Uncanny Tales comprises 16 short stories of uneven quality from the final two decades of Sheckley’s career. “Magic, Maples and Maryanne,” is a fine cautionary fable of magic and morality with an almost Jonathan Carroll-like vibe. “The New Horla” (the title is a reference to a classic Guy de Maupassant short) is grimly gripping in naturalistic, man-against-elements, Jack London-esque mode; the introduction of a fantastic element is a bit of a let down. “City of the Dead” puts a post-modern spin on the characters of the Greek mythical underworld; it uses multiple viewpoints and deliberately distracting authorial devices. It doesn’t go much of anywhere, but it sustains its own weight (“Agamemnon’s Run” mines somewhat similar territory less successfully). “The Quijote Robot” melds Cervantes’ delusional knight errant and Stanislaw Lem’s cybernetic fables better than its transparent title suggest — it evokes its literary templates without being overly predictable. “Emissary from a Green and Yellow World” and “Dukakis and the Aliens” offer two takes on political leaders encountering aliens; they’re both creepy in very different ways.
needs more demons? not really.