Credits    Navigation      philipdick.com     Novels    Short Stories     References

tvm1.gif (7381 bytes) 
aaPinkBeam.GIF (249 bytes) aaPinkBeam.GIF (249 bytes) aaPinkBeam.GIF (249 bytes) aaPinkBeam.GIF (249 bytes) aaPinkBeam.GIF (249 bytes)

Number

Writing Date

Pub. Date

Previous

Next

Notes

16

1952

Jul 1953

The Indefatigable Frog

The Crystal Crypt

2600 wds

FIRST PUBLICATION

    Another first for PKD was the printing of his story "The Variable Man" in the British magazine Space Science Fiction in Sep 1953. How it ended up there I do not know, although PKD sent the story off without the benefit of a literary agent.

     This is a long story about a man dredged from the past into the future of an interstellar war. Government computers predict the odds of Terra’s winning the war at any particular moment. About to go on the offensive, Terra is stymied when this variable man is factored into the calculations.

    The story lent its name to an early PKD collection: THE VARIABLE MAN And Other Stories, Ace Books, 1957. It also figures in his 1963 short story, "Waterspider," wherein PKD refers to himself and several of his contemporary science fiction writers as well as some other short stories. "The Variable Man" is mentioned:

    "I got going the article in Space Science Fiction," Nils said thoughtfully, "called The Variable Man. It tells about faster-than-light transmission. You disappear and then reappear. Some guy named Cole is going to perfect it, according to the old-time precog who wrote it." He brooded about that. "If we could build a faster-than-light ship we could return to Earth. We could take over."

    "The Variable Man" rates

    See also THE VARIABLE MAN (Col.) in the Novels section.


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

1957 pkd61.jpg (20643 bytes) THE VARIABLE MAN And other Stories, Ace, pb D-261, 1957, 255pp, $0.35 (Emsh)
1969 xvariable41.jpg (9507 bytes) THE VARIABLE MAN , Sphere, pb, 2958-0, Aug 1969, 220pp, 6/- (?)
1976 xvariable21.jpg (17189 bytes) THE VARIABLE MAN, Ace, pb, ?, 1976, ?, ? (?)
1977 xvariable31.jpg (16110 bytes) THE VARIABLE MAN, Sphere, pb, 2962-9, Sep 1977, ? 75p, (?)
1978   THE VARIABLE MAN, Sphere, pb, 2962-9, Jul 1978, ?, 65p (?)
     

NOTES:

Waterspider

In his 1963 short story "Waterspider" PKD refers to himself and several of his contemporary science fiction writers as well as some stories. "The Variable Man" is mentioned:

"I got going the article in Space Science Fiction," Nils said thoughtfully, "called The Variable Man. It tells about faster-than-light transmission. You disappear and then reappear. Some guy named Cole is going to perfect it, according to the old-time pre-cog who wrote it." He brooded about that. "If we could build a faster-than-light ship we could return to Earth. We could take over."

SRG 43

"Design and discard." This mindless solution for selfmade problems also defines the larger military situation in "The Variable Man" where the statistical probability of winning an arms race foments more activity than the actual building or use of weapons. A twentieth-century "fixit man", accidentally scooped up by a time dredge, operates as a deus ex machina to break the fruitless treadmill of competition.

TTHC 274: The political element is an important element in many of Dick's stories; it will be recalled that he mentioned it to Janet Robards in 1949. Time and again his stories carry anti-authoritarian, anti-militarist messages. In "The Variable Man," for instance, a handyman from the past not only perfects a future society's faster-than-light travel apparatus, but after nearly being killed by a militarist faction of the world government sets out to design a one man, one vote apparatus that will decentralize government forever.


Collector’s Notes

Rudy's Books: THE VARIABLE MAN And other Stories, Ace, pb D-261, 1957, 255pp, $0.35 (Emsh) G-VG $20


Credits    Navigation      philipdick.com     Novels    Short Stories     References