As the blurb on the book says, there really is something for any science fiction fan in here. You may choose to skip the first part where Silverberg talks about his entry into the wrold of SF writing, though, as a writer myself, I enjoyed it a great deal. It's a warm reminiscence not onlyof a young writer finding his voice but of those halcyon days of the so-called Golden and Silver Ages of science fiction.
The stories themselves are a terrific collection and include some true masterpieces of short story writing, some of which are rarely anthologised. Just go to the sample pages above to check out the contents list. I defy any SF fan not to enjoy most of these stories.
Then there are the essays on the stories, where Silverberg deconstructs and analyses the stories (without, I should add, in any way detracting from them). This isn't a case of the illusion being spoiled when you look at how it's done. I came away from them only more admiring of the skills and imaginations of the writers.
As to those who accuse this of being an ego exercise by Silverberg I can only say they obviously miss the point. There's a clear love of the craft and art of science fiction at work here. Silverberg tells us plainly that he chose these stories not because they are the all-time greats of the genre necessarily (though some actually are - and for a fuller list of such stories see Silverberg's anthology The Science Fiction Hall of Fame vol.1. The greatest SF short stories as chosen by the SF Writers Association).
These are the stories that a fledgling writer was moved by, astounded by, impressed and dazzled by. We all have our own lists of such stories and they often include ones that wouldn't be on anyone else's list. Doesn't make them bad choices, just personal ones. And frankly, if someone as talented as Robert Silverberg, an author and editor who's proven his talent time and again in this field, by any standard, hasn't earned the right after forty years of writing to do a collection like this, then I don't know who has.
There are any number of authors who have projected their own egos into their works. Harlan Ellison does it all the time and is wonderfully entertaining at it. The great Isaac Asimov published three thick volumes of autobiography that are a pleasure to read. Any editor who puts together an anthology projects their own tastes into it. The proof is ultimately in the work itself. And it's certainly on display here. End of sermon.
Do yourself a favour. Read this book. Maybe, Like Robert Silverberg, some of these stories will inspire you enough to begin writing yourself. Or at least to read more. And that can't be a bad thing.