The Preserving Machine

Paycheck and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Fantasy & Science Fiction Jun 1953

Doc Labyrinth can’t stand the idea that all of our culture’s art, literature and especially music will one day be lost to time. His unorthodox solution is a machine which outputs animals after being fed sheet music of famous composers.

These animals, created from Mozart, Brahms, Bach, etc., eventually make their way into the woods behind his house, and when Doc and his friend next encounter these creatures, they find they have evolved into vicious beasts. When one of these is returned to the machine to be converted back into music the hideous result bears no resemblance to the original score.

Cast of characters

  • Doc Labyrinth – inventor of the titular preserving machine
  • the unnamed narrator – Doc’s companion