Visions of Paradise

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Journey Beyond Tomorrow

Journey Beyond Tomorrow is a terrible title for what is basically a satirical quest novel by Robert Sheckley. Its alternate title The Journey of Joenes is much more fitting and descriptive of the book. But that is my only real complaint with a clever, biting story which takes Joenes from his idyllic Pacific Island to America where he tries both to fit in with American society and also to understand it. This gives Sheckley room to skewer Congressional hearings (not surprisingly, the novel was first published in 1963 when the McCarthy hearings were still fresh in the minds of most Americans), modern psychology, academia, modern science, governmental paranoia, Communism, cartography, and American justice (as practiced toward the rich and famous as opposed to the non-rich and non-famous).

Journey Beyond Tomorrow is as much a collection of satirical stories squeezed into novel format as it is a structured novel, but many of sf’s finest novels fit that description, especially those from the early days when “mosaic” novels originally published as a serious of shorter stories were more common. If you keep that in mind, and enjoy satirical sf, you’ll enjoy this novel as much as I did.

Journey Beyond Tomorrow is the third novel I have read from the collection Dimensions of Sheckley (a review of Dimension of Miracles appeared here on 8/28/04), all three of which are testament to one of the sadly-underrated sf writers of the past fifty years. I recommend the entire collection strongly.