War Veteran

Second Variety and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in If Mar 1955

A survivor of a war between Venus and Earth appears to somehow travel back in time, arriving on Earth days before the conflict begins when tensions between the two planets is at an all-time high. Earthmen at the City Hospital eventually uncover the Venusian plot to use a simulacra of a war veteran from the future to trick Earth into believing they will lose an upcoming war in order to prevent a war between the planets that Venus doesn’t want to fight.

This pulp potboiler, like a number of other stories Dick wrote in the 1950s, is populated with wooden characters and much too long.

Cast of characters

  • David Unger – the titular war vet who supposedly served under Nathan West
  • Vachel Patterson – cancer specialist at the City Hospital
  • Edwin LeMarr – neurologist at the City Hospital
  • Evelyn Cutter – records keeper at the City Hospital
  • John V-Stephens – a Venusian surgeon at the City Hospital
  • V-Rafia – a Venusian girl rescued from a crazed mob
  • Nathan West – Lieutenant on the battleship Wind Giant
  • Francis Gannet – owns Transplan Industries