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Author Sheckley in a grave condition

10/05/2005. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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Golden age science fiction author Robert Sheckley taken to a Kiev hospital.

Sheckley, 76, fell ill with respiratory failure while attending a Ukrainian SF con. According to news agency reports: "his condition has deteriorated since."

Robert Sheckley (born July 16, 1928) is an American author. He first appeared in the science fiction magazines of the 1950s with stories and novels, fantasies that are often moralistic (in the sense that they have a moral), but more often absurdist and broadly comical.

Typical Sheckley stories include "Bad Medicine" (in which a man is mistakenly treated by a Martian psychotherapy machine), "Protection" (whose protagonist is warned of deadly danger unless he avoids an act that is never explained to him), and "The Accountant" (in which a family of wizards learns that their son has been taken from them by a more sinister trade). In many stories Sheckley speculates about alternative (and usually sinister) social orders, of which a good example is the story "A Ticket to Tranai" (that tells of a sort of Utopia adapted for the human nature as it is, rather than the human nature as some idealists believe it should be).

He is the author of a number of episodes of The Twilight Zone. One of his early works, the 1953 Galaxy short story "Seventh Victim", was the basis for the film The 10th Victim, also known by the original Italian title, La Decima Vittima. The film starred Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress. A novelization of the film, written by Sheckley, was published in 1966. Another novel, Immortality Inc. - about a world in which the afterlife could be obtained via a scientific process - was very loosely adapted into a film, the 1992 Freejack, starring Mick Jagger, Emilio Estevez, Rene Russo, and Anthony Hopkins.

In the 1990s, Sheckley wrote a well-received series of three mystery novels featuring detective Hob Draconian, as well as novels set in the worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Alien.

His novel Dimension of Miracles is often cited as an influence on Douglas Adams, although in an interview for Neil Gaiman's book Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Companion, Adams claimed not to have read it until after writing The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

No news yet over at http://www.sheckley.com/ but you will find a press report at http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=2002737&PageNum=0

Get well soon, Robert.

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