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11 Science Fiction Stories

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Philip K Dick was one of the most prolific science fiction writers of all time. Now 11 of his first stories are available in one collection. Stories Included: Beyond Lies the Wub Beyond the Door The Crystal Crypt The Defenders The Gun The Skull The Eyes Have It Second Variety The Variable Man Mr. Spaceship Piper in the Woods


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Philip K Dick was one of the most prolific science fiction writers of all time. Now 11 of his first stories are available in one collection. Stories Included: Beyond Lies the Wub Beyond the Door The Crystal Crypt The Defenders The Gun The Skull The Eyes Have It Second Variety The Variable Man Mr. Spaceship Piper in the Woods

30 review for 11 Science Fiction Stories

  1. 5 out of 5

    Austin Wright

    I loved everything except "Piper int he Woods". I loved everything except "Piper int he Woods".

  2. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    These short stories are rather enjoyable. Dick does a really good job of adding enough background to let us understand the story without going into too much exposition or drawing it out too much. Generally one of my main problems with short stories (or rather why I like novels more) is because often I don't feel like I'm particularly involved with the story, either the characters or the situation, enough to care. I didn't have that problem with these stories. That's not to say they were all great These short stories are rather enjoyable. Dick does a really good job of adding enough background to let us understand the story without going into too much exposition or drawing it out too much. Generally one of my main problems with short stories (or rather why I like novels more) is because often I don't feel like I'm particularly involved with the story, either the characters or the situation, enough to care. I didn't have that problem with these stories. That's not to say they were all great, though, unfortunately. All of these stories were built around either a plot twist or some point about society that Dick wanted to make. The problem is that a number of the plot twists were super obvious so it was just dumb when the characters didn't expect them and all the observations on society came across as rather preachy. That's not to say that the points weren't something worth pointing out. Most of the stories had to do with war to some extent and in general the stories seemed like products of the cold war. I would have liked if the stories had each listed the year they were written with the titles. Not only to know more specifically what Dick was writing in response to, but also because I'm wondering what the state of technology was when it was written. If I were to guess I'd think the 50s or 60s as there weren't any transistors - all the advanced technology was done with wiring and tubes a la Fallout. I'll put my thoughts about a few of the specific stories in spoilers: (view spoiler)[The Defenders: Of the preachy points that Dick made, this one stuck with me as the worst. While the premise and setting all worked for me, once they figured things out and were trapped on the surface, having that leady monologuing about human culture was just poorly done in my opinion and kinda ruined the story. Once I got over how it was done, it was an interesting point that I needed to sit and consider. It definitely fits with my knowledge of history and most of my games of Europa Universalis up through the age of imperialism, but then nation states started arising and declaring independence from the European-based empires. Then, I suppose, in Dick's time the whole soviet bloc was again cultures/leadership combining, but it has since fallen apart, so I'm not sure how good the point actually is. But that is all totally beside the point that the story's point was interesting but poorly executed. The Eyes Have It: This story just really amused me. It was short but clever. Second Variety: When Hendricks told her how to get to the moon base, I was certain he had figured it out and had given her some wrong code so she'd get shot down. Then he acted all astonished when he found out that she was the second type. Maybe I'm just too genre savvy, but I thought that was the most obvious of obvious outcomes so he just seemed really dumb for not guessing. Also, on a completely different note, I had fallen asleep while reading this story (because it was the afternoon, not because the story was dull) and had the most fantastic dreams that were most definitely caused by the story. The Variable Man: This might have been my favorite one. Thomas Cole sounds like a cool guy; he was surprisingly alright with having traveled two centuries into the future. Sherikov is fantastic. Also, while I had expected that Reinhart's actions were going to cause the Terrans to lose the war and he'd get his comeuppance for that, I didn't expect the ending that came after that. Considering Cole's fix of the toy vidscreen, I should have seen it coming, but I didn't, so I really liked it. (hide spoiler)] I've been meaning to read Dick's stories for a long time, so I'm glad that I finally did get around to it. I'll probably read more of his works in the future, too. I'd like to see how he manages world building in a novel considering how well he handled it for the purposes of these short stories.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Steve Bouchard

    I haven't read much PKD besides "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep." (And "Deus Irae"--which to be fair is a collaboration with Roger Zelazny, so not 100% his writing.) So I was happy to pick up this collection and dive in. This collection contains some of his earlier shorts, and the execution is a bit clumsy at times, as is the underlying science. But, you have to take the stories in context with the time period they were written (early 50's). As such, it's a great collection. The presentation I haven't read much PKD besides "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep." (And "Deus Irae"--which to be fair is a collaboration with Roger Zelazny, so not 100% his writing.) So I was happy to pick up this collection and dive in. This collection contains some of his earlier shorts, and the execution is a bit clumsy at times, as is the underlying science. But, you have to take the stories in context with the time period they were written (early 50's). As such, it's a great collection. The presentation was a bit vanilla with the stories arranged alphabetically, and some typographical issues, and of course, these stories are all public domain... But it's really the stories themselves that count. Sure some were a bit predictable, maybe cliche...but again, think of the time period, and we're dealing with over 60 years worth of time gone by, and the Russians are no longer The Enemy. Now, it was convenient to grab this on Kindle for a buck, but I think moving forward I might hit the public domain and read the stories more chronologically. Nonetheless, the collection was a good starting point. Do yourself a favor and look up "The Eyes Have It." This one had me laughing out loud, and I had a hard time reading for a couple of weeks because of the twisted light the story shed on narrative descriptions.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Knowles

    Most of these read like classic episodes of the Twilight Zone, so the spirit and concept of all of them remains true even today. It is definitely worth a read. Beyond Lies the Wub - 3/5 Stars An interesting twist on a few common sayings. Beyond the Door - 2/5 Stars This is a descent into madness story. The Crystal Crypt - 3/5 Stars An interesting concept based on bending the truth. The end was a bit predictable. The Defenders - 4/5 Stars I really like this one. Again a little predictable, but it has Most of these read like classic episodes of the Twilight Zone, so the spirit and concept of all of them remains true even today. It is definitely worth a read. Beyond Lies the Wub - 3/5 Stars An interesting twist on a few common sayings. Beyond the Door - 2/5 Stars This is a descent into madness story. The Crystal Crypt - 3/5 Stars An interesting concept based on bending the truth. The end was a bit predictable. The Defenders - 4/5 Stars I really like this one. Again a little predictable, but it has a nice unique end to it. The Gun - 5/5 Stars Translating ancient stories into modern myth. Loved this one. The Skull - 3/5 Stars Another one that is a bit predictable, but quite enjoyable. The Eyes Have - 3/5 Stars A funny look at taking things too literally. Second Variety - 4/5 Stars It is a bit slow to start, but I really enjoyed the ending and what it says about mankind. The Variable Man - 4/5 Stars The major problem with this one is that it feels a bit too long. It involves the foolishness of relying on statistics and power of human intuition. Mr. Spaceship 5/5 Stars Longevity, the perfection of society, the fulfillment of dreams, all of these things are combined with great characterization. Piper in the Woods 4/5 Stars This one is more of a psychological mystery. Why do we do the things we do? Is living a simple life better than a sophisticated one?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Scott Erickson

    Interesting stories. My only complaint is that quite frequently, the suspension of disbelief was broken. Characters acted strangely (why would spies ever, ever tell their entire mission to a stranger, even when all seems safe?), did things that were impossible (a person from 1914 being able to fix, and improve upon devices from the far future, imagine someone like that getting their hands on cellphone) or, most commonly, spoke very bluntly from an outsider's perspective, passing judgement on the Interesting stories. My only complaint is that quite frequently, the suspension of disbelief was broken. Characters acted strangely (why would spies ever, ever tell their entire mission to a stranger, even when all seems safe?), did things that were impossible (a person from 1914 being able to fix, and improve upon devices from the far future, imagine someone like that getting their hands on cellphone) or, most commonly, spoke very bluntly from an outsider's perspective, passing judgement on the human race. While I don't mind exploring different perspectives of actions, the way it was delivered was inelegant, and I often found myself thinking "the author is speaking directly to me again..." which pulled me out of the story. That said, the stories got more engaging as the book went on though. I particularly liked the story of the variable man, someone pulled unexpectedly from the past who throws a wren into the war efforts of a futuristic Earth waging war with an intergalactic empire. And these stories do what sci-fi is good at doing, raising questions about technology and culture of the present and future, exploring their possibilities and consequences.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Heith

    Few people can explore the limits and weirdness of humanity within science fiction like PKD can, and pull off surprising twists. With a few exceptions where the story world felt thin, these are some of PKD's best! I especially enjoyed Second Variety (which I think is the grittiest, and possibly best story, with the best characterization and quickest immersion in the world), The Variable man, The Skull, The Defenders and The Crystal Crypt. Few people can explore the limits and weirdness of humanity within science fiction like PKD can, and pull off surprising twists. With a few exceptions where the story world felt thin, these are some of PKD's best! I especially enjoyed Second Variety (which I think is the grittiest, and possibly best story, with the best characterization and quickest immersion in the world), The Variable man, The Skull, The Defenders and The Crystal Crypt.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    These stories are great fun. Like reading screen plays for The Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone. Dick's mind is a wonder and the stories are extremely clever and often quite funny in a bizarre manner. I'm hooked and am particularly interested in the pieces that have been turned into movies. I'm on my way.... These stories are great fun. Like reading screen plays for The Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone. Dick's mind is a wonder and the stories are extremely clever and often quite funny in a bizarre manner. I'm hooked and am particularly interested in the pieces that have been turned into movies. I'm on my way....

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mukta Mohapatra

    11 short stories with space travel, dystopian futures and some fun twist and turns. The Variable Man was my favorite one. Thomas Cole coming to the future and changing their war forever with his special skill of fixing everything. The final story, Mr. Spaceship was an interesting idea of consciousness surviving in our brain alone. Man vs machine, man vs man all great ideas.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ves

    Great collection of stories - at least one of them has been made into a TV Show already(Think it was a Twilight Zone - the modern version). Definitely a book I can recommend if you like space stories.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Simon

    Some stories are awful, some are decent, and some are pretty good. The problem I find with Dick's writing is the lack of focus on his characters. Plot and idea are so emphasized that it's hard to hold interest in the story once you see where its going. Some stories are awful, some are decent, and some are pretty good. The problem I find with Dick's writing is the lack of focus on his characters. Plot and idea are so emphasized that it's hard to hold interest in the story once you see where its going.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    I mostly enjoyed this collection of Philip K. Dick stories. Philip K. Dick has an incredible imagination and unique story telling ability about human nature as there are twists in his stories, ala The Twilight Zone...

  12. 4 out of 5

    William Bradford

    His stories are interesting and usually have a "twist" somewhat reminiscent of the Twilight Zone. As in any collection, some are better than others, but all are worth reading. His stories are interesting and usually have a "twist" somewhat reminiscent of the Twilight Zone. As in any collection, some are better than others, but all are worth reading.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    Either I'm a plot-guessing genius or the plots of these stories are so completely obvious. Either way, I almost wanted to stop reading each story because I knew how it would end. Either I'm a plot-guessing genius or the plots of these stories are so completely obvious. Either way, I almost wanted to stop reading each story because I knew how it would end.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Christian

    While not exactly poignant most of the time this was a fun collection of Twilight Zone-like stories.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Seth

  16. 5 out of 5

    Carol

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bookwyrm

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Wilson

  19. 4 out of 5

    John Fletcher

  20. 4 out of 5

    Will M

  21. 5 out of 5

    Pepper Fleming

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael Margolis

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chad Frerer

  24. 4 out of 5

    DeeDee

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Means

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jason Shugars

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tez

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sean Malley

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jean E.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dr. Richard E. Chandler

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