The ED SF Project

The Ellen Datlow/SCI FICTION Project, that is. We're showing the love for five and a half years of great short fiction, and we need your help! We've got over 300 stories to cover, so if you're a person who loves short speculative fiction, we want you. Go here to read the list and add your voice.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

"The Man Who Never Forgot" by Robert Silverberg: An Appreciation by Scott M. Sandridge

Silverberg's tale is about the life of a man who remembers everything, every single detail from the memory of his birth, to everything he's read and every conversation he's heard. I never had a memory as good as the protagonist, Niles, but much of what Niles felt and went through struck a painfully familiar chord in me.

"I could have been something special, he brooded, one of the wonders of the world. Instead I'm a skulking freak who lives in dingy third-floor back rooms, and I don't dare let the world know what I can do."

When I first read this story at SCI FICTION, these sentences jumped off the page and smacked me across the forehead. It was one of those epiphanies you often recieve while reading fiction, that little voice in the back of your mind that says, "Here is truth."

It may never be the "Grand Truth," but the personal truths are no less potent to the one it hits. It may not be a truth you want to hear, but it is always what you need to hear.

"I could have been something special . . ." How often did I tell myself that as I grew older? How often do people older than me tell themselves that? How often have I heard people say it during a moment of confiding?

So few of us ever allow ourselves to reach our full potential.

"He had a gift, a great gift, an awesome gift. It had been too big for him until now. Self-pitying, self-tormented, he had refused to allow for the shortcomings of the forgetful people about him and had paid the price of their hatred. But he couldn't keep running away forever. The time would have to come for him to grow big enough to contain his gift, to learn to live with it instead of moaning in dramatic
self-inflicted anguish."

Silverberg, through Niles' self-realization in this story, speaks to all of us. So throw away your self-pity and let your gifts shine through. You'll make the world a better place for it.

And thank you, SCI FICTION, for publishing a story that contains such an important truth.

Link to story.


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