The Robert Sheckley Omnibus by Robert Sheckley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I skipped the longer works in the Omnibus, the novel Immortality Inc and the story “A Ticket to Tranai,” and focused on the shorter pieces. I’ll come back to them eventually. Here are some brief thoughts on everything else…
“Specialist” works as a wonderful, if a tad simplistic, metaphor. 4*
I liked the worldbuilding (i.e. Sheckley’s commentary on his–and even MY–world) in “Bad Medicine” a bit better than I liked the overall plot. 4*
The prose style of “Pilgrimage to Earth” might show its age a bit, but the story’s concepts and the way Sheckley pulls them off are pure 21st century, IMO. 5*
5* for “Ask a Foolish Question” because Sheckley’s The Answerer predates–and outthinks–Deep Thought.
“The Battle” is an even better scifi/fantasy mashup than that Joan Aiken story I read the other week. 5*
“Hands Off” gets points for cleverness, but the old-school prose style just turned me off. 4*
“The Prize of Peril.” Same prose issues as “Pilgrimage to Earth,” but it gets 5* for talking about the issues we talk about concerning reality TV today. Except Sheckley did it, oh fifty-freaking-years ago!
“Hunting Problem” was a little too predictable, mostly because I’d already read “Hands Off.” 3*
Odd, that I remembered reading “Ghost V” in Sheckley’s The People Trap, yet I don’t recall the ending touching me quite as much as it did this time around. 5*
“Something for Nothing” is another 50+ year-old too-close-to-home prediction of 2011. 5*
There’s a tiny part of me that’s pissed off that I didn’t see the ending of “The Store of the Worlds” coming a mile away. But then I re-read it. Nope, almost no way I could’ve seen it. I’ve been misdirected by plot before; never by theme. 5*