I spent a great deal of my overeducated and underemployed 20s looking for intellectual science fiction to read. By which I meant, in effect, authors like Brian Aldiss or Mike Moorcock who incorporated elements of science, philosophy, and literary modernism into their books. I don't know what I'd have done if I'd discovered Robert Sheckley back then - I probably never would have got a job at all.
Anyway, I've just finished reading Sheckley's book The Journey of Joenes (it was also published under another title, Journey Beyond Tomorrow.) Try this for a description: written by Sheckley in the 1960s, it's the biography of a 21st century historical figure, Joenes, as told by several Pacific storytellers, as compiled by an anonymous editor. As you might guess it's an extremely unreliable history, an even more unreliable future and, because the future being described in the novel is in part the present, it's a very unreliable present indeed. For one thing, apparently the Soviets are still in power, in this version of the future as imagined by Sheckley. That's a pretty common mistake for science fiction writers in the 60s, though what's nice about this is that Sheckley's style, in the Journey, is virtually made of mistakes, and mistaken interpretations of previous mistakes: so it just adds to the fun.
Here's one of my favourite passages - though it's hard to select one favourite passage out of a book that's full of them:
It is sad to relate that as Joenes flew over California an automatic radar station identified his jet as an invader and fired a number of air-to-air missiles at it. This tragic incident marked the opening phase of the great war.... Joenes jet, in the meantime, had expended its entire armament.
But it had not lost the guile its planners had built into it. It switched its radio to the missile-dispatching frequency and broadcast an alarm, declaring itself under attack and naming the airborne missiles at enemy targets to be destroyed.
These tactics met with some success. A number of the older, more simple-minded missiles would not destroy a craft they considered their own. The newer, more sophisticated missiles, however, had been alerted to just such an attempt on the part of the enemy. Therefore they pressed the attack, while the older missiles fiercely defended the solitary jet.
Tim, your links stink, you fink!
- John Bangsund's Threepenny Planet
- Broken Biro
- Poetry 24
- Superlative scribbles
- Kirstyn McD!
- Rorrim a tsomla almost a mirror
- More Sterne
- Cam the man from the Dan.
- Too hot to Raaaaaaandallllllll!
- Erin's Excellently Everlasting Effervescements!
- Slammy Infamy
- Hail Paco!
- Baron Blandwagon, purveyor of cyberbunnies, hawker of Roger Corman, and Misruler of the Multiverse
- The Bolta. Aiyeeeeee!!!!!
- Bad Apple Audrey
- The cartoon church
- Sir Martinkus
- A Zemblanian abroad and at home
- A hodge podge of hotzeplotz
- THE SLAMMA!
- Jottlesby's nottings, or should that be Nottlesby's jottings?
- The Snarking of the Hunt
- Jazzy Hands
- David of Metal City
- David the Barista
- The Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony
- Be an Opinion Dominion Minion!
- ... and Fel
- His brilliant career - from whale sushi to crumbed prawn
- Jo Blogs
- Yet another Tim
- Was two peas, now three peas
- ... Still Life - now with extra rotating cats!
- An Amazingly Awesome Australian Ampersand!
- Blink and you'll miss 'er
- Red in the land of the tigers!
- Wire of Vibe
- Chase him, ladies, he's in the cavalry!
- The Non-palindromical Editrix in Germanium
- Old Sterne
- The briefs...
- ... and the brieflets
- The Purple Blog
- Blairville, lair of all that is wicked and perfidious
- The enticingly acronymical CSH
- EXTREEEEEEEME WYNTER!
- Mark of California
- Silent Speaking
- Lexicon the Mexican
- ► 2015 (93)
- ► 2014 (135)
- ► 2013 (173)
- ► 2012 (275)
- ► 2011 (261)
- Announcing the discovery of the internet
- Cam, saw, conquered
- New leadership! Old Labor!
- Nice paper things with words in them
- Proverbial proverb
- Lesson for today, if today is yesterday
- Sunday hat quote
- Fartisan bakeries
- Summary of a book
- A poem about liking things
- A sensible pantoum, written on the tram
- Naughty after the fact
- Fearful apprehension of mysterious events that are...
- Precious non-vanishing natural heritage
- An allsorts post, but not involving licorice
- Great scientific advances of our time
- Retro biscuits
- On underpants
- A moustache you can trust
- Australia mourns death of writer it never read
- Rejected entries for Uncle Almanac's Giant Compend...
- Patriotic songs of the world, no. umpteen hundred ...
- ▼ June (24)
- ► 2009 (290)
- ► 2008 (316)
- ► 2007 (392)
- ► 2006 (373)
- ► 2005 (287)