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.
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.
…melds the wit of Ray Bradbury with the philosophical undertones of Philip K. Dick….[Sheckley’s stories are] comic and thought-provoking gems.
—The Bookseller (UK)
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
Science fiction’s premier gadfly.
Witty and ingenious… a draught of pure Voltaire and tonic.
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