This is either Dick’s stupidest premise or his most brilliant. It’s hard to tell sometimes with him, but I’m going with the former. I’ll do my best to summarize.
A man named Ludwig Eng invented something called a swabble. It’s not clear what the swabble actually does but it introduces into the world something called the Hobart Phase which causes time to flow backwards in a strange way where people eat and smoke in reverse and get younger instead of aging.
In this backwards world librarians destroy books instead of preserving them. One book coming up for eradication is Eng’s book HOW I MADE MY OWN SWABBLE OUT OF CONVENTIONAL HOUSEHOLD OBJECTS IN MY BASEMENT DURING MY SPARE TIME. Only a few people seem to realize if Eng’s book is eradicated then the swabble won’t be invented and the Hobart Phase won’t be created causing time to move forward once again. But then Eng will just write his book and the process will be repeated trapping everyone in a time loop.
After dealing with another party who wants the Hobart Phase to continue for their own obscure reasons the librarian Niehls Lehrer meets with Lance Arbuthnot who wrote a book he hopes to get eradicated that will somehow counteract Eng’s book. The effects of the Hobart Phase are weakening though so they better move fast.
Dick expanded “Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday” a few years later into one of my least favorite novels Counter-Clock World.
Cast of characters
- Niehls Lehrer – a librarian
- Ludwig Eng – wrote the book that created the Hobart Phase
- Lance Arbuthnot – wrote a book called HOW I DISASSEMBLED MY SWABBLE INTO ORDINARY HOUSEHOLD OBJECTS IN MY BASEMENT DURING MY SPARE TIME to counteract Eng’s book
- Carl Gantrix – attorney for Bard Chai
- Carl Junior – Gantrix’s robot
- Bard Chai – head of the Clearness Council
- Anarch Peak – leader of the Free Negro Municipality