tag: The Cold War

A Little Something for Us Tempunauts

The Eye of the Sibyl and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Final Stage 1974

U.S. tempunaut Addison Doug shows up at his wife’s house, soon joined by fellow tempunauts Benz and Crayne, just after news comes in that their time capsule has imploded on reentry returning from a mission to travel one hundred years into the future. It’s understood that they are on some kind of ‘emergence time,’ but they may or may not also be stuck in a time loop. Signs point to Addison, the only person who suspects this, as the one who sabotaged their reentry in order to break them out of the loop for good.

I won’t pretend to understand everything about this story (particularly how the Emergence Time Activity is supposed to work), but it’s a clever reimagining of the Cold War U.S.-Soviet space race.

Cast of characters

  • Addison Doug, Benz, Crayne – tempunauts in the U.S. time travel program
  • Merry Lou Hawkins – Addison’s wife
  • General Toad – in charge of the U.S. time travel program
  • Officer N. Gauki – a Soviet chrononaut. I love the detail of U.S. tempunauts vs. Soviet chrononauts.
  • Henry Cassidy, Everett Branton – TV newscasters covering the tempunauts’ funeral
  • Dr. Fein – physicist from the Time Extrusion Labs

Foster, You’re Dead

Second Variety and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in STAR Science Fiction Stories no.3 1955

Schoolboy Mike Foster desperately wants a bomb shelter, partly to fit in (his is the only family not to own one) and partly for a sense of security (this is 1971 and the height of the Cold War with the Soviet Union). Mike eventually convinces his father to buy the newest model shelter on an installment plan. His family though can’t afford it after the Russians develop a new weapon rendering all shelters obsolete unless owners pay for a costly upgrade. The shelter then gets repossessed sending Mike into a fit of despair.

‘Foster, You’re Dead’ was adapted as ‘Safe and Sound’ for the first season of Amazon Prime’s Electric Dreams. It’s not a terrible episode of television, but it shares very little in common with the short story.

Cast of characters

  • Mike Foster
  • Bob Foster – Mike’s dad and the last of the town’s anti-preppers
  • Ruth Foster – Mike’s mom
  • Bill O’Neill – shelter salesman for General Electronics