Thursday, November 1, 2012

Store of the Worlds by Robert Sheckley

Edited by Jonathan Lethem and Alex Abramovich
Publisher: New York Review of Books
Price/Format: £9.99, paperback.
Bought from: Mr B's Emporium
ISBN 1590174941

Though I've read plenty in the SF genre, I've never really read short stories in any genre, so I really wasn't certain how I would get on with this Book Spa recommendation from Mr B's.

The long and short of it is that the writing was highly entertaining, but I am not sure if I am a fan of the short story format.

At first it seemed nice to be able to pick up the book every now and again, and read one story at a time.  I tried several in one long sitting, but I'm afraid that didn't work for me at all.  But, if you only have 15 minutes or so to spare here and there a short story is a great way to fill the time.  I had planned to read on average one story a night, but I would put the book down and then not pick it up for a week or more.  It is purely a personal feeling that it is odd to hold a book and only have a few pages per story and then you're done.  There's something not quite right about it.

Having said all that, I must admit that I enjoyed the stories far more than I expected, given my feelings about the format.  They were in places funny, poignant, prescient and totally off the wall.  I have lots of favourites that weeks later (yes, I'm terrible at keeping the blog up to date), I am still thinking about.  Sheckley has a fabulous story telling ability.  I didn't think it was possible to tell a decent story without lots of characterisation and development etc etc... he proved me wrong.  In just a few pages, and often only one or two characters he built entire worlds for me.  I particularly liked the first story where aliens receive human visitors and are shocked by their lack of morality.  Another about the crew of a symbiotic spaceship that needed a new crewman.  I also enjoyed the story about the man who spent a year thinking about Virtual Reality, and the one that really stuck with me was the man who escaped an overpopulated earth to colonise a peaceful planet for himself and was then invaded by annoying humans.  All have twists in the tale, some you can predict and others I had no idea what would happen.

If you choose to read this collection, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

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