Books like these are the reason I read.
Mindswap evoked a familiar, Lem or Douglas Adams feel, but this is one rare weird sci fi gem with a combination of meta realism and humour so unique of its own.
Marvin Flynn, a casual vacationer from hinterlands of Earth with innate small-town conservatism goes all wanderlust and decides to see the vastness of cosmos at minimal disposal of funds. He then Mindswaps with one Martian, a logically unsettling, but cheap process that allows individuals to swap minds with people light years away in mutual consent. Mindswap is basically Bester’s Jaunting without the body or a docile version of Matrix’s Agent Smith bodyswap or maybe little bloody Third Birthday possession.
But Marvin had to let go of the Martian body and swap along a series of near sorry situations all long the universe in bodies of various intelligent species, thanks to an Intergalactic body snatching criminal called Kraggosh. Meanwhile a stumblebum intergalactic detective ‘Urdrof’ with implacable will and utter self confidence is hunting Kraggosh, hoping Marvins body would break his protracted bad luck series of 158 lost cases so far.
“You forget that I am a detective,’ Urdorf said, smiling faintly. ‘I may have my troubles in finding criminals, but I have never experienced the slightest difficulty in finding victims”.
Marvin adventures includes talking eggs, poetic alien hermit who converse in sing-song fashion, intergalactic daily wage contract, Don Quixote references and acid trip reality benders. Previously referred Quixote fandom goes full swing in later chapters with totally absurd unnecessary anew characters fighting for chivalrous bullshit. It had me going ‘why is he telling us all this’ to ‘are these some printing errors’ to an eventually graduated emotion – ‘awesome’. Marvin – Kraggosh Twistedland boss battle so reminded me of the rotomodante slow motion fights I had with bro wen we were kids. Total high dope laugh out loud fun stuff.
In terms of eloquence and adroitness, Scheckley’s humour is comparable to Lovecrafts horror. Tweaking Scheckleys own words, It was typical of books of this genre to overdo the youthful slang, thus losing any comic effect except the amazingly unintentional, but not this one. In fact Marvin Flynn is a cross of Arthur Dent and Gully Foyle, on the docile side, two puny Terra citizens lost in vastness of Cosmos.
This book is worth the reads and re reads and re re reads, not just for the laughs but for the deepness it cleverly hides.