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86

<May 2, 1958

Jul 1959

War Game

The Unreconstructed M

5900 wds

FIRST PUBLICATION

HISTORY:

   On May 2, 1958 the short story "Recall Mechanism" was received at the SMLA. The story was published in If in July 1959. This was the first story received by the Agency in three years since PKD had sent in "The Unreconstructed M" and quit writing short stories.

    But the story may have actually been written earlier, perhaps going back to 1955. There are two possibilities:

    The first relies on the evidence of the following letter which refers to "Recall Mechanism" in Sep 1955. If the dating of this letter to Bill Hamlin editor at Imagination is correct then the story dates back to mid-1955 at least:

Dear Bill:

    My agent Scott Meredith has relayed to me your request for a rewrite on my story RECALL MECHANISM.
    The story is a good one, and I am proud of it. When a rewrite improves the story I'm glad to perform it. I welcome suggestions that help a story. In this case, however, the rewrite would turn a good yarn into a cornball nothing.
    With great pride, and a sense of my responsibility to writers in general, to my own ethics, and to science-fiction readers, I refuse.
    I have informed Scott, and I assume he'll be looking for the MS back.

Cordially, Philip K. Dick

    The second possibility is that this letter has been mis-dated with a '5' substituted for an '8', thus forwarding the writing of the story to 1958.   

    It’s possible the story was written in early 1955. A peek at the calendar for that year shows a busy PKD writing EYE IN THE SKY, revising WORLD OF CHANCE, preparing the final manuscript of MARY AND THE GIANT and writing "The Unreconstructed M.". Dick himself said that in May 1955 he stopped writing short stories altogether.

    Perhaps its a minor point but, after all, there's an uncertainty gap of three years here in the writing date of "Recall Mechanism." {See: 'A Question Of Chronology'}

    The story itself has to do with a reclamation engineer in the future of a post-atomic world. He suffers from a nightmarish fear of falling. He visits a psychiatrist who discovers that the man is a weak precog and is previewing his own violent death by being thrown down a dark hole. At the end, another man exhibits a fascination with heights from which he likes to push people off…

    Not really much of a story, despite PKD’s letter to Bill Hamlin, "Recall Mechanism" gets only


Other Magazine and Anthology appearances

1987   THE COLLECTED STORIES OF PHILIP K. DICK    
       

NOTES:

SL:38 34

Dear Bill:

    My agent Scott Meredith has relayed to me your request for a rewrite on my story RECALL MECHANISM.
    The story is a good one, and I am proud of it. When a rewrite improves the story I'm glad to perform it. I welcome suggestions that help a story. In this case, however, the rewrite would turn a good yarn into a cornball nothing.
With great pride, and a sense of my responsibility to writers in general, to my own ethics, and to science-fiction readers, I refuse.
I have informed Scott, and I assume he'll be looking for the MS back.

Cordially,

Philip K. Dick

{PKD> Bill Hamling, Editor Imagination, Sep 2, 1955}


Collector’s Notes

Ken Lopez: "Recall Mechanism" in If, Jul 1959 (1st). VG. . Signed by the author. Some creasing, and slight horizontal indentations from banding. $135


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