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Am I Not Your Virus? Am I Not Your Virus?

Dimension of Sheckley

Novel Reviews and Ratings *****

Immortality Inc. (1st Paperback Edition) IMMORTALITY INC. (1958)

Alternative titles: "Time Killer" (serialised in Galaxy) and "Immortality Delivered" (rare early version)

Thomas Blaine is involved in a car crash, but a split second before his death he is pulled through time into the 22nd century. He finds himself inhabiting a new body. In this world the afterlife has been scientifically proven to exist,but the corporations have taken it over and it costs a fortune to get there (unless you fancy doing twenty years of yoga).

The plot of this one is pretty ingenious, with plenty of unexpected twists. However, the mix of darkness and humour seems less satisfying than later novels, especially "Dimension of Miracles". ***

This novel is now available in the omnibus volume Dimensions of Sheckley.

Film: FREEJACK (1992)

A very loose adaption of the novel, slaughtered by the critics. It's quite good fun actually, especially a cameo by Amanda Plummer as a nun with guns (not in the novel but it should have been!).

The Status Civilization (1st Paperback Edition) THE STATUS CIVILIZATION (1960)

Alternative title: "Omega!" (serialised in Amazing)

Will Barrent is found guilty of murder and sent to the prison planet Omega. Before he arrives his memory is wiped and he remembers nothing of his past life. Omega is a violent place, with its own perverse laws and complex class structure. Barrent feels he must escape and return to Earth.

Some of the ideas about formalised violence in the first half of this novel are perhaps better developed in "The Tenth Victim", but Barrent's return to Earth is delightfully surreal. ***


Alternative title: "Journey of Joenes" (serialised in Fantasy & SF)

Joenes leaves his idyllic Fijian island in search of adventure in America. A classic case of the innocent abroad, people are soon taking advantage of him. His tales are told 1000 years later back in Fiji, where Joenes has become a mythical figure. Inevitably the facts have become somewhat murky.

Obviously the work of a short story writer, the sequence of related tales are told by a variety of narrators. In one of these Joenes is lost in the Octagon, a government building so secret it is being continuously rebuilt just so no one will ever have an accurate map! Very funny, and one of the best unexpected endings ever. ****

This novel is now available in the omnibus volume Dimensions of Sheckley.

The Tenth Victim (First Paperback Editon) THE TENTH VICTIM (1965)

N.B. Sheckley wrote the short story "The Seventh Victim" in 1953. In 1965 it inspired the film "The Tenth Victim". This is the novelisation. Some copies include photos from the film.

In the near future anyone may enter a game called the Hunt. One player is designated Hunter, the other Victim. The Victim does not know who the Hunter is, merely that someone is trying to kill them, and they must kill that person first! The sexy but cold Caroline Meredith is brilliant at the game and seems destined to be the first woman to reach ten kills - the only way to win this game. Her tenth victim is the relatively amateurish Marcello Polletti, what could possibly go wrong?

Short, fast moving and hilarious, this must be one of the most readable books of all time. Working from the film script seems to have added a sense of momentum to the book, which is extremely short. It includes the classic opening where Caroline guns down her victim with shots from her metal-plated bra. *****


Review from NEW WORLDS #169 by Hilary Bailey

This is an expanded "camped up" version of short story "The Seventh Victim", humour strained and repetitive, often weak, but not bad light reading.


This Italian film is highly rated but I haven't seen it.