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The Robert Sheckley Megapack: 15 Classic Science Fiction Stories

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The Robert Sheckley Megapack presents 14 short stories and 1 novel by the author Neil Gaiman called "probably the best short-story writer during the '50s to the mid-1960s working in any field." Here are tales of adventure in strange futures, full of the wry wit and piercing characterizations that made Sheckley one of the great writers working in science fiction! "Robert She The Robert Sheckley Megapack presents 14 short stories and 1 novel by the author Neil Gaiman called "probably the best short-story writer during the '50s to the mid-1960s working in any field." Here are tales of adventure in strange futures, full of the wry wit and piercing characterizations that made Sheckley one of the great writers working in science fiction! "Robert Sheckley: the best short-story writer the field has produced." — Alan Dean Foster "I had no idea the competition was so terrifyingly good." — Douglas Adams Included in this volume are: WATCHBIRD THE STATUS CIVILIZATION ASK A FOOLISH QUESTION COST OF LIVING BAD MEDICINE DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY WARRIOR RACE THE HOUR OF BATTLE KEEP YOUR SHAPE WARM DEATH WISH BESIDE STILL WATERS FOREVER THE LEECH ONE MAN'S POISON And don't forget to search this ebook store for "Wildside Megapack" to see many more entries in this series, covering science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, westerns, classics, and much, much more!


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The Robert Sheckley Megapack presents 14 short stories and 1 novel by the author Neil Gaiman called "probably the best short-story writer during the '50s to the mid-1960s working in any field." Here are tales of adventure in strange futures, full of the wry wit and piercing characterizations that made Sheckley one of the great writers working in science fiction! "Robert She The Robert Sheckley Megapack presents 14 short stories and 1 novel by the author Neil Gaiman called "probably the best short-story writer during the '50s to the mid-1960s working in any field." Here are tales of adventure in strange futures, full of the wry wit and piercing characterizations that made Sheckley one of the great writers working in science fiction! "Robert Sheckley: the best short-story writer the field has produced." — Alan Dean Foster "I had no idea the competition was so terrifyingly good." — Douglas Adams Included in this volume are: WATCHBIRD THE STATUS CIVILIZATION ASK A FOOLISH QUESTION COST OF LIVING BAD MEDICINE DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY WARRIOR RACE THE HOUR OF BATTLE KEEP YOUR SHAPE WARM DEATH WISH BESIDE STILL WATERS FOREVER THE LEECH ONE MAN'S POISON And don't forget to search this ebook store for "Wildside Megapack" to see many more entries in this series, covering science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, westerns, classics, and much, much more!

30 review for The Robert Sheckley Megapack: 15 Classic Science Fiction Stories

  1. 5 out of 5

    Apatt

    Robert Sheckley has long been my favorite humorous sf author, I read him long before I read Douglas Adams’s classic HHGTG. In fact, Adams said this of Sheckley: “I had no idea the competition was so terrifyingly good.” I wanted to buy/read/review Store of the Worlds: The Stories of Robert Sheckley, unfortunately, but the price tag of USD 11.99 is not very competitive compared to most other Kindle books that I have on my TBR. I mean I am sure it’s a great anthology but basically, I’m just too sti Robert Sheckley has long been my favorite humorous sf author, I read him long before I read Douglas Adams’s classic HHGTG. In fact, Adams said this of Sheckley: “I had no idea the competition was so terrifyingly good.” I wanted to buy/read/review Store of the Worlds: The Stories of Robert Sheckley, unfortunately, but the price tag of USD 11.99 is not very competitive compared to most other Kindle books that I have on my TBR. I mean I am sure it’s a great anthology but basically, I’m just too stingy. This being the case, I plumped for this “Megapack” instead, this Kindle edition costs a mere USD 0.99, leaving 11 Dollars for my dinner and such. This inelegantly named Megapack is pretty good value, the stories are mostly very good, the only snag is that all of them are available to read for free in the public domain! (See download link in the "Notes" section). The only advantage for buying the e-book is to have all the stories bundled together as one e-book. There are also fewer humorous ones than I expected, but the “serious” ones are great yarns, woven into a great anthology (see what I did there?). As usual with anthologies I will just do a quick summary of each story; I am sure there are more elegant ways to review an anthology this brute force style is easier. 1. Watchbird: Robo-birds preventing crime before they happen, similar to PKD’s concept for Minority Report, but without psychics. This is a cautionary tale about delegating human responsibilities to machines. It may have been an inspiration for the Robocop movies (first published in 1953). 2. The Status Civilization: This is actually a short novel of about 132 pages. I have reviewed in separately (and long-windedly) here . 3. Ask a Foolish Question: About a gigantic supercomputer, similar to “Deep Thought” from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, this story (from 1953) predates Adams’ classic. It is rather philosophical with some humour, a profundity and satire combo. 4. Cost of Living: A satire about people who settle for stagnant, meaningless jobs while committing to cross generations debts, living far beyond their means. 5. Bad medicine: LOL! This is my favorite story in the entire book. Classic Sheckley, the story of a man who undergoes psychiatric treatment meant for Martian patients, with hilarious results. That last line cracked me up! 6. Diplomatic Immunity: The alien ambassador has to be killed before he recommends his planet’s military to invade Earth. He is very hard to kill and does not even fight back. Clever and amusing little story. 7. Warrior Race: Hilarious suicidal alien warriors. 8. Hour of Battle: About an impending alien invasion. It is not bad but stopped just when getting really interesting. Anyway, it is very short. 9. Keep Your Shape: Transforming aliens with a taboo about keeping to a favored shape. Amusing. 10. Warm: A weird, surreal and existential story. Interesting but not really my cup of tea. 11. Death Wish: Another supercomputer story. It comes up with an interesting solution to a seemingly insoluble problem. Not great, but then it is very short. 12. Beside Still Waters: A nice (non-humorous) story about a man and his faithful robot. It is interesting that the robot is not really sentient or “alive”. This feels like a Clifford D. Simak story. 13. Forever: About an immortality club and an invention that the world may not be ready for. 14. The Leech: Wonderful alien monster story. The monster is mindless, does not go on a rampage but is a serious threat to humanity for all that. 15. One Man's Poison: This story explores that old adage “One man's meat is another man's poison”. It is OK. This Megapack is a very good anthology, but no need to cough up your hard-earned cash for it. Read the individual stories as separate e-books. If you never read Sheckley before you really should, especially Bad medicine, Watchbird and The Leech. Notes: • All of these stories can be downloaded individually from Project Gutenberg’s Robert Sheckley page (FREE). • Most of the stories in Store of the Worlds: The Stories of Robert Sheckley are not in this Megapack, I suspect they are his upper tier stories. Looks like I will have to fork over the $11.99 one day Quotes: “Well, suppose we make the customary arrangement. If you will just sign over your son’s earnings for the first thirty years of his adult life, we can easily arrange credit for you.” “I am not an alcoholic,” Caswell said, with considerable dignity. “The New York Rapid Transit Corporation does not hire alcoholics.” “Oh,” said the clerk, glancing distrustfully at Caswell’s bloodshot eyes. “You seem a little nervous. Perhaps the portable Bendix Anxiety Reducer—” “Anxiety’s not my ticket, either. What have you got for homicidal mania?” “At that moment Anders was as thoroughly out of love as a man could be. Viewing one’s intended as a depersonalized, sexless piece of machinery is not especially conducive to love. But it is quite stimulating, intellectually.”

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kelly McCubbin

    Sheckley is an underappreciated master of the form. These stories get better and better as you go on. Not only is his work liberally plagiarized by Douglas Adams (and no, I don't use that word lightly), but he goes out onto limbs that are breathtakingly giddy. Bad Medicine is one of the funniest, laugh out loud, short stories I've ever read and then he is able to turn on a dime and out Bradbury Bradbury with stories like Beside Still Waters. Asimov, Heinlein, Dick and Bradbury are wonderful, but Sheckley is an underappreciated master of the form. These stories get better and better as you go on. Not only is his work liberally plagiarized by Douglas Adams (and no, I don't use that word lightly), but he goes out onto limbs that are breathtakingly giddy. Bad Medicine is one of the funniest, laugh out loud, short stories I've ever read and then he is able to turn on a dime and out Bradbury Bradbury with stories like Beside Still Waters. Asimov, Heinlein, Dick and Bradbury are wonderful, but it is really time for us to step back and reevaluate Robert Sheckley, who might be the best science fiction short story author of the 50s. (And while we're at it, how about taking a look at Frederic Brown, too, Chief? Vastly underrated.)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    I picked this up because I had heard that Sheckley was a master of humourous science fiction, and also of the short story form. The stories in this volume are more satirical than comedic, but they're very well written. All of them come from the 1950s (one was published in 1960), and over and over again they skewer the conformity, consumerism and techno-optimism of that decade. Unlike in most SF of the time, if a wonderful gadget turns up in the Sheckley story it is much more likely to be the sour I picked this up because I had heard that Sheckley was a master of humourous science fiction, and also of the short story form. The stories in this volume are more satirical than comedic, but they're very well written. All of them come from the 1950s (one was published in 1960), and over and over again they skewer the conformity, consumerism and techno-optimism of that decade. Unlike in most SF of the time, if a wonderful gadget turns up in the Sheckley story it is much more likely to be the source of the problem than it is to be the solution, though there are one or two "clever solution" stories. I generally dislike technopessimism as a philosophy, but in the 1950s it was countercultural, so I give it a pass. In "Watchbird," devices invented to prevent murder generalise their definition a bit too widely. The big fault of this story is in the common American assumption that the USA is the whole world, but it doesn't have many other faults. "The Status Civilization" parodies conformism and statism, and the role of elites, in a prison planet for criminals and dissidents: "Without the law, there could be no privileges for those who made the law; therefore the law was absolutely necessary". "Ask a Foolish Question" points up the limitations of our understanding of the universe, another counter to scientific optimism and hubris. "Cost of Living" parodies consumerism and consumer debt, and the role of big corporations in government (one corporate representative speaks of "the laws we helped formulate and pass," something that actually happens in the present-day USA). "Bad Medicine" parodies psychology in the story of a homicidal man who gets a therapy machine programmed for Martians by mistake. "Diplomatic Immunity" is a "clever-engineer" story in a more conventional mould, though it is certainly very clever. "Warrior Race" confronts two Earthmen with an alien race who guilt them into giving up by committing suicide at them. "The Hour of Battle" shows the problems of confronting an alien race who are telepathic, while giving a presumably accurate picture of what it's like for men stuck together in a small space and waiting for a battle to start. (Sheckley served in the army in Korea.) "Keep Your Shape" is told from the viewpoint of alien invaders struggling to invade Earth because of the conflict between their nature and their culture, and the opportunities that Earth offers them. "Warm" is an odd psychological, in fact psychedelic, story about perception and alienation. "Death Wish" is again about men stuck together in close quarters, and how they get on each other's nerves. It reads like a parody of the many "clever-engineer" stories of the time. "Beside Still Waters" is a robot story with an odd twist ending, of a kind that Asimov probably wouldn't have attempted for ideological reasons. "Forever" has an odd, deprotagonising ending, but gets in its dig against elitism first. "The Leech" is a clever-engineer story gone wrong, and gone wrong because of military idiocy. "One Man's Poison" is a problem-solving story based around the idea that alien minds are, in fact, alien. It's interesting to see a writer who goes counter to the genre trend of the time, and whose storytelling ability allows him to get away with it. Overall, a good collection.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Science fiction stories in the late 1960s started to ask more "Has Science Gone Too Far" sorts of questions, or tell stories of "Science Used For the Wrong Things." All well and good, there are lots of classics in that form. But most of these stories have a cynical tone, whereas Sheckley in almost all his stories goes straight for irony. In Sheckley's visions of the future, science and technology work exactly as well as scientists and technologists want it to. But, being human and not exactly omn Science fiction stories in the late 1960s started to ask more "Has Science Gone Too Far" sorts of questions, or tell stories of "Science Used For the Wrong Things." All well and good, there are lots of classics in that form. But most of these stories have a cynical tone, whereas Sheckley in almost all his stories goes straight for irony. In Sheckley's visions of the future, science and technology work exactly as well as scientists and technologists want it to. But, being human and not exactly omniscient, things go wrong anyway. Sheckley also stands out among science fiction authors for portraying future technology in a state of beta-testing or commercialization, somewhat against type for the "classic" sci-fi story. Other than this pack, which is great on its own, I *highly* recommend the adaptation of "Early Model" (a story not in this pack) by the 1950s radio series X Minus One: https://archive.org/download/OTRR_X_M... A good story made even better by an inspired adaptation.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Steve Tetreault

    What it's about: This anthology is all sci-fi all the time, often with a sardonic twist. What I thought: The novella that is included didn't do much for me - I didn't really get the point. The rest of the book is short Sheckley pieces, all of which I found enjoyable. It was scary how relevant "Cost of Living" seemed in our modern age, though on a societal, rather than familial, level. "Beside Still Waters" was surprisingly touching - I teared up when finishing it. "Forever" had a twist I didn't What it's about: This anthology is all sci-fi all the time, often with a sardonic twist. What I thought: The novella that is included didn't do much for me - I didn't really get the point. The rest of the book is short Sheckley pieces, all of which I found enjoyable. It was scary how relevant "Cost of Living" seemed in our modern age, though on a societal, rather than familial, level. "Beside Still Waters" was surprisingly touching - I teared up when finishing it. "Forever" had a twist I didn't see coming that was so obvious in retrospect, which I found very enjoyable, followed immediately by another twist. And "The Leech" was clever, with a commentary on the hawkish mind that seemed a little too on-the-nose in today's political climate. Why I rated it like I did: Sheckley is good at what he does! I enjoyed this from top to tail.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    I loved Robert Sheckley from the second I started Options in my teens, for me his best novel though some find it hard to read. Years later I picked up some of his other works, and they are all brilliant. It's nice to find an author that other authors rate so highly. You have to love the 50s sci-fi style, full of paranoia and fear that what they're talking about is really going to happen if we're not careful. No-one ever categorises these short stories as Dystopian but they are. Multiple versions o I loved Robert Sheckley from the second I started Options in my teens, for me his best novel though some find it hard to read. Years later I picked up some of his other works, and they are all brilliant. It's nice to find an author that other authors rate so highly. You have to love the 50s sci-fi style, full of paranoia and fear that what they're talking about is really going to happen if we're not careful. No-one ever categorises these short stories as Dystopian but they are. Multiple versions of the Earth, made of bland indistinguishable houses and citizens, or companies producing robots to police or act as our doctors... these are a documented history of the social fears and warnings of the time. And what about Megapacks? I'd never buy them usually, but on Kindle they're a wonderful way to immerse yourself in an author or genre.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Karen Terrell

    Thought-provoking. Sheckley wrote these stories in the 1950s and 1960s - when the idea of space exploration was something people were beginning to imagine might be a part of their future. It's interesting to read these stories - written about the "future" - but actually taking place in today's present. I wonder if Sheckley would have been disappointed about how the future actually played-out: A dismantled space shuttle program, no manned space exploration, and no colonies on Mars or any other ex Thought-provoking. Sheckley wrote these stories in the 1950s and 1960s - when the idea of space exploration was something people were beginning to imagine might be a part of their future. It's interesting to read these stories - written about the "future" - but actually taking place in today's present. I wonder if Sheckley would have been disappointed about how the future actually played-out: A dismantled space shuttle program, no manned space exploration, and no colonies on Mars or any other extra-terrestrial planets. I enjoyed reading Sheckley's vision of the future.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Enrico

    Science fiction has never been so funny and intelligent.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Derek Davis

    More "very '50s" SF, though with a unique Sheckley twist. He tends to slam through his plots, skimping on transitions to get the main elements in place quickly and solidly. Yet his endings go beyond unexpected twists – in fact, they sometimes go beyond (or beside) being endings at all. You're left scratching your head, thinking, "but ..." or "isn't there something more?" Even the one novel included, The Status Civilization just – stops. That's not a complaint, since it's a deliberate style choic More "very '50s" SF, though with a unique Sheckley twist. He tends to slam through his plots, skimping on transitions to get the main elements in place quickly and solidly. Yet his endings go beyond unexpected twists – in fact, they sometimes go beyond (or beside) being endings at all. You're left scratching your head, thinking, "but ..." or "isn't there something more?" Even the one novel included, The Status Civilization just – stops. That's not a complaint, since it's a deliberate style choice by the author, but it's unusual and can be unsettling. His basic ideas or assumptions are wonderfully off the wall, as though he's looking at our universe from the outside or under a microscope. In "Ask a Foolish Question," we meet the Answerer, a sequestered machine that Knows All and has all answers – but can only answer the never-revealed questions that its makers deemed significant. "Diplomatic Immunity" presents an alien ambassador who must be destroyed – but cannot be by any human means. There's a good deal of logical puzzling, as was common in the '50s, but beyond that, in Sheckley there's a mind, unlike the Answerer, ready and willing to look at any question from any angle.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Durandana

    2/5 - Watchbird 3/5 - The Status Civilization 4/5 - Ask a Foolish Question 2/5 - Cost of Living 4/5 - Bad Medicine 4/5 - Diplomatic Immunity 3/5 - Warrior Race 3/5 - The Hour of Battle 3/5 - Keep Your Shape 3/5 - Warm 4/5 - Death Wish 4/5 - Beside Still Waters 2/5 - Forever 4/5 - The Leech 4/5 - One Man's Poison 2/5 - Watchbird 3/5 - The Status Civilization 4/5 - Ask a Foolish Question 2/5 - Cost of Living 4/5 - Bad Medicine 4/5 - Diplomatic Immunity 3/5 - Warrior Race 3/5 - The Hour of Battle 3/5 - Keep Your Shape 3/5 - Warm 4/5 - Death Wish 4/5 - Beside Still Waters 2/5 - Forever 4/5 - The Leech 4/5 - One Man's Poison

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brice Ligget

    Great classic Old school science fiction. Each story is unique. A variety of subjects. Very well written. I'm going to have to see if he wrote any longer length fiction. Great classic Old school science fiction. Each story is unique. A variety of subjects. Very well written. I'm going to have to see if he wrote any longer length fiction.

  12. 4 out of 5

    J Leeder

    One of the greats Robert Shockley wrote excellent classic science fiction. Usually with a humorous twist and a light touch. This is a must read for any fan of 20th century Sci Fi

  13. 4 out of 5

    Karen Roby Via

    Great find I came upon this author by accident, although I now realize he is a well-known science fiction author. It was interesting to read his takes on the future, for example, a huge supercomputer that spits out its answers on a paper tape, common in science fiction stories of the fifties. I thoroughly enjoyed this series of short stories and look forward to reading more by Robert Sheckley.

  14. 4 out of 5

    chrstphre campbell

    I was once a big fan of Sheckley... But now, rereading these stories, they seem kind of tepid. Maybe it was his longer books that I fell in love with, or maybe this collection is made up of stories that weren't already bought up by other publishers. One story in particular about the shape shifting aliens, I seem to distinctly recall that one as having a very different ending ? ( ? ) I was once a big fan of Sheckley... But now, rereading these stories, they seem kind of tepid. Maybe it was his longer books that I fell in love with, or maybe this collection is made up of stories that weren't already bought up by other publishers. One story in particular about the shape shifting aliens, I seem to distinctly recall that one as having a very different ending ? ( ? )

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jc

    Most of the stories start wellbut finish with a twist that leaves frustrated or confused beacause the explanation is totally abstruse. The only redeeming feature is the sense of humor of the author which quite rare in the SF genre.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carly Kirk

    Excellent Excellent collection of stories. I thoroughly enjoyed them all and I'm sure I'll reread them. Highly recommend getting this collection Excellent Excellent collection of stories. I thoroughly enjoyed them all and I'm sure I'll reread them. Highly recommend getting this collection

  17. 4 out of 5

    Pauline Lloyd

    Some of the stories were very good. I couldn't get into "The Status Civilisation" too much waffle. Some of the stories were very good. I couldn't get into "The Status Civilisation" too much waffle.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Burton

  19. 5 out of 5

    Artak Kalantarian

  20. 5 out of 5

    BC Reader

  21. 4 out of 5

    Trey Johnson

  22. 4 out of 5

    ron howard

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rani Cohen

  24. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Walker

  25. 4 out of 5

    Daniil Fedtsov

  26. 4 out of 5

    Creadiv

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jorge Cid

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Levy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Dranoff

  30. 5 out of 5

    Vaclav

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