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The Variable Man

The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick
By: (1928-1982)

Predictability has come a long way. The computers of the future can tell you if you’re going to win a war before you fire a shot. Unfortunately they’re predicting perpetual standoff between the Terran and Centaurian Empires. What they need is something unpredictable, what they get is Thomas Cole, a man from the past accidently dragged forward in time. Will he fit their calculations, or is he the random variable that can break the stalemate? – The Variable Man first appeared in the September, 1953 issue of Space Science Fiction magazine.

First Page:

This etext was produced from Space Science Fiction September 1953. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.





He fixed things clocks, refrigerators, vidsenders and destinies. But he had no business in the future, where the calculators could not handle him. He was Earth's only hope and its sure failure!

Security Commissioner Reinhart rapidly climbed the front steps and entered the Council building. Council guards stepped quickly aside and he entered the familiar place of great whirring machines. His thin face rapt, eyes alight with emotion, Reinhart gazed intently up at the central SRB computer, studying its reading.

"Straight gain for the last quarter," observed Kaplan, the lab organizer. He grinned proudly, as if personally responsible. "Not bad, Commissioner."

"We're catching up to them," Reinhart retorted. "But too damn slowly. We must finally go over and soon... Continue reading book >>

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Reviews (Rated: 4 Stars - 2 reviews)

Reviewer: - September 17, 2015
Subject: The Variable Man
Loved it. PKD takes us to an admittedly cartoon like future world poised on the brink of galactic war. Conflict between science and army ensues precipitated by the accidental arrival of a man from the 50s. Narration seemed strangely stilted, but still good. PKD seems to me to have almost predicted the use of social-media people-power politics, cool thought given the A-bomb fears prevalent when this was penned.
Reviewer: - May 4, 2015
Subject: The Variable Man
I didnt like it. Found the narration to be good and well read but the story felt to be lacking some substance. The history didnt have to be in too much detail but there was pretty much no backstory. There was a lot of what felt like one long action scene traversing the whole thing. A guy with his trusty screwdriver.

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