company of the other "greats " of that time including Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, & Norton. I remember isolating myself in whatever quiet place I could find to read one of these authors, or my latest copy of Analog! The nights that I would sneak out of bed to hide under the table to watch the original Star Trek because 10 pm was way past my bedtime. If you enjoy Classic Sci-fi; the stories that made you think about the "big questions", then you will enjoy this novella,

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a great classic

But it's a little dated. Addresses ideas about artificial intelligence, but only very superficially.

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Excellent!

Really good sci-do, interesting idea of things to come while still leaving just enough unanswered for you to have things to ponder about afterwords.
Well narrated.

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"Who Wants To Live Forever?"

Robert Silverberg has "Big Themes" packed into a tiny PUNCH of this story. I found our lead protagonist charming and understandable. Easy to relate to I found myself having similar reactions to situations in the book as did our main character/hero. Not even three hours this little story has been on my thoughts since I finished it a good 24 hours ago. I'm sure it will continue to linger and pull at my brain. Made me question a few things I thought I knew about myself and what I consider "Real." Silverberg presents to us questions we still haven't answered some 36 years later. Of course, the title of the short story's title is based on a Yeats poem "Sailing to Byzantium" and all the richness of Yeats questions and thought-provoking statements come alive in this little tale. I'll be reading more Silverberg...audible plays a "mean" game. They introduce you to an author you've never read before using their Plus catalog and before you know it, you're getting ready to buy everything that author ever wrote. Go figure...wicked plan indeed! Go Silverberg. Kids! don't be shy use your Plus catalog...worlds await you.

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A Fascinating Future Utopia!

A really excellent and imaginative sci-fi novella which well deserved the Nebula which it won in 1986. Silverberg creates a mysterious and fascinating world of the far future, exploring interesting themes including that of personal identity and the dilemma of boredom in utopia. Mr. Parker reads in a clear voice and does an excellent job with all the male and female characters.

1 person found this helpful