FORGOTTEN BOOKS #184: Upon the Dull Earth, The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick Volume Three [1953-1954] by Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick is a maddening writer. He can write great books like Dr. Bloodmoney and Martian Time-Slip but also write stinkers like VALIS and The Divine Invasion. However uneven Dick’s novels are his short stories hold up much better. Subterranean Books just published Upon the Dull Earth, Volume 3 of their wonderful ongoing project of reprinting all of Philip K. Dick’s short stories, novelettes, and novellas. Dick published some of his best short fiction in the 1950s. In general, I find the later Dick novels and short stories unreadable (meaning I couldn’t finish reading them) even though I tried. If you’re a Philip K. Dick fan, this is a must-buy. If you’ve always wanted to read Philip K. Dick, this is the perfect place to start.

Table of Contents

Fair Game
The Hanging Stranger
The Eyes Have It
The Golden Man
The Turning Wheel
The Last of the Masters
The Father-Thing
Strange Eden
Tony and the Beetles
To Serve the Master
Exhibit Piece
The Crawlers
Sales Pitch
Shell Game
Upon the Dull Earth
Foster, You’re Dead
Pay for the Printer
War Veteran
The Chromium Fence
A World of Talent
Psi-Man Heal my Child

10 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN BOOKS #184: Upon the Dull Earth, The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick Volume Three [1953-1954] by Philip K. Dick

  1. Deb

    I’ve encountered a handful of writers (Hunter S. Thompson is one, Don DeLilo is another) who I find I have to read very fast and not really stop to analyze what I’m reading as I’m reading but just let the meaning emerge from the rhythmn of the words. Philip K. Dick is another of those writers. I’m not saying this method works for everyone, but it’s the way I can enjoy his work. If I slow down, I seem to lose the thread and can never catch it again.

    1. george Post author

      Excellent point, Deb! Philip K. Dick is one of the most uneven writers I can think of. He’ll write a masterpiece like THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE and turn around and write some schlock like THE ZAP GUN. There’s a certain narrative momentum to Dick’s writing. I agree: if you slow down, the wheel come off.

  2. Sergio (Tipping My Fedora)

    I agree about finding Dick’s later work nigh-on impenetrable. Are these collections substantially different from the collected volumes ones published in the late 90s?


    I do have all of those.

    1. george Post author

      I think you’re pretty well set on Philip K. Dick short stories, Sergio. Those collections capture most of his best work. This Subterranean set is for hard-core PDK fans and completists. Many of my friends like Paycheck and Other Classic Stories which is readily available.

  3. Jeff Meyerson

    I’ve read a couple of the volumes Sergio mentioned (MINORITY REPORT, not just the first word) and ordered a couple more from the library.

    1. george Post author

      The Subterranean collections bring together some of Philip K. Dick’s less well-known stories, Jeff. I’ll probably buy the next volume (stories from the late 1950s and early 1960s, but not the later volumes where PDK gets really weird.

  4. Richard R.

    I have three volumes of Dick stories, I think the titles are just COLLECTED SHORT STORIES OF PHILIP K DICK, Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3. I’d have to dig the books out to see if they are the ones Sergio mentions. Read the first two, but they are sort of difficult at times, and these days I seem to want fun and easy.

    1. george Post author

      Fun and easy is not PKD, Rick. Like Deb mentioned, you have to read Dick’s work quickly or Bad Things Happen. Sounds like you and Sergio have plenty of PKD. But I love these Subterranean collections!

  5. Todd Mason

    The Citadel paperback editions of the COMPLETE STORIES have terrible proofreading and are rather ugly packages, so I might welcome the Subterranean volumes (aside from the price differential)…and naming this volume for that brilliant horror story is a good move.

    Dick sometimes was writing what he wanted to and sometimes was writing to meet the rent. Even more than most writers…Michael Moorcock has a similar ping-ponging career, only he was less paranoid (speed, more speed, some acid, and more speed can do that to you).

    1. george Post author

      I have the Citadel paperback editions, Todd. You’re right about the terrible packaging and lame proofreading. These Subterranean volumes are way better!


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