The Variable Man and Other Stories
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The Variable Man and Other Stories

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  197 ratings  ·  10 reviews
The brilliant science-fiction talent of Philip K. Dick is at its best in this new book, which contains one complete short novel & four long novelettes. Here are unusual adventures in the future, powerful stories of such varied subjects as the ultimate guided missile, psi-power crime prevention, mutational supermen & the unexpected in robots.
In an introduction to t...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1957)
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Billed as a complete novel along with a selection of shorts, The Variable Man itself is more of a novella these days. A man is pulled accidentally from his own time into the 22nd century where his very existence is a variable factor that the computers planning the war against Centarus can't plan for.

This story is very much of its age, with the idea of all-seeing computers, where you just feed in the data to complex sociological questions and the answer pops right out. Thomas Cole, the variable m...more
Marts  (Thinker)
The Terran system is encircled by the Proxima Centauri empire with both being constantly at war and developing their own weapons to fight the other. Terran mathematically calculates its chances of winning and develops a bomb called Icarus. With the help of 'The Variable Man' who has arrived from the past by accident in what is called the 'Time Bubble'.......
Don Murphy
Poor Thomas Cole. One day, wandering about a pre WWI world. The next moment, brought 200 years into the future. People studying the past accidently bring Cole to the future and inadvertanly allow him to escape. He goes into a war-torn world, fighting an alien force from Proxima Centuri. They have the Terran forces blocked, and the earth forces will only fight when their odds are in their favor. Each side play a game of chess, moving but never striking. Finally, the earthlings create an ultimate...more
Some of Dick's earliest short stories are presented here. And what does the reader find? Signs of genius, signs of what would come, and so forth. All these stories are good. And by that I mean real good. Some of these stories would be latered turned into full novels, such as Dr. Bloodmoney with the character Hoppy Harrington. The very first short story by Dick ever published is here, the Wub one. And already in this first story we can see the potential this man had. Good stuff here.
Four novelettes & a complete short novel ('The Variable Man') by Mr Dick. Includes 'The Minority Report' (shock of shocks, it's better than the movie). I remember liking 'Autofac' the most, though it's been a while since I last read it. Overall, it's a collection of good, not great, classic Dick fare (read: pre- Valis). Nice to have around to thumb through every so often. And the cover (1957 printing) is nifty, too.
Deanna Knippling
These are stories from the early 1950s, and it shows - not my favorite writing era, because everything has to be so bombastic and full of things that we find dated now, stylistically. Oh, the adverbs...

At any rate, I could have passed on the title story, but it was nice to be able to read Second Variety and Minority Report, finally.

Great ideas, but I like his later writing better.
Erik Graff
Aug 10, 2010 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dick fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
I probably picked this up at Knack's Drugstore in Bridgman, Michigan at a time when I knew nothing of Philip K. Dick. The "Second Variety" story about World War III scared the hell out of me as I sat reading it at the trestle table on the porch we used for eating when there were guests.
Philip K. Dick is the absolute best SciFi/fanatasy writer of all time! I particularly liked Jon's World, Progeny and of course Variable Man.
Read "The Variable Man" and "Second Variety" on
Great writing. Great stories. Well worth a read.
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Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and lived most of his life in California. He briefly attended the University of California, but dropped out before completing any classes. 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 Memo...more
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