Store of the Worlds: The Stories of Robert Sheckley (New York Review Books Classics)
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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.
destiny—to join in the vast Cooperation of the Galaxy. There were plenty of dead worlds in the spiral, and worlds too young to bear life. They found a planet of Talkers. The Talkers had extended their spidery communication lines across half a continent. Talker looked at them eagerly, through Eye. A wave of self-pity washed over him. He remembered home, his family, his friends. He thought of the tree he was going to buy when he got back. For a moment, Talker wondered what he was doing here,
waits within the ship, waiting for his flesh to melt away. “Yes!” Howard awakened with a start, and looked around. No skeletons, no corpse. Only the walls of the machine, close around him. He dug into his pockets, but all the food was gone. His fingers scratched up some crumbs, and he put them on his tongue. “Yes!” He had heard a voice! “What is it?” he asked. “I know,” the voice said triumphantly. “Know? Know what?” “My purpose!” Howard jumped to his feet, flashing his light around. The
his hypno-stuffed head, and said in modern English, “Oh, man! What did you hit me with?” “Don’t worry about it,” Barthold said. “Let’s get down to business.” Briefly he explained his plan for getting rich at the expense of the Inter-Temporal Insurance Corporation. “And they’ll actually pay?” Bairthre asked. “They will, if they can’t disprove the claim.” “And they will pay that much?” “Yes. I checked beforehand. The compensation for double indemnity is fantastically high.” “That’s the part
unbearable bearable, and finally pleasurable, at which point the organism is not far from death. After that, he was taught some things which have never been put into words and, with luck, never will. “And that,” Varris said one day, “is everything.” “Everything?” “Yes, Toms. The heart has no secrets from you. Nor, for that matter, has the soul, or mind, or the viscera. You have mastered the Language of Love. Now return to your young lady.” “I will!” cried Toms. “At last she will know!”
Tomorrow he had a lot to do. The next day, with the face of his Victim before him, Frelaine walked through her neighborhood. He didn’t look closely at anyone. Instead, he moved rapidly, as though he were really going somewhere, the way an old Hunter should walk. He passed several bars and dropped into one for a drink. Then he went on, down a side street off Lexington Avenue. There was a pleasant sidewalk café there. Frelaine walked past it. And there she was! He could never mistake the face.