Born with the Dead

by: Robert Silverberg

Sep 12, 2023

I hold Robert Silverberg in high regard as an author of sci-fi novels. I haven’t read many of his novels, but each one I came across had something original and unique about it. “Born with the Dead” is a collection of three unrelated short novels that are united by the theme of death and passing.

The first eponymous novel depicts a world where humanity has found a way to resurrect the dead. They create their own society and rules. We meet the main character, who is trying to find his dead wife and establish a relationship with her again - as when she was alive. What can we do to reconnect with a beloved and lost person? Is it possible to create a relationship between a dead person and a living one? We find out by reading this excellent short story.

In the second story we learn that the world is facing an apocalypse. After a series of astronomical phenomena, all the people of the world expect annihilation and live in fear and panic. In this situation, prophets take over. People with great charisma, great knowledge and the ability to manipulate. In my opinion, the author wanted to convey what panic on a global scale fueled by religious beliefs and centuries of indoctrination can look like in extreme form.

For me, the last short story is a plot-dressed treatise on the passing of time and the meaning of life. The main character lives in a time when people live a very long time, and death is a personal choice of a person. A specific kind of euthanasia is presented here. The main character tries to answer the questions: what did he do well in life, what could he do better, is it worth living forever?

These three novels deal with philosophical questions of the kind of the meaning of life and death in a light and pleasant way.