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Masters of Science Fiction: Robert Sheckley

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Masters of Science Fiction: Robert Sheckley

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Author: Robert Sheckley
Publisher: Centipede Press, 2022
Series: Masters of Science Fiction (Centipede Press): Book 6
Book Type: Collection
Genre: Science-Fiction
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"Sheckley was a fantasist not entirely unknown to the public. For fifty years he had pursued his calling, inventing worlds both characteristic of the genre and unique to himself. From his brain had come planets of pleasure and worlds of pain. Nor had he neglected the multitudinous possibilities between."

So wrote Robert Sheckley in 2005, and so it was. And oh, those possibilities between!

From his first published work of fiction in 1952 until his death in 2005, Robert Sheckley gave us more than two hundred short stories, along with dozens of novels. He is generally known as one of the great humorists in the science fiction field -- his comedies are sometimes wry and often gonzo. They were very influential (Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy shows signs of Sheckley's sway) and you'll find them in fine form in such stories as "The Day the Aliens Came," "What Is Life?," and "The Two Sheckleys."

But Robert Sheckley's short fiction did more than just make us laugh. His stories, scared, thrilled, amused, excited, beguiled, inveigled, alarmed, charmed, and disarmed readers of science fiction anthologies and magazines for the better part of a century... and with this collection, they'll continue to do so.

Robert Sheckley wrote frequently of everyman heroes caught in a world they don't understand, and you'll find honest, hard-working joes in stories here like "The Altar," "A Ticket to Transai," and "The Mountain without a Name."

But he also liked to explore mythology and the nature of heroism, which you'll find in full force in such stories as "Agamemnon's Run," "The Quijote Robot," and "The Never-Ending Western Movie." Two other topics that interested Sheckley were the ways in which humans interact with their machines, and the ways in which humans interact with each other. Both themes are on grand display in stories like "Watchbird," "The Girls and Nugent Miller," and "Seventh Victim."

With thirty-one of his best stories -- including the short novels Dramocles and Minotaur Maze -- this collection is equally good for readers revisiting old friends and for those discovering Sheckley's work for the first time. From the dangers of courtship to the perils of the surveillance state, from the troubles with utopia to the meaning of life, these stories offer rewards for every reader.

Robert Sheckley was born in Brooklyn in 1928 and began publishing fiction in 1951. His short stories appeared in magazines such as Galaxy, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Playboy. He published more than twenty novels and edited Omni magazine. His stories were adapted for television and film many times, most notably in the movies Freejack and The Tenth Victim. He received the Author Emeritus career honor from the Science Fiction Writers of America in 2001. He died in 2005.


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