The paper was meant to help researchers peer into the nation’s collective unconscious…
Very few writers write unconsciously. Most successful ones practice pretty intense craftsmanship. When Herbert invented semuta, for example, it wasn’t just something he dreamed up. It was designed to shed light on a very alien society and demonstrate the oppressive power relationships between characters.
I don’t think fiction is a very good place to discern the zeitgeist, since it’s intended to be, yknow, not fact. Particularly science fiction, which sometimes holds a mirror up to society, but sometimes is just plain weird.
Silverberg is one of the greats. I adore his work, fiction and nonfiction alike.
Empires in the Dust: Ancient Civilizations Brought to Light (1963) has been inevitably outdated by the ongoing processes of scholarship – and yet it holds up as a good read.
UPDATE: swapped in Wikipedia link for Amazon link.
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