We conclude our week of rare books with two editions of Robert Sheckley's The 10th Victim. The 1965 Elio Petri movie adaptation starring Ursula Andress and Marcello Mastroianni looms large here on Spy Vibe. Ever since I was a kid, I've been completely fascinated by the film's cocktail of groovy music, op art, pop art, space-age fashion, and modern design. I was fortunate to be able to contribute the entire poster/still gallery to the Blu-ray edition from Blue Underground (on sale now for $12.49!). As we discussed in our tour of Japanese editions of James Bond and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., the leading publisher for mystery and Sci-Fi in the 1960s was Hayakawa. Hayakawa released The 10th Victim in 1967 with the company's trademark abstract painting motif on the cover. It appears that Kanamori Tooru supplied a design as well, but I have not been able to verify this. Kanamai's style tended toward classic Sci-Fi illustration, making images for properties like Star Trek, so I believe the abstract work below is by another artist. Sheckley's novel was translated by Tokiwa Shimpei (born in Iwate prefecture, for my fellow northerners). Another edition came out by Hayakawa in 1969, wrapped in an obi with photo stills from the movie. Story continues below.
Robert Sheckley's The 10th Victim is finally accessible as an e-book! Amazon just released it on April 1st, along with the author's Victim series. The original source material for the film was a 1953 short story, The Seventh Victim, included in the author's book Galaxy. Sheckley's film novelization came out in 1966. The 10th Victim movie was a perfect project for Robert Sheckley and Elio Petri. Both artists were interested in satire and social commentary, often shedding light on moral decay and society's chilling fascination with violence. The 10th Victim establishes a future where violent tendencies are channeled into games of death, and violence itself is marketed as entertainment. Modern audiences will recognize the trend in our own current popularity of reality shows, Battle Royale, The Hunger Games, and the flood of serial-killer anti-heroes. Sheckley's use of satire and fast-paced writing made his own commentary and narrative quite accessible and entertaining. The 10th Victim novel differs slightly from the movie. In this famous passage below, we do see the heroine dispatch her killer with a gun-bra bikini (one of the images that inspired Austin Powers). But Sheckley's action takes place in a trendy art gallery of wax dummies, rather than Petri's choice to place the killing in a sadomasochist club.
Excerpt: "One of the wax dummies on the far end of the line came suddenly and disconcertingly to life. The dummy whirled; it was Caroline, half clad, the upper half of her comely body concealed only by a strangely shaped metal brassiere reminiscent of the one worn by Wilma, the legendary wife of Buck Rogers. Caroline's was a more practical garment than that archetypical brassiere of yore; for as she faced the startled Hunter, each breast piece fired a single shot." The Victim novels are currently $3.99 on Kindle Amazon. German edition on Spy Vibe here. Related 10th Victim posts: Future Listening, Set Countdown #5, Soundtrack, fashion, Fear and Fashion, Mods to Moongirls.
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