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Second Variety and Other Classic Stories Paperback – April 1, 2002

4.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) was an American science-fiction novelist, short-story writer and essayist. A contemporary of Ursula K. Le Guin, Dick's first short story, "Beyond Lies the Wub," was published shortly after his high-school graduation. Many of Dick's works drew upon his personal experiences with drug abuse, addressing topics such as paranoia and schizophrenia, transcendental experiences and alternate reality, and the childhood death of his twin sister is reflected through the recurring theme of the "phantom twin" in many of his novels. Despite ongoing financial troubles and issues with the IRS, Dick had a prolific writing career, winning both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award multiple times. Some of his most famous novels and stories--A Scanner Darkly, "The Minority Report," "Paycheck," and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (adapted into the film Blade Runner)--have been adapted for film. Dick died in 1982.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 414 pages
  • Publisher: Citadel Press (April 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806512261
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806512266
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just wanted to make everyone that might be interested in this excellent book aware that there is considerable overlap between it and The PKD Reader:

-= The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick Volume 3 (Second Variety) =-
1. Fair Game
2. The Hanging Stranger
3. The Eyes have it
4. The Golden Man
5. The Turning Wheel
6. The Last of the Masters
7. The Father-Thing
8. Strange Eden
9. Tony and the Beetles
10. Null-O
11. To Serve the Master
12. Exhibit Piece
13. The Crawlers
14. Sales Pitch
15. Shell Game
16. Upon the Dull Earth
17. Foster, you're dead
18. Pay for the Printer
19. War Veteran
20. The Chromium Fence
21. Misadjustment
22. Psi-Man Heal My Child!
23. Second Variety

-= The Philip K. Dick Reader =-
1. Fair Game
2. The Hanging Stranger
3. The Eyes have it
4. The Golden Man
5. The Turning Wheel
6. The Last of the Masters
7. The Father-Thing
8. Strange Eden
9. Tony and the Beetles
10. Null-O
11. To Serve the Master
12. Exhibit Piece
13. The Crawlers
14. Sales Pitch
15. Shell Game
16. Upon the Dull Earth
17. Foster, you're dead
18. Pay for the Printer
19. War Veteran
20. The Chromium Fence
21. We can remember it for you wholesale
22. The Minority Report
23. Paycheck
24. Second Variety

So if you already have The PKD Reader you might not want to purchase this book (and vice-versa).
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Format: Paperback
There would be little point in giving a synopsis of each of the 24 stories in this book. That would give a false sense of repetition since many feature images of ash and overturned bathtubs -- the aftermath of nuclear war -- or struggles between mutants and normal humans, each fearing their extinction. But they don't seem any more repetitious than a skilled musician working variations on a theme for that is what many are. These stories, written in 1953 and 1954 -- with one exception, are arranged chronologically, so the student of Dick can see him play with an idea for two or three stories in a row.

Along the way we get the humor, intricate plotting, and sudden reversals in our moral sympathies characteristic of Dick. And there are the machines that so often are a force of death in Dick though they behave more and more like life. Such is the case with the title story, one of Dick's most paranoid and basis for the movie Screamers. When sophisticated weapons take on human guise and began to stalk man, what Dick calls his grand theme, knowing who is human and who only pretends to be, is starkly exhibited.

Other famous stories are "The Golden Man" with its purging of mutants before they infect the human gene pool, "The Father-Thing" which is what a boy realizes has replaced his real father, and "Sales Pitch", a story which anticipates, with its all purpose android advertising its virtues through rather thuggish means, the work of Ron Goulart.

There are some memorable stories not so well known. "Foster, You're Dead" was originally conceived as a protest against a remark by President Eisenhower that citizens should be responsible for their own bomb shelters.
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Comment 17 of 18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
This book, third in a set of five from Citadel Press (who are doing similar definitive collections of Robert Bloch & Theodore Sturgeon), collects all of Dick's short stories, the vast majority of them from the 50s - not coincidentally, the high-water mark of the sf pulps. All are introduced by later-era sf writers like Tom Disch, Norman Spinrad & this volume's John Brunner; unfortunately, all take pains to point out that the true value of these stories was in their raw wealth of ideas, which Dick later cannibalized and expanded upon in his novels. During his short-story tyro period, Dick wrote fast and furious (how does a story a week sound?) and the conventional wisdom states that these tales are too one-dimensional, formulaic and crudely-written to have much artistic quality on their own merits. I strongly disagree. While Dick's later novels are of course worth reading, these early stories literally SEETHE with fevered imagination: it's important to note that he does not employ recurring characters or settings here. He literally starts each story with a blank canvas, which only makes his prolific output that much more astounding. All of his obsessions and central themes are already present, but emerging as they did against the backdrop of the American 50s, the oft-noted 'flaws' in these small gems lend an eerily authentic surrealism and subversive power that his 60s and 70s work (when the world he lived in was already waist-deep in 'science fiction time', to use a Spinrad phrase) somewhat lack. Actually, Dick's COLLECTED STORIES, like much of the most resonant 50s sf, can be savored as much for their horror-story frissons, or their mythic and allegorical properties, as they can as pure speculative fiction.Read more ›
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Second Variety and Other Classic Stories
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