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Status Civilisation Mindswap Paperback – December 1, 1994


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Paperback, December 1, 1994

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Century (December 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712654801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712654807
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

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Awesome idea, good style, gripping story and an interesting twist at the end.
Matija Potocnik
Because of the mindwipe, Omegans do not remember anything about Earth, although they have conjectures about a fierce police state ruled through informers.
Peter S. Bradley
Each tale is excellent and as good as any short science fiction tale being written today.
Michael A. Newman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A. Taylor on October 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This story is included in "The Robert Sheckley Megapack: 15 Classic Science Fiction Stories" for 99 cents. Plus you get 14 other stories. The short story is very good but the collection is the better deal unless you only want the book for some reason.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 29, 1997
Format: Hardcover
I wish I could find more books by Robert Sheckley.
"The Status Civilization" is one of those maddening little
pieces which reaches out and grabs your attention with
the sheer _audacity_ of scope and ideas, only to fall
short when it comes to delivering substance. Part of the
problem is that it's a very short book; I read it in an
English paperback as part of a two-novels-in-one, a la Ace
Double.

The story starts with a familiar premise : Earth, having
become an enlightened techno-utopia, no longer executes
its criminals. Instead, such deviant elements are dumped
on the surface of a vaguely livable planet called
Omega. For good measure, the convicts' minds are wiped clean
of all past memories. Our protagonist is one of these convicts.

He's been sent up for murder. Problem is, he doesn't want to believe it. Problem with that is that the memories leaking out from "beneath the surface" seem to indicate that he is.

At the beginning, at least, he's got a few more important
things to worry about, like surviving. See, Omega doesn't have nice Earth values concerning the sanctity of life. Instead, a citizen's status is dependent upon how many people he can kill...but only according to the rules.

He narrowly escapes death, but only at the price of killing
in self-defense. This touches off a round of self-doubt, but, at the same time, catapults him into
Omegan society as the proprietor of a poisioners' shop. This gives him time to become acquainted with some of the more quaint Omegan customs, like mandatory substance addiction and the worship of Evil.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Newman VINE VOICE on January 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
The Status Civilization is an excellent tale that never gets old. Will Barrent is among a group of prisoners from Earth who have had their memories wiped and are left to live on the planet Omega. This is a planet ruled by criminals where you advance by being bad and devising clever ways to beat the law. One may recall the film Escape from New York where Manhattan Island is made a prison. This world is different in that there are class systems in this world (the highest appears to be Hadji) and there are actual laws that govern. One of the best ways to advance is to find ways to get around the law.

Barrent is almost killed by a group of Hadjis but manages to outsmart them and this allows him to gain a "Free Man" status. Challenges are thrown at him that he keeps overcoming and slowly advances. He encounters an underground organiztion whose goal is to get back to Earth and reclaim their place there. Eventually Barrent will become the agent to execute their plan. When the reader finally learns what is going on back on Earth, it is not what you expect and like the Twilght Zone there is an ironic end to the tale.

The book that I read also included Sheckley's Notions:Unlimited collection of short stories. These are each excellent twist ending tales that would be perfect for episodes of The Twilight Zone. From a tale with a creature that is similar to The Blob, to a planet with dangerous winds, a world inhabited by a lone Earthman that other Earth people think he is lying about his heritage. My favorite of these tales is called Double Indemnity where a time traveler attempts a new scheme at insurance fraud.

Each tale is excellent and as good as any short science fiction tale being written today. If you can get your hands on a copy of this book, don't hesitate to get it! An extremely pleasant surprise that will not disappoint you!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ken Korczak on July 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
Science fiction is often called the "literature of ideas" and this short novel exemplifies that concept. The idea in "The Status Civilization" is to strand an innocent man convicted of murder on a prison planet where all is topsy-turvy. The only rule of law is that all must break the law. If you don't break the law, you get into trouble. Murder is the highest ideal of the citizen. Drug addiction is mandatory. They have a church on this planet, but it worships "Evil", and yes, attendance is mandatory.

The planet Omega is like a space-age Australia back when the British used that contintent to dump off their criminals and social malcontents. New arrivals are criminals joining fellow criminals who must now form their own society. But in this case, all have their memories erased before being stranded on Omega. They are given only one bit of self-knowledge: The crime they committed on Earth.

The hero is Will Barrent, convicted of murder -- a murder he no longer remembers, of course. The problem is, he has the nagging feeling he is innocent, and seems to only want to be good and do good. But now he must try to fit in with an entire planet consisting of and run by other criminals.

It's a terrific premise, and in the hands of one of the true masters of science fiction, this short novel becomes a marvelously entertaining read. Expect nothing but nonstop action, and little in the way of desciption of anything that does not move along the plot. For example, Sheckley wastes no time with describing scenary or filling out the details of the environment of an alien planet -- it's just bare bones movement of the protagonist doing this, and doing that, as he works his way through his terrible situation.
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