tag: Space Travel

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chamber is missing its power supply, his entertainment tapes have been swapped out for a cat toy and all his food has been replaced by cat kibble.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

I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon

The Eye of the Sibyl and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Playboy Dec 1980

Victor Kemmings’s cryonic suspension malfunctions while en route to a distant planet. Because only his brain is awake, the ship’s A.I. system decides to create simulated realities in Kemmings’s mind in order to prevent him from becoming a vegetable during the remaining ten years of the trip.

The initial world constructed by the ship takes Kemmings back to when he was married with his first wife Martine, but Kemmings’s mind rejects it. The second world goes farther back in his subconscious to an incident during his childhood when he helped his cat kill a bird. This world, like the others to come, is also rejected because of Kemmings’s deep-seated neurotic anxieties.

The ship decides to simulate a world on the colony planet as if they’ve already arrived. Kemmings’s mind sees through this phony setup too as the scenario plays out again and again. When they finally do arrive in the real world, where the ship has arranged his first wife Martine to greet them, Kemmings still believes he is trapped in the loop of simulated realities.

Cast of characters

  • The ship’s A.I.
  • Victor Kemmings – an emigrant on his way to the colony planet LR4-6
  • Martine – Kemmings’s first wife

Our Friends from Frolix 8

Our Friends from Frolix 8
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In the far-off future mankind has evolved. The New Men are those with bigger brains and a greater intellect, while the Unusuals are mutants with psionic abilities. These two groups form a loosely-aligned ruling class who oppress the unevolved Old Men just struggling to get by. But don’t forget about the Under Men! They follow the writings of Eric Cordon and rebel against the whole class imbalance while waiting for Thors Provoni to return from outer space with some kind of help to free them from the tyrannical rule.

Our Friends from Frolix 8 is about as middle of the road as you can get with Dick’s minor works. I remembered almost nothing about it before I reread it. It’s redeemed by the oddball telepath and supreme leader of Earth Willis Gram, but only somewhat, and if you replaced sad-sack Nick Appleton with the protagonist from a dozen of Dick’s other stories you probably wouldn’t notice a difference.

Cast of characters

  • Nick Appleton – our protag. He’s employed as a tire regroover, an odd profession since the squibs in the book are flying vehicles
  • Bobby Appleton – Nick’s son
  • Kleo Appleton – Nick’s wife
  • Thors Provoni – left Earth to look for help in the far reaches of outer space
  • Willis Gram – Council Chairman of the Extraordinary Committee for Public Safety (Unusual)
  • Lloyd Barnes – the police director (New Man)
  • Eric Cordon – Under Man organizer and propaganda writer
  • Earl Zeta – Nick’s boss (Under Man)
  • Charlotte Boyer – a sixteen-year-old Under Man girl who gets involved with Nick
  • Denny – Charlotte’s boyfriend (Under Man)
  • Morgo Rahn Wilc – the Frolixan friend who accompanies Thors Provoni back to Earth
  • Amos Ild – one of the world’s smartest New Men

Lies, Inc.

Lies, Inc.
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The first two-thirds of the book is an interesting story originally published as The Unteleported Man. It’s set in 2014. As a solution to Earth’s overcrowding humans have built unsuccessful colonies on the Moon and Mars before they discover an Earth-like planet eighteen lightyears away. This planet can be reached by a teleportation device in only fifteen minutes, but unfortunately it’s a one-way trip.

Millions emigrate there, but Rachmael ben Applebaum suspects that the messages from the planet, claiming how perfect the new settlement is, are faked. He decides to travel eighteen lightyears in his space freighter to find out the truth.

After this we have one-hundred pages of LSD-inspired craziness which Dick wrote as a part two that was inserted into the original story. If you’re wondering why Rachmael is suddenly at the settlement on Whale’s Mouth this is why. It’s fun to read as a lot of Dick’s drug-fueled paranoid visions are, but ultimately it has nothing to do with the end of the book. Rachmael returns just as suddenly to his freighter for the conclusion which wraps up the Unteleported Man story.

Cast of characters

  • Rachmael ben Applebaum – son of Maury Applebaum who founded the now-defunct Applebaum enterprises
  • Freya Holm – employee of Lies, Inc. assigned to protect Rachmael
  • Theodoric Ferry – chairman of the board of THL
  • Matson Glazer-Holliday – owner of Lies, Inc.
  • Dr. Sepp von Einem – while financed by THL, he built the teleportation device capable of sending humans to Whale’s Mouth in only fifteen minutes
  • Herr Horst Berthold – Secretary General of the UN
  • Al Dosker – pilot provided by Lies, Inc. to get the Omphalos off of its hiding place on Luna and on its way to Whale’s Mouth
  • The Weevils (Shiela Quam, Hank Szantho, Miss de Rungs, Gretchen Borbman) – the group, all supposedly sick with Telpor Syndrome and waiting to be cured, that Rachmael finds himself a part of when he gets to Whale’s Mouth
  • Gregory Arnold Gloch – former UN wep-x technician. Defected to THL. Described as “being out of phase in time”

Other things to know

  • Lies, Incorporated – Listening Instructional Educational Services. Some sort of police agency
  • Applebaum Enterprises – company that provides travel on space freighters. Rendered obsolete after Dr. Einem built his teleportation device
  • THL – Trails of Hoffman Limited. They sell Dr. Einem’s Telepor construct at retail stores on Earth
  • Whale’s Mouth – the Earth-like ninth planet of the Fomalhaut system. Eighteen light years away
  • Omphalos – Applebaum Enterprises sole remaining space freighter
  • The True and Complete Economic and Political History of Newcolonizedland by Dr. Bloode – a multi-edition book on Whale’s Mouth that can somehow predict the future I think… not entirely certain