Dimension of Miracles Critical Essays

Robert Sheckley


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Like its predecessor, Mindswap (1966), Dimension of Miracles presents an innocent protagonist faced with a series of satirical horrors. Mindswap is largely social and literary in its satire; Dimension of Miracles is more metaphysical and theological. From the Messenger who takes Carmody to his prize to the rescuer who gets him out at the end, the beings Carmody encounters all lecture him on the philosophical significance of his situation. The book in fact presents the reader with actual gods, including the corner-cutting builder of Earth and the biblical deity, presented as a lovable crank. In contrast to this presentation of theological figures, the conclusion of the story can be seen as a kind of Zen epiphany, in which Carmody decides to live in the moment because that is all that he, or anyone, has.

Mindswap places its protagonist in a number of familiar, in fact clichéd, literary backgrounds, but Dimension of Miracles has only one such scene, where Carmody meets the stereotyped science-fictional scientist and his beautiful daughter. Perhaps their turning out to be badly made frauds, sent to entrap Carmody, represents the author’s view of such fictions. There may also be a literary analogy in the god Melichrone. Readers learn that Melichrone’s creations have a single flaw: He is lame, and therefore so are all of his creations, but neither he nor they know it. This can be seen as a comment on...

(The entire section is 415 words.)