Wednesday, May 18, 2005

About Robert Sheckley

Spain’s “El Mundo” reported May 17 that Robert Sheckley, a pioneer of modern science fiction, is “trapped” in a Kiev hospital, because he can’t pay his bill.

The author of over 60 books, both novels and short stories, was attending a science fiction congress in the Ukranian capital when his three packs of cigarettes a day caught up with him.

Sergio Imbert of the Spanish news service EFE reports that Sheckley was put on a respirator, got a little better, and was disconnected. He is still interned however and cannot as yet talk, although he communicates with his laptop. Scribe!

His family is unable to pay the $1000 a day tab he continues to run up. An association of science fiction writers in Kiev actually picked up $7000, but is now broke. The contact for that group is Boris Sidyuk ( and he’s still accepting checks to help Sheckley.

His family has asked the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for help as well.

Now there are some out there wondering why is the scribe wasting a day on some fleabag writer who didn’t plan his old age properly and doesn’t take care of himself?

Well, the scribe might respond, apparently Sheckley has insurance, but things get red-tapey when one’s being in a foreign country is factored in.

And apparently the guy, whose books are out of print here, sold millions upon millions of copies in the old Soviet Union. What is to say somebody took the liberty of translating his work and sold the resulting volumes without ever sending Sheckley a penny.

The article quotes a Russian digital news daily “Gazeta” as observing that, “It is eloquent that this man, who looks like an aged hippy, needed help precisely in the country where so much of his was just assumed to be given.”

Sheckley, originally from Brooklyn, began writing in the 1940s, and made it big quickly.

In the 1970s he moved to the Spanish island of Ibiza, which must have worked out pretty well. Ten years later he returned to the United States where he edited the magazine “Omni”.

And something else... the scribe scripts he is beset by a warm glow resulting from the victory of Antonio Villaraigosa in his run for Mayor of Los Angeles. No predictions here; the scribe is too wise to get wide-eyed, but Villaraigosa is without doubt, the first progressive mayor the city has had in 80 or 90 years. He’s straight out of the labor movement, young, open to ideas, and mindful of the poor. Maybe he can do something for the city, for the Democratic Party, and for those who have fallen behind as others touch the stars.

Congratulations L.A.

No comments: