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Store of the Worlds: The Stories of Robert Sheckley

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  801 ratings  ·  92 reviews
An NYRB Classics Original

Robert Sheckley was an eccentric master of the American short story, and his tales, whether set in dystopic city­scapes, ultramodern advertising agencies, or aboard spaceships lighting out for hostile planets, are among the most startlingly original of the twentieth century. Today, as the new worlds, alternate universes, and synthetic pleasures She
Kindle Edition, 417 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by NYRB Classics (first published August 12th 2009)
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Glenn Russell

Kingsley Amis called Robert Sheckley "science fiction's premier gadfly." And for good reason - in the world of 1950s sf with such big names as Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury and Robert A. Heinlein, the joker in the deck was undoubtedly this Brooklyn born American author.

Store of the Worlds - twenty-six Sheckley short stories collected here in this New York Review Books edition, stories originally published back in the 1950s in magazines ranging from Galaxy to Playboy. There's also an introductory e
Nicholas During
Apr 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not much of a huge sci-fi fan but I thought this collection was awesome. Though many of the stories are formulaic, I suspect that they are really meant to be, since they were written for sci-fi pulp mags of the past, and although the reader quickly learns to expect the twist if reading this collection straight through, there is really a lot to get out of these weird tales. I won't bother to go into what I got out of them, except to say it is the best of the morality of sci-fi tales: a strang ...more
John Pappas
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While there are a few stand-out stories here ("Store of the Worlds", "Watchbirds", "Morning After" and "Shall We Have a Little Talk?") Sheckley's stories are best taken collectively as a study of the mid-twentieth century imagination and psychology. Taken together, they paint a technopessimistic view of the future, one in which humans readily give up moral, ethical and political duties in favor of ease and comfort. There are also many stories of first contact (mainly botched first contacts), tha ...more
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent retrospective of Sheckley - an incredibly underrated and underknown early sci-fi writer - and his short fiction. Funny, moving, and incredibly prescient, he had a pulse on not the fantastic sci-fi of those who came after (although plenty of stories are indeed quite fantastic) but on the human side of the sci-fi equation. The people who go off to those planets, who create those machines, who do those things. There's real heart here and quite a lot of smart serious intense thought. We ...more
Mattia Ravasi
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Featured in my Top 20 Books I Read in 2016:

A treasure chest of some of Sheckley's best stories, which means some of the best in Golden-Age science fiction. Goofy and over-the-top as some of these are, they are sheer fictional gold, the same way Creature From the Black Lagoon is goofy and perfect.

Special mentions go to Warm, which is unbelievably postmodern AND came out in 19fucking53, to Beside Still Waters and Th
Newly Wardell
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely love Robert Sheckley. About 3 years ago someone in a old sci-fi goodreads club suggested Mortality Inc and it started one of the best reading experiences ever. No one writes like him. He is nuts. He is imagination unleashed. This collection really showcases his unique voice. He is so funny w/o being silly. He can be silly w/o treating the reader like a mouth breathing moron. I honestly picked up this book to reread 2 of my favorites Can you feel it when I do this and Pilgrimage to E ...more
The stories in this volume, originally published in the 1950s and 1960s, reflect certain societal concerns of the day. For Robert Sheckley, science fiction seems to have offered a vehicle by which to deliver his social commentary. There is not much science involved in his stories and his world-building is typically skeletal. Instead Sheckley employs subtle, deadpan humor and absurd situations to confront issues such as overpopulation, xenophobia, and the conformity endemic to post-WWII American ...more
Riju Ganguly
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robert Sheckley is an author who has got neglected by the ‘mainstream’ media despite being one of the finest writers of 20th Century simply because he used to write stories & novels that the bigoted sneer at as ‘genre’ fiction. The book under review, although not quite as brilliant as the NESFA Press Collection “The Masque of Manana”, should be a splendid example in support of my aforesaid assertion, with its stories that would NEVER be dated simply because they deal with human emotions, with an ...more
Clare O'Beara
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, short-stories
I enjoyed this collection which brought together some stories I'd previously read and many I had not seen. They have common preconceptions - almost everything is told from a masculine point of view, which was the usual in the days when Bob Sheckely began writing but which we now find odd in a more balanced market. Although we have space travel, people back on Earth still read morning papers - not zines on a screen - and children still get mumps - no vaccines.

Everyone will pick their own favouri
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a very inventive 1965 cult film by Elio Petri that stars Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress: 'The 10th Victim'. It's a spec-fic tale in which people are assigned to hunt each other to kill, for sport. The premise sounds sort of creepy but it plays out as futuristic camp and it's a fun flick (which has aged well since its time). I'd always wanted to read the source material (a short story called 'Seventh Victim') but it proved somewhat hard to find... until I was led directly to thi ...more
Dec 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable mix of great, good, and eh. Most of these short stories are engaging and chew-on-able, and frequently funny (though there are a few clunkers, including one overflowing with embarassingly dated hipster slang.) It's a long collection which definitely could have benefitted from some weeding. Still, when he's on, Sheckley is very clever at putting someone (usually an average guy, but often a story is told from an alien's perspective) in futuristic/alien setting to say something about th ...more
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, scifi
Robert Sheckley's sci-fi story collection, Store of the Worlds: The Stories of Robert Sheckley, is a singularly high-quality set of stories, with not a clinker in the bunch. I would not even venture to indicate my favorite stories, because about half of them qualify. Sheckley's stories verge on the humorous, and almost always bring in different points of view. In an introduction to another selection of his stories, the author wrote:
From this position, these stories from a vanished age appear to
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read one short story by Robert Sheckley in a anthology, and decided I'd like to read more of him, and I'm glad I did. This was a great collection of stories. He writes with a lot of humor, with interesting and odd twists and with a generally light touch, but there are a few stories, especially the title story and the last story, that might bring you to tears. I would not call these stories strictly science fiction. They are more like a cross between sci-fi, O. Henry and the best kind of readin ...more
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-clarion
Jeff Ford was very canny in suggesting Sheckley to me. I love his dry sense of humor about dark and complicated things. I bet he would have a been a fun guy to know. Some of the stories felt a little too much like builds to a punchline, but the best ones feel progressive and keenly observed in a way that's impressive, given that most of the stories are 50+ years old.


"Seventh Victim" - Society where murder for sport is allowed. Woman gets best of man through making him fall in love.
Neil Griffin
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Twilight Zone by way of Richard Yates. This is my favorite sci-fi I've read by a mile--I've always been a little put off by the self-seriousness of the genre, which is why this was such a tonic. At at time, the 50's, when many sci-fi writers were crafting Utopian yarns about the ways technology would benefit society, Sheckley instead held up a mirror, a black mirror (haha), to show that even when technology changes, we'll still be the same flawed, weak people but will now have more ways to get o ...more
Brick Marlin
Mar 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book I have read by Robert Sheckley and I thoroughly enjoyed it! His books are really hard to find and hate it. The only way you can find his work is sifting through used bookstores (which are the very best to endeavor inside, right?) with the hopes of finding that lost treasure. I truly love Sheckley's work. He always gives such a visualization of his tales that grabs hold of your hand and relentlessly pulls you through the pages. If you think you know what will happen at the ...more
Anatoly Sayenko
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Started to read this book because someone recommended "The Wind is Rising". It was a somehow pleasant dive into some old-fashioned sci-fi. While some stories (especially "Watchbird") look extremely naive these days, most of the stories are definitely worth reading, and some of them made me think, which is what I like good sci-fi for. From the top of my head, would recommend: "Double Indemnity", "Specialist" and "Seventh Victim". ...more
Jun 12, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Science fiction fans and short story loves unite! this collection is
wonderfully human in its realization especially because all the characters
and settings are not. See how we are in the face of otherness!
Nicholas Hunter
I had not heard of Scheckley until I received this book from the NYRB book club. The stories are clever, twisted, and outrageous. There's not a single dud in this collection. ...more
Sam Thielman
May 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was great. The stories are impeccably selected and laid out and some of them were so funny I just burst out laughing wherever I was. Highly recommended to pretty much anyone.
Jun 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Never read one of Sheckley's short stories, but I really fell in love with them. Sci-Fi and insight, social justice, and some plain creepiness. Think Twilight Zone. ...more
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Monsters" (1953): 9.5
- The premise isn't that original (although it just as well could have been in the fifties), but I can't think of someone doing more or better with that common premise (changing perspective in the Contact Story from human to alien) than this. The language deliberately keeps the reader off balance, using Human as an analogue and thus deepening the sense of normalization for the indigenous group here, all the while also establishing some customs and traditions we intuitiv
Tyler Jones
Time to get back in touch with your inner nerd!

You have to judge a book on it's own terms and to criticize a collection of stories that appeared in sci-fi pulp magazines of the mid-20th Century because they are "predictable and formulaic" is like saying Jazz is too "unstructured" and the Blues is "too depressing". Those who say they see the endings of these stories coming are, I think, fibbing a bit in an attempt at impressing strangers with their worldliness. Okay, sure, whatever. One of the ce
Jason Furman
I missed reading Robert Scheckley's stories when I was thirteen, which would have been the right age to think they were brilliant and a stepping stone to Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut. At something more than thirteen they were still quite good, many of them providing a fresh and ironic perspective on the science fiction contact narrative in which you learn more about the foibles of the humans than you do about the aliens. This collection is relatively long and I read it on and off for a year, ...more
Oleg Roschin
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Obviously, I'd advise to read all the short stories ever written by Robert Sheckley; but if such a humongous task is beyond your capabilities, this collection offers what is probably the best selection of his work. Here you'll find the most famous, most imaginative, most provocative tales by the grandmaster of science fiction short story - from the ruthless, blood-chilling "Seventh Victim" to the pure alien poetry that is "Specialist". And the title of this collection could not have been more ap ...more
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am generally not a lover of short stories. I find that they tend to either be half baked ideas or stories that try to do too much in too littler space. Sheckley has found a good balance, however, that keeps each of his stories interesting without dragging. Though these are not masterfully written, the ideas they present are interesting and well worth discussing. I have and will continue to recommend this book to friends, but only those with a penchant for science fiction and a love of the dry ...more
Mar 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Read this for an English course I took and wow, it blew my mind. Most of these stories were written around the 60's but they are so ahead of their time. The book is dark and comedic, the best you can get for sci-fi. The stories really get you thinking and open your mind to so many different concepts. I would say they are ingenious, original, and overall just brilliant. This is a great collection of Robert Sheckley's short stories and I recommend everyone read this book as well as his other short ...more
Dec 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed these. They have a strong Twilight Zone vibe, although I don't think he ever wrote for the show. Although the writer's career spanned decades, the stories here focus on the 50s. You can see why when you read the later stories that made the cut. They have lost some of the spark and brilliance of the earlier tales.

The ones that work, though, really work! They are crisp and cutting and pulse with relevance even today. Very worth the time of scifi readers in particular. For those who are
3 1/2
I did quite enjoy a lot of these but the collection took an unfortunate turn toward labored satire/farce toward the end. Sheckley has a PKD aspect to his stuff: I've often felt that Dick sometimes just stuck sci/fi elements into his books as a backdrop to his larger agenda (not that I'm complaining, I love the guy). Sheckley is kind of like that but probably overall more light-hearted. Good fun.
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One of science fiction's great humorists, Sheckley was a prolific short story writer beginning in 1952 with titles including "Specialist", "Pilgrimage to Earth", "Warm", "The Prize of Peril", and "Seventh Victim", collected in volumes from Untouched by Human Hands (1954) to Is That What People Do? (1984) and a five-volume set of Collected Stories (1991). His first novel, Immortality, Inc. (1958), ...more

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