He had come back to Holman’s World after all. He was not sure why. Call it irresistible attraction; call it sentimentality; call it foolishness. Gundersen had never planned to revisit this place. Yet here he was, waiting for the landing, and there it was in the vision screen, close enough to grasp and squeeze in one hand, a world slightly larger than Earth, a world that had claimed the prime decade of his life, a world where he had learned things about himself that he had not really wanted to know. Now the signal light in the lounge was flashing red. The ship would shortly land. Despite everything, he was coming back.
He saw the shroud of mist that covered the temperate zones, and the great sprawling icecaps, and the girdling blue-black band of the scorched tropics. He remembered riding through the Sea of Dust at blazing twilight, and he remembered a silent, bleak river-journey beneath bowers of twittering dagger-pointed leaves, and he remembered golden cocktails on the veranda of a jungle station on the Night of Five Moons, with Seena close by his side and a herd of nildoror mooing in the bush. That was a long time ago. Now the nildoror were masters of Holman’s World again. Gundersen had a hard time accepting that. Perhaps that was the real reason why he had come back: to see what sort of job the nildoror could do.
“Attention, passengers in lounge,” came a voice over the speaker. “We enter landing orbit for Belzagor in fifteen minutes. Please prepare to return to cradles.”
Belzagor. That was what they called the planet now. The native name, the nildoror’s own word. To Gundersen it seemed like something out of Assyrian mythology. Of course, it was a romanticized pronunciation; coming from a nildor it would really sound more like Bllls’grr. Belzagor it was, though. He would try to call the planet by the name it now wore, if that was what he was supposed to do. He attempted never to give needless offense to alien beings.
“Belzagor,” he said. “It’s a voluptuous sound, isn’t it? Rolls nicely off the tongue.”
The tourist couple beside him in the ship’s lounge nodded. They agreed readily with whatever Gundersen said. The husband, plump, pale, overdressed, said, “They were still calling it Holman’s World when you were last out here, weren’t they?”
DOWNWARD TO THE EARTH by Robert Silverberg, Copyright © 2012 Agberg Ltd. and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Griffin, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, LLC
The natives of Belzagor are more than restless. They’re rebelling. And they’ve won.
The Company that ruled the human colony once called Holman’s world has been sent packing. The elephantine Nildoror and their symbiotes, the fearsome Sulidoror, reign unchallenged.
But the Company has not given up. Now Edmund Gunderson, the former head of the Belzagor operation, has travelled across the galaxy to return to the world he lost and settle the score with the Nildoror. But will they even acknowledge his existence?
Take the journey across Belzagor in SF legend Robert Silverberg’s masterful classic Downward to the Earth. Like a science-fictional Apocalypse Now, it boldly reimagines Jospeh Conrad’s Heart of Darkness for a new era.
Hardcover Book : 256 pages
Publisher: Tor Books ( August 07, 2012 )
Item #: 13-636834
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 inches
Product Weight: 13.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
I read this years ago and enjoyed the re-read (I replaced a much passed around paperback). The take-away was a little different with this read, but the story of assumptions and implications was just a poignant this time. Introduction was an informative way to reflect on the link to "Heart of Darkness". Still great and still a classic!