The Electric Ant

The Eye of the Sibyl and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
Buy it on Amazon
First published in Fantasy & Science Fiction Oct 1969

Garson Poole learns from a doctor that he is an electric ant (ant in this case refers to an organic humanoid robot) after he wakes up in a hospital following a squib accident. He soon finds everyone at his company already knows, and he is only a figurehead in charge because the owners want somebody they can control.

Knowing his true nature he begins to experiment with the punched tape roll in his chest that controls his sensory stimuli, screwing around with the input mechanism much like a human does by taking drugs in an effort to alter or figure out reality, until he manages to burn out the control and ‘die.’

It’s a simple story, but Poole is a sympathetic character and the ending is sad.

Cast of characters

  • Garson Poole – owner of Tri-Plan Electronics
  • Louis Danceman – Tri-Plan’s second in charge
  • Sarah Benton – Poole’s secretary