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The Defenders

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  819 Ratings  ·  74 Reviews
He knew what she was thinking. Once in the very first weeks of the war, before everyone had been evacuated from the surface, they had seen a hospital train discharging the wounded, people who had been showered with sleet. He remembered the way they had looked, the expression on their faces, or as much of their faces as was left. It had not been a pleasant sight.
There had b
Kindle Edition
Published (first published January 1953)
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Jul 01, 2016 Kandice rated it really liked it
Now this is what I've been looking for! I've been reading this little pulp fiction paperbacks in a waiting room I have been frequenting. Many of them have been absolutely awful! AbAw. Is that a thing? It is now!

This, like all the rest was written decades ago. Obviously during the Cold War because the bad guys are the Russkies. There's been a nuclear holocaust and humans having taken to the depths of Earth to wait it out. Eight years have gone by in which Leadys, automatons built to withstand rad
Apr 04, 2011 George rated it really liked it
My first short story by Dick. I'm excited, like I just discovered Asimov for the first time.
Susan Voelker
Aug 02, 2012 Susan Voelker rated it really liked it
This is a short story and it's very obvious when Dick was writing because it's Russia centric. But the theme is pretty universal, thirst for blood and war. It's a cool idea which to me is all a short story has to contain, a cool idea. It's why I like writing them so much. Sci-fi short stories are perfect for summer reading I say!
Robert Zimmermann
Jan 02, 2013 Robert Zimmermann rated it it was amazing
This is the second Philip K. Dick story I've read and I have to say that it was a great read. I wasn't expecting such a difference from the post-apocalyptic/robotic future type story that this was. I'm looking forward to diving further into Dick's stories that I have loaded up on my Kindle and iPod (audiobooks).
Jul 28, 2014 Jesse rated it liked it
Shelves: geek-reads, fiction
The story is very predictable in places, but at its core, it contains a good idea. And for me, that’s all a short story really needs – a good idea.

Fans of the Fallout video game series will no doubt draw some correlations to the world that Dick has created in the Defenders, one where eight years ago a nuclear war began between the United States and the Soviet Union. Within months all American survivors evacuated to gigantic bunkers miles under ground. Sophisticated, radioactivity-immune robots
Ben Nash
Humans are living in the 'Undersurface' to survive the fallout of the nuclear war their robots are fighting with the Soviet robots.

This has the classic PKD feel to it, poor aging and all. It's still got that core, though, that draws me to lots of his stories. His signature cynicism is here, although a bit subdued. I think it grew later in his career.
Jul 29, 2015 Venky rated it liked it
Shelves: bibliocase
It is eight years since man stopped living on the surface of the earth. The under surface which humanity now populates represents a chaotic combination of thundering factories, concrete constructions and high speed Tubes. Meanwhile upon the surface of the earth, sophisticated robots called "Leadies" wage wars all over the world on behalf of mankind.

However everything upon the surface is not hunky dory. Are the Leadies actually engaged in safeguarding the interests of their masters under the surf
Aug 28, 2012 Max rated it really liked it
The Defenders is probably the crown jewel of PKD's short stories. It's entertaining, fascinating, and thought provoking. Like most of his short stories, it is a testament against war (the Cold War, specifically), but this particular novel takes it to a new level.

When the Cold War became "Hot," humanity was forced underground in order to avoid the bombings and subsequent radiation. Never one to give up a fight, however, they left a series of robots and other machines on the surface to continue th
CV Rick
Dec 29, 2013 CV Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1953 Philip K Dick had figured out the thrust of his stories - questioning reality.

Americans lived underground and only the robot Leadys could venture out into the wasteland resulting in nuclear Armageddon. Presumably surviving Russians were in the same situation, but killing the remaining Russians was the only real important thing.

Trying to find the progress of the war, Taylor witnesses the interrogation of a Leady who claims that new weapons keep the surface unsafe. He doesn't believe it
Apr 22, 2016 Raymond rated it liked it
As a commentary on power, “The Defenders” is fascinating and complex. The leadies have no real power over the humans. Due to their programming they cannot harm the humans who reach the surface. They put on a good show however and are capable of threats, but not real violence. Their power depends only on deception and the use of media. They destroy model cities and project the images of destruction down to the bunkers. If “The Defenders” is Dick’s vision of the extent of political power, he is st ...more
Erik Angle
Jan 11, 2014 Erik Angle rated it really liked it
I've noticed a theme with reading PKD's '50s era work: you can see the twist coming, but PKD brings it early, then takes the concepts further. It's a nice surprise to see the twist explored.

PKD's usual 1950s subjects and themes are on display here - war, peace, and dumb hatred - though his style is a bit more didactic than I would prefer, or is usual for him.

Though his ability to reveal details about the world and its inhabitants via dialogue and action are still tippy-top notch, and very instru
Jun 03, 2012 Wolfkin rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Philip K Dick once again showing us why he's one of the kings of Science Fiction writing. The story was tight concise and every word not used for advancement of the plot was essential in crafting the world. The desperation of the world, the slight smugness of our protagonist and even his ability to see the shift in mental attitudes all serve the tightly wound narrative and as someone who has been reading much Asimov lately Dick's robots did feel different than a Three Laws robot yet an eerily si ...more
Jun 06, 2016 Edward rated it liked it
The main idea was quite fun, but I found the finale and some of the reasoning unfulfilling and unrealistic
David Caldwell
This was a neat little short story that I found as a free download.

America and Russia have gone to war. The weapons have advanced so much that it has devastated the surface of the planet. Humans have retreated underground while robots have continued the war for the last seven years.

This story is a little dated and I did figure out where it was going by the halfway mark. I still feel it was masterfully executed in its telling. Highly recommended for any science fiction fan.
Jun 29, 2016 Joseph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
PKD is a master of making you think about the world we live in. Another short work with another massive point. In this we examine the very nature of war. PKD always had something to say in his writing. Always. This story is no different.
Jun 23, 2012 Anna rated it really liked it
very predictable in places, but overall a story i quite liked, especially considering the socio-historical and political circumstances under which this has been written. Despite the cheesy ending (PATHOS!!) I'm rating this 4* because of the thought process it's stirred in me.
Adriano Ariganello
Apr 25, 2016 Adriano Ariganello rated it really liked it
This short swung from a bleak, dystopian future to one with such hope that it's easy to forget that they're being forced into it. It's an interesting take on humanity being taken back from rock bottom after proving to be unable to do so themselves.
Mar 20, 2014 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't enjoy this at first, it seemed like a contrived, tedious parable about why war is bad, and I wished I'd selected a story more like Second Variety, but the second half of the story was better than the first. Philip K. Dick adds twist upon twist, to the extent that I might have re-read this a couple of times just to keep track of what's going on, and, in his usual way, keeps impressing the reader right to the last page.
Sep 16, 2015 Angela rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: sci fi & short story fans
Shelves: short-stories
Classical Philip K. Dick theme: US & Russia at war, Earth's inhabitants living underground while the robots above ground are handling the war effort. (view spoiler)

I love PKDs themes, writing style, and world settings. This is one of my more favorite if his
Jack Ziegler
Jun 28, 2016 Jack Ziegler rated it really liked it
This was part of the book Robots, Androids, and Mechanical Oddities.
Destiny Causby
Jan 18, 2015 Destiny Causby rated it it was amazing
I love cold war era sci fi
May 22, 2013 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
PKD seems to operate less effectively in a short story than he does when given the wide-expanse of a novel. The Defenders takes a clever idea about human nature and drops it into the expected dystopian future. In a relatively short space the idea plays out to its resolution. The reader is dropped in and brought up to speed through a careful mix of character dialogue that illustrates the state of the world and exposition that elaborates upon these character interactions, which is pretty SOP for P ...more
Mar 01, 2016 TaraBelled rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris Aldridge
Sep 19, 2015 Chris Aldridge rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Yaniv Sherman
Feb 23, 2016 Yaniv Sherman rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Maybe at the time this was written it was more original, but now it feels like a pretty standard story. The way the story is written is very dated and it doesn't bring much new ideas to the table. A short very short book so I didn't feel too bad that I read the whole thing.
Emrullah Koyunlu
Another good, but not amazing story from Philip K. Dick. In one hand, premise and story flow is not that bad, but characterization suffers in the efforts of progressing the storyline.
Dimitra Muni
Feb 15, 2015 Dimitra Muni rated it really liked it
First Utopian story I read which was by PKD.Its like he is completely different person in Scanner Darkly or any other novel.Nice to see everything going goodie-good.
Adam Stauthamer
Mar 28, 2014 Adam Stauthamer added it
Shelves: 2014
More good Cold War remuneration from the deft hand of dick. Some serious recall of Russian literature throughout.
May 15, 2015 Urania rated it it was ok
Shelves: freebies
Not a bad short story, per se, and it's not that I disagree with the sentiments it sets out, but it's nevertheless a bit hamfisted in its moralizing.
Cliff Jones
Apr 29, 2016 Cliff Jones rated it really liked it
This is more or less a short version of The Penultimate Truth. I read that one in print, and about halfway through it, I felt dumb for mentally reading "leady" (the term for surface robots in both stories) as "leed-y" instead of "led-y" (like lead, the metal they're radiation-shielded with). Now I don't feel so bad because the reader for the audiobook version of this story made the same mistake.

Anyway, this was pretty good. It expresses a naive, overly simplistic view of war, but it is an intere
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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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“It was a brilliant idea and the only idea that could have worked. Up above, on the ruined, blasted surface of what had once been a living planet, the leady crawled and scurried, and fought Man's war. And undersurface, in the depths of the planet, human beings toiled endlessly to produce the weapons to continue the fight, month by month, year by year.” 1 likes
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