The Man in the Maze by Robert Silverberg

The Man in the Maze

by Robert Silverberg

Form: Novel

Year: 1968

ID: 714

Publication history:


(from Avon 1981)

Muller had been sent to spy on the first alien race mankind had ever encountered. Discovered, he had been cursed by them with a terrible power that made his presence unbearable to his fellow human beings. Embittered, he'd chosen to live out his life in an abandoned city of murderous mazes on a long-dead planet. But now men must enter Muller's deadly labyrinth and lure him out: for his dreadful power has made him the only man capable of communicating with still another terrifying race of alien beings.


I hope I'm not giving anything away by saying that the power Muller has is that all the ugly, unpleasant qualities of his soul (which we all have inside us, mixed with the good) are continually broadcast like a psychic body odor, so that anyone approaching him feels overwhelming depression, anger, and grief. The cover blurb is misleading in that Muller was not really a spying on the Hydrans, he was just the first human sent to their world to make contact. As Muller was never able to communicate with them, it's inaccurate to say he was discovered and punished for his actions. They did to him what they did for their own private reasons, and he went on his way. The story provides numerous opportunities for ruminations on the worth of the human race and the eternal question of when ends justify means. All in all, a pretty good read, worth checking out. On the technological front, there is faster than light travel of the warp variety, some gravity control, and average human life expectancy between 150 and 200 years.

And here's an interesting tidbit I got from Gary Files:

A few years back I proposed, edited, and read an abridged version of Man in the Maze. It was done as a series of morning book readings over 30-plus 10 minute episodes and I recorded it for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It was a very big success on national radio. At 8.50am every week day people could be seen sitting in their cars seemingly staring at their dashboards. Then just on 9.00am, as though a bell rang, everyone got out and walked to their office.

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