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Tales of Sheckley
In conversation with a friend recently, I found myself talking about the three film versions of Jack Finney's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

The first, from 1956, directed by the great Don Siegel, is a hands-down classic, easily the finest fantasy movie of the decade. The subtext here, never explicit, is fear of communism with its subjugation of personality -- with a healthy dose of general '50s paranoia thrown in. Phillip Kaufman's 1978 remake moves the action from a small town to San Francisco. Distinctive use of shadows and light, odd camera angles, and special effects replace the stark psychological load of the original. True to '70s paranoia, the government is implicated in the plot.

Abel Ferrara's 1994 version, told from the point of view of a teenage Army brat, is very much of the "me" decade, largely forfeiting the social message at the tale's heart, revving up strands of subplot only to back off the gas. Were we all so confused and out of focus in the '90s, so self-taken? Had our lives become so discontinuous? The point I was trying to make with my friend is that each time we go back to a work of art we bring with us not only the many ways in which we have changed since our last visit, but also the ways in which society has reshaped itself around us.

Rereading is the same.
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James Sallis Writing about Robert Sheckley

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