Dimension of Miracles

Oct 7, 05:31 by IROSF
Express thoughts on the article or the book here.

Article can be found here.
Oct 7, 11:22 by Robert Urell
Wholly as a matter of opinion, albeit an informed one, I suspect that most of Bob's latter works were an attempt to subvert the mistakes that upturned his career. I knew Bob, I interviewed him, had regular coffee klatches with him and others, and generally served as his chauffeur, handyman and head cheerleader. I learned early that he needed someone to fulfill that last role more than anything; Bob was pretty hard on himself.
He often spoke of the twenty-year drought that derailed his career. Sometimes, but only rarely, he would point fingers at family, ex-wives, publishers, agents, but mostly he looked to himself for the attendant blame. Later works like GODSHOME and DIMENSIONS OF MIRACLES REVISITED were attempts to put himself back into the driver's seat, and perhaps they were vehicles for self-forgiveness.
So yeah, Bob was giving and endlessly kind, patient to a fault and undeniably, incredibly talented and sharp, but he regarded himself with the harshness and impatience he refrained from projecting upon the world around him. Viewed through that lens, those later books weren't really written by the same man at all.
Oct 7, 15:44 by Bluejack
Thanks for that comment, very interesting.
Oct 9, 15:58 by Nader Elhefnawy
I'm a latecomer to Sheckley's work--I think I only read a couple of his short stories before this year--but I'm pleased to see this piece on him. After having read Mindscape and Immortality, Inc., I'm convinced that his work deserves far more attention than it's been getting lately. Aside from the fact that he's the undisputed master of the body-switch story (later treatments of which generally don't hold a candle to his), the kind of comic sensibility he brought to the genre is something too rarely seen these days.

And odd as this may sound, reading the situations his characters get into, I often get the feeling that no other writer I've ever read, in any genre, had quite as good an idea as he did of what the experience of actually trying to get a job is like.
Oct 11, 18:52 by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
Robert,

Thanks for your message. What you say makes sense. I certainly get the feeling of a Sheckley in conflict with himself during the later works you mention: an attempt to break away. Your psychological observation on the "why" is fascinating. Can you give any examples of the head "cheerleading"? Was it just moments of conversation in which his harsh self-criticism would slip out?

I just read your review on A Handbook of American Prayer and very much enjoyed it. The recent Best Of Shepard is the bomb, by the way.
Oct 11, 19:00 by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
Nader,

Thanks for dropping a line, and glad you enjoyed the piece. Mindswap and Immortality, Inc. are fine work, but The Journey of Joenes takes things several steps farther. And any Sheckley short story collection contains work not only of enduring value, but which puts many other writer's technique to shame. I agree that Bob's work is largely under-appreciated today.

I really enjoyed your piece on the Golden Age of SF on TV, by the way; one of the items that inspired me to write for IRoSF.

Oct 12, 12:50 by Nader Elhefnawy
Thank you for remembering the SFTV article. I'm very pleased you liked it, and were even inspired by it, which is as much as any writer can hope for.
And I'll certainly see if I can track down a copy of The Journey of Joenes.
Oct 13, 09:43 by Robert Urell
Alvaro,
Well, I interviewed him for a now defunct magazine, and then, as I got to know him over the next year or so, I contacted several key genre figures and solicited their help with a collection of reprints done in the same manner as THE AVRAM DAVIDSON TREASURY. This was the TOC, with commitments from all contributors:

Mike Moorcock -- Foreword
Harlan Ellison -- Watchbird
Harlan Ellison -- What is Life
Ursula LeGuin -- The Store of the Worlds
Kage Baker -- The Mnemone
Spider Robinson -- The Monsters
Mike Resnick -- Street of Dreams, Feet of Clay
Terry Pratchett -- Pas de Trois of the Chef and the Waiter and the Customer
Neil Gaiman -- Spy Story/Citizen in Space
Rhys Hughes -- Ask a Foolish Question
Gordon Van Gelder -- Magic, Maples, and Maryann
Jack Dann -- Warm
Matthew Cheney -- Message From Hell

Bob had also signed on to write an essay talking about each of the stories and what they had meant to him. The problem was, I couldn't find a publisher. Jason Williams started talking about taking it, even though it wasn't remotely a Night Shade type of book, but that never happened. I couldn't even get Bill Schafer to return my phone calls. Gavin Grant was very kind, but ultimately couldn't help me. Harlan Ellison suggested - in the forceful way that Harlan suggests anything - that I try the American Library. Anyways, it never happened. Bob's widow Gail asked me for the project last year, and I sent her everything I had with my best wishes. I hope she can get it done.
I also started a petition to the SFWA asking them to award the Grandmaster to Sheckley that he should have gotten in place of Author Emeritus. And then there were all the hours spent just constantly reminding him of who he was and what he had done for so many fans all over the world. He called me when he was asked to go on that tour to Russia. I was happy for him, I really was. It was the last time I spoke to him on the phone before he died. I think he was well on his way to healing by then. I think he might even have been close to happiness.
Nov 21, 16:22 by Nader Elhefnawy
I just finished the original Dimension. Great book.

Chapters 12-13 in particular should be required reading in philosophy, right along with the cave allegory from Plato's Republic.
Nov 22, 17:20 by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
Robert,

Sorry for the month delay in responding -- should check these boards more often. That's a fascinating, and sad, story. With a TOC like that, the literary worth of the project is unquestionable. Like you, it's my sincerest hope that Gail may be able to see the project to completion.

Thanks for sharing all this :-)

Alvaro
Nov 22, 17:23 by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
Nader,

Delighted that you enjoyed Dimension of Miracles. Ah yes, the story of the Creation of Earth and the Business Principle -- philosophy through satire, or satire as philosophy. Either way, very entertaining.

Alvaro
   

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