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Mindswap, by Robert Sheckley Book Review | SFReader.com
Mindswap, by Robert Sheckley Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: Orb Books Published: 2006 Review Posted: 6/26/2013 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated
Mindswap, by Robert Sheckley
Book Review by Paul Weiss
Have you read this book?
The absolutely incomprehensible destruction of a great idea!
It would be quite unreasonable to give Robert Sheckley less than top
marks for putting together a wild and woolly imaginative premise to
build a sci-fi novel around. Consider a world in which interstellar
travel is possible but, not surprisingly, it's a long, arduous and
crushingly expensive process. For those that can't afford the time or
the money for the real thing, science has also developed the technology
for a "mindswap" - a way for two consenting people to simply switch
consciousness, even over galactic distances, and effectively trade
bodies instantaneously for an agreed upon period of time.
The possibilities for a novel built on such an idea are virtually
limitless - anthropological and social comment, moral, social and
cultural study, recreation and adventure travel in off-world settings,
sexual adventure and comic misadventure, criminal skulduggery and much,
much more. Sheckley chose to take his novel down the road of comic
misadventure and criminal activity but I believe that somewhere along
the way, he lost his mind and got waylaid on the sideroads of the 1960s
hippie and drug sub-culture.
Marvin, a college student who wanted nothing more than to visit Mars,
swapped minds and discovered that he had been scammed by a Martian
criminal who has found a way to abscond with Marvins's body. Marvin now
has no way home and it seems his only option is to indulge in a series
of every more complex mindswaps and body trades to track down and
recover his dearly beloved earth body.
I'm grateful that "Mindswap" was a blissfully short novel because the
reading, quite frankly, was tedious to the point of pain. Give Sheckly
his due. His efforts at humour occasionally rose to the status of
laugh-out-loud hilarity but, for the most part, they fell flat and
resembled nothing more than overblown, pretentious, philosophical
doublespeak pouring from the mouth of a 1960s flower child in the grasp
of a bad batch of LSD mindblowers!
It might have seemed appealing to a young adult reading crowd at the
time of its publication but it certainly aged poorly and I'm afraid I
can't recommend it to any potential reader, even out of purely
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