Dying Inside

Robert Silverberg
Dying Inside Cover

A Psychological Tale of Wasted Human Potential


Dying Inside should be required reading for everyone who ever doubted that SF is a legitimate form of literature (perhaps second on the list after Flowers for Algernon). It's not so much a story, as a psychological portrait of a man on the brink of self-loss, as he struggles with age and the withering of his own potential.

David Selig, the protagonist of Dying Inside happens to possess the ability to read others' minds; but it's a credit to Silverberg's craft that Selig's character, rather than being swallowed by this fantastic ability, is underlined by it, amplified by it. Selig's self-loathing, his weakness and his fears, are made larger by his extraordinary abilities, but they are never lost throughout the novel. The supernatural never overcomes the human side of the story.

Selig, though not a likeable character, is nevertheless fascinating to watch. He is painfully self-aware, and educated enough to contrast and decant his own struggle. He is aging, and despite an extraordinary gift, he has wasted his life away. Now in middle age, with the waning and eventual death of his power nearing, he reflects on his life, and all the ways in which it went wrong. The result is a gripping human tale, of wasted potential. It speaks to anyone of us who had a special 'talent' as a kid, and who wake up in middle age, normal, muted, ground by life.

A true SF classic, whose reach deserves to extend much farther than the genre.