Short Stories

TitlePublishedWritten
A Game of Unchance19641964
A Little Something for Us Tempunauts19741973
A Present for Pat19541953
A Surface Raid19551952
A Terran Odyssey19871964
A World of Talent19541954
Adjustment Team19541953
Autofac19551954
Beyond Lies the Wub19521951
Beyond the Door19541952
Breakfast at Twilight19541953
Cadbury, The Beaver Who Lacked19871971
Captive Market19551954
Chains of Air, Web of Aether19801979
Colony19531952
Exhibit Piece19541953
Expendable19531951
Explorers We19591958
Fair Game19591953
Faith of Our Fathers19671966
Foster, You’re Dead19551953
Holy Quarrel19661965
Human Is19551953
I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon19801980
If There Were No Benny Cemoli19631963
Imposter19531953
James P. Crow19541953
Jon’s World19541952
Martians Come in Clouds19531952
Meddler19541952
Misadjustment19571954
Mr. Spaceship19531952
Nanny19551952
Not By Its Cover19681966
Novelty Act19641963
Null-O19581953
Of Withered Apples19541953
Oh, To Be a Blobel!19641963
Orpheus with Clay Feet19641963
Out in the Garden19531952
Pay for the Printer19561954
Paycheck19531952
Piper in the Woods19531953
Planet for Transients19531953
Precious Artifact19641964
Prize Ship19541952
Progeny19541952
Project: Earth19531952
Prominent Author19541953
Psi-man, Heal My Child!19551954
Rautavaara’s Case19801980
Recall Mechanism19591958
Retreat Syndrome19651964
Return Match19671965
Roog19531951
Sales Pitch19541953
Second Variety19531952
Service Call19551954
Shell Game19541953
Small Town19541953
Some Kinds of Life19531952
Souvenir19541953
Stability19871947
Stand-By19631963
Strange Eden19541953
Strange Memories of Death19841980
Survey Team19541953
The Alien Mind19811981
The Builder19531952
The Chromium Fence19551954
The Commuter19531952
The Cookie Lady19531952
The Cosmic Poachers19531952
The Crawlers19541953
The Crystal Crypt19541952
The Day Mr. Computer Fell Out Of Its Tree19876
The Days of Perky Pat19631963
The Defenders19531952
The Electric Ant19691969
The Exit Door Leads In19791979
The Eye of the Sibyl19871975
The Eyes Have It19531953
The Father-Thing19541953
The Golden Man19541953
The Great C19531952
The Gun19521952
The Hanging Stranger19531953
The Hood Maker19551953
The Impossible Planet19531953
The Indefatigable Frog19531952
The Infinites19531952
The King of the Elves19531952
The Last of the Masters19541953
The Little Black Box19641963
The Little Movement19521952
The Minority Report19561954
The Mold of Yancy19551954
The Pre-persons19741973
The Preserving Machine19531952
The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford19541952
The Skull19521952
The Trouble With Bubbles19531953
The Turning Wheel19541953
The Unreconstructed M19571955
The Variable Man19531952
The War with the Fnools19641964
The World She Wanted19531952
To Serve the Master19561953
Tony and the Beetles19531953
Upon the Dull Earth19541953
War Game19591958
War Veteran19551954
Waterspider19641963
We Can Remember It for You Wholesale19661966
What the Dead Men Say19641963
What’ll We Do with Ragland Park19631963
Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday19661965

The Alien Mind

The Eye of the Sibyl and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in The Yuba City High Times Feb 1981

Aboard his ship Jason Bedford is brought out of deep sleep to realize his cat Norman has gotten loose and knocked him off course by swatting at the control panel. He is scheduled for a delivery to Meknos III so he calls the Meknosians to explain his delay and while on the call with them gets angry enough to kill the cat for making him look stupid.

After he arrives at Meknos and makes his drop off the aliens ask him about his cat. He denies having a pet (which he flushed out the airlock) but while he is going through a decontamination procedure so he can leave the Meknosians search his ship. When he is finally on his way back to Terra he finds his deep sleep chamber is missing its power supply, his entertainment tapes have been swapped out for a cat toy and all his food has been replaced by cat kibble. 

Strangely the last short story Dick wrote was first published in The Yuba City High Times (a high school newspaper and not a marijuana enthusiast’s magazine like I first thought/hoped) after the son of an acquaintance of Dick’s wrote him and asked for a short story for the paper which Dick actually then sent over. “The Alien Mind” went on to be published in Fantasy & Science Fiction later that same year.

Cast of characters

  • Jason Bedford – intergalactic delivery man
  • the Meknosians

Strange Memories of Death

The Eye of the Sibyl and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Interzone Summer 1984

An unnamed narrator (presumably Dick in this autobiographical story) lives in an apartment building that is being converted into condos. He is the only one who has decided to buy his apartment and stay, and everyone else has moved out except his crazy, antisocial neighbor known as the Lysol Lady. 

The narrator wakes up on the last day the Lysol Lady can legally occupy her unit before getting evicted, spends the day wondering what will happen to her and then finds out the next day from the building’s sales rep that she moved out several weeks ago after the Housing Authority found her a new apartment. 

Cast of characters

  • the unnamed narrator
  • Mrs. Archer aka The Lysol Lady – the narrator’s neighbor
  • Al Newcum – sales rep for South Orange Investments

Chains of Air, Web of Aether

The Eye of the Sibyl and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Stellar #5 1980

On the far-flung planet CY30 II Leo McVane lives alone in a dome monitoring communications equipment where it seems his only job is to rebroadcast transmissions of the pop singer Linda Fox from a satellite. McVane finds out from the food delivery man that Rybus Rommey, a neighbor he doesn’t know very well in another dome, is dying of multiple sclerosis. She refuses to abandon her dome for treatment, and so Rybus and a reluctant McVane form an uneven relationship until eventually Rybus beats her illness. 

Dick reworked “Chains of Air, Web of Aether” into his novel The Divine Invasion.

Cast of characters

  • Leo McVane – operates a communications dome on CY30 II
  • Rybus Rommey – McVane’s neighbor in a nearby dome
  • the food delivery man

The Day Mr. Computer Fell Out Of Its Tree

The Eye of the Sibyl and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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When Joe Contemptible wakes up he finds Mr. Bed has dumped him on the floor, Mr. Closet won’t give him the correct clothes, Mr. Coffeepot serves him a cup of soapy water and Mr. Door won’t let him go anywhere. These problems are going on worldwide as the centralized computer source (aptly named Mr. Computer) has a psychotic episode. 

To solve this global catastrophe Joan Simpson, the head of World Mental Health who has been kept in suspended animation in the center of the Earth for just these scenarios, is brought forth to cure Mr. Computer. She determines Joe, lonely and on the verge of suicide, is the reason for Mr. Computer’s breakdown. The police round up Joe and she agrees to take him with her back down into the center of the Earth, giving them both companionship and setting Mr. Computer back to normal. 

Cast of characters

  • Joe Contemptible
  • Joan Simpson – the head of World Mental Health and the name of Dick’s real-life girlfriend at this time
  • Fred Doubledome – a computer tech?
  • Dr. Pacemaker – brings Joan out of suspended animation

The Eye of the Sibyl

The Eye of the Sibyl and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Philip K. Dick: The Dream Connection March 1987

I don’t know the entire history of the legendary Cumaean Sibyl, but in a scenario related to his VALIS experience Dick imagines the Sibyl as a prophetess who is visited by two aliens from the star Albemuth, and then sees himself as taking up her mantle in the present day.

At the beginning of the story the priest Philos Diktos witnesses the Sibyl talking with two Immortals who predict two thousand years of darkness and ignorance. Jumping forward to 1974 Philip remembers growing up and his desire to be a science fiction author all the while having dreams and visions of ancient Rome. One night when he is an old man he is visited by the two aliens who tell him they now work through mortals to wake people up and bring springtime to the winter world. Back in Rome we find all that was an account of Philos Diktos who had traveled into the future. He documents this in a scroll to his fellow Romans along with the poet Virgil’s declaration that the tyranny in the future will eventually come to an end and springtime will be reborn.

Cast of characters

  • Philos Diktos / Philip Dick – a Roman priest / twentieth-century sci-fi author
  • The Cumaean Sibyl
  • Carol Heims – Philip’s psychologist
  • J’Annis and F’fr’am – the Immortals from Albemuth

The Pre-persons

The Eye of the Sibyl and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Fantasy & Science Fiction Oct 1974

I’m not sure what kind of marriage problems Dick was going through at this time, but after “Cadbury, the Beaver Who Lacked” we get another cynical story about women. 

In the world of this misguided story children can be ‘aborted’ all the way up until they are twelve (the arbitrary age the state decided a person gains a soul) if their parents don’t want them anymore.

Walter, who just turned twelve, is still scared of the abortion truck that drives around the neighborhood picking up kids even though his mom assures him he no longer has anything to worry about. Another boy gets rounded up by the ‘bort truck, and his father insists to get picked up with him. For some nonsensical reason the state has determined the soul enters the body when a child learns math. The boy’s father claims he doesn’t know anything about math, although he is actually a Stanford graduate and just wants to expose the absurdity of the whole situation. He does manage to get some minor media publicity when the abortion facility lets the man and his son free, and afterwards the men of the story complain about how they feel trapped by the women in their lives. “The Pre-persons” is ridiculous and dumb no matter which side of the pro-choice argument you are on.

Cast of characters

  • Walter Best – a twelve-year-old too old to be ‘aborted’
  • Cynthia and Ian Best – Walter’s parents
  • Oscar Ferris – driver of the abortion truck
  • Earl Fleischhacker – a kid picked up by the ‘bort truck
  • Tim Gantro – gets picked up by Ferris for being a stray
  • Ed Gantro – Tim’s father
  • Sam B. Carpenter – runs the county abortion facility