SELECT * FROM uv_BookReviewRollup WHERE recordnum = 1502 Mindswap, by Robert Sheckley Book Review |

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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 historical interest.
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