Roma Eterna Mass Market Paperback – Apr 1 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
In Hugo and Nebula winner Silverberg's epic alternative history, as grandly sweeping and imaginative as his celebrated Majipoor Cycle (Lord Valentine's Castle, etc.), the imperial Eternal City (aka Roma) takes 2,000 years to decline but not quite fall. Starting with a scholar's recollection of a failed Hebrew exodus from Egypt centuries earlier, this unusually moving novel depicts 10 crucial historical moments, each centering on the personality of a fictional emperor seen through the eyes of an engaging lesser figure, like an imperial bureaucrat, a luscious and wealthy widow, a brave legionary commander, a conscientious architect, a hunky son of a Celtic chieftain, or even barbarian children who unwittingly bring down the last emperor. Silverberg seamlessly interpolates glimpses of Rome's real history in this handsomely crafted fiction, whether looking back to the ideals of the ancient Republic-duty, honor, country-or inventing a captivating cast of might-have-beens. He unifies his narrative with unusual but convincing historical theory: that Roma's vaunted religious tolerance, in turning the sacred into a mere instrument of governance, had sown the seeds of revolution-a spiritual and intellectual upheaval that here leads the children of Israel to a second and glorious trek to the stars. Guided by the sure hand of an old master, these many roads lead to a fascinating city of multitudinous souls.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Silverberg's magisterial alternate history is likely the coda to his ongoing exploration of a Roman empire that survived in some form to a time contemporary with our world's present. The turning point in his version reflects Gibbon's view that Christianity undermined the later empire, though Silverberg disposes of Christianity long before its this-world birth by preventing the Jews' escape from Egypt. (He also eliminates Muhammad and Islam.) His development includes a good many realistic features, such as fairly constant tension, sometimes erupting in warfare, between Greek and Latin cultures within the empire. He also plays dating games for the historically literate with a calendar reckoned from the founding of the city in our 753 B.C.E. Inevitably, the book reads like a squadron of short stories flying in close formation (in fact, many parts of it have been published as individual short pieces). They are very good stories, though, full of Silverberg's seasoned expertise in historiography, characterization, and world building, and they offer something to satisfy most readers' tastes. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
The newly arrived ambassador from the Eastern Emperor was rather younger than Faustus had expected him to be: a smallish sort, finely built, quite handsome in what was almost a girlish kind of way, though obviously very capable and sharp, a man who would bear close watching. Read the first page
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Top Customer Reviews
1) I expected Silverberg to be more knowledgeable about Roman history; reading this book, my illusion disappeared quickly but I assumed he'd learn more than a few place names and dates and the barest outlines of the empire. At least he must have visited a few of the well-known Roman sites like Tivoli and Capri since he constantly refers to them but the problem with that is he, well, constantly refers to them.
2) The SF extrapolations and even simple plot elements are virtually non-existent. These "stories" are more vignettes with the last few pages wrapping up what plot elements there are.
3) Silverberg's writing is strong, if slightly mannered. His characterization is thin and his plots, as I mentioned above, don't exist.Read more ›
Despite being a little disappointed that this was a book of short stories, instead of what I had expected, I still thought it might be interesting to see some of the things that I mentioned above, as the Empire evolves. However, while a couple of the stories were pretty good, most were just ok, and a couple (including the last) were terrible. Instead of telling stories about the greatness of the Empire and how it expands throughout the years, and the technology that comes along with it, the stories are more about how the Empire just barely hangs on (or doesn't, temporarily) despite many factors that threaten it. And the technology that I thought would be particulary interesting was barely mentioned at all. There are passing mentions of a printing press and picture postcards, and some talk of building an elevator that is never realized, but no discussion of how technological advancements were made in this alternate version of history. I was also particularly disappointed by the fact that the technology that was mentioned in the stories pretty much corresponded to when those things came about in actual history.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
While the book is well written, the plot outlined in the blub takes place in the last few pages and is terribly disappointing. Read morePublished on May 19 2004 by Terry Mixon
Robert Silverberg, with fifty years of writing and hundreds of books behind him, has been in the business too long to write a really bad book, but this collected short story series... Read morePublished on April 27 2004
This is a fun book: just suppose the Roman empire had continued for another 1500 years...? The stories are light and are written with the shallow depth of a young writer (which... Read morePublished on Oct. 29 2003 by tertius3
The only thing you need to know you have from the other reviews for the book, except that the scene with Moshe holding the law was in a dream. Read morePublished on Oct. 14 2003 by rjones2818
Hmm, well I have been a great admirer of Silverberg's short stories in the past, and there are one or two more than decent ones here. Read morePublished on Sept. 22 2003
A brilliantly realized alternate history of a Roman Empire that never fell, as only the equally brilliant mind and imagination of Silverberg could envision it.Published on Aug. 16 2003 by Gary S. Potter
Robert Silverberg is my favorite author of sci-fi/fantasy/alternate history, and Rome is one of my favorite fictional subjects. Read morePublished on Aug. 14 2003 by Michael L Stephens
Its easy for Silverberg to skip through the history, changing the facade to fit the "Roma" title. Aah generally I am very disappointed in this work. Nothing exciting. Read morePublished on Aug. 4 2003