What is Mindswap?

Mindswap is an example of the kind of book Robert Sheckley is best known for. It is a literary jambalaya of sauteed Douglas Adams, fried High Noon John Wayne, boiled Alexandre Dumas, and a dollop of strangely humorous Kafka. Somehow, this is crammed into only 200 or so pages.

The basic plot: Our hero, the young, recently out of high school Marvin Flynn (only 34 years old! Aww!), from upstate New York, has decided that the audiovisual experiences of his home planet are insufficient to satisfy his urge for travel. Being rather un-wealthy, the logical solution for him is to go to Mindswap, a technique for switching consciousnesses between bodies at long distances. At last, he finds a good candidate: Ze Kraggash, the Martian. The switch is complete, and Flynn finds himself on Mars, where it comes out that Kraggash has also promised his body to some old man. The verdict? Flynn has to vacate the body in 3 hours. The rest is history (we're on about Page 50 here).

The book is full of surprises, like "Panzaism--Quixote thinks the windmill is a giant, and Sancho Panza thinks the giant is a windmill", also known as Metaphoric Deformation Syndrome. The narrative unfolds by turning into different genres. A rather crazy tale.

I'd recommend this book especially to people who hate science fiction--that was me before I read it. Mindswap is an excellent book that somehow lacks the rather masturbatory self-referential humor found in many sci-fi novels. A delicious read.

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