This was the third and final book in the stash I found hidden away at my job. I have never read anything by Sheckley, but have since learned that he was a very successful, popular and critically-acclaimed science fiction author who eventually became the managing editor for Omni magazine. Dimension of Miracles was written in 1968 and while I respect this kind of science fiction, it really isn't my cup of tea. These guys wrote in a period when ideas were more important than story and they really do have a lot of cool ideas, but without a strong narrative, I find myself getting distracted often.
This book, for example, is ostensibly about a human from 1968 New York who is mistakenly given a galactic prize. The mistake is that only species who are able to travel about in space, time and dimensions are eligible to receive this prize. Tom Carmody, is thus left adrift in space time whatever where he received the prize having no idea of how to get back to his right place time and version. Furthermore, because of the universal law of predation, by being taken out of his own place in the hierarchy of eaten and eater, Carmody has now a predator on his tail whose sole raison d'être is to eat him.
It kind of sounds like fun and the back and front cover copy make you think of some kind of world-spanning chase. [As an aside, this is one thing I don't get about sci-fi publishers from this period. They always had the most abstract, trippy cover art that never had anything at all to do with the content of the book juxtaposed against the most blatant, lowest-common-denominator copy. Why were they willing to be all speculative and creative with the cover art, but completely pandering with the copy?] Instead, as I had expected, we get an excuse to put the protagonist in many different situations where ideas of philosophy and crazy science can be discussed. He meets a god who is the sole inhabitant of a planet and stuck in an existential crisis. There is a builder of worlds (who reminded me a lot of Slartibartfast), who built earth on God's request and wanted to apologize to him for cutting corners. We go to super-consumerized Manhattan where everybody talks in advertising jargons. We meet an intelligent city whose nagging personality has driven away all the citizens. And so on. Some of it was clever. This book reminded me a lot of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in its tone.
But ultimately, it all kind of fizzles out because there is no real storyline and I'm not super concerned about the fate of the protagonist as it seems kind of random to me anyhow. It's not a bad read and it fired off some synapses in the lazier parts of my mind, if you enjoy this period of science fiction. It has helped me to get a better sense of what elements of that period I do and don't enjoy.