Silverberg-Induced Trauma, Early and Mid-
My Mom must have read a lot of SF when I was little, because along with reading me passages from The Martian Chronicles, I remember her telling me the plot of this Silverberg novel, Conquerors from the Darkness, and then reading a scene where somebody chokes to death on a fishbone. It gave me a very intense fear of choking to death on fishbones. My Mom already had trouble getting me to eat fish, so from a child-rearing point of view, exposing me to this passage probably wasn’t the best idea. Still, it was a cool book.
Not much later, I encountered Silverberg’s excitingly horrific Planet of Death, and for a while after reading it, every story I wrote included a part where somebody died in a pit of acid or was lashed to a bloody pulp by savage tentacles.
When I finally met Silverberg and told him how much I had loved this book as a kid, he raised one eyebrow in a look of practiced irony and said, “I wrote that book for slow readers.”