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Paycheck and Other Classic Stories
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Paycheck and Other Classic Stories

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  1,435 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews

Electronic mechanic Jennings wakes up with no memory of the past two years of his life -- except that he had agreed to work for Retherick Construction.Payment for his services, now completed, is a bag of seemingly worthless objects: a code key, a ticket stub, a receipt, a length of wire, half a poker chip, a piece of green cloth and a bus token.But when he is confronted by

Paperback, 432 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by Citadel (first published 1952)
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Tim Hicks
Mar 11, 2012 Tim Hicks rated it liked it
A lot of reviewers here seem to have missed that these stories are mostly from Dick's earliest work, and that they were written 55-60 years ago. They're not his best work, and are perhaps most useful in examining how he got started. Some of the stories are predictable, some aren't. Some have wonderfully clever ideas, some don't.

Mozart wrote at least 48 symphonies; at most 5 are anything like famous.
Michael Jordan missed more than 9000 shots in his career, and yet people watched him anyway.

A g
Bob Rust
Feb 09, 2017 Bob Rust rated it it was amazing
Stability • (1987) • short story by Philip K. Dick
Preface (Beyond Lies the Wub) • (1987) • essay by Philip K. Dick
Foreword (Beyond Lies the Wub) • (1987) • essay by Steven Owen Godersky
Roog • (1953) • short story by Philip K. Dick
Introduction (Beyond Lies the Wub) • [Introductions to the Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick • 1] • (1987) • essay by Roger Zelazny
The Little Movement • (1952) • short story by Philip K. Dick
Beyond Lies the Wub • (1952) • short story by Philip K. Dick
The Gun • (1952)
Aug 22, 2007 Jacob rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Philip K. Dick once explained that he felt novels must be driven by the characters, whereas short stories are driven by an idea or a concept (something like that, i'm paraphrasing). In my estimation, Dick's great strength is not his dialogue and character development. Instead, it's his ability to take an aspect of culture or society, and turn it on it's ear. Nothing showcases this ability like his short stories. For anyone who's on the fence regarding Dick's work, I recommend picking this one up ...more
Bob Walder
May 18, 2009 Bob Walder rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Beware those of you who have seen the film and are looking for "the book of the film". This is yet another collection of Dick's short stories, Paycheck making up only the first 20-30 pages.

It's a good short story, and I am always amazed by how many of his were taken up by Hollywood and expanded into feature films - the guy did have some good ideas though!
Dec 07, 2010 Christopher rated it it was amazing
This collection of short stories from PKD shows the beginning explorations of themes that would later form the core of his work - themes of identity, time travel, and the humanity/inhumanity of objects and robots. It is a fantastic look into a strange mind.
Jul 09, 2009 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Too funny! Didn't realize this was a collection of short stories and was wondering how the different parts would eventually come together. Figured out the truth on chapter 5 - duh!
Feb 01, 2016 Mike rated it liked it
Like many of his contemporaries, Philip K. Dick started out serving a kind of informal apprenticeship writing short stories for the various pulp science fiction magazines of the 1950's. The first of these early stories are collected here, in the order they were written (rather than by publishing date). If you've read short science fiction stories from this period, you'll recognize many of the plot elements Dick uses here. There are intrepid spacemen landing on strange worlds, nuclear wars, all-k ...more
Dec 20, 2016 Amanda rated it liked it
I haven't had the pleasure of being a PKD fan for long, but I can say, without a doubt, that he is one of my favorite authors. Before Paycheck, I've only been familiar with Dick's novels, so I therefore had not read any of his short stories. How astounded was I then when confronted with Paycheck and Other Classic Stories at a used bookstore while on holiday in Savannah, Georgia? Ecstatic would be a more appropriate word, I think. Needless to say, I was more than excited to read through several o ...more
Mark Adams
Feb 10, 2011 Mark Adams rated it it was amazing
Dick is an amazing science fiction writer. His full novels are fine, but take some getting into. I think he is at his best when he writes short stories. I love this volume in particular. You can almost never guess exactly where he's going with the ending. There are some really unconventional plot structures, which I find refreshing.
Aug 24, 2011 Mary rated it really liked it
I really like Phillip Dick, he's definately (IMHO) one of the best sci-fi writers ever. Of course, this book is a collection of short stories so invariably you will have some that you like better than others. My favorite stories were "Paycheck," "The Variable Man," "The Skull," and "The Infinities." "The Indefatigable Frog" was very clever, but "Out in the Garden" just gave me the creeps.
Jan 24, 2015 Terri rated it liked it
Recommended to Terri by: Andrea
It took me awhile to finish this book because of the nature of the book. I didn't get drawn into the entire book. Instead, I got drawn into individual stories, but then easily put the book down when the story was over.

Overall I liked the stories. They feel like I'm reading episodes of The Twilight Zone. Most have an interesting premise, but aren't fully fleshed out probably due to the nature of the short story. They use old technology as the basis of the stories and so they do have a dated feel
Feb 28, 2017 Nutmeg rated it it was amazing
Very well written, Dick is a great author of realistic sci-fi. I use the library app to listen to his audio books, the short stories are not too long and always stay with me.
Nicholas Armstrong
Jul 07, 2010 Nicholas Armstrong rated it did not like it
Here's the thing about this book, it's bad. There is a part of me that wants very badly to say, "Well, it wasn't that the writing was bad" but that's a lie. The writing was awful, so were the stories.

Here's something I wouldn't expect of a published work: missing scenes. A captain and a crew walk into a room. They confront two people in the room. This line follows. 'He lowered the gun.' Upon further inspection I discovered that was the first mention of a gun, its being lowered. How, I must ask,
Nov 30, 2012 Mel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of Philip K Dick stories that was obviously put out to promote the movie adaptation with Ben Affleck (which I've not seen). For instance no where on the cover does it mention that Paycheck is actually just one of 12 short stories in this book. But for the most part it is a really great collection of stories. They are very cold war/nuclear holocaust focused and as a child of the 80s I loved that! It's kinda like a bunch of Fallout stories. The most disturbing was the family w ...more
Mar 06, 2013 Busky3 rated it it was ok
I just had my entire review which was three extremely well written paragraphs completely erased because I clicked off of the pop up. Thanks GoodReads. Sum up: most of the stories are great except the last one which is an anti-abortion dystopian world where kids get hauled off and killed up to when they learn higher math (age 10). It was written by a guy who should've been communicating the downright misogynistic thoughts he felt in the wake of his wife's choice to have an abortion to a therapist ...more
Apr 23, 2010 Jess rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
I loved the eponymous story and most of the rest of the stories in this collection. The imagination, humor, and whimsy are completely addicting - I'm not even a short story person, or even really a sci-fi person!

And then I got to the last story in the collection, "The Pre-Persons," which made me so angry at him I'm not sure I can ever pick up another one of his books. It was not just anti-abortion, it was kind of actively anti-woman. As I flipped through the rest of his stories a second time, I
Mike Kazmierczak
Jul 24, 2013 Mike Kazmierczak rated it it was ok
I know that this is going to be sacrilegious but I did not enjoy this collection very much. Most of the stories were not interesting or easily predictable. It was very easy to know what was going to happen. Plus the stories were also very heavy-handed in their themes: anti-war, anti-government and anti-corporation. When it comes down to it, the theme is not as important to me as the story that is being told. I'm fine with anti-war stories so long as I am interested in the story unfolding. In thi ...more
Shawn Koch
Mar 11, 2015 Shawn Koch rated it it was amazing
Many will tell you how they do not like his short stories, or that there is some inherent flaw in his work. But I tell you that if there is, it is an inherent flaw called the 1950s. It was in the Outer Limits and Twilight Zone both. It was a product of how things were done in that decade. In this, each story often comes to some moral conclusion. Many of them karmically circular as a fable or a parable. People get what they deserve, and endings are often the product of foolishly bad choices. The ...more
Shane Harcombe
Sep 21, 2015 Shane Harcombe rated it really liked it
An extremely interesting book, with some excellent short stories. As always with short stories, they can be hit and miss, but I found a lot more that interested me and only a few that made me go "huh?". Some of my favorites were Beyond lies the wub, Mr spaceship and the indefatigable frog. King of the elves didn't seem to fit and Out in the garden and the nanny were just plain weird. I guess the main drawback for me was the repetitiveness of some of the themes, particularly the anti-government w ...more
Aug 13, 2009 Travis rated it it was amazing
This is about as fine a collection of sci-fi (and in a couple of cases, fantasy) short stories as you're likely to find. Like any book of shorts, there's a dud here and there, but even these simply seem to be ideas that he was trying out to see where they go, which is part of the fun of reading short stories. It still amazes me that he was coming up with some of these ideas decades ago, ideas that are still prominent in current sci-fi.

The title story is good, but certainly not the best. The sta
Heath Lowrance
Jul 01, 2013 Heath Lowrance rated it really liked it
I read Dick's "Confessions of a Bullshit Artist" a few years ago, but aside from that I'm pretty un-versed in his work. This collection served nicely as a more fully realized intro to his stories. I enjoyed most of them quite a bit. Many of them are satirical in nature, prodding at SF conventions, Cold War hysteria, and most especially militarized societies-- Dick obviously had it in for cultures that willingly give themselves over to military control, which makes me wonder how he would have vie ...more
Mar 20, 2016 Leslynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some of the stories in this book were quite average, but most of them are incredible, filled with great thoughts and written in a clever, amusing manner. I rate this highly for some ideas and tales which brought many smiles to my face with the irony portrayed in human behaviour (which Philip K Dick often captures perfectly) and observations of development and sci fi ideas which are poignant and thought provoking.

An easy to read and relaxed writing style seems consistent through the stories, whic
Mar 20, 2016 Mia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some of the stories in this book were quite average, but most of them are incredible, filled with great thoughts and written in a clever, amusing manner. I rate this highly for some ideas and tales which brought many smiles to my face with the irony portrayed in human behaviour (which Philip K Dick often captures perfectly) and observations of development and sci fi ideas which are poignant and thought provoking.

An easy to read and relaxed writing style seems consistent through the stories, whic
Feb 09, 2016 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some of the stories in this book were quite average, but most of them are incredible, filled with great thoughts and written in a clever, amusing manner. I rate this highly for some ideas and tales which brought many smiles to my face with the irony portrayed in human behaviour (which Philip K Dick often captures perfectly) and observations of development and sci fi ideas which are poignant and thought provoking.

An easy to read and relaxed writing style seems consistent through the stories, whic
Jan 29, 2014 Eric rated it really liked it
One of the better selections of Philip K Dick short stories, the title short story is the basis for the Ben Affleck movie. Autofac and The Days of Perky Pay, are familiar stories having appeared in other collections. Dick whiles some stories seem like scripts from the ‘Twilight Zone’ for example, ‘The Father-Thing’ is a poor man’s ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ Dick does make some powerful statements in other stories, for example politics in ‘The Chromium Fence’ and on the topic of abortion in ...more
Drew Pearce
Jul 23, 2013 Drew Pearce rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Hardcore Fans
Shelves: sci-fi
These were very up and down some of the short stories were really good and provided a short exploration of some ideas or possible future (usually a large scale war). Others however were too short to really develop the characters or the ideas leaving me a bit unfulfilled looking for the rest of the story! Ultimately, I think Philip K Dick's style is more flattered by novels rather than short stories.
I'd started this collection of Philip K. Dick stories a number of times before but always aborted because the quality nosedives so quickly. But this go-round, I began at the back and read in reverse -- a good strategy since the final tale ("The Pre-Persons") is the best and the next/preceding few are quite good (especially the gestational "The Days of Perky Pat" and "Autofac"). The middle stories in "Paycheck" are the sucky ones no matter which direction you approach them from.
May 19, 2009 Andrea rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: science fiction fans
Recommended to Andrea by: Rachel
Fun, classic sf short stories. It's amazing how much they reveal the culture of the day (there's one about a Nanny robot who takes care of kids, and the mom still stays home all day). There's a lot of great ideas here, and some interesting reccurring themes, like insect world dominance, perilous creatures that seem harmless, the perils of time travel, etc.
Sep 17, 2011 Joem rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this more. I really did like some of the stories, but too many of them felt like they were just mediocre sci-fi leading up to an obvious twist at the end. Some of the twists weren't so obvious, but then those stories were disappointing too. In the end, it was OK, but I wish my first PKD that I read was something better.
Jan 29, 2016 Andy rated it really liked it
After watching A Scanner Darkly and Man in the High Castle, I finally got around to actually reading some of Dick's work. Really enjoyed this collection of short stories. My favorites were"The Skull", "The Gun", "Expendable", "The Defenders", "The Builder" and "Nanny". It's very easy to see why many of Dick's writings have been adapted into TV/movies.
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Apocalypse Whenever: AUGUST discussion: PAYCHECK 17 95 Aug 26, 2011 08:45AM  
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Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and lived most of his life in California. In 1952, he began writing professionally and proceeded to write numerous novels and short-story collections. He won the Hugo Award for the best novel in 1962 for The Man in the High Castle and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year in 1974 for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. Philip K. Di ...more
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“I think Dr. Willis McNelly at the California State University at Fullerton put it best when he said that the true protagonist of an sf story or novel is an idea and not a person. If it is *good* sf the idea is new, it is stimulating, and, probably most important of all, it sets off a chain-reaction of ramification-ideas in the mind of the reader; it so-to-speak unlocks the reader’s mind so that the mind, like the author’s, begins to create. Thus sf is creative and it
inspires creativity, which mainstream fiction by-and-large does not do. We who read sf (I am speaking as a reader now, not a writer) read it because we love to experience this chain-reaction of ideas being set off in our minds by something we read, something with a new idea in it; hence the very best since fiction ultimately winds up being a collaboration between author and reader, in which both create and enjoy doing it: joy is the essential and final ingredient of science fiction, the joy of discovery of newness.”
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