Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

I am sorry, more sorry than I had expected, to hear that Robert Sheckley has died.

He was one of the first sf writers whose work I knew - a copy of Pilgrimage To Earth turned up in a local bookstore and I took a gamble with my pocket money - and his stories amused me when I was eight, and still amuse me nearly five decades later. Little of his work is profound, but it is all urbane and hip.

And there is one story which affected me deeply. A man is kidnapped by aliens who need him for their star drive - humans are a lost colony of a key part of a collective living space shop. And the reason why we are unhappy, the human condition? Is just that we don't get to do this thing which is what we are for. And when he finds he can do it, his entire take on the universe changes.

The really worrying thing about this is that, though it is a happy story, it poses the possibility that any of us might be converted to anything, and know forever afterwards that this is what human life is for. And for me, one of the worrying things about it was just this - that it is at once a wonderful metaphor for religious conversion and for the realization that I was trans and queer.

Sheckley's best comedies were wiser than they let you see first time.
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