by Robert Sheckley
Reviewed date: 2018 Jan 31
Rating: 1
158 pages
cover art

This book broke my brain. I have no way to categorize it. It's not a linear story. It's not even really a story. It starts like a story: Tom Mishkin's space ship breaks down and he lands on the planet Harmonia, where there is a cache of spare parts. But the part he needs is miles away from where he landed, and alien worlds are dangerous. Fortunately he has a robot designed to protect him against alien threats. Unfortunately that robot is programmed for Darbis IV, not Harmonia.

Then the book turns absurd. At each chapter the premise changes, or the characters change, or the setting changes. The chapters are short--about a page or two on average, sometimes longer, sometimes much shorter. Sometimes the characters get mad at the author and rewrite themselves to be more handsome or have a more interesting personality; eventually the author gets frustrated and tries to replace Mishkin with a more agreeable hero, but that doesn't work out.

It's all humorous and absurd and there are moments that made me laugh out loud. But only a few of them, and there are 158 pages to slog through. I'm glad this book exists and I'll never forget it, but I'm not sure I like it and I doubt I'll read it again.

It's clear that Sheckley has talent: one might compare Options to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and many have. But it's more vulgar and less fun than Douglas Adams--it's definitely not for kids--and I have no patience for humorous science fiction that I don't find consistently funny. To someone with a different sense of humor this might qualify as a great book, but for me it's not.

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