Credits    Navigation     Novels    Short Stories     References

TLBB1.gif (5840 bytes)
aaPinkBeam.GIF (249 bytes) aaPinkBeam.GIF (249 bytes) aaPinkBeam.GIF (249 bytes) aaPinkBeam.GIF (249 bytes)


Writing Date

Pub. Date





<Aug 1964

Aug 1964

Oh, To Be A Blobel!

The War With The Fnools

MS title: "From Ordinary Household Objects"
9900 wds



   "The Little Black Box" arrived at the SMLA on the same day as "Oh, To Be A Blobel!", May 6, 1963. It was first published in Worlds Of Tomorrow in Aug 1964, shortly after "Cantata 140."

    Sutin says that the story was originally included in THE GANYMEDE TAKEOVER but was excised from the final version of that novel. The name and character of Joan Hiashi appear in the story and the novel.{DI 309}

    By 1968 PKD had expanded and incorporated the religion of ‘Mercerism’ as found in "The Little Black Box" into his novel DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? In 1980 the story was chosen for PKD’s collection THE GOLDEN MAN.

    PKD had this to say of "The Little Black Box":

    I made use of this story when I wrote my novel DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? Actually, the idea is better put forth in the story. Here, a religion is regarded as a menace to all political systems; therefore it, too, is a kind of political system, perhaps even an ultimate one. The concept of caritas (or agape) shows up in my writing as the key to the authentic human. The android, which is the unauthentic human, the mere reflex machine, is unable to experience empathy. In this story it is never clear whether Mercer is an invader from some other world. But he must be; in a sense all religious leaders are... but not from another planet as such.{Levack 106}

    In his Afterword to THE GOLDEN MAN collection, Dick refers again to "The Little Black Box":

    … I would ask you to read "The Little Black Box" last of all the stories, because it is closer to being my credo than any of the other stories here. As with "Precious Artifact" I asked that it be included. It is a story about trust. Caritas in the final analysis is emotional trust. I trust, then, that you will not misread me and see dislike and anger only; please reach out to me at the core below that, the core of love.{TGM Afterword}

    Here, from the Starmont Reader’s Guide is a brief description of the story:

    "The Little Black Box" looks at spiritual superiority. When the time has come for a superior idea to sweep through human brains, can it be destroyed at the source? Even if eradicated, that source lives on stronger in martyrdom than in life. All differences, physical, mental or spiritual, feed the flame of fear in the limited mind. It is that very limitation, not the difference, which destroys.{SRG 52}

    "The Little Black Box" is like several others of PKD’s short stories; the action is just developing into a nicely built-up plot when he curtails everything and brings it to an abrupt end. Still, this one deserves


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

1968   DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? {expanded into novel}       
1980 THE GOLDEN MAN, Berkley, pb, 04288, 1980, ?, $2.25 (?) {Ed. Hurst}  



Collector’s Notes

Rudy’s Books: "The Little Black Box" in Worlds Of Tomorrow, Aug 1964 (1st). VG. $7.50

Acorn Books: "The Little Black Box" in THE COLLECTED STORIES OF PHILIP K. DICK, Underwood/Miller, hb, 1987 (1st) . FINE. Five volumes. Limited to 500 copies. Earth-tone cloth in black slipcase, with synopsis Vol. 3 spine lightly sunned; otherwise, fine condition with like case. $400

Credits    Navigation     Novels    Short Stories     References