By: Philip K. Dick (1928-1982)
The Variable Man
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.
Early victories by the USSR in a global nuclear war cause the United Nations government to retreat to the moon leaving behind troops and fierce autonomous robots called “Claws”, which reproduce and redesign themselves in unmanned subterranean factories. After six bloody years of conflict the Soviets call for an urgent conference and UN Major Joseph Hendricks sets out to meet them. Along the way he will discover what the Claws have been up to, and it isn’t good… - Second Variety was first published in the May 1953 edition of Space Science Fiction Magazine.
The war with the Yucks from Proxima Centauri was claimed to be a stalemate but they were really winning. The mine belts they laid seemed to propagate themselves and were slowly strangling Terran planets. How did they do that? What was their secret? The answer was baffling and the best human minds could only conclude that their ships and mines were somehow alive. So, the next desperate step was to ask "If they are using organic ships, why can't we do the same?". Thus Mr. Spaceship was conceived and carried out. But will a conscious warship do what the generals wish? Perhaps and perhaps something entirely surprising!
The Crystal Crypt & Beyond the Door
Two early science fiction stories by the wonderful craftsman, Philip K. Dick. In the Crystal Crypt, taken from the 1954 Planet Stories, the war between Mars and Terra is about to erupt and earth has only merchants and salesmen to fight; can they carry out their mission? Beyond the Door is a story that asks and answers the question: what lives beyond the door? And is it dangerous?
The terrible destruction of total nuclear war between the Western and Eastern Blocks has succeeded in sterilizing the surface of the earth. No living creature can now exist there and all humans on both sides, have fled to the hives built miles below the surface where they constantly work to produce the war materials necessary to carry on the battle. For 8 years now, the actual fighting between these super powers has been conducted by robots known as Ledeys since only they can sustain the terrible levels of radiation caused by the constant bombardment...
Beyond Lies the Wub & The Skull
Two stories in the inimitable Philip Dick style. What is a Wub? A 400 pound slovenly, fat, ungainly, drooling animal that looks like a cross between a walrus and an enormous hog? Well, yes that is pretty much what he looks like and for 50 cents, a good bargain no matter how he tastes. The hungry spaceship crew expect to find out. Of course the Wub may not entirely agree but it doesn't have much to say about it. The second story, The Skull, is a skilful mesh of time travel, unscrupulous governments, prisoners, and religion. With an assassin thrown in for good measure. Enjoy!
|Beyond the Door
The Eyes Have It & Tony and the Beetles
Aliens have invaded the earth! Horrible one celled creatures disguised as normal human beings ! Well, at least that is what it seems to the author. Yes, The Eyes Have It is a whimsical story, making gentle fun of certain writing styles, but only a topflight science-fictionist like Philip Dick , we thought, could have written this story, in just this way. Tony and the Beetles takes place far in the future when Earth's enormous colonial empire is well established but the question is, how long can it last? 10 year old Tony grows up fast when history catches up with the human race. A sobering look at human history .. and our probable future. Two very different stories but both entertaining.
|Piper in the Woods
Second Variety (Version 2)
First published in Space Science Fiction May 1953. "The claws were bad enough in the first place—nasty, crawling little death-robots. But when they began to imitate their creators, it was time for the human race to make peace—if it could!" When future war becomes so horrific that humans turn to machines and computers to design ways to kill each other strange things may happen. And DO in this classic Philip K. Dick story!
Variable Man (Version 2)
Philip K. Dick wrote some great Science Fiction and here is an example. Published in 1953, in Space Science Fiction, t his story explores an earth that is rigidly bound both by centuries of single minded focus on war, and on what happens when humans have learned to depend entirely on a mechanical calculator/computer to tell them what to do. There is no room for a factor outside known factors, something to throw all calculations off. A man from the past. He fixed things—clocks, refrigerators, vidsenders and destinies...