Downward to the Earth by Robert Silverberg

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A science fiction novel from 1970. A former colonial administrator returns to an Earth-like planet, years after decolonisation, to atone for past transgressions involving a race of wise elephant-like beings.

Silverberg writes compellingly as ‘Gundersen’ revisits former colleagues, a lover, and his past, in a quasi-African landscape. Always the reader remains curious; What was Gundersen’s transgression? What is the true nature of the inscrutable Nilduror and their bestial counterparts, the Sulduror? And what lies behind their mysterious religious rites, by which Gundersen may atone? There are also memorable images throughout; of decay and death, but also of transformation, in both the physical and spiritual sense.

Thereby, Downward To Earth is a profound page-turner about forgiveness and wisdom, lucidly written.

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