The Stochastic Man

by Robert Silverberg


Publication history


(From Fawcett 1976)

Lew Nichols' business, at the end of the twentieth century, was stochastic prediction — high-powered guesswork. He was very good at this well-paying, sophisticated, and technical species of witchcraft. And he was quite content with the sultry and sensuous Indian beauty he married.

Lew Nichols' life was a placid as an electron flow — until a fateful day in March '99 when he met Martin Carvajal. From the first, Lew got strange vibrations from the sullen and eccentric millionaire:

Your computer models, said Carvajal, allow you to guess the future. Now I will show you how to control it!


Webster's Unabridged:

stochastic: of or pertaining to a process involving a randomly determined sequence of observations each of which is considered a sample of one element from a probability distribution. Stochastic variation implies randomness as opposed to a fixed rule or relation in passing from one observation to the next in order.

Nominated for Nebula Award for best novel, 1975.

What would it really be like to see the future? This is one of the questions Frank Herbert asked in Dune, and he gave us an answer of sorts. At some length. Silverberg asks the same question in The Stochastic Man, and comes up with a very different answer. One problem of the whole concept of foresight is that if one can see the future, the future must be determined, immutable, and if the future is already determined, we must be deluding ourselves if we think we have choices.


Other resources

(None on file)