By Colleen McMahon: Back on January 17, the daily Scroll noted that it was the anniversary of the release of Freejack, the extremely forgettable movie based on Robert Sheckley’s Immortality Inc., also called Time Killer.
I am one of the few who saw Freejack in the theater on the original release, mostly because there had been great hoopla about it being filmed in Atlanta (back when that was still a big event!). My most vivid memory of the movie was my first exposure to how movies play with locations in the editing — a wild car chase plunges down a ramp that in real life leads to an underground parking deck, but a few wild turns later, the chase continues on a highway in New York City. My friends and I immediately began to refer to that ramp as the “teleportal.”
Of course, the mention of the book behind the movie sent me off to see whether that book was in the public domain. It isn’t. But a whole bunch of Sheckley stories are:
- Bad Medicine
- The Status Civilization
- The Hour of the Battle Space Science Fiction, September 1953
- Beside Still Waters Amazing Stories, October/November 1953
- Cost of Living Galaxy, December 1952
- Forever Galaxy, February 1959
- Warm Galaxy, June 1953
- The Leech Galaxy, December 1952
- Warrior Race Galaxy, November 1952
- Watchbird Galaxy, February 1953
- Death Wish Galaxy, June 1956
- Diplomatic Immunity Galaxy, August 1953
- One Man’s Poison Galaxy, December 1953
- Keep Your Shape Galaxy, November 1953
- Ask a Foolish Question Science Fiction Stories, 1953
- Proof of the Pudding Galaxy, August 1952
- The Sweeper of Loray Galaxy, April 1959
- Prospector’s Special Galaxy, December 1959
- Meeting of the Minds Galaxy, February 1960
Sheckley appears to have gone through a couple of incredibly prolific periods for short stories in the 1950s, so much so that twice here he has more than one story published in a single issue, so one story appears under a pen name. “The Leech” was published under the name Phillips Barbee, and “Forever” has Ned Lang as the author. The second story by Sheckley in that February 1959 issue of Galaxy was none other than “Time Killer”; presumably the copyright to that was renewed with the tie-ins around the 1992 movie, so it’s not available on Project Gutenberg.
Most of Sheckley’s stories have been recorded in various Short Science Fiction collections at Librivox; you can check his index page here.
Two Robert Sheckley stories were dramatized in the X Minus One radio show, and you can listen to them here:
Recent Librivox releases:
- The Black
Cat, Vol. 01 No. 01 October 1895
The Black Cat (1895-1922) was a monthly literary magazine, publishing original short stories, often about uncanny or fantastical topics. Many writers were largely unknown, but some famous authors also wrote original material for this magazine.
Rainbow Cat by Rose
There was once a cat which was not in the least like any cat you have ever seen, or I either, for the matter of that. It was a fairy cat, you see, and so you would rather expect it to be different, wouldn’t you? It had a violet nose, indigo eyes, pale blue ears, green front legs, a yellow body, orange back legs and a red tail. In fact, it was coloured with all the colours of the rainbow, and on that account it was known as the Rainbow Cat. It lived, of course, in Fairyland, and it had all sorts of strange adventures.
- Grampa in
Oz by Ruth
Plumly Thompson (1891-1976)
Another great book in the world of Oz, in which King Fumbo of Ragbad loses his head in a storm and Prince Tatters, accompanied by the wise and wonderful old soldier Grampa, sets off to find the king’s head, a fortune, and a princess. With Bill, a live iron weathercock, they visit a Wizard’s Garden and discover Urtha, a lovely girl made all of flowers — and proceed to fall, swim, explode, sail, and fly above and below Oz and Ev. Grampa and Co. eventually meet Dorothy herself, traveling with a Forgetful Poet in search of the missing princess of Perhaps City who has been condemned to marry a monster!
by Philip K. Dick (1928-1982)
A man from the past. He fixed things—clocks, refrigerators, vidsenders and destinies. But he had no business in the future, where the calculators could not handle him. He was Earth’s only hope—and its sure failure!