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9

Feb- Apr 1952

Jan 1954

Expendable

The Preserving Machine

MS title: "Left Shoe, My Foot."

FIRST PUBLICATION

HISTORY:   

    The records at F & SF show that "Brown Oxford" was accepted there on May 7, 1952 and "The Preserving Machine" a week later on May 15, 1952. Dick wrote to the editors at F & SF in February and discussed the two stories:

Dear Sirs,                                                                         

    Please pardon me all to hell, but I am sending you this story while you still have the previous one. The reason: both stories are related, and I feel sure you will want to see them together.
    Now, "The Preserving Machine" is long, contemplative, and philosophical. "Left Shoe, My Foot"  is short, descriptive, and hard. In the back of my mind is the idea that they form a kind of series with maybe more to follow. Their theme is the same, the characters are the same, etc. But you may feel that one or both should be given up; maybe the idea of the series.*
    Of the two, I like "Left Foot" better. That it may survive and "Machine" fail wouldn't surprise me. {...}

    "Left Shoe, My Foot" is, of course, "The Short, Happy Life Of The Brown Oxford."

    PKD worked on both stories over the months February to April, 1952:

   I understand about the Labyrinth stories. I've already reworked them, cut the "Machine" from 23 pages to 10; the other from 29 to 15, made strong the end, made smooth the style, but I'm content to bask and sun myself and hold them up indefinitely. But they are ready, if you suddenly run out of short stories. I won't send them off anywhere else.

    But by the middle of April he was still not done with "Left Shoe, My Foot," writing to Boucher again, sounding a little discouraged and trying to talk him into acceptance:

   Well, here is the other one, "Left Shoe, My Foot." It has really been worked over, from start to finish. I sat up with it all over the weekend.
    I have used your suggestions regarding the ending. Also I have reorganized it so that the dead part in the center is gone.
    Also I have made the tone of it conform more with the other, "Preserving Machine." Doc Labyrinth figures much more in it, etc.
    I hope you like it, and it will do, but if it will not do, then I'm happy to rework it again.
    Thank you very much for the help, especially the suggestions. I consider them apt, valid, useful, and the very kind of thing that is good to hear
.

    Having suitably squeezed their young writer enough, Boucher and McComas accepted both stories, this acceptance acknowledged by Dick in a letter dated May 7, 1952:

    I received word about PM & LSMF and I rejoice mightily.

    {...}

    Well, thank you all very much for your kindness and patience with PM & LSMF. I'm glad they finally went. {...}

    "The Short, Happy Life of The Brown Oxford" was published in F & SF in the Jan 1954 issue. The story was collected in I HOPE I SHALL ARRIVE SOON (1985) and later formed the title of the first volume of THE COLLECTED STORIES OF PHIIP K. DICK (1987).

Another fantasy in which Doc Labyrinth, using the ‘principle of sufficient irritation’, animates a shoe, only to see it run off into the bushes with a lady’s slipper. It rates


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

1954 Jun   F & SF, Vol.3 # 1 (9) (UK)        
1985 ihisas3a.jpg (10499 bytes) I HOPE I SHALL ARRIVE SOON, ?, hb, ?, 1985, ?, ? (?)  
1987 THE COLLECTED STORIES OF PKD, Vol. 1. The Short, Happy Life Of The Brown Oxford, Citadel Twilight, 1987.  
       
       

NOTES:

PKDS-8 9

"The Short, Happy Life Of The Brown Oxford" (title via Hemingway) features the same Doc Labyrinth who's in "The Preserving Machine".

{NOTE: The following edited correspondence refers also to THE PRESERVING MACHINE, which PKD wrote and submitted to F & SF simultaneously with BROWN OXFORD. See THE PRESERVING MACHINE page for more -- Lord RC}

SL-38 20

Dear Sirs,                                                                            

    Please pardon me all to hell, but I am sending you this story while you still have the previous one. The reason: both stories are related, and I feel sure you will want to see them together.
    Now, "The Preserving Machine" is long, contemplative, and philosophical. "Left Shoe, My Foot"  is short, descriptive, and hard. In the back of my mind is the idea that they form a kind of series with maybe more to follow. Their theme is the same, the characters are the same, etc. But you may feel that one or both should be given up; maybe the idea of the series.*
    Of the two, I like "Left Foot" better. That it may survive and "Machine" fail wouldn't surprise me. {...} {PKD>the editors of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Feb 11, 1952}

SL-38 21

Dear Mr. Boucher,                                                                

    {...}

    I understand about the Labyrinth stories. I've already reworked them, cut the "Machine" from 23 pages to 10; the other from 29 to 15, made strong the end, made smooth the style, but I'm content to bask and sun myself and hold them up indefinitely. But they are ready, if you suddenly run out of short stories. I won't send them off anywhere else.{...} {PKD>Anthony Boucher, Mar 5, 1952}

 SL-38 22

Dear Sirs,                                                                          

{...}

    "Left Shoe" -- shorter, better ending. Or you could have this alone, if you wanted.

{...}

Yours very truly

Philip K. Dick  {PKD> the editors of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Mar 19, 1952}

 SL-38 23

Dear Mr. Boucher,                                                    

    Well, here is the other one, "Left Shoe, My Foot." It has really been worked over, from start to finish. I sat up with it all over the weekend.
    I have used your suggestions regarding the ending. Also I have reorganized it so that the dead part in the center is gone.
    Also I have made the tone of it conform more with the other, "Preserving Machine." Doc Labyrinth figures much more in it, etc.
    I hope you like it, and it will do, but if it will not do, then I'm happy to rework it again.
    Thank you very much for the help, especially the suggestions. I consider them apt, valid, useful, and the very kind of thing that is good to hear.

    Very truly yours

    Philip K. Dick  {PKD> Tony Boucher, Apr 13, 1952}

SL-38 23

Dear Editors,                                                               

    I received word about PM & LSMF and I rejoice mightily.

{...}

    Well, thank you all very much for your kindness and patience with PM & LSMF. I'm glad they finally went. {...}

    Very truly yours

Phil Dick. {PKD> the editors of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May 7, 1952}

 SL-38 29

Dear Mr. Boucher,                                                        

{...}

One more item. I have received a check from your NY office for foreign rights to "Left Shoe, My Foot." I am pleased-surprised-thankful. But I am puzzled by the new title "Expendable." What does it mean? How does it fit the story? Who put it on? And -- is there any way I can get hold of the foreign edition it appears in? I've never had this experience, and would like to see how I look in non-American format (Herr Philip K. Dick, etc.) If you know where or how I can get the foreign edition copy, I'd appreciate it.

Very truly yours

Philip K. Dick  {PKD> Tony Boucher, May 18, 1953}


Collector’s Notes

Rudy’s Books: "The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford" F & SF, Jan 1954. VG. $6


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