An NYRB Classics Original
Robert Sheckley was an eccentric master of the American short story, and his tales, whether set in dystopic cityscapes, ultramodern advertising agencies, or aboard spaceships lighting out for hostile planets, are among the most startlingly original of the twentieth century. Today, as the new worlds, alternate universes, and synthetic pleasures Sheckley foretold become our reality, his vision begins to look less absurdist and more prophetic. This retrospective selection, chosen by Jonathan Lethem and Alex Abramovich, brings together the best of Sheckley’s deadpan farces, proving once again that he belongs beside such mordant critics of contemporary mores as Bruce Jay Friedman, Terry Southern, and Thomas Pynchon.
About the Author
Robert Sheckley was one of the funniest writers in the history of science fiction. He did screwball comedy, broad satire, and farce. He could also be deadly serious, but he was always entertaining and always had something pointed to say about our world using the skewed versions of reality he created in his fiction. Starting in the early 1950s, he was an amazingly prolific short story writer, with a lot of his stories appearing in"Galaxy Magazine". He launched his novel-writing career with"Immortality, Inc"., which he followed up with a sequence of excellent books: "The Status Civilization", "Journey Beyond Tomorrow", and"Mindswap". He continued to produce novels and short stories in abundance until his death in 2005.
Alex Abramovich has written for "The New York Times", "The London Review of Books", and other publications.
JONATHAN LETHEM is the author of nine novels, including Motherless Brooklyn, The Fortress of Solitude, and Gun, with Occasional Music.Dissident Gardens is his most recent novel.
“Sheckley is . . . powerful . . . fantastic . . . brilliant . . .his wry twistings of reality . . . are absolutely unique.” — Roger Zelazny
“Because Sheckley leavened his darkest visions with wit and aburdist plotting, he is considered one of science fiction’s seminal humorists, a precursor to Douglas Adams.” — The New York Times
"The late Sheckley was known for a dark satirical style that keeps some of the more dated material in this retrospective collection fresh….Editors Lethem and Abramovich provide an insightful introduction but otherwise let the individual stories stand on their own." — Publishers Weekly
"….collection of classic sci-fi stories from the '50s and '60s, which melds the wit of Ray Bradbury with the philosophical undertones of Philip K. Dick….comic and thought-provoking gems." — The Bookseller (UK)
"Science fiction’s premier gadfly." —Kingsley Amis
"Witty and ingenious . . . a draught of pure Voltaire and tonic." — J. G. Ballard
“If the Marx Brothers had been literary rather than thespic fantasists, they would have been Robert Sheckley.” —Harlan Ellison
"Sheckley is my hero" —William Nye
"One of the few acknowledged humorists in SF, and by far the funniest, Sheckley plays with myths the way Mel Brooks plays with classic movies.” —The New York Times Book Review
"Mr. Sheckley—as might be expected of a writer who can wring praise from as diverse a group of peers as Kingsley Amis, Harlan Ellison, John le Carre and J. G. Ballard—has an engagingly madcap manner all his own." —The Wall Street Journal
“Sheckley is one of SF’s all-time masters of the humorous or satirical short story. . . . much of Sheckley's work has been hard to come by for a good many years” —Booklist
"Let’s say you are a devoted fan of Kurt Vonnegut’s books, love the sardonic comeuppance stories of John Collier and Roald Dahl, own all of Edward Gorey’s little albums and enjoy watching reruns of 'The Twilight Zone.' Where else can you find similar instances of sly, macabre wit, of such black-humored, gin-and-tonic fizziness in storytelling? The answer may be unexpected: among the many masters of satirical science fiction and fantasy. Robert Sheckley...is certainly a leading example."—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post