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.

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.


-Estilos e intencionalidades de otros tiempos.-Género. Ciencia-Ficción.Lo que nos cuenta. En el año 2381, la población terrestre supera los 70.000.000 de personas y se acerca rápidamente a los 100.000.000 individuos y la gran mayoría de ellos (pero no todos) viven y residen en enormes edificios con un millar de plantas, conocidos como monurbs. La Monada Urbana 116 y sus casi 900.000 residentes son una muestra de cómo son las cosas ahora en una sociedad que ha debido adaptarse a nuevas formas de organización y convivencia.¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:http://librosdeolethros.blogspot.com/...


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.


One of science fiction's trustworthy tactics is to expand a contemporary fear into a complex possible future. Living among the growing Baby Boomers, Silverberg enacts this trope to great effect in The World Inside as he constructs an extreme response to overpopulation. Set in the 24th century, The World Inside imagines a future in which the dominant human society on Earth exists wholly within a network of impossibly tall apartment buildings. This "Urban Monad" system emerges following widespread social collapse due to overpopulation. In the crowded "urbmon", privacy is vice and procreation the most "blessworthy" pursuit.As with much SF of the mid-1900s, obsessive detail is given to fantastical technology throughout the novel. This preponderance may turn off readers interested more in the sociological implications of life in a human hive but will surely delight lovers of retro-futurism.The original 1971 Doubleday printing is worth tracking down for the illustration on the dust jacket by James Starrett. This scan is included on the Wikipedia entry: [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Worl...]

James Caterino

In the interest of full disclosure, it was all but a predetermined fact I was going going to like this book. Robert Silverberg is one of my favorite authors. I love the premise. It reminded me of one of my favorite novels as kid, "Logan's Run". I have a thing for the science fiction written in the era of 1967-1978. Oh, yeah, and I like sex too.Like most dystopian works, "The World Inside" is very much a product of its time and in this case it is a good thing. Many of the thematic concerns that lead to the "vertical society" portrayed in the novel are as relevant as ever today, especially over population. While building towering skyscrapers that are several kilometers high and house over 800,000 people sounds like a possible solution to the problem of diminishing resources, the society in this novel creates a brand new set of ironic dilemmas. One of the more bizarre policies in this future world is mandatory breeding from the age of puberty, literally. Which makes no sense when you think about it. But these types of contradictions in this society, as well as the internal conflicts of the characters who begin to question the system, are what make this book such a riveting read.This a fascinating vision of where the sexual revolution of 60s and 70s might have lead. People participate in a cultural ritual called "night walking". A person literally walks throughout the building in the middle night, going door to door to do some "topping". Yes, it is exactly what you think it is. Nobody in science fiction handles sexuality and eroticism with the expert touch possessed by Robert Silverberg. The author spent his early days working tirelessly in the sexy pulps of the late 50s and early 60s, cranking out a new 50,000 novel every two weeks. Having read many of them, I can tell you they are really good. Silverberg brings that same sense of pacing to this book.But this is the post-pulp Sliverberg so we do get some of those soaring, lyrical, arty, Ellison-esque passages that will leave you breathless.Bottom line, "The World Inside" is a fascinating, beautifully written, entertaining novel that showcases of the grand masters of modern science fiction and fantasy in top form.


A creative view of a possible future world where pro-lifers won out but had to team up with free love. In the future, most of the earth's population live in urbmons--buildings 1,000 stories tall containing around 880,000 people each. The hive dwelling requires a complete lack of privacy, even down to no locks on apartment doors and a universal acceptance that any time an adult asks another for sex, they must comply. A series of vignettes builds up to a reveal of the interconnectedness of the characters' lives and gives a chance to explore whether the development of the urbmons has led to the evolution or a new type of human being or whether they are all just silently suffering a loss of all of their freedoms to allow themselves the one freedom to reproduce at will. A truly thought-provoking book. I highly recommend it.Check out my full review.


Unfortunately spends too much time doubting the virtue of the urbmon system to really be believable as a contemporary account. I suppose Silverberg thought that since there were so many nattering nabobs of negativity circa 1970 that that would happen in the 24th century too--but looking back on those guys now they just look like a bunch of indulgent, buttpicking whiners. Also the present-tense stream of consciousness style becomes facile, a habit and a routine (like in that awful--and big--collection of his stories I read, or all those dreary Gardner Dozois year's-best anthologies). And the repetition of points becomes irritating too. Still, there's no denying the power of that picture of the future--the towering buildings and huge open spaces surrounding. A variation on the Eloi/Morlock divergence. It really is a haunting image to me.

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).

Shelton TRL

World-building; Character-driven; Intricately plotted. Strong sense of place; Thought-provoking.To deal with a growing population in the future, massive tall buildings each become homes to nearly one million people. These redefined countries have attitudes towards sex, procreation, and going outside that vary greatly from modern thought. The book traces the paths of several inhabitants in one of these buildings as their lives intersect with and diverge from one another. ***Warning: the sexual morality in this book is widely different from our own - multiple sexual partners, sex with siblings, and never saying no to a request for sex are all normal in this book and, in some cases, laws.Recommended for those who enjoy: Imperial Earth, Mindbridge, A Gift from Earth, and Time Storm.

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.


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.


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.

Clark Hallman

In The World Inside, Robert Silverberg creates a very interesting Earth civilization that copes with a World population of 75 billion people in the year 2381. The book was first published in 1971 at a time when many people were concerned about the sustainability the Earth’s population growth. Authors such as Paul Ehrlich warned about starvation and devastating societal problems due to over population in the future. At the time limiting births was probably the most recommended strategy for averting the devastating prognostications. However, Silverberg takes a different approach in The World Inside. The people of 2381 live in huge skyscrapers (called urbmons) that are 1000 floors in height. Each Urbmon consists of 25 cities of about 40 floors each, and over 800,000 people live within each urbmon. They live their entire lives in very small one-room apartments which afford almost no privacy. This vertical world frees much space for agricultural purposes, and of course there are farming communes where relatively primitive communities of people grow and transport food and raw materials to the urbmons. Within the urbmons cities, are arranged hierarchically with lower-class cities (and people) at the bottom and higher-class cities (and people) at the top. Citizens never leave their urbmon and many never leave their cities. People do not go outside. They live, play, learn, work, and build careers, all within the urbmon where they were born, unless they are selected to populate a newly constructed urbmon. An interesting feature of this future civilization is that population control is thought of as extremely immoral and is absolutely banned. Instead, it is strongly encouraged that all couples have as many children “littles” as possible and those who have only a few children are severely criticized and thought to be immoral. In addition, women are required to submit to any man’s sexual demands, not only their husband’s. The custom of “night walking” allows any man to enter any apartment (usually within their own city, but even in other cities) and have sex with any woman, even if the woman’s husband is home at the time. Women may “night walk” also, but they usually wait for a man to come to them instead. This custom of open sex is deemed one of the necessary privileges that helps keep the populous under control in this very structured, controlled, and invasive civilization. In fact, any deviation from expected behavior is dealt with very severely through psychological/emotional therapy and/or almost instant execution by throwing the perpetrators “flippos” down the nearest waste recycling shut. Silverberg’s story follows the lives of a small group of people. Not surprisingly, it focuses on the difficulties that some people endure due to the extremely proscribed and unnatural lifestyle. In my opinion, the vertical society that Silverberg created is the most interesting aspect of this book and the story is secondary and almost superfluous. The book is worth reading but not one of Silverberg’s best.

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