Mr. Spaceship

Paycheck and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Imagination Jan 1953

During a war between Earth and aliens from a planet in the Proxima Centauri system the Earth strategists decide to replace the guidance control in one of their ships with a human brain as a new approach to combat the organic mines that defend Proxima.

Dolores, wife of the engineer Kramer, suggests a professor from their college years as ‘the brain’, and Professor Thomas, quite old by this point, eventually agrees.

The professor though has lived long enough to understand the futility of war, and once his consciousness is in control of the ship it’s clear he has no intention of taking part in the plan to break through Proxima’s defenses. Instead he uses a couple of ruses to get both Kramer and Dolores on board and then sets off to find a habitable planet they can populate in order to build a civilization that can hopefully break the cycle of war.

Cast of characters

  • Kramer – an engineer in Earth’s war effort against the Yucconae of Proxima Centauri
  • Gross – Commander of Earth’s Internal Security
  • Dolores – Kramer’s estranged wife
  • Dale Winter – Kramer’s second in line
  • Michael Thomas – a professor who taught Kramer and Dolores when they were in school