The Science Fiction Grand Master’s Thorns “holds up chillingly well after all these decades. A dark pastiche upon Beauty and the Beast” (SF Reviews).
In a world where humanity has colonized the solar system and begun to explore more of the local galaxy, a vast audience follows real-life stories presented by wealthy media mogul Duncan Chalk. To satisfy his audience’s voyeuristic needs—and his own appetite for others’ pain—he pairs Minner Burris, an emotionally withdrawn space explorer who was captured and freakishly surgically altered by aliens, with Lona Kelvin, a suicidal seventeen-year-old girl who donated eggs for a fertility experiment that produced one hundred babies, none of whom she has been allowed to adopt or even see. Chalk promises to solve their personal problems in return for a joint performance tour.
Though the love affair doesn’t last, Chalk keeps the couple on the hook by making new offers. While Minner and Lona struggle to cope with their newfound celebrity and Chalk’s broken promises, they will uncover the true nature of their manipulator—and risk everything to regain the humanity that has been stolen from them . . .
An early exploration of media exploitation and a deep look at freak-show entertainment on a mass scale, this novel was one of the earliest of Silverberg’s mature masterworks.
“Masterful . . . This is a sophisticated novel, beautifully written, intelligent and insightful, with wonderful dialogue and a satisfying conclusion.” —Fantasy Literature
“Silverberg’s brooding, post-utopian, rumination has the makings of a great science fiction novel. . . . A worthwhile read which rambles along a dark path . . . Well done.” —Science Fiction Ruminations