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Second Variety by Philip K. Dick

Second Variety

by Philip K. Dick

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There would be little point in giving a synopsis of each of the 24 stories in this book. That would give a false sense of repetition since many feature images of ash and overturned bathtubs -- the aftermath of nuclear war -- or struggles between mutants and normal humans, each fearing their extinction. But they don't seem any more repetitious than a skilled musician working variations on a theme for that is what many are. These stories, written in 1953 and 1954 -- with one exception, are arranged chronologically, so the student of Dick can see him play with an idea for two or three stories in a row.

Along the way we get the humor, intricate plotting, and sudden reversals in our moral sympathies characteristic of Dick. And there are the machines that so often are a force of death in Dick though they behave more and more like life. Such is the case with the title story, one of Dick's most paranoid and basis for the movie Screamers. When sophisticated weapons take on human guise and began to stalk man, what Dick calls his grand theme, knowing who is human and who only pretends to be, is starkly exhibited.

Other famous stories are "The Golden Man" with its purging of mutants before they infect the human gene pool, "The Father-Thing" which is what a boy realizes has replaced his real father, and "Sales Pitch", a story which anticipates, with its all purpose android advertising its virtues through rather thuggish means, the work of Ron Goulart.

There are some memorable stories not so well known. "Foster, You're Dead" was originally conceived as a protest against a remark by President Eisenhower that citizens should be responsible for their own bomb shelters. Its young hero lives terrified in a world where making knives from scratch and digging underground shelters are parts of the school curriculum and each new year brings the newest model of bomb shelter, terrified because his father can't afford to buy one for the family. "War Veteran" reads like a futuristic _Mission Impossible_ episode. The spirit of Charles Fort may be at work in "Null-O", a satire on the absurd philosophy that no distinctions between things are valid, a philosophy practiced by "perfect paranoids". (Fort may have inspired the weakest and first story in the collection, "Fair Game", with its van Vogtian plotting giving way at the end to a silly twist.)

Dick fans will see "Shell Game", with its colony of paranoids, as sort of a test run for Dick's Clans of the Alphane Moon, and the time jumping child of "A World of Talent" is reminiscent of Manfred Steiner in Dick's Martian Time-Slip. This collection also features one of Dick's occasional fantasies, "Upon the Dull Earth".

Any admirer of Dick will want to read this collection, and those needing an introduction to his work will find no bad stories in this exhibit of 14 months in Dick's career. ( )
2 vote RandyStafford | Dec 15, 2011 |
Awesome- This book is a short story collection by P K. Dick. P.K. Dick has been the writer who inspired all sorts of sci-fi movies. This book claimed to have the story that inspired the movie "Next" in it. (I haven't seen the movie so I couldn't tell you if the story fit or not.) It amazed me how many different types of dystopia he came up with. Dick has imagined the end of civilization probably hundreds of different ways (and disturbing ways.) Some of his stories have a haunting quality that keep me thinking long after I've read them. ( )
  Rosenectur | Jun 4, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dick, Philip K.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spinrad, NormanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Next (2007IMDb)
Awards and honors
First words
Professor Anthony Douglas lowered gratefully into his red-leather easy chair and sighed.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the 1991 US version of Volume 3 of the Collected Short Stories of Philip K. Dick. It contains 24 stories, including Second Variety.

It should not be combined with any of these:
1. The Father-thing which was the original 1987 Volume 3 and differs by one short story.
2. Second Variety (Collected Stories: Vol 2) which was the original 1987 volume 2 and is almost completely different from the work on this page.
3. Second Variety [short story].
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0806512261, Paperback)

Many thousands of readers consider Philip K. Dick the greatest science fiction mind on any planet. Since his untimely death in 1982, interest in Dick's works has continued to mount and his reputation has been further enhanced by a growing body of critical attention. The Philip K. Dick Award is now given annually to a distinguished work of science fiction, and the Philip K. Dick Society is devoted to the study and promulgation of his works.

This collection includes all of the writer's earliest short and medium-length fiction (including some previously unpublished stories) covering the years 1952-1955. These fascinating stories include Second Variety, Foster, You're Dead and The Father-Thing, and many others.

"A useful acquisition for any serious SF library or collection". -- Kirkus

"The collected stories of Philip K. Dick is awe inspiring". -- The Washington Post

"More than anyone else in the field, Mr. Dick really puts you inside people's minds". -- Wall Street Journal

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:57 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Many thousands of readers worldwide consider Philip K. Dick to have been the greatest science fiction writer on any planet. Since his untimely death in 1982, interest in Dick's work has continued to mount and his reputation has been enhanced by a growing body of critical attention. This collection draws from the writer's earliest short and medium-length fiction (including several previously unpublished stories) during the years 1952-1955.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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