Obelisk Books on Mars is receiving complaints about errors in its latest book, a translation of the first-century B.C. poem De Rerum Natura (aka On the Nature of Things) by Lucretius. Since it’s already gone through an expensive print run there is nothing Obelisk president Mr. Masters can do, but he agrees to meet with a scholar anyway who outlines all the problems with the translation.
De Rerum Natura deals with the fleeting nature of life, but certain passages have been altered to indicate a philosophy of immortality. They eventually realize only the books bound in wub-fur have been changed. The wub is a native Mars creature, generally agreed upon to be pretty stupid, that is nearly impossible to kill, but when it does die the pelt continues to live. Through the books it is communicating this message of eternal life. Based on all this Mr. Masters calls his lawyer and updates his will. He wants his coffin after he dies to be lined in wub-fur.
Dick returns here to the theme of one of his earliest stories: never underestimate a wub.
Cast of characters
- Barney Masters – president of Obelisk Books
- Mr. Brandice – member of Watchmen Over Distortion and Forged Artifacts Generally
- Jack Snead – Obelisk’s copy editor
- Luther Saperstein – business agent for the firm Flawless, Incorporated that procures the wub-fur