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Robert Sheckley was science fiction’s in-house reply to the black humorists of the 1950s and 60s: Bruce Jay Friedman, Terry Southern, and the young Thomas Pynchon were his none too-distant relatives; Mort Sahl’s comedy, Charles Schultz’s cartoons, and Tom Lehrer’s songs all mined similar veins. Sheckley targeted the conformity and consumerism of our mid-century technotopia while it was still under construction. His new worlds, alternate universes, and future dystopias have only become more present with the passing years, even as his career, played out both in the pulp magazines and in front-line venues like Playboy and Omni, is a glimpse of a time when “science fiction writer” could be a kind of hipster credential. Mordant, absurdist, and deadpan, the best of Sheckley’s dissident farces represent science fiction’s high-water mark as an allegorical clearinghouse for twenty-century angst.
“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.” –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
“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
“A master of humorous SF and fantasy . . .” –Publishers Weekly