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<Oct 1951

Feb 1953

Of Withered Apples

Beyond Lies The Wub

MS title: "Friday Morning"

FIRST PUBLICATION


HISTORY:

   At least one short story was written in 1951, "Roog." PKD wrote the story for a writer’s workshop held by Anthony Boucher in his Berkeley, California home in 1951. A series of letters from PKD to Anthony Boucher and Francis J. McComas, editors at The Magazine Of Fantasy and Science Fiction (F & SF), starting in Oct 1951 refer to "Roog."

First, in a letter to McComas, PKD thanks him for his comments and says:

    … I went over the story and cut down 19 pages to 9. I think it shines now instead of merely glowing faintly.

    And I believe I got the objections out of it, too.

    I hope it does. If not, I’m ready to get out the typewriter again.

Evidently this shortened version did do as only a week later we find PKD thanking both editors at F & SF:

    I’m glad that "Roog" pleased you. Certainly the new title is alright. That’s a lot of money for one story. I really feel a little embarrassed…

    Writing is a major event for me, and I am beginning to find ways of arranging my life around it, rather than squeezing in a few hours after work or on Sunday. Oddly, most of my writing tends to be fantasy of a religious, drifting nature, ill-suited for worldly things or large publications. All I can say to defend it is that people who read it are disturbed, and go off brooding, very puzzled and unhappy.

    "Roog", as you slyly guessed, is my first acceptance.

    "Roog" was accepted at F & SF on Nov 15, 1951. So, then, by November 1951 PKD was a professional science fiction writer, although "Roog" didn’t appear in F & SF until the Feb 1953 issue. For a living at the time Philip K. Dick was managing a record store part time but he didn’t refer to himself as a clerk; when asked what he did he always said

    "I’m a writer." This was in Berkeley, in 1951. Everybody was a writer. No one had ever sold anything. In fact most of the people I knew believed it to be crass and undignified to submit a story to a magazine; you wrote it, read it aloud to your friends, and finally it was forgotten. That was Berkeley in those days.
    Another problem for me in getting everyone to be awed was that my story was not a literary story in a little magazine, but an sf story. Sf was not read by people in Berkeley in those days (except for a small group of fans who were very strange; they looked like animated vegetables). "But what about your serious writing?" People said to me. I was under the impression that Roog was quite a serious story. It tells of fear; it tells of loyalty; it tells of obscure menace and a good creature who cannot convey knowledge of that menace to those he loves. What could be more serious a theme than this? What people really meant by "serious" was "important." Sf was, by definition, not important. I cringed over the weeks following my sale of Roog as I realised the serious Codes of Behaviour I had broken by selling my story, and an sf story at that.

    {…}

    The fact that Roog sold was due to Tony Boucher outlining to me how the original version should be changed. Without his help I'd still be in the record business. I mean that very seriously. At that time Tony ran a little writing class, working out of the living room in his home in Berkeley. He'd read our stories aloud and we'd see -- not just that they were awful -- but how they could be cured. {...} Tony Boucher is gone. But I am still a writer because of him. Whenever I sit down to start a novel or a story a bit of the memory of that man returns to me. I guess he taught me to write out of love, not out of ambition. It's a good lesson for all activities in this world.

    Dick goes on to narrate how the dog in "Roog" is based on an actual dog named ‘Snooper’ whose job was to make sure nobody stole the food from his owner’s garbage can, much like in the story itself.

    But, although Tony Boucher and Dick were enamoured of the story such was not the case with everyone:

    This notion about each creature viewing the world differently from all other creatures -- not everyone would agree with me. Tony Boucher was very anxious to have a particular major anthologer (whom we will call J.M.) read Roog to see if she might use it. Her reaction astounded me. "Garbagemen do not look like that," she wrote me, "They do not have pencil-thin necks and heads that wobble. They do not eat people." I think she listed something like twelve errors in the story all having to do with how I represented the garbagemen. I wrote back, explaining that, yes, she was right, but to a dog -- well, all right, the dog was wrong. Admittedly. The dog was a little crazy on the subject. We're not just dealing with a dog and a dog's view of garbagemen, but a crazy dog -- who has been driven crazy by these weekly raids on the garbage can. The dog has reached a point of desperation. I wanted to convey that. In fact that was the whole point of the story; the dog had run out of options and was demented by this weekly event. And the Roogs knew it. They enjoyed it. They taunted the dog. They pandered to his lunacy.
    Ms. J.M. rejected the story from her anthology, but Tony printed it, and it's still in print; in fact it's in a high-school text book, now. I spoke to a high-school class who had been assigned the story, and all of the kids understood it. Interestingly, it was a blind student who seemed to grasp the story best. He knew from the beginning what the word Roog meant. He felt the dog's despair, the dog's frustrated fury and the bitter sense of defeat over and over again. Maybe somewhere between 1951 and 1971 we all grew up to dangers and transformations of the ordinary which we had never recognized before, I don't know. But anyhow, Roog, my first sale, is biographical; I watched the dog suffer, and I understood a little (not much, maybe, but a little) of what was destroying him, and I wanted to speak for him. That's the whole of it right there. Snooper couldn't talk. I could. In fact I could write it down, and someone could publish it and many people could read it. Writing fiction has to do with this: becoming the voice for those without voices, if you see what I mean. It's not your own voice, you the author; it is all those other voices which normally go unheard.
    The dog Snooper is dead, but the dog in the story, Boris, is alive. Tony Boucher is dead, and one day I will be, and, alas, so will you. But when I was with that high-school class and we were discussing Roog, in 1971, exactly twenty years after I sold the story originally -- Snooper's barking and his anguish, his noble efforts, were still alive, which he deserved. My story is my gift to an animal, to a creature who neither sees nor hears, now, who no longer barks. But goddamn it, he was doing the right thing. Even if Ms. J.M. didn't understand.

    PKD further expounds on this argument with Judith Merrill in an interview with Dick Lupoff:

    I remember that Judith Merrill saw the story and refused to anthologize it because she said that garbage men don’t have thin necks, and wobbly heads, and so on. It’s not true. So I wrote her a long letter explaining to her that that’s the way the dog saw it and she would have to accept the dog’s viewpoint. But she still wouldn’t accept the story for anthologizing because she said it just wasn’t true. Garbage men aren’t that way.

    So I said to her, "It’s a fantasy, Judy. A fantasy. Do you understand what is meant by a fantasy?" But she said, "No, a fantasy is a story with a fantasy premise, and then it’s realistic from then on."

    So I said that in this story the fantasy premise is that the dog has a different point of view from us and that everything is predicated on that. But I couldn’t convince her. The story is still in print. Bob Silverberg reprinted it recently in one of his collections, Science Fiction Bestiary, so it’s still in print.

"Roog" rates


 Other Magazine and Anthology appearances.      Click here for Cover Pix: aaaPKDickBooks.jpg (3234 bytes)

1969 tpm3a.jpg (4125 bytes) THE PRESERVING MACHINE And Other Stories,Ace, pb, 67800, 1969, ?,? (?)         
1969 RoogFawcettx.jpg (13763 bytes) THE OTHERS, Fawcett, pb, R2044, 1969, 192pp.  $0.60 (?){Ed. Carr}  
1972   INVADERS FROM SPACE, Hawthorne, hb, ?, Mar 1972, 241pp, $6.95 (?) {Ed. Silverberg} LCC: 75-179117, ISBN:0-801-54086-0  
1975   REFLECTIONS OF THE FUTURE, Ginn & Co., pb, ?, 1975, ?,? (?) {Ed. Russell Hill}  
1977 THE BEST OF PHILIP K. DICK, Ballantine, pb, 25359, 1977, ?,?(?)  
1979 Winter Roog2.jpg (18071 bytes) UNEARTH Vol.2 #4, mag, ?,1979, ?,? (?)  
1987   THE COLLECTED STORIES OF PHILIP K. DICK  
1988 roog1.jpg (15473 bytes) DOG TALES, Ace, pb, ?, 1988, ?, ? (?) {Ed. Dann, Dozois}  
1993   INVADERS!, Ace, pb, ?, 1993, ?,? (?) {Ed. Dann, Dozois}0-441-01519-0  
       
       

NOTES:

PKDS-22/23 12

    We learn that by March 5, 1952, he'd sold five stories: "Roog," "The Little Movement" and "Expendable" to F&SF, "Beyond Lies The Wub" to Planet, and "The Skull" to If.

Levack 121

    My first sale! And to Tony Boucher at F & SF. He made me work this story over to its very bones before he accepted it. But ah, that day a letter arrived in the mail, instead of a manuscript with a rejection slip! I love this story, and I doubt if I write any better today than I did in 1951, when I wrote it; I just write longer.

SL-38 19

Dear Mr. McComas,

    Thank you for the words. I went over the story and cut down 19 pages to 9. I think it shines now instead of merely glowing faintly.
    And I believe I got the objections out of it, too.
    I hope it does. If not, I'm ready to get out the typewriter again.

    Very truly yours, PKD {PKD to Francis McComas, 10-29-51}

SL:38 19

Gentlemen,

    I'm glad that "Roog" pleased you. Certainly the new title is alright.
    That's a lot of money for one story. I really feel a little embarrassed....
    Writing is a major event for me, and I am beginning to find ways of arranging my life around it, rather than squeezing in a few hours after work or on Sunday. Oddly, most of my writing tends to be fantasy of a religious, drifting nature, ill-suited for worldly things or large publications. All I can say to defend it is that people who read it are disturbed, and go off brooding, very puzzled and unhappy.
    "Roog", as you slyly guessed, is my first acceptance. {...}

    Now, the story which is enclosed with this letter is long, about 6,700 words. Too long? I hope not. It is, I think, a strong story,  and there is a lot in it. I will try it on you, and I hope that you will not be offended by receiving it so quickly. I am very interested in your reaction.*
    Thank you very much for all your kindness and help. I appreciate it a very great deal.

    Very truly yours, PKD

{PKD> Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas, 8 Nov 1951}

*{Possibly "The Preserving Machine" -- See Also: "Expendable"}

SF EYE

LUPOFF: So, anyway. There you are in 1953 and all of a sudden you sell your first story to Tony Boucher. Do you recall which story that was?

DICK: "Roog." It’s about garbage men. It’s about a dog who can sense that the garbage men are predatory carnivores from another planet, who accept the garbage each week as a propitiatory offering in surrogate for the people themselves. But eventually these garbage men will tire of accepting these surrogate offerings and take the people in the houses and eat them. And that is how the dog sees the garbage men. The story is from the dog’s point of view and the garbage men are seen as only quasi-humanoid. They have thin necks and their heads are like pumpkins and their heads wobble.

I remember that Judith Merrill saw the story and refused to anthologize it because she said that garbage men don’t have thin necks, and wobbly heads, and so on. It’s not true. So I wrote her a long letter explaining to her that that’s the way the dog saw it and she would have to accept the dog’s viewpoint. But she still wouldn’t accept the story for anthologizing because she said it just wasn’t true. Garbage men aren’t that way.

So I said to her, "It’s a fantasy, Judy. A fantasy. Do you understand what is meant by a fantasy?" But she said, "No, a fantasy is a story with a fantasy premise, and then it’s realistic from then on."

So I said that in this story the fantasy premise is that the dog has a different point of view from us and that everything is predicated on that. But I couldn’t convince her. The story is still in print. Bob Silverberg reprinted it recently in one of his collections, Science Fiction Bestiary, so it’s still in print.

LUPOFF: She couldn’t grasp that it was make-believe, a fantasy.

DICK: Yeah. I ran into a lot of opposition because my early fantasy stories were essentially psychological stories. They were heavily into anxieties such as animals or children feel, in which the thing that was feared would actually come into existence and was treated objectively.

I just gave up writing them, finally. People would make that kind of criticism. They would say, "There’s no such thing as…" Their sentences would begin that way. So finally I just gave up and went over and wrote science fiction and abandoned the fantasy format. Because what I meant by a fantasy was evidently not what other people meant by a fantasy. My idea of a fantasy was where the archetypal elements become objectified and you have an exteriorization of what our inner contents are.

I remember I had a term I used to defend this kind of internal projection stories. Stories where internal psychological elements were projected onto the outer world and became three dimensional and real and concrete. Scott, my agent, wrote me incredibly long letters saying that there was no such thing. There was the inner world of dreams and fantasies and the unconscious and then there was the objective outer world, and the two never mixed. So I gave up.

Later, when I’d established myself more securely in the field, I began to go and do it in such books as The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. I reverted to what I wanted to do and had the nightmare inner content objectified in the outer world. So I slowly began to reintroduce those elements into my writing.

LUPOFF: Do you do any fantasy now?

DICK: No. No I don’t. It pretty much cured me of trying any fantasy.

{Science Fiction Eye, Vol. 1, No. 2, August 1987, pp. 45-54. Richard Lupoff interviewer.}

See also:


Collector’s Notes

Rudy’s Books: F & SF, Feb 1953, "Roog," VG. $6

Rudy’s Books: F & SF, Feb 1953, "Roog," VG. $7

Alibris: "Roog" in THE OTHERS, Fawcett, pb, R2044, 1969. G. Cover wear. Interior excellent. $3.95


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