I was sad today to learn that Robert Sheckley died. Along with Kuttner and Simak, he's one of the greatest SF writers ever. At least, I got interested in SF after I read them.
His books always managed to be hilarious, and touching, and profound in a disturbing way... you could feel the Earth tilt under your feet just a little, momentarily disorienting but liberating. With all the hubbub about SF being literature of ideas (Is not! Is too! It's forward-looking!) I thought of Sheckley's books often, since for me he represents SF. It's not the ideas, I think, that made him special; it's the freedom with which he wrote, shamelessly throwing together an incredible jumble of images, philosophies, people... he was not restrained. He wrote marvelous books. I'm sad they were rarely reprinted. I'm sad there won't be any more.