Sunday, February 4, 2007

Dimension Of Miracles, Robert Sheckley

Title: Dimension Of Miracles
Author: Robert Sheckley
Rating: OK

I'm afraid this review is going to bother a couple of people.

Dimension Of Miracles came highly recommended by at least two others, and it has been claimed that it is much like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It has even been suggested that Adams might have cribbed ideas from Sheckley. In the interests of intellectual honesty, you can go read the thread that caused me to pick up the book and that discusses some of these claims.

Alas I once again have to disagree with the crowd and say I was unimpressed. At best I found it mildly amusing in a few places.

Every single scene was so short that it was impossible to get a good feel for things before you were whipped on to the next one. That might have been called "rapid pacing" - and it could have been a plus - but given that the book dragged overall it is hard for me to grant it that attribute.

Another negative: every single character sounds exactly the same. They're all walking, talking encyclopedias, even the hapless earthling who plays the hero. That got old, even in such a short work.

As to the idea that Adams borrows concepts from Sheckley, I find it a bit far fetched. On re-reading Eisworth's review, I don't think the parallels are as dramatic as he suggests, but then again my copy of Dimension of Miracles is so old - dated June 1968 - there is no essay within it about the parallels with Adams's work. But even if Adams did borrow from Sheckley, for my money he did it better than Sheckley by a large margin. If I thought such borrowing had happened, I'd compare it with Mozart borrowing - and radically improving on - a theme from some unknown composer, rather than plagiarism. I stress, however, that my guess is that Adams wrote his works without influence from Sheckley. Lots of people write murder mysteries as well, and deep parallels could be drawn between many of them after the fact.

In summary I think Dimension of Miracles is OK, but not great. I may be banned from Doug's forums for saying so, but I found it pretty bland.