Ursula Andress sports the world’s deadliest bra as she notches her penultimate kill in “The Big Game,” the 21st century’s answer to overpopulation and aggression — kill 10 and you become a millionaire! Next target, a blonde, sunworshipping Marcello Mastroianni, who’s also got one victim to go. Cartoonish, pop art satire from the director of Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion and based on Robert Sheckley’s 1953 short story “Seventh Victim,” part of a new Sheckley collection published by NYRB Classics. This is the first of our 2013 events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the New York Review of Books. Introduced by regular contributor Geoffrey O’Brien.
A trip to Seattle last week led me to Elliot Bay Books, in the Capital Hill neighborhood. After having some coffee at Odd Fellows Cafe, it was time to go book shopping …
“Unmoored and adrift after his movie star wife leaves him, the once promising poet Jamie Mangan travels to Ireland to find his roots and, he hopes, himself. On the trail of a dead Irish poet who may be his great grandfather (and also his doppelganger), he meets more family than he bargained for… . Moore renders both the ugly and the beautiful with lyrical ease, and the narrtive burns with pitch-perfect suspense — sublime and terrifying in its depths.”
Employee review by Casey O.
Finally - - back in print again. An extraordinary book about the collision of culture, the cusp of adulthood and the mystical land of Australia.”
Employee review by Tracy.
…Sheckley’s work is unabashed termite art. 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. Writing in 1956, his contemporary Damon Knight criticized ‘the stripped quality of his … work, and its utter divorcement from fact and logic’—aspects that today read more like pleasurably conscious choices than defects. And indeed, Knight conceded that, ‘like it or not, what Sheckley does is art.’
The story “Specialist” that appears in our Sheckley Collection, Store of the Worlds, is one of the 13 stories “of the beings who dwell on the strange borders of reality” originally published in Untouched by Human Hands.
Cover by Jack Coggins.
Based on Robert Sheckley’s 1953 short story the “Seventh Victim”—included in Store of the Worlds: The Stories of Robert Sheckley,—Elio Petri’s The 10th Victim is a psychedelic trip to the future where civilization’s strategy to end wars is a legalized, cathartic “Big Hunt”, where two strangers are designated “hunter” or “victim” and then have to kill or be killed. Marcello Mastroianni with bleach, cropped hair (it’s the future!) is victim and Ursula Andress with bullet-shooting bra and back-less dresses is the hunter. Need I say more? Scenes not to miss: Andress shooting someone with her bra (in fact, all the outfits); Mastroianni bringing Andress over to his ex-wife’s house, only to be interrupted by both his ex-wife and his current lover; the two of them wrestling in the Roman Forum; and the list goes on. Highly recommended, both the Sheckley book and the movie.
Dawn in 2012, or the last sentence of a Sheckley story from 1953 or so, are whistle-blowers on anyone who jumps cover, commits to an Attempted Escape, forgets that the House Always Wins. Unlike most Utopias—unlike all those doomed Five-Year Plans Guaranteeing Purchasers an out from the Law of Answered Prayer—most of the great Sheckley stories, bar a few cheerier tales featuring aliens or humans who are safely off-planet, are about what happens to human beings when the future stops teasing us. The heart of his best work is all about comeuppance, what happens in the latter years of the Age of Anxiety when the spell fails and you hit vacuum like Casey, what happens when the gods grant your wish. The heart of a Sheckley story is how it ends.
If Sheckley is known beyond the confines of science fiction, it is probably for “Seventh Victim,” made into a 1965 movie called “The 10th Victim” (and still fondly remembered for Ursula Andress’s bullet-shooting bra). In a future society, war has been eliminated, but man’s killer instincts remain. So some outlet for his aggression must be found. The outlet is a game, of sorts, overseen by the Emotional Catharsis Board. In it, people alternate being hunters and victims, the object being to kill — or be killed. A hunter knows the name of his victim, but the victim doesn’t know the identity of his hunter. What happens, though, when you’re Stanton Frelaine and the person you’ve been assigned to murder is Janet-Marie Patzig, a beautiful young woman with whom you find yourself falling in love?
—from Michael Dirda’s review of Store of the Worlds: The Stories of Robert Sheckley in The Washington Post. You can read the rest of the review here.
— from Jonathan Lethem and Alex Abramovich’s introduction to their selection of Robert Sheckley stories, Store of the Worlds, out May 1, 2012.
Store of the Worlds
Stories by Robert Sheckley
Edited and with an Introduction by Alex Abrambovich and Jonathan Lethem
on sale: May 1, 2012
All the Things You Are
The Native Problem
Pilgrimage to Earth
A Wind Is Rising
The Language of Love
If the Red Slayer
Store of the Worlds
Shall We Have a Little Talk?
Cordle to Onion to Carrot
The People Trap
Can You Feel Anything When I Do This?
Is That What People Do?
Beside Still Waters
above: covers from our in-house Sheckley paperback collection
The Tenth Victim is based on the story “Seventh Victim,” collected in our upcoming volume of Sheckley Stories, Store of the Worlds (edited by Jonathan Lethem and Alex Abramovich). Today the film is mainly remembered for its high camp quotient, including Ursula Andress’s bra-gun wearing character—spoofed in the original Austin Powers movie.
La decima vittima (The Tenth Victim), 1965
In the future, society entertains the violent impulses of the masses by arranging the Hunt, an elaborate international game made up of alternating Victims and Hunters who must engage in ten rounds before winning the grand prize. Advertisers pay top dollar to have the victors spout slogans over their dead conquests, while the authorities frown upon murder unless it’s all in the name of good sportsmanship.
adaptation of a story by Robert Sheckley
summary from here
There’s was a lot of excitement at the office yesterday when we discovered that Robert Sheckley has two big fans. And we are fans of his fans. We also liked the “five minutes of us burbling,” though wished it was “five minutes of blurbling” for Store of the Worlds: The Short Stories of Robert Sheckley, edited and introduced by Jonathan Lethem and Alex Abramovich and due out May 1st.
Mr Gaiman and Mr Hodgman continue their conversation about Audio Books. Here they talk about the upcoming audiobook release of Robert Sheckley’s DIMENSION OF MIRACLES and why it sometimes feels like a strange cross between Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy AND Mad Men at the same time.
(It’s about five minutes of us burbling.)
One of these days we’re going to post our own collection of fabulous Robert Sheckley pulp SF covers, but until then, we can all make do with this.
Robert Sheckley, “Warm” (Galaxy Science Fiction June 1953)
“Warm” is collected in our forthcoming Sheckley story volume, The Store of the Worlds, coming this spring.