Sunday, July 10, 2005

Book Number 26

The Status Civilization (1960) by Robert Sheckley




status civilization
Unfortunately, Robert Sheckley only came to my attention when he fell ill at a SF convention in Kiev. The sci-fi community came together in a big way to help out financially in getting him back to the US. sheck68
If this book is any indication, Sheckley is an author I will be reading a lot more of. Many reviewers have likened him as a progenitor to sf/humor writers like Douglas Adams.

In The Status Civilization, Wil Barrent has woken in a spaceship with no personal memories. He can speak and function but he has no recollection of who he is or where he came from. It turns out that he is on a prison ship headed for the prison-planet, Omega. Upon landing, all the prisoners are told their names and their crimes. The planet has it's own autonomy but is surrounded by a ring of massive guard ships. To start out with, all new Omegans are statusless, only one step above mutants. Society here is all about status - you can move up to Resident, Free Citizen and finally, the Privileged Class. On Omega, however, everything is backwards from Earth. You murder a higher status person to rise up, all must worship the satanic Dark One and drug addiction is mandatory.

Wil has a difficult time adjusting to the new rules and yet he inadvertently rises in status and comes to the attention of a rebel group who want his help in escaping the prison and getting back to Earth. Back on Earth, though, things are not what anyone expected.

This was a great, fast-paced novel. Many of it's themes are dated but the author keeps the story zipping along so that you still want to find out what happens.

It would also make a great RPG campaign setting

2 comments:

Olman Feelyus said...

Sounds very cool. I'm curious why they set up the prison in that way. Was it a natural development or done to punish the prisoners? Are the reasons explained in the book?

Lantzvillager said...

I won't tell you here but it is a question the hero finds the explosive answer to upon his return to Earth