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Store of the Worlds: The Stories of Robert Sheckley (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – May 1, 2012
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Robert Sheckley wrote tightly crafted, whacked-out social satire in the form of science-fiction stories, using the conceit of future worlds to provide an alienating vantage point on the present. . . . He illuminates standard sci-fi's cutout characters and quasi-magical contraptions with a hallucinatory, Technicolor vibrancy, spinning yarns more fabulist than plausible, banged out as permutations of his own pet obsessions, among them mind control, extraterrestrial psychology, and the cruelties of love. — Ed Halter
“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
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My only complaint is that the collection doesn't include more stories. And it's a shame that "The Lifeboat Mutiny" was left out. It has the hallmarks of a 1950's science fiction pulp story. But you won't find a funnier send-up of nanny-state thinking.
The first story in this collection, "The Monsters" is as good an introduction to the writer as I can think of--subversive, smart, and funny. If you don't like it, chances are the other offerings won't appeal to you, either. But you owe it to yourself to try at least a couple more.