Collector's Fever is one of those stories that never worked for me. I think it's the only one of Roger Zelazny's comedy works that I really don't enjoy. It's almost entirely dialogue, which is a bit gimmicky, but not so much that it ruins the story on its own. I think the problem is that there's not much more to the story than the joke, and I just didn't think it was funny. Remove that, and there's not much left.
It's the story of a young man who visits a plan with a sentient rock
"What are you doing there, human?"
"It's a long story."
"Good, I like long stories. Sit down and talk. No--not on me!"
"Sorry. Well, it's all because of my uncle, the fabulously wealthy--"
"Stop. What does 'wealthy' mean?"
"Well, like rich."
"Hm. Lots of money."
I think that's another thing that I didn't like about it. The alien that speaks perfect, grammatically correct English, yet needs every other word explained to it. Our protagonist is bitter that his uncle sent him to college, rather than Space Academy. His uncle collects rocks, so he's going to bring Stone home to his uncle, knowing that it will "deeble", or undergo a type of fission, and kill his uncle.
Stone threatens to deeble on the spot, but our hero took its mass when they first met, and knows it hasn't reached point critical yet. So he crates up Stone, and takes it on board his spaceship. Unfortunately, he removed most of the shielding, and Stone absorbs a bunch of stray material, and blows up on the spot.
He mushroomed upwards, then swept in great waves across the plains of Dunghill. Several young Stones fell from the dusty heavens wailing their birth pains across the community band.Ugh. That was awful. And not even in a good way like the fit hit the Shan.
"Gone fission," commented a distant neighbor, above the static, "and sooner than I expected. Feel that warm afterglow!"
It's hard to say if the story doesn't "work", or if it just doesn't appeal to me. Any opinions out there from my fellow Zelaznians?