The Geomancer


Give Your Soul a Good Scrubbin'

John Ottinger III, of Grasping for the Wind, on Robert Silverber's Son of Man:
"I cannot recommend this book. That is not because it is not well-written ... nor because it doesn't dive deep into trying to understand the who and what of humankind. That fundamental question is the very thing we want from a good science fiction story. I do not recommend it simply because I have moral objections to the story's graphic and over sexualized content. This book made me feel....dirty, as if my soul needed a good scrub. I therefore cannot recommend it to you."
Now that's a review!
No, Silverberg's psychedelic odyssey of a tantric messiah certainly isn't for everyone. But it is a masterpiece, and one of my personal favorite SF works of all time.


  1. It's cool whenever someone takes a book seriously enough to disagree with it.

    But I have to admit that this is of of the Silverbob classics that I haven't read yet. Sounds like maybe I should, though.

  2. It is one of my favorite books in the field, precisely because it is the most out-there. lt's a trip to a future so remote from our own that context is impossible. Not only is our history forgotten, but even determining how far away it was is impossible. It's a novel of deep DEEP time. When I read it, I feel like SF has become more conservative and restrained than perhaps it used to be, or necessarily should be. Of course, there's another (nonfiction ) book, by the late Robert Anton Wilson, called Sex and Drugs: A Journey Beyond Limits, and you could pretty much substitute that title for this one. So I'm not surprised that Son of Man isn't everyone's cup o'tea.

  3. I read this book on John's (Picacio) recommendation. I think it's important that as one reads the book, one remembers the time in which it was written. I was a teenager in the late 60s, and had many memories to draw upon while reading the book, so the book was familiar territory to me, and therefore not graphic, over-sexual, shocking, etc. If I hadn't been a teenager, or much older than a teenager, or even alive, perhaps I would agree with Mr. Enge. But I wasn't and I don't. Although I will admit that the book isn't on my Top 10 List, I'm still glad I read it.

  4. Just to be clear, it wasn't James Enge who made the comment. He's not read it yet. It was John Ottinger III of Grasping for the Wind. Which is not to suggest that John's opinions aren't valid or appreciated, I just want to make sure they are ascribed to the right person.

  5. Ahh, gotcha! Thanks for the clarification.

  6. Certainly makes me want to pick it up.

  7. Anonymous6:15 AM

    I have a question rather than a comment: are there any contemporary SF authors who take an 'outsider' approach to tackling things like sex and drugs - pushing the envelope, investigating and exploring as was done in the sixties/seventies - or has the mounting cultural conservatism of the noughties stifled this kind of fiction? It seems to me that SF should be doing exactly what Silverberg does in this book.

  8. Anonymous12:42 AM

    I read this novel when it was first released, and it was a visionary eye-opener to me, in the sense of confronting deep time and the sexual conetent. Many of Silverberg's novels and short stories during this time included sexual content, which was indeed pushing the boundaries at the time for SF.


    And yes, I do believe that current SF has become more conservative re sexual content and issues, and I think it's unfortunate.