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Philip K. Dick
"Beyond Lies the Wub" Collection

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge cover images)


"Beyond Lies The Wub" (coll)
(The Collected Stories; Vol. 1)
(also as "Paycheck" and
"The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford")
© Underwood-Miller, 1987
--/ fourth place sf collection
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award

The first bunch of stories penned by PKD already display the cool groove he will maintain in his best work. Some of the stories are not well-known, which adds to interest. Very entertaining experience.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


"Beyond Lies the Wub"
© Planet Stories, Jul 1952
The Preserving Machine, 1969
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ humour award

Space story, all right, in the good old pulp style, but with Dick's cutting-edge, black humour underneath it all. Cynical explorers eat the poor alien as a gourmet meal, no matter what this creature says; but in the end, in a truly Van Vogt tradition, the alien invades the spacer's mind and survives.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 1999)


© written in 1947
Beyond Lies The Wub, 1987
--/ cool sf story

First, unpublished story - quite rough around the edges, of course. Ideas of man against the government, machines, flying free, talking cars - elements used in future stories.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


© F&SF, Feb 1953
The Preserving Machine, 1969
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award

Funny little dittie about "what the dog is barking at". Perhaps the dog sees something that we don't. Entirely different class of monster.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 2003)


"The Little Movement"
© F&SF, Nov 1952
A Handful Of Darkness, 1955
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award: live toys
--/ shock value

The basis for "Toy Story" movie? Surprising to learn that PKD had this idea first - and I am not sure if got the credit for this... Well, here the toys are having their own "little movement" and organize against a sadistic child owner.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 2003)


"The Preserving Machine"
(Doc Labyrinth series)
© F&SF, Jun 1953
A Handful of Darkness, 1955
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ idea award
--/ wonder award
--/ humour award

Wow, a really wild idea: to synthesize monsters as spawns and "representations" of classical music compositions - various characters for various composers - seems like PKD had to bring his classical music radio background into the story sooner or later. But this is a blast.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 1999)


(also as "He Who Waits")
© F&SF, Jul 1956
A Handful of Darkness, 1955
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

Various survival scenarios for various species - sometimes a bitter pill for an individual, who can become expendable. Not awfully strong story. Literally full of spiders.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 2001)


"The Short, Happy Life Of The Brown Oxford"
(Doc Labyrinth series)
© F&SF, Jan 1954
I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon, 1987
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ idea award
--/ humour award

An amusing story about a scientist who brings to life various inanimate objects...would make an excellent cartoon. Rare example of a good sf humor.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 1999)


"The Gun"
© Planet Stories, Sep 1952
Beyond Lies The Wub, 1987
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

Nice pulpish adventure, with a space expedition (could be humans, could be not) exploring a ruined planet with gun-guarding machinery. Routine, but I liked the general scale and atmosphere.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


"The Infinites"
© Planet Stories, May 1953
Beyond Lies the Wub, 1987
--/ third place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea: runaway evolution
--/ adventure award
--/ awesome scale
--/ style award
--/ rare find

A ship's crew begins to evolve (suddenly and rapidly) into a more advanced form of life, one member slightly faster than the other two. Nothing better than PKD writing in the best of Sheckley's hilarious style. I am afraid, I can eat such candies for a looong time - a guilty pleasure. This story has a breathtaking idea and great pacing, a little skewed humor and a general feeling of cosmic fun.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


"The Crystal Crypt"
© Planet Stories, Jan 1954
Beyond Lies The Wub, 1987
--/ cool sf story

This story did not meet my expectations. Even though it's from vintage Planet Stories, it is truly unremarkable. Some terrorists trying to blow up a town on other planet....the only plus is the description of this town, good artwork forming in my head.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


"The Skull"
© IF, Sep 1952
Beyond Lies The Wub, 1987
--/ cool time sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award

Great romp through time to seek (and exterminate) a "religious" figure, who is going to become a founder of a dangerous cult. Nice twist in the end, when the "hunted" becomes "the hunter" due to time paradoxes.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


"The Defenders"
(exp. into "The Penultimate Truth")
© Galaxy, Jan 1953
The Book of Philip K. Dick, 1973
--/ third place apocalyptic sf story
--/ idea award
--/ style award
--/ wonder award

"The Penultimate Truth" is an ultimate Cold War nightmare, and this story proves it in a concentrated form. It starts with Dick's usual "mundane breakfast with hidden sinister overtones" dialogue in the kitchen, where we learn that war is raging on the surface (by the hands of the combat machines), and the population is underground, busy making weapons. Of course, the paranoia rules of Dick's writing demand that this set up be turned upside-down very soon. Good chilling feeling of "civil defense" bunkers etc.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


"The Penultimate Truth" (nv)

(exp. from "The Defenders")
(based on "Mold For Yancy")
© Galaxy, Jan 1953
book: Belmont, 1964
--/ third place apocalyptic sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award

"The Penultimate Truth" is a sharp Cold War nightmare, which greatly influenced me when I read it in my youth. It could be a "quintessential" paranoia premise: The world's population lives underground in small factories called 'Tanks'. They are making complex robots to fight World War III above. Information about the war comes to them from - yes, robots again, of course. So, it turns out the war finished ten years ago. And the robots are enjoying country estates, in the meantime trying to keep humanity locked up "for its own good". This novel has a darker feeling than the original story "The Defenders". It also contains my single "most-loved" idea - breaking out of the confining world into the great wide open - so this explains such a high rating, too.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 1986)


© Galaxy, Jun 1953
A Handful of Darkness, 1955 UK
Beyond Lies the Wub, 1987
--/ fourth place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ shock value

"And then there were none..." - a creepy but hilarious set-up. Inhabitants on an alien colony are exterminated one-by-one in a most classic way. Fear and gleeful entertainment shake hands in this one. "A survey team exploring a new colony planet finds that even everyday items can be lethal and that life can take many forms."
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 2001)


"Mr. Spaceship"
© Imagination, Jan 1953
Beyond Lies The Wub, 1987
--/ cool space sf story
--/ wonder award

Disembodied mind in control of a spaceship...Not a new idea, but it is just plain "nice" to read something by vintage PKD. I remember the time, when you glimpsed his name among the contents of the pulp, it was a wondrous thing. Nowadays all of his stories are reprinted. This is still a less-known piece.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


"Piper in the Woods"
© Imagination, Feb 1953
Beyond Lies the Wub, 1987
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ idea award
--/ wonder award

Exploring personal identity, combining cool planetary colony background with psychological twists, very competent "inner-mind" story.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 2004)


"The Variable Man"
© Space Science Fiction, Sep 1953
The Variable Man and Oth Stories, 1957
--/ third place sf novella
--/ idea award
--/ wonder award

A happy chunk of PKD vintage writing deals with the usual stuff: unrealistically lethal weapons, never-ending wars with paranoid aliens, time paradoxes and a fight of individual against "the amoeba-like whole". I loved it when I read it, but have to confess that I do not remember what it's about after a few years. So for those who are interested, here is a link to a synopsis:
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 1999)


"The Indefatigable Frog"
© Fantastic Story, Jul 1953
A Handful of Darkness, 1955
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ humour award
--/ adventure award

Special-effects story: radical changes in size plus entertaining dispute on Zeno's paradox - about whether a frog can escape from a tunnel if each step it takes is half the length of the previous one... Entertaining and deft.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 1999)


"The Builder"
© Amazing Stories, Dec 1953
Beyond Lies The Wub, 1987
--/ second place apocalyptic sf story
--/ emotion award
--/ idea award
--/ style award

Talking about "subtle" - this story is a definition of it. Walk softly and carry a big stick. Loved the understatement: the sense of total breakdown in our everyday life, echoed by the sense of unease inside the protagonist's heart - all depicted through "perfectly normal" (breakfast, office, etc) scenes. Leaving biblical analogies aside, this is as much a study in psychosis as a science fiction narrative. A confused father is building a boat in the backyard, as a perfect american family and a cold-war society rushes toward extinction.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


© Future Science Fiction, Oct 1954
Beyond Lies The Wub, 1987
--/ cool time sf story
--/ wonder award

Do not meddle with the idea of a Time Scoop (dredging the future for valuable artifacts), some interesting future scenery and a human downfall from ...poisonous butterflies.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


"The Great C"
(novel: with Roger Zelazny)
(exp into "Deus Irae")
© Cosmos, Sep 1953
SF Monthly, Jul 1957 (Australian)
book: Doubleday, 1976
--/ fourth place apocalyptic sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ style award

A supercomputer rules the earth after a nuclear holocaust and demands a yearly human sacrifice. Could be depressing, you know.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 1990)


"Deus Irae" (nv)
(with Roger Zelazny)
(based on story "The Great C")
© Cosmos # 1, Sep 1953
also in - SF Monthly, Jul 1953 (Austr.)
book: Doubleday, 1976
--/ fourth place apocalyptic sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ style award

When I read this book in my youth, I was bewildered by many passages. There is a lot of angst there, there are no answers, and a general depressing feeling. Sulky automatic car repair robots, and a general post-apocalyptic inventiveness are fine, but a lot of times too much is said about too little. Harder to read in general, but worth it for the moments of beauty among the dystopia. The disillusioned man's quest to paint a picture of a higher being in a post-nuclear-war world. Some call it "the flip-side to "Canticle for Leibowitz".
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 1986)


"Out In The Garden"
© Fantasy Fiction, Aug 1953
Beyond Lies The Wub, 1987


"The King Of The Elves"
(also as "Shadrach Jones and the Elves")
© Beyond Fantasy Fiction, Sep 1953
The Golden Man, 1980
--/ fourth place f story
--/ wonder award

Oh yes, very special - Philip K. Dick fantasy. Starts with a mundane scene at a gas station, and grows into something apocalyptic, in fact, the wars with trolls. Sense of profound change in the life of Shadrach Jones. From gas station attendant - to the Elf King... this is whimsical, I admit, but also quite funny. You never are sure at the end whether the elves were real or not.
review: 06-Jul-06 (read in 2005)


© Startling Stories, Spr 1955
Beyond Lies The Wub, 1987
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea: how to sell new robot model
--/ humour award

A quite penetrating commentary on today's practice of marketing a new product to get rid (here - literally destroy/kill) of an older product to make more profit in sales. Did I say today's? - That's right! These practices apparently have not changed since 1955. It's called "Planned obsolescence". When did you last bring something to "repair" instead of getting a newer model? In the story the products are robot "Nannies", but in our life - no electronics ever get a second chance once broken. (can you sense my increasing frustration with consumerism?)
review: 06-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


"Prize Ship"
(also as "Globe From Ganymede")
© Thrilling Wonder Stories, Win 1954
Beyond Lies the Wub, 1987
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award

Humans capture a highly advanced ship from Ganymede, with only one control lever and no instructions. They are trying to figure out the control and even general idea of the function of this thing, which makes for nice adventure. I like this kind of thing, you know.
review: 06-Jul-06 (read in 2004)


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Most reviews are written by Avi Abrams, unless otherwise noted. Reviews also appear on our unique historical retrospective page Wonder Timeline of Science Fiction. Feel free to submit your own review, if a particular story is not listed here.

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