The Little Movement published 1952

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By infiltrating the homes of children a group of sentient toys plots to take over the world (or something along those lines) until a second group of toys manages to stop them. This one is as absurd as it sounds.

Cast of characters

  • My Lord – a sentient toy soldier. Part of a larger group of toys with plans of world domination
  • Bobby – the boy who ends up in possession of My Lord
  • Bonzo, Fred, Teddo – the other sentient toys who thwart My Lord and his evil machinations

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Stability published 1987

Paycheck and Other Classic Stories
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“Stability” is one of Dick’s oldest stories dating back to the late 1940s when he was still in high school, but it wasn’t published until it was included in a short story collection in 1987.

At some point in the future world leaders decide that mankind has reached the peak of its civilization, and so in order to prevent sliding backwards they enact a program of ‘stability’ where new inventions are prohibited. The resulting story based on this unrealistic premise is clunky, although I don’t expect too much out of these really early works.

An evil city trapped in a globe summons Robert Benton back in time through the use of some sort of time travel device (that the Council Members aren’t too happy about) in order for Benton to bring the globed city forward to present day where it hopes to be freed so it can take over the world.

Cast of characters

  • Robert Benton – our protagonist and only named character
  • the Controller and Council Members – in charge of controlling inventions and enforcing ‘stability’

Ubik: The Screenplay published 1985

Ubik: The Screenplay
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Dick wrote his sole screenplay after being approached in 1974 by a French film producer about an adaptation of his 1969 novel Ubik. The producer paid Dick for the completed work, but financing for the movie fell through and it was never made.

This published version is too novelistic, at least by modern screenplay standards, but if it wasn’t there wouldn’t be much of a draw in reading a screenplay for an unproduced movie. It seems to exist only for the curiosity seekers and completists among us, since the story and characters are nearly the same as in the book, except for some additional scenes at the end where Ella Runciter is reborn.

Ubik does appear destined though to make it to the screen in some way or another. The producer of the film adaptation of A Scanner Darkly had optioned Ubik in the early 2000s, Michel Gondry was in the beginning stages of developing a movie in 2011, and in 2018 yet another screenplay was being developed with a new writer and producers.

Cast of characters

  • Glen Runciter – owner of Runciter Associates, an anti-psi prudence organization
  • Ella Runciter – Glen’s dead wife in half-life
  • Herbert Schoenheit von Vogelsang – owner of Beloved Brethren Moratorium.
  • Jory Miller – a dead fifteen-year-old boy in half-life cold-pac storage
  • Raymond Hollis – employs telepaths. Runciter’s opposition
  • G. G. Ashwood – one of Runciter’s telepaths
  • Joe Chip – Runciter’s electrical tester
  • Pat Conley– an anti-precog
  • Stanton Mick – reclusive speculator and financier
  • Zoe Wirt – Stanton Mick’s assistant
  • Tippy Jackson, Edie Dorn, Al Hammond, John Ild, Francesca Spanish, Tito Apostos, Don Denny, Sammy Mundo, Wendy Wright, Fred Zafsky – Runciter’s inertials

What the Dead Men Say published 1964

The Minority Report and Other Classic Stories
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Johnny Barefoot has arranged for mogul Louis Sarapis to enter half-life (a kind of suspended animation in a mortuary) just after his funeral, but problems hooking him up to half-life correspond to Sarapis’s voice being picked up on broadcasts from the edge of the solar system as well as the arrival on Earth of his granddaughter and heir, a former drug addict who may have ulterior motives in helping Alfonse Gam get elected as the next president.

At over fifty pages, “What the Dead Men Say” felt way too long for a mostly uninteresting story. Dick would use the idea of people stuck in half-life much more successfully later in his classic novel Ubik.

Cast of characters

  • Louis Sarapis – a ‘dead’ former mogul and commercial shipping tycoon
  • Johnny Barefoot – Sarapis’s public relations manager when Sarapis was alive
  • Sarah Belle – Johnny’s wife
  • Herbert Schoenheit von Vogelsang – owner of Beloved Brethren Mortuary where Sarapis is supposed to enter half-life. Also the owner of Beloved Brethren Moratorium in Ubik
  • Claude St. Cyr – Sarapis’s former lawyer
  • Phil Harvey – St. Cyr’s current employer
  • Gertrude Harvey – Phil’s wife
  • Elektra Harvey – Phil’s ex-wife and St. Cyr’s mistress
  • Alfonse Gam – presidential candidate backed by Sarapis
  • Kathy Egmont/Sharp – Sarapis’s granddaughter

Related:

Pay for the Printer published 1956

Second Variety and Other Classic Stories
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In this thinly veiled dig at 1950’s consumer capitalism, extraterrestrials called the Biltong settle on Earth after Earth’s nuclear war destroys much of civilization. These Biltong have the ability to create replicas of Earth items, and the human survivors use the aliens to rebuild their cities based around these ersatz goods. Soon the Biltongs begin to die from overwork. Anything they’ve copied starts to disintegrate, and so humans will have to relearn the lost art of building things with their own hands.

Cast of characters

  • Allen Fergusson – member of the Pittsburgh settlement
  • Charlotte, Ben Untermeyer – members of a settlement outside Pittsburgh
  • John Dawes – a survivor who has learned to craft a wooden cup

Oh, To Be a Blobel! published 1964

George Munster fought for Earth during its war with the amoeba-like Blobels from Proxima. As a Blobel spy he assumed the form of the Blobels, and after the war’s end he still reverts to Blobel form half of every day making dating and socializing almost impossible.

The Minority Report and Other Classic Stories
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His psychoanalyst connects him with Vivian Arrasmith, a female Blobel and former Terran spy who reverts to human form six hours of every day. They marry, but years later when they have difficulty in their relationship Vivian stabilizes as a human full time in order to save her marriage not knowing that Munster has stabilized full time as a Blobel in order to operate a business on Titan.

Cast of characters

  • George Munster – a human who turns into a Blobel
  • Dr. Jones – Munster’s robot psychoanalyst
  • Vivian Arrasmith – Munster’s wife. A Blobel who turns into a human
  • Pete Ruggles, Sherman Downs, Reinholt Glaubman – Munster’s fellow vets
  • Nina Glaubman – Munster’s mistress
  • Henry Ramarau – Munster’s attorney