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Tenth Victim [Mass Market Paperback]

Robert Sheckley
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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5.0 out of 5 stars A classic June 18 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A really wonderful and interesting book: an essay, a novel, a screenplay, but it's enough to say "Sheckley in the best vintage". Maybe someone has seen Elio Petri's movie, with Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress: well, the novel is even better. Really a classic.
Was this review helpful to you?
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
To control violent tendencies in the future the state offers a game bases on those desires. If you chose to sign up, and possibly win a massive dollar award for abilities, you are assigned to kill, and agree to allow an unknown to try for your life as well. Should you succeed in killing your assignment, without dying first, you become a one. Continueing on, a two , a three, and so forth. If you make it to ten, you win all the prise money your little heart desires. The catch, if you accidently kill a civilian, not signed up for the game, it means your life. The main character of the book, Frelaine, is a nine. He has just spotted the person he needs to rid of in order to become a ten, but oops, he falls in love. So too does she. So do these two kill each other. They believe so until the real deal behind the game becomes known. To clean the world of the types of people that would play this game in the first place. OOT-O. My opinion.... fast paces, heart tuggin, adrenalin pumpin beats. The computer wizadry used in the future isn't too far from reality. The imaginable special effects are mind blowing. Its killing all right, but not a book of blood and guts, a book of out smarts, guarenteed to make anyone think, and then, think again. For any one like myself who finds passion in pure thoughts of the witt. If anything, one should read it simply to confirm their own talents, or not, of staying one step ahead of being on the ball.... a ball is hard to stand on, but amusing to kick. (computer nerds and art freaks find their competition. So do you brain-iacks........ I dare each of you to sign up for the game)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Money versus love and death, not without future lifestyles Jan. 31 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
To control violent tendencies in the future the state offers a game bases on those desires. If you chose to sign up, and possibly win a massive dollar award for abilities, you are assigned to kill, and agree to allow an unknown to try for your life as well. Should you succeed in killing your assignment, without dying first, you become a one. Continueing on, a two , a three, and so forth. If you make it to ten, you win all the prise money your little heart desires. The catch, if you accidently kill a civilian, not signed up for the game, it means your life. The main character of the book, Frelaine, is a nine. He has just spotted the person he needs to rid of in order to become a ten, but oops, he falls in love. So too does she. So do these two kill each other. They believe so until the real deal behind the game becomes known. To clean the world of the types of people that would play this game in the first place. OOT-O. My opinion.... fast paces, heart tuggin, adrenalin pumpin beats. The computer wizadry used in the future isn't too far from reality. The imaginable special effects are mind blowing. Its killing all right, but not a book of blood and guts, a book of out smarts, guarenteed to make anyone think, and then, think again. For any one like myself who finds passion in pure thoughts of the witt. If anything, one should read it simply to confirm their own talents, or not, of staying one step ahead of being on the ball.... a ball is hard to stand on, but amusing to kick. (computer nerds and art freaks find their competition. So do you brain-iacks........ I dare each of you to sign up for the game)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic June 18 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A really wonderful and interesting book: an essay, a novel, a screenplay, but it's enough to say "Sheckley in the best vintage". Maybe someone has seen Elio Petri's movie, with Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress: well, the novel is even better. Really a classic.
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspired a Mastroianni movie. Plus it's a great book. April 4 2013
By Seth in SF - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is an expansion of the Sheckley's story Seventh Victim. It is also the source for the (very fun) Marcello Matroianni vehicle by the same name.

It is also part of a loose trilogy of books exploring the effects of popularizing/accepting the media fascination with violence. The other two are Hunter/Victim and Victim Prime.

The three books together tell the story of how a society embraces controlled violence as the solution to uncontrolled violence and its effects on people. The books run in reverse chronological order and span 100 years or so, starting with ultimate effect and working back to cause.

Review:
The short story is infinitely better, but Sheckley was a true master of the short story. His novels work best when they stay absurd; Tenth Victim moves back and forth on adburdism and doesn't rate as one of his best. It is one of his most visibly sociopolitical, however, and that is another of his strengths.

The book concerns a protagonist who is a succesful Hunter in a grand world-wide game designed to aliminate wars. Rather than constrain the urge to kill inherent in men (human males), men may sign up to alternately play Hunters and Victims. A Hunter is assigned a Victim and a two-week period in which to kill them; the Victim is simply told in which two-week period someone will be legally hunting them. The Victim may employ any deadly force or clever traps necessary to defend themselves.

After a successful hunt, the Hunter takes a turn as Victim.

Of course, this game becomes the subject of worldwide obsession. Well-known Hunters are reviewed and interviewed, their sense of style is copied, and the very best--those who survive to Hunt for the 10th time, having been Victim 10 times as well and therefore presumably killed or evaded 20 people--join the exclusive Tens Club.

The tag line used in the book (and the short story) is, "At least there weren't any more big wars.... Just hundreds of thousands of small ones."

Opinions vary as to whether Sheckley believed this statement. People who haven't read the rest of his stories tend to think he did. This book has action, romance, humor, and opens a clear social discussion. Sheckley doesn't believe in the game, but he does believe that the social forces that create--and the social cynicism that exploit it--it are real.

He also believes that these forces are more complicated than is readily obvious: the plot centers on our protagonist, an excellent Hunter who will join the Tens after this hunt, having a crisis of faith and conscience when his Victim turns out to be a woman. The game was created to sublimated mens' aggressions, he reasons. The idea that aggression might be a human, and not a masculine, phenomenah is unpalatable to him. When he meets her, his beliefs are reinforced and he faces difficult and potentially costly trade-offs.

Cynical exploitation of human nature is the central element of Sheckley's canon. 10th Victim (and the Victim books in general) distill Sheckley's cynical assessment of cynicism as a fundamental human trait in a way easily accessible to modern audiences. Plus, it inspired a Mastroianni movie. How cool is that!

Ciao, baby.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Most Dangerous Game-- Again Jan. 31 2012
By Paul Camp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Genesis of this novel was a short story by Robert Sheckley called "The Seventh Victim" (_Galaxy_, 1953). It was bought by producer Joseph E. Levine, the number of victims were increased, and the result was _The Tenth Victim_ (1965), a movie starring Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress. It was not (as the publicists claimed) a "major motion picture". But it was a passable futuristic thriller. Sheckley obliged with a novelization of the movie (also published in 1965). Like the movie, it is minor but mildly entertaining.

It is the not-so-distant future. War has been replaced by the Hunt, a system in which computers select a Hunter and a Victim. One stalks the other until one or the other is killed. I have never been convinced that a society with organized violence within it (at one point we see a litterbug killed on the street) would also abolish war. But over and over, science fiction writers make this claim. We have the Hunt, the Mercenary Games, the Chase, the Organized Duel to Get Rid of War. Ah, well.

Our protagonists are Caroline Meredith (who has just finished her ninth kill) and Marcello Polletti. They are pitted against one another as Hunter and Victim respectively. In the past, Caroline has usually been the Victim and Marcello the Hunter. Both must train to adapt to their new roles. And then, of course, they begin to fall in love...

Sheckley adopts a tongue-in-cheek style that sometimes works and sometimes falls flat. Here is where it works, when Caroline kills a Hunter with a loaded brassiere:

The dummy whirled; it was Caroline, half-clad, the upper half of her body concealed only by a strangely shaped metal brassiere reminiscent of the one worn by Wilma, the legendary wife of Buck Rogers. (15)

And here it falls flat, in a scene in which Marcello has tricked his patchwork Hunting coach, Professor Sylvestre:

Despite his frivolous tricks, Marcello Poletti was headed for a graveyard. But then, he reminded himself, so were all men; whereas he, Professor Sylvestre, was probably headed for a junk heap. (65)

Most of the action takes place in and around Rome (the climax is in the Colosseum) and it adds a bit to the color of the setting and to the connection with past history. There is one funny scene in which some television executives argue over whether they can use St. Peter's Cathedral for the location of Catherine's last kill. One of them suggests that they might use a studio. The others look upon him with horror. They can't do _that_, they say. They are shooting a _documentary_.

Sheckley wrote two poor sequels to _The Tenth Victim_: _Victim Prime_ (1987) and _Hunter/Victim_ (1988). You would do well to pass them over.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic June 18 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A really wonderful and interesting book: an essay, a novel, a screenplay, but it's enough to say "Sheckley in the best vintage". Maybe someone has seen Elio Petri's movie, with Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress: well, the novel is even better. A bitter father of Douglas Adams, a sharp and concrete Vonnegut. Really a classic.
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