Credits    Navigation      philipdick.com     Novels    Short Stories     References

TheDaysOf PP1.gif (8816 bytes)
aaPinkBeam.GIF (249 bytes) aaPinkBeam.GIF (249 bytes) aaPinkBeam.GIF (249 bytes)

Number

Writing Date

Pub. Date

Previous

Next

Notes

95

<Apr 18, 1963

Dec 1963

Stand-By

What’ll We Do With Ragland Park?

MS title: "In The Days Of Perky Pat"
7000 wds

FIRST PUBLICATION

HISTORY:

   The ms for "In The Days Of Perky Pat" arrived at the SMLA on Apr 18, 1963, the same day as that for   "Stand-By". With the title changed slightly, "The Days Of Perky Pat" was published in Amazing in the Dec 1963 issue. The back cover of the magazine has a drawing and short quote from the story.

    "The Days Of Perky Pat" was selected for THE BEST OF PHILIP K. DICK in 1977 and for the 60th anniversary issue of Amazing Stories in 1985.

    Of the story, PKD had this to say:

    It was the Barbie-Doll craze which induced this story, needless to say. Barbie always seemed unnecessarily real to me. Years later I had a girl friend whose ambition was to be a Barbie-doll. I hope she made it.

    Later on he had much more to say:

    "The Days Of Perky Pat" came to me in one lightning-swift flash when I saw my children playing with Barbie dolls. Obviously these anatomically super-developed dolls were not intended for the use of children, or, more accurately, should not have been. Barbie and Ken consisted of two adults in miniature. The idea was that the purchase of countless new clothes for these dolls was necessary if Barbie and Ken were to live in the style to which they were accustomed. I had visions of Barbie coming into my bedroom at night and saying, "I need a mink coat." Or, even worse, "Hey, big fellow... want to take a drive to Vegas in my Jaguar XKE?" I was afraid my wife would find me and Barbie together and my wife would shoot me.

    The sale of "The Days Of Perky Pat" to Amazing was a good one because in those days Cele Goldsmith edited Amazing and she was one of the best editors in the field. Avram Davidson of Fantasy & Science Fiction had turned it down, but later he told me that had he known about Barbie dolls he probably would have bought it. I could not imagine anyone not knowing about Barbie. I had to deal with her and her expensive purchases constantly. It was as bad as keeping my TV set working; the TV set always needed something and so did Barbie. I always felt that Ken should buy his own clothes.

    In those days -- the early Sixties -- I wrote a great deal, and some of my best stories and novels emanated from that period. My wife wouldn't let me work in the house, so I rented a little shack for $15 a month and walked over to it each morning. This was out in the country.. All I saw on my walk to my shack were a few cows in their pastures and my own flock of sheep who never did anything but trudge along after the bell-sheep. I was terribly lonely, shut up by myself in my shack all day. Maybe I missed Barbie, who was back at the big house with the children. So perhaps "The Days Of Perky Pat" is a wishful fantasy on my part; I would have loved to see Barbie -- or Perky Pat or Connie Companion -- show up at the door of my shack.

    What did show up was something awful: my vision of the face of Palmer Eldritch which became the basis of the novel THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH. which the Perky Pat story generated."

    {…} I found in the story "The Days Of Perky Pat" a vehicle that I could translate into a thematic basis for the novel I wanted to write. Now, you see, Perky Pat is the eternally beckoning fair one, das ewige Weiblichkeit -- "the eternally feminine," as Goethe put it. Isolation generated the novel and yearning generated the story; so the novel is a mixture of the fear of being abandoned and the fantasy of the beautiful woman who waits for you -- somewhere, but God only knows where; I have still to figure it out. But if you are sitting alone day after day at your typewriter, turning out one story after another and having no one to talk to, no one to be with, and yet pro forma having a wife and four daughters from whose house you have been expelled, banished to a little single-walled shack that is so cold in winter that, literally the ink would freeze in my typewriter ribbon, well, you are going to write about iron slot-eyed faces and warm young women. And thus I did. And thus I still do.

    The story is a cruder, early version of the Perky Pat layouts used by the hovelists on Mars in THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH. Instead of the sophisticated ‘translation’ drugs used by the hovelists to inhabit Perky Pat and her boyfriend Walt in the novel, the Perky Pat layout and Pat herself are simple carved and molded figures and the game is played not on Mars but on post-apocalypse Earth by the survivors – called ‘flukers’ as by some fluke they survived the holocaust. The game is played without drugs in a fashion similar to Monopoly.

    The flukers of the Pinole fluke hear of a rival to Perky Pat called Conny Companion doll which is part of a game played down in the Oakland fluke pit. The Pinole flukers determine to find out about this new doll and lug their layout to Berkeley where they play against the Oakland flukers, the stakes being the respective dolls. The Pinole flukers win the game and bring home Conny Companion but when their fellow flukers find out that Conny is pregnant, well, the morals of this survivalist society are greatly offended and the winning players are ousted from their pit.

    Included in the story as counterpoint to the adults preoccupation with the game are the thoughts and doings of their children who, born after the war, are not concerned with trying to relive the pre-war life but to get on with living in this their only known world.

    "The Days of Perky Pat" is similar in feel to three of Dick’s earlier stories: "Souvenir", "Pay For The Printer" and "Tony And The Beetles." It rates

     See: THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH


 Other Magazine and Anthology appearances.    More Cover Pix Here: aaaPKDickBooks.jpg (3234 bytes)

1965   THE 3 STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, {expanded into novel}           
1968 TheDaysOfPerkyPat2.jpg (19887 bytes) THE MOST THRILLING SF EVER TOLD, #9, Summer  
1977 THE BEST OF PHILIP K. DICK, Ballantine, pb, 25359, 1977, ?,?(?)  
1980   SF ORIGINS, Popular Library, pb,?,Dec 1980,? (?) {Ed. Nolan, Greenberg}  
1985 amaz60a.jpg (13681 bytes) AMAZING STORIES: 60 YEARS OF THE BEST SF, TSR, pb, ?, Jul 1985, 255pp, $7.95 (?) {Ed. Asimov, Greenberg} 0-88038-216-3  
1987   THE COLLECTED STORIES OF PHILIP K. DICK  
       

NOTES:

Levack 89

       It was the Barbie-Doll craze which induced this story, needless to say. Barbie always seemed unnecessarily real to me. Years later I had a girl friend whose ambition was to be a Barbie-doll. I hope she made it.

CSVol4 377

    "The Days Of Perky Pat" came to me in one lightning-swift flash when I saw my children playing with Barbie dolls. Obviously these anatomically super-developed dolls were not intended for the use of children, or, more accurately, should not have been. Barbie and Ken consisted of two adults in miniature. The idea was that the purchase of countless new clothes for these dolls was necessary if Barbie and Ken were to live in the style to which they were accustomed. I had visions of Barbie coming into my bedroom at night and saying, "I need a mink coat." Or, even worse, "Hey, big fellow... want to take a drive to Vegas in my Jaguar XKE?" I was afraid my wife would find me and Barbie together and my wife would shoot me.

    The sale of "The Days Of Perky Pat" to Amazing was a good one because in those days Cele Goldsmith edited Amazing and she was one of the best editors in the field. Avram Davidson of Fantasy & Science Fiction had turned it down, but later he told me that had he known about Barbie dolls he probably would have bought it. I could not imagine anyone not knowing about Barbie. I had to deal with her and her expensive purchases constantly. It was as bad as keeping my TV set working; the TV set always needed something and so did Barbie. I always felt that Ken should buy his own clothes.

    In those days -- the early Sixties -- I wrote a great deal, and some of my best stories and novels emanated from that period. My wife wouldn't let me work in the house, so I rented a little shack for $15 a month and walked over to it each morning. This was out in the country.. All I saw on my walk to my shack were a few cows in their pastures and my own flock of sheep who never did anything but trudge along after the bell-sheep. I was terribly lonely, shut up by myself in my shack all day. Maybe I missed Barbie, who was back at the big house with the children. So perhaps "The Days Of Perky Pat" is a wishful fantasy on my part; I would have loved to see Barbie -- or Perky Pat or Connie Companion -- show up at the door of my shack.

    What did show up was something awful: my vision of the face of Palmer Eldritch which became the basis of the novel THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH. which the Perky Pat story generated.

    There I went, one day, walking down the country road to my shack, looking forward to 8 hours of writing, in total isolation from all other humans, and I looked up at the sky and saw a face. I didn't really see it, but the face was there, and it was not a human face; it was a vast visage of perfect evil. I realize now (and I think I dimly realised at the time) what caused me to see it: the months of isolation, of deprivation of human contact, in fact sensory deprivation as such... anyhow the visage could not be denied. It was immense; it filled a quarter of the sky. It had empty slots for eyes -- it was metal and cruel and, worst of all, it was God.

    I drove over to my church, Saint Columbia's Episcopal Church, and talked to my priest. He came to the conclusion that I had had a glimpse of Satan and gave me unction -- not supreme unction; just healing unction. It didn't do any good; the metal face in the sky remained. I had to walk along every day as it gazed down at me.

    Years later -- after I had long since written THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH and sold it to Doubleday, my first sale to Doubleday -- I came across a picture of the face in an issue of Life magazine. It was, very simply, a World War One observation cupola on the Marne, built by the French. My father had fought in the Second Battle of the Marne; he had been with the Fifth Marines, about the first group of American soldiers to go over to Europe and fight in that ghastly war. When I was a very small child he had showed me his uniform and gasmask, the entire gas-filtration equipment, and told me how the soldiers became panic-stricken during gas attacks as the charcoal in their filtration systems became saturated, and how sometimes a soldier would freak and tear off his mask and run. As a child I felt a lot of anxiety listening to my father's war stories and looking at and playing with the gasmask and helmet; but what scared me the most was when my father would put on the gasmask. His face would disappear. This was not my father any longer. This was not a human being at all. I was only four years old. After that my mother and father got divorced and I did not see my father for years. But the sight of him wearing his gasmask, blending as it did with his accounts of men with their guts hanging from them, men destroyed by shrapnel -- decades later -- in 1963, as I walked alone day after day along that country road with no one to talk to, no one to be with, that metal, blind, inhuman visage appeared to me again, but now transcendent and vast, and absolutely evil.

    I decided to exorcise it by writing about it, and I did write about it, and it did go away. But I had seen the evil one himself, and I said then and say now, "The evil one wears a metal face." If you want to see this yourself, look at a picture of the war masks of the Attic Greeks. When men wish to inspire terror and kill they put on such metal faces. The invading Christian knights that Alexander Nevsky fought wore such masks; if you saw Eisenstein's film you know what I am talking about. They all looked alike. I had not seen Nevsky when I wrote THE THREE STIGMATA, but I saw it later and saw again the thing that had hung in the sky back in 1963, the thing into which my own father had been transformed when I was a child.

    So THE THREE STIGMATA is a novel that came out of powerful atavistic fears in me, fears dating back to my early childhood and no doubt connected with my grief and loneliness when my father left my mother and me. In the novel my father appears as both Palmer Eldritch (the evil father, the diabolic mask-father) and as Leo Bulero, the tender, gruff, warm, human, loving man. The novel which emerged came out of the most intense anguish possible; in 1963 I was reliving the original isolation I had experienced upon the loss of my father, and the horror and fear expressed in the novel are not fictional sentiments ground out to interest the reader; they come from the deepest part of me; yearning for the good father and fear of the evil father, the father who left me.

    I found in the story "The Days Of Perky Pat" a vehicle that I could translate into a thematic basis for the novel I wanted to write. Now, you see, Perky Pat is the eternally beckoning fair one, das ewige Weiblichkeit -- "the eternally feminine," as Goethe put it. Isolation generated the novel and yearning generated the story; so the novel is a mixture of the fear of being abandoned and the fantasy of the beautiful woman who waits for you -- somewhere, but God only knows where; I have still to figure it out. But if you are sitting alone day after day at your typewriter, turning out one story after another and having no one to talk to, no one to be with, and yet pro forma having a wife and four daughters from whose house you have been expelled, banished to a little single-walled shack that is so cold in winter that, literally the ink would freeze in my typewriter ribbon, well, you are going to write about iron slot-eyed faces and warm young women. And thus I did. And thus I still do.

    Reaction to THE THREE STIGMATA was mixed. In England some reviewers described it as blasphemy. Terry Carr, who was my agent at Scott Meredith at the time, told me later, "That novel is crazy," although subsequent to that he reversed his opinion. Some reviewers found it a profound novel. I only find it frightening. I was unable to proofread the galleys because the novel frightened me so. It is a dark journey into the mystical and the supernatural and the absolutely evil as I understood it at the time. Let us say, I would like Perky Pat to show up at my door, but I dread the possibility that, when I hear the knock, it will be Palmer Eldritch waiting outside and not Perky pat. Actually, to be honest, neither has shown up in the seventeen or so years since I wrote the novel. I guess that is the story of life: what you most fear never happens, but what you most yearn for never happens either. This is the difference between life and fiction. I suppose it's a good trade-off. But I'm not sure. {PKD 1979} {See THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH}


Collector’s Notes

Acorn Books: "The Days Of Perky Pat" in THE COLLECTED STORIES OF PKD, Underwood/Miller, hb, 1987 (1st). Five volume set. Earth-tone cloth in black slipcase. Includes Beyond Lies the Wub, Second Variety, The Father-thing, The Days of Perky Pat & The Little Black Box, with synopsis Vol. 3 spine lightly sunned; otherwise, fine condition with like case. Limited to 500 copies. $400

Alibris: "The Days Of Perky Pat" in Most Thrilling SF Ever Told, 1968. G. $4.95


Credits    Navigation      philipdick.com     Novels    Short Stories     References