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Robert Sheckley has passed

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  • Robert Sheckley has passed

    Robert Sheckley passed away this morning in Vassar Hospital in Poughkeepsie, NY
    Funeral arrangements will be provided soon.

    Arrangements by:
    Simpson-Gaus Funeral Home
    411 Albany Ave
    Kingston, NY 12401

  • #2
    Very, very sad news... :(
    'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

    Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)


    • #3
      Robert Sheckley
      Born in Brooklyn, NY on Jul. 16, 1928
      Departed on Dec. 9, 2005 and resided in Red Hook, NY.

      Service: Pending
      Cemetery: Pending

      Robert Sheckley, of Red Hook died December 9, 2005 at Vassar Hospital. He was 77.

      He was born in Brooklyn on July 16, 1928. Mr. Sheckley was raised in New Jersey and entered the U.S. Army after high school. He served in Korea during the Korea Conflict.

      After discharge he attended NYU, graduating with an arts degree. He began to sell stories to all the science-fiction magazines soon after his graduatino, producing several hundred stories over the next several years. During this perior Mr. Sheckley also wrote fifteen episodes for the television series Captain Video and sixty short-short stories that were read aloud by Basil Rathbone on Monitor Radio. He also wrote "The People Trap", which became the basis for television special.

      He is the author of a number of episodes of "The Twilight Zone." He was fiction editor of "Omni" magazine from March 1980 through the summer of 1982 and a Visitiing Scholar at the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT in Boston in 1983. In 1991 Mr. Sheckley received the Raymond Z. Gallun award for contributions to the genre of science-fiction.

      A funeral service will be conducted on Tuesday at a time to be announced at Simpson - Gaus Funeral Home, 411 Albany Ave Kingston, NY. Interment will be in the Artist Cemetery, Woodstock in the spring.

      Please sign the memorial guest book at


      • #4
        Very sad news. May his work live on.
        You see, it's... it's no good, Montag. We've all got to be alike. The only way to be happy is for everyone to be made equal.


        Image Hive :-: Wikiverse :-: Media Hive

        :-: Onsite Offerings :-:

        "I am an observer of life, a non-participant who takes no sides. I am in the regimented society, but not of it." Moondog, 1964


        • #5
          It's a shame, I've yet to read any of his books I think.


          • #6
            That's too bad to hear.


            • #7
              Condolences to Robert's family and friends.
              _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
              _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
              _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
              _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."


              • #8
                My condolences too.
                I'm just glad we were able to contribute to get him out of the Ukraine to spend a few more months and weeks with his family at home.
                Google ergo sum


                • #9
                  I must second that.

                  Mr Sheckley was a unique voice in SF. Not too many of those around.


                  • #10
                    From the New York Times

                    From the New York Times:
                    December 10, 2005
                    Robert Sheckley, 77, Writer of Satirical Science Fiction, Is Dead
                    By GERALD JONAS
                    Robert Sheckley, a writer of science fiction whose disarmingly playful stories pack a nihilistic subtext, died yesterday in Poughkeepsie. He was 77 and lived in Red Hook, N.Y.

                    The cause was complications of a brain aneurysm, said his former wife, Ziva Kwitney. Mr. Sheckley wrote more than 15 novels and around 400 short stories; the actual total is uncertain since he was so prolific in his heyday, the 1950's and 60's, that magazine editors insisted he publish some stories under pseudonyms to avoid having his byline appear more than once in an issue.

                    Four of his stories were made into films; the best known, "The Tenth Victim" (1965), starred Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress.

                    Born in Brooklyn and raised in Maplewood, N.J., Robert Sheckley joined the Army in 1946 after graduating from high school, and served in Korea. In 1951 he received an undergraduate degree from New York University and sold his first short story.

                    Over the next two decades, he was a major force in the development of modern science fiction. His first collection of stories, published in 1954, was hailed as one of the finest debut volumes in the field. In the 1960's he found a wider market for his science fiction in magazines like Playboy.

                    Many of his novels were well received, among them "Journey Beyond Tomorrow"(1962) and "Dimension of Miracles" (1968), but Mr. Sheckley was best known for his short stories. At a time when science fiction was just starting to grapple with the social implications of technology - from atomic bombs to missile-carrying rockets - Mr. Sheckley turned a satirist's eye on the genre and its concerns.

                    Like Ray Bradbury, he was interested in the scientific apparatus of science fiction - space travel, time travel, extrapolated futures - only so far as it served his purpose. While Mr. Bradbury poetically mourns the failure to live up to our dreams of the future, Mr. Sheckley mocked the self-delusions that lead to dreams in the first place.

                    He reveled in the freedom the genre afforded him to dramatize the fears and anxieties of everyday life. When he wrote about the war between the sexes, he conjured a future in which disappointed lovers had the legal option of using real bullets to express their anger. When he wrote about alienation as a state of mind, he sealed the reader in an endless loop of disaffection that reduced the outside world to a hallucination wrapped in an illusion.

                    Because he leavened his darkest visions with wit and absurdist plotting, he is considered one of science fiction's seminal humorists, and a precursor to Douglas Adams, whose "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (1979) seems to take place in a Sheckleyan universe. But Mr. Sheckley's work is darker than Mr. Adams's; the smiles he evokes leave a bitter taste on the lips. A better comparison might be to Kafka, a fabulist who could never understood why his friends didn't laugh when he read his stories to them.

                    Mr. Sheckley's fiction has been translated into German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Finnish and Lithuanian. His work is especially popular in Russia and Eastern Europe.

                    Mr. Sheckley's marriages to his first four wives, Barbara Scadron, Ms. Kwitney, Abby Schulman and Jay Rothbell, ended in divorce. At the time of his death he was separated from his fifth wife, Gail Dana. Other survivors include a son, Jason, from his first marriage, a daughter, Alisa Kwitney, from his second marriage; a daughter, Anya, and a son, Jed, from his third marriage; his sister Joan Klein of New York; and three grandchildren.
                    A funeral service will be conducted on Tuesday at 12:00 PM at Simpson - Gaus Funeral Home, 411 Albany Ave Kingston, NY. Interment will be in the Artist Cemetery, Woodstock, NY

                    For more information or to sign a guestbook:


                    • #11
                      One of Robert's last published stories *Reborn Again* is available on-line at:


                      Jim Linwood


                      • #12
                        The funeral is at 12 noon on Tuesday, December 13, 2005 at Simpson-Gaus Funeral Home Inc
                        411 Albany Ave, Kingston, NY
                        (845) 331-0631


                        • #13
                          Robert Sheckley - Memorial - "Guestbook"

                          The funeral home has established an online "memorial book" which interested folks may sign.



                          • #14
                            My condolences to his family and friends, as well, and I'd like to thank Robert for sharing his stories with us all, then, now, and for the future.


                            • #15
                              Chris Priest's excellent obituary --
                              Sadly, I learned from here that two other friends of mine, Philip Oakes and Paddy Kitchen had died while I was travelling. A bad, bad year for absent friends...

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                              In this section
                              Obituary: Philip Oakes
                              Obituary: Robert Sheckley

                              Obituary: Benjamin DeMott

                              Obituary: Paddy Kitchen

                              Obituary: Stan Berenstain

                              Obituary: Robert Waller

                              Obituary: Michael Coney

                              Obituary: Oswald Hanfling

                              Obituary: Miriam Hodgson

                              Obituary: Leonora Hornblow

                              Robert Sheckley

                              SF's master of short stories, he chronicled a galaxy of conmen and innocents, 50s-style

                              Christopher Priest
                              Tuesday December 20, 2005
                              The Guardian

                              The American writer of sharply observed and witty science fiction, Robert Sheckley, has died aged 77 after complications following heart surgery and a stroke. His reputation is founded on the two or three hundred short stories he wrote in a burst of creativity from about 1952, when he was 24. His work was a delight: crisply written, intelligently told, brimming with ideas and threaded with a sense of paranoia that did not take itself too seriously.

                              Article continues


                              Half a century later, the mordant humour and lightly satirical tone of these stories afford a wonderful glancing view of consumerist, status-seeking America, the world of the Saturday Evening Post, Senator Joe McCarthy and the social critic Vance Packard. This was an era when the US emerged from isolationism into an expansive modern state, simultaneously innocent and corrupt.
                              In a just world, Sheckley would be recognised as one of the most important American short story writers of the 20th century but, as anyone who has read him knows, while justice might in theory be available, it is not for everyone - and then only with a catch. His heroes, innocents abroad, were also ingenious, resourceful, capable of action and always able to utter plain common sense in a galaxy full of conmen, unscrupulous advertisers and inscrutable aliens.

                              Sheckley began writing science fiction soon after graduating with an arts degree from New York University. He was born in Brooklyn, and had gone straight from high school to the US army, serving during the Korean war. Living in a low-rent apartment in New York, he began pouring out stories but his work was not immediately popular with the fans. In retrospect, he was recognised as an iconic 1950s SF writer, but at the time he was swimming against the mainstream.

                              He found natural homes in two relatively new magazines, Galaxy and the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, both with editors interested in broadening the appeal of SF by concentrating on style, wit and storytelling (as opposed to engineering ). That these magazines grew to prominence was at least partly Sheckley's doing, as his stories set a tone that others followed.

                              Once his stories began appearing in book form - the first was Untouched By Human Hands (1954) - they were regularly reprinted in anthologies, and as collections appeared in Britain and on the continent, the critics took notice.

                              About this period, Sheckley himself was modest. Although versed in the traditions of SF, and socialising with other writers in the genre, his main influences were from outside. He acknowledged Aldous Huxley, Mark Twain, O Henry and Victor Hugo, and once said that the form his stories took was shaped more by poetry than by other short stories.

                              The first novel, Immortality, Inc., appeared in 1959 and was filmed in 1993 as Freejack, with Emilio Estevez and Mick Jagger. A string of similar works followed, full of ingenuity, but the essential passivity of the protagonists, who move in a bemused way through upside-down societies, did not work as well in novels as in short stories. Several other works were filmed, most notably A Seventh Victim, made in 1965 as La Decima Vittima (The Tenth Victim) - that was the one where Ursula Andress fired bullets from her bikini top. One of Sheckley's best but least-known novels, The Man in the Water (1961), a Hemingwayesque saga of two men battling it out on a becalmed yacht, was also filmed. The result, Escape from Hell Island (1963), is long forgotten.

                              A restless man, Sheckley took to travelling from the mid-1960s, living in Mexico, Ibiza, London and Paris before returning to the US in 1980, when, for a couple of years, he was fiction editor of Omni magazine. He was married five times, with a daughter each by his second and third wives. A shambling, stammering man, always genial, endlessly kind, he made friends in every country he visited. He became a close friend of mine in London in the late 1970s, by which time he was bedevilled with writer's block and the distractions of the itinerant life.

                              One evening we caught part of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide on the radio. This was before it was famous. Sheck listened in silence, without a smile. I asked him what he thought of it, and he replied: "He writes good jokes." He didn't add what seemed obvious to me, that most had originally been his.

                              آ· Robert Sheckley, author, born July 17 1928; died December 9 2005

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