Les Monades Urbaines

ISBN: 2253072257
ISBN 13: 9782253072256
By: Robert Silverberg

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About this book

La planète Terre en l'an 2381 : la population humaine compte désormais plus de 75 milliards d'individus, entassés dans de gigantesques immeubles de plusieurs milliers d'étages. Dans ces monades, véritables villes verticales entièrement autosuffisantes, tout est recyclé, rien ne manque. Seule la nourriture vient de l'extérieur. Ainsi, l'humanité a trouvé le bonheur. Des bas étages surpeuplés et pauvres aux étages supérieurs réservés aux dirigeants, tous ne vivent que dans un but : croître et se multiplier. Plus de tabous, plus de vie privée, plus d'intimité. Chacun appartient à tout le monde. La jalousie et le manque n'existent plus. Contentez-vous d'être heureux. La monade travaille pour vous et maîtrise tout. Quand à ceux qui n'acceptent pas le système, les anomos, ils seront eux aussi recyclés. Pour le bien-être du plus grand nombre... L'utopie futuriste est une entreprise délicate, tant ce genre compte de chefs-d'œuvre indépassables, souvent fondateurs de la science-fiction. Loin de recycler de vieilles idées, Silverberg (Le château de Lord Valentin, les Chroniques de Majipoor) en renouvelle le genre avec intelligence et subtilité. Un grand classique à ranger aux côtés de 1984 d'Orwell ou du Meilleur des mondes de Huxley. --Georges Louhans

Reader's Thoughts


** spoiler alert ** Ironically I read this book while on a backpacking trip. It's a fascinating glimpse into a future Earth - a world where people now live completely inside in 1000 story buildings and serve god (lower case because, as the book tells us, why would god care if it's capitalized or not?) by being blessworthy. That involves being a good citizen, avoiding interpersonal conflicts at all costs, and breeding like rabbits.Each chapter of the book is about life in the Urban Monads (urbmon for short) told through a different characters eyes. Blessworthy citizens tell us that life in the urbmon is peachy and perfect. Even through their eyes, though, we catch glimpses of sinister goings-on, evidence that life in the urbmon is not as copacetic as the people themselves want to believe.Chiefly, though, I came away from this book with the feeling that it was entirely about sex. Part of being a blessworthy person is being available to anyone who wants to have sex with you. Gay or straight, it all goes, but it's considered highly deviant to say no to a reasonable request and doing so could get you sent to the moral engineers or down the chute. "Nightwalking" happens every night and men wander the halls, browsing other apartments for a sex partner. There's nothing explicit, really, about the sex but holy crap I felt like sex was mentioned at least once a page. I'm not squicked out by the idea at all, it's intriguing, but even I was getting a little fed up with all the sex. Sex, social insight, sex, cosmos concert, drugged sex, sex, sex, personal insight while having sex, escape, almost raping someone because the idea that they might actually mean no doesn't even occur to you, sex, personal implosion. The end.I did like this book, though. The look at what it might take for nearly 900,000 people to live in a building together, at what society would become, what people become was fascinating. Thank goodness it was short, though, because I don't think I could have taken much more sex.


Part of the joy of reading old science fiction is seeing how the author's own times intrude on their vision of the future. Written in the late 60s, Silverberg imagines an Earth of 75 billion, the vast majority living in 1000 storey concrete tower blocks, and so closely packed together all notions of privacy and marital fidelity banished. It's a dystopia that spends a lot of effort convinces the population they've never had things so good - any dissent(going 'flippo') is treated with 'moral engineering'(brainwashing), or summary execution.The things it doesn't predict are as telling; the 'post-venereal world' would last another decade before HIV appeared, and massive central computers disappeared in the 80s(I used to work on a mainframe, that was scrapped in 1990). Nor is there any mention of environmental problems beyond population density.Still, it's an enjoyable, if slow starting, read, with a growing menace, as the characters' lives fall apart in Urban Monad 116.


Les monades urbaines est un roman-mosaïque de Robert Silverberg décrrivant la vie dans des tours gigantesques d’ici deux cent ou trois cent ans. Il s’agit naturellement d’une forme d’utopie (et oui, encore une) banissant la propriété sus toute ses formes. Chacun est un membre de la monade, et c’est tout. Contrairement à Kirinyaga, il n’existe pas ici de manière claire de qualifier cette utopie. Est-ce le bien, le mal ? Aucun moyen de le savoir, si ce n’est par le traitement infligé aux "anormos" qui sont d’abord rééduqués, avant d’être jeté dans la Chute (ie les recycleurs de matière) pour que son énergie soit utile à tous. Et pourtant, il n’existe pas un seul des héros de ces nouvelles qui ne soit heureux, et c’est là qu’on sent se fendiller les choses. En fait, Silverberg tente probablement par ce roman de reprendre quelques thèmes chers aux hippies, et autres partisans de l’amour libre en tant que moyen de communication, pour démontrer que malgré tout, malgré l’amour et la liberté, les tensions persistent, et les dangers demeurent. Et la démonstration est édifiante, car rien ne peut donner de l’espoir dans ce monde stérilisé par trop de plaisir. Ils n’ont plus la force d’avancer, se doivent, pour le bien de tous, d’être contents de leurs vies, et ce qui n’en sont pas satisfaits sont rejetés, car anormos.Pour moi, le pire exemple est Siegmund, le jeune et beeau favori des administrateurs, qui ne peut plus résister à la tension sous-jacente, alors même que l’amour possible librement est censé détruire les tensions avant leur apparition. C’est un roman fort, qui laisse un goût de larmes, car si la morale n’est pas complètement négative, elle n’en laisse pas moins, pour moi, des relents de totalitarisme assez douloureux pour ce que peut nous réserver l’avenir.

D.C. Musgrove

Robert Silverberg may be one of the most prolific writers of Science Fiction still alive today. Certainly a giant up there with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. The World Inside was nominated for a Hugo award in 1972 and rightly so. It portrays the future world of Earth in the late 2300's, where population growth has skyrocketed, outstripping the ability of the land to support it anymore. Earth's leaders have solved that one problem by moving civilization inside 3 kilometer tall towers dubbed Urban Monads. While they solved the problem of efficient land use, they created another problem within the city towers: mass insanity. A great first read for anyone who likes to contemplate the future through the mind of a terrific sci-fi story teller.

Leonardo Etcheto

A series of short stories set in the future when we live in Urbmons - huge 1,000 story skyscrappers that allow valuable farmland to be preserved while the earths population goes to 65 billion.Start very interesting, but the stories get dark towards the end as the main characters basically cannot handle the life that is focused purely on having babies. His concept of a privacy free culture, with no impulse suppression, no denial of others urges (lots of sex ofcourse) and make work that machines can do but people do to feel useful is pretty fascinating. 850,000 in one building that no-one ever leaves makes for a phunky society. I enjoyed the short story format a lot, and the world was well drawn and internally logical. Silverberg has a good foreword explaining that it was basically an exercise on "what if" at the time he wrote the stories in the 1970's the main mania was that we were about to all starve to death. He was inspired by Paolo Soleri who designed "arcologies" - giant towers. Now I want to get my hands on some of his drawings.


As much as I liked the story's premise and world-building (global overpopulation is usually an interesting topic for me), I just can't stick with a book that goes 80 pages without ever establishing some sort of plot. The thing that finally broke me was the excessive detail about the musician's performance; when I turned the page and saw the next two pages each contained giant blocks of text describing the lights and sounds, I decided I was done.I'm sure the book is probably pretty decent (Silverberg seems to be a good writer, after all), but these days I just don't have the patience for storytelling with no discernible direction.


my rating is closer to 3.5 than 3 stars. not much happened in this book and for a 233-page book, it did drag on a little, hence the 3.5 starts, but still i enjoyed reading it. also, written in 1971, it clearly shows with the emphasis on groovy sex and drugs. most interesting to me was the main character, the building itself, called the Urbmon (short for Urban monolith? Urban monstrosity? ;) ) ehrlich's population bomb was published in 1968 amid a lot of hoopla and i see this book as a direct response to it. the idea of 'vertical living' (vs 20th century 'horizontal living'), living in a 3 kilometer high building and leaving the other 9/10ths of the land for food-growing, makes it possible, in the book, for the planet to have over 75 billion humans living on it. (eta:also, what the cover illustration has to do with the book, i have no idea. the women, and men, were basically naked all the time, with the women covering one breast maybe with some decorative metal cup.. the cover of my ebook was better, showing the Urbmon from the outside.)

Evans Light

An interesting vision of the future 300 years from now, set in a world somewhat like last year's film DREDD, except here the enormous apartment buildings are models of self-sustainable efficiency, not slums that are riddled with drugs and gangs. Even the way justice is meted out is quite similar to that film, actually.Although THE WORLD INSIDE story didn't have much in the way of tension or narrative arc, it was a very enjoyable travelogue into a somewhat possible future. The story dipped in and out of the lives of various people, and deftly showed the linkages between the lives of the characters. All in all an enjoyable read, I skimmed through the parts that didn't interest me, dug in when it struck my fancy, and the ending was appropriate and satisfying. Recommended for fans of speculative fiction.

Invadozer Saphenousnerves Circular-thallus Popewaffensquat

R Silverberg's "THE WORLD INSIDE" isabout the giant apartment communistic/yet caste riddencomplex (the floors are divided up according to job'importance). Reading this I thought this is the straight bullet shot to the future. Population goes flippo so the powers thatbe make a huge ass 1000 floor apt. complex whereeveryone is supposed to just keep on poppin' pills andout-slotting babies while holding down comfy jobs. Sex is freewith anyone, the apts. are always unlocked for the'nightwalking' sexplorer. The jargon in this book is reallyinfectuous and carries the story for a quick read. Arambunctious psychedelic "Brave New World" in that it holds upif you turn the structure upside down and kick it,nothing shakes free. A solid read with believable culture of the weird. The monuments of the world areground up after being well documented for home viewingso no one needs to go outside. If you flip out youget shoved into the chute/furnace. All the charactershave some kind of beef with the system of the apts,and one guy in particular goes AWOL checking out thecommunes on the outside who have gone back to aritualistic primitive harvest society. There's a rock starguy who plays 3D planet vibrations for the grubboblue collars, a horny 14 year old who is trying toimpress everyone, sleeping with anything he can, helpingto advance his ladder climbing in the bureaucracy ofthe apts. I can't say enough stuff about this book,it's a real treat to discover something like this, Icould see why Silverberg gave up SF in the 70's whenstuff like this gets pushed under the rug, never heardof this gold inspired spire before.Originally posted on Brutalsfx group.

Nicholas Whyte

http://nhw.livejournal.com/459793.html[return][return]I first read this as a hormonal teenager and was deeply impressed by Silverberg's portrayal of a future society where most of the world's population lives in apartment blocks which are three kilometres high and, more importanlty, everyone is not just allowed but encouraged to have sex with everyone else, written up in erotic detail. Now, rereading it twenty years later, I realise that it is actually a dystopia; sexual freedom comes with a total ban on contraception, and instant capital punishment without trial for marital disagrements. It is a deeply repressive society whose rulers appear cynical. Naturally, the viewpoint characters all have serious doubts about fitting in; one ends up brainwashed into submission; another is executed, a third commits suicide. There is a society outside the tower blocks, cultivating the fields for the vast amount of food needed for a global population of 75 billion, but it is equally defective. As the title makes clear, this is not so much a novel about overpopulation or about sex as about personal frustration with society. Very interesting.

Kat Hooper

ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.In the year 2381, the Earth contains 75 billion people. Despite the dire warnings of 20th century prophets, humans have not exhausted the Earth’s resources. There is plenty of food for everyone, but because 90% of the land must be covered in farms, most of the people live in Urban Monads — 1,000-story skyscrapers housing 800,000 people each. Citizens aren’t allowed out of their building, and many aspects of society are rigidly monitored. Everyone is married at age 12 and each couple is encouraged to have as many children as they can because fertility and children are blessings from god.In such a close community, it’s dangerous for people to be protective of private property or possessive of their mate, so sharing is actively encouraged. Thus, everyone has sexual access to everyone else and men are expected to go “night walking” to find other partners while their wives stay home and make themselves accessible to any man who opens their door. There is no war, crime, privacy, jealousy, or sexual restrictions, and the citizens of the Urban Monads are happy. The few who express dissatisfaction are sent to “Moral Engineers” for reprogramming, or may be thrown “down the chute” where their bodies make fuel for the building.The World Inside (1971) is the story of several people who become dissatisfied with their lives in Urban Monad 116. It’s a thoughtful look at what life on Earth might be like if our population ever reaches the level where we need to grow vertically instead of horizontally. I was fascinated by Silverberg’s Urban Monads where everything that’s necessary for life is in one building, and where blocks of floors represent different classes and cultures.But what I liked best about The World Inside was the idea that, because dissidents are sent down the chute, possessiveness, rebellion, jealousy, and other forms of social strife have been selectively bred out of the human population. Perhaps it would be possible for future humans to be happy in an Urban Monad, but 21st century readers will be horrified by Silverberg’s setting. Being satisfied with that kind of life would require some major evolutionary changes in our genome and, by introducing us to the citizens of Urban Monad 116, Silverberg suggests that along with those nasty traits we might like to get rid of, go many beautiful human traits such as wanderlust, curiosity about the world and, perhaps, a hope for something better around the next bend.Robert Silverberg’s major focus on free love and his inclusion of hallucinogenic drug trips, psychedelic music, and orgies isn’t surprising (I’ve seen all this before in his stories), but they do serve to remind you that you’re reading a story that was published more than 40 years ago. The excuse for the drugs, music, and orgies, I suppose, is that they induce a hive-mind mentality in the building, but they really seem like a self-indulgent way to induce sexual titillation. I didn’t find it at all titillating, though, especially since it was so vulgarly done (e.g., women are referred to as “slots” and the act is constantly called “topping”). And then there’s the incest, which I’ve also seen before in Silverberg stories. Ick.But my main problem with The World Inside is that it doesn’t make sense. If this is a free love society, why does everyone have to be married? And why encourage childbearing at all? To me, this bizarre societal goal seemed like a jab at religious people who are against birth control. Silverberg has his characters constantly saying “god bless, god bless, god bless!” and other religious-sounding speech. And if they’re so disgusted by “primeval 20th century attitudes,” why are women still expected to be home preparing dinner, taking care of the kids, and nagging their husbands to be ambitious so the family can move up the social ladder? Why do men get to go night walking wherever they like while women have to stay home and be “topped” by whoever shows up at their door?And why can’t the Monad citizens go out of the buildings? Their food, families, friends, jobs, and all social support systems are inside the buildings. There’s nothing to keep them outside, so why can’t they go out and get some fresh air? And what if there was fire, or poisonous gas, or some other emergency? They don’t even practice evacuation procedures. I was expecting some big creepy revelation about why people where encouraged to have babies and why they were kept from knowing what was outside, but this never came. I can’t help but think that Robert Silverberg just wanted to write a story about overpopulation, free love, and selective breeding, so he stuck them all together in the same book.In the end, the plot didn’t hold together, but I still enjoyed the setting and many of the ideas in The World Inside, so I didn’t feel like it was a waste of my time. The World Inside was nominated for, but didn’t win, the Hugo Award in 1972. I listened to Audible Frontier’s version which is almost eight hours long and is read by Paul Boehmer, who did a great job with the narration. If you’re going to read The World Inside, I recommend the audiobook.

Pepper Thorn

The World Inside is like the girl in high school who dressed like a slut but didnt put out. Nice enough, but know going in that she's a tease. I gave it an "average" rating not because there is anything average about it but because in the end, everything I did and did not like about the book sort of averaged out. There was a lot that I really liked, even loved about this book but there was a proportional amount of things that I disliked or that really bothered me. So what follows is a breakdown of the good, the bad, and the ugly (and the beautiful) of The World Inside.The GoodThe world Silverberg creates here is very interesting with a lot of potential. It was originally published as individual short stories and each chapter, if taken on its own, is engaging and, as a group, builds on the ones before it. The writing and language is undeniably masterful. It is clean while still being evocative and beautiful. The chapter about the musician was hands down my favorite due, for the most part, because of how beautifully it was written. You know reading it that you have never seen/heard/experienced anything like this performance and you yearn to. It is the one time that I really wanted to visit this world and since it is billed as a dystopia, it think that is really saying something. The BadAs mentioned above, The World Inside is a series of short stories and it shows. It is not a single complete or even incomplete narrative. There is a loose cast of characters but never the same viewpoint character. It was also the least dystopian dystopia I have ever read and much more interested in sex and the existential angst of the characters with what their assumed utopian society than with the dark hidden underbelly or dangerous secrets that you kept hoping were about to be revealed. The story never went where you were expecting, or much of anywhere at all for that matter. And never answered any of the questions this unique and potentially fascinating society raised.


This book is similar to "1984" and "Brave New World" in that it is a somewhat cautionary tale of what may happen. The main theme may seem to be of a sexual nature, but really the themes are privacy and personal freedom. It is a very interesting story, but there were a few things I didn't like:--The story follows a few different characters around, and they are all linked in some way. However, it seems that the book was cut short since some of the characters' stories don't have any sense of closure.--There are a few words and phrases the author uses that make it obvious this was written around the late 60s / early 70s; like the word "groove" meaning to be high on some sort of drug.--Very little world-building. Which, I have to admit, would have severely detracted from the story.This is a very short book, so it won't take much time to read. I thought it was well worth the time: while not exactly a "fun" read, it was very entertaining and though-provoking.


This book had a lot of promise and failed to deliver. While it was an easy read (I should've been done days ago but I just had surgery and couldn't concentrate), the story seemed amateurish rather than written by a prolific writer. The plot line is the earth became so crowded that the majority of people life in super high rise structures so the majority of the available land is used for farming. The people living in the high rise structures are encouraged to share their mates (called nightwalking) and have as many children as possible, although the reasoning for the nightwalking seemed flimsy at best. I had so many questions that the book didn't attempt to answer, such as were the people who "went down the chute" really killed or as I suspected sent to farms? This book just left too many unanswered questions for my liking.

Eddie Dobiecki

This book is not a novel. There is no real plot; it is a bunch of short stories. Certainly, it is interesting, and was groundbreaking in its time. It's yet another dystopian view that Judge Dredd has cribbed from, and it proposes an entire and interesting world.But there is no Story here, capital-S. Only some thematically linked concepts and a neat idea. This book violates Vonnegut's cardinal rule: "Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted." I felt my time was wasted reading this book, even though I devoured it over the course of two days, hoping all the while that there would be a point to it (Spoiler alert: there wasn't).

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