Thursday, March 30, 2017

Review of Dimension of Miracles by Robert Sheckley

Glorious, just glorious.  Taxonomizing Robert Sheckley’s 1968 Dimension of Miracles brings me to no different term.   I can think of no other category, no other fiction type, nothing to reduce its cleverness, humor, philosophy, its…  dynamic metaphysicality to a set term.  I fear even writing this review will render it absurd, skew it beyond focus to the point the commentary does not resemble the novel.  Best to start with the salient facts…

Tom Carmody is a winner of a galactic lottery—incorrectly so, but the prize insists he not give up the position.  The prize itself an object of chaos, Carmody is whisked away from Earth on a galactic tour that leaves him not only breathless, but desperate to return home.  Lacking the coordinates of Where, When, and Which, however, sets him on an urgent search—a search that gets even more desperate when Carmody learns a predator of his own creation chases him through the universe. 

A whirlwind tour of a profoundly zany galaxy, Sheckley is all wit in dreaming up the variety of scenes and encounters Carmody has traipsing the Milky Way and beyond.  Often laugh out loud funny and other times more sly, Sheckley brings to bear a sharp, cynical incisiveness that does not take anything in Western society for granted.  From its religions to its economic practices, its urban environments to social conventions, each are laid bare with intellect and humor.  But while Sheckley bats about profound ideas regarding science and philosophy like flies buzzing around his head, the conclusion of Carmody’s adventure is something no reader can predict.   A sobering note, they have to keep trudging. 

Just go by this book.  It’s lovable, it’s intelligent, it’s imminently quotable, it’s stomach-grabbingly funny, and through it all, it speaks a wealth of truth about human nature; sometimes the truth needs to be couched in absurd tones to ring properly true. 

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