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The Preserving Machine

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  785 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Robot psychiatrists activated by $20 coins
A war veteran who keeps changing into a blob of organic jelly
Business advice from the souls of the departed
A machine that turns musical scores into small, furry animals
A dog story that recalls Kafka's 'Investigations of a Dog'
These are some of the treasures of imagination in this colle
Paperback, 413 pages
Published October 1987 by Grafton (first published 1969)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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Bill Kerwin
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

First published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (1953), this short tale is an early Dick masterpiece, and the simple—almost childlike—idea at its core is profoundly disturbing, unsettling in a way that looks forward to much of the writers even more disturbing works to come.

Doctor Labyrinth—also the hero of “The Short, Happy Life of the Brown Oxford”--loves music, but he fears its individual masterpieces may be too frail to survive in the changing world to come, and so he devises a
May 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit, sci-fi, short-stories
It seems that this is my first experience of PKD outside of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which came as quite a surprise to me, having proclaimed the genius of the man to many of my customers over the past year.

I chose this one due to the inclusion of the short story that the Arnie movie Total Recall was based on as opposed to The Variable Man and Other Stories which included Minority Report.

It didn't start too well, the title story just didn't appeal to me in any way. I've read reviews t
Dec 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
-Un buen vistazo panorámico y general de lo que puede ofrecer el autor.-

Género. Relatos.

Lo que nos cuenta. Recopilación de algunos trabajos cortos del autor escritos entre 1953 y 1966, que en la edición española se dividió en dos volúmenes de forma que, este que nos ocupa, contiene ocho de los quince que contenía la edición original, y que nos muestran la actitud de un perro ante seres sospechosos, el intento de Ganímedes para influir en la Tierra y ganar ventaja en su enfrentamiento, una máquin
Tristram Shandy
Life in the Woods

The Preserving Machine, which was published in 1953 in the “Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction”, is a very quirky little tale indeed. It deals with Doctor Labyrinth, who ”like most people who read a great deal and who have too much time on their hands” is worried about the future of European civilization, foreseeing that there will be some sort of Armageddon at the end of its path. That is why he wants to preserve its cultural treasures, above all classical music, which he
Tony Gleeson
Dec 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The eponymous story that begins this collection is an absolute gem: a totally whack concept worthy of PKD. Music is turned into animals-- pretty appropriate kinds of animals derived from, e.g., Bach and Wagner-- who then evolve in a garden and get turned back into very different music. I love this weird and touching tale. Dick was a purveyor of classical recordings for some years and when he utilizes his thorough knowledge of the subject in his writing, it's usually to good and unusual effect. O ...more
Scott Holstad
Oct 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philip-k-dick, sci-fi
The Preserving Machine is a pretty good collection of short stories by Philip K Dick from the early 1950s through the mid-1960s. Some of his best work is here. I had already read several of these in other collections, but there were many new ones and I definitely enjoyed this book. Among the stories that stood out for me were "War Veteran," about an old man who is a war veteran from a future war yet to be fought by Earth -- and lost. The authorities move quickly to try and change the future and ...more
David Anderson
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Often I approach story collections differently. Sometimes I'll read them straight through; others I'll read a few stories here, a few there, in between reading other things. That's what I did here and that's why it sat on my currently reading list so long, reading it between novel of the Remembrance of Earth's Past Trilogy (Three-Body Problem, etc.). Like most story collections, it's a bit uneven. I should really give it 3 & 1/2 stars out of 5. But there are some great Dick chestnuts in here. In ...more
Austin Wright
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Again....PKD takes a million dollar idea and shoots it out in 20 pages. An entire TV series could be based of a scientist preserving musical art through biological animals. Genius-level story.
Jul 11, 2010 rated it liked it
I didn't realize this was yet another collection of PDK's short stories when I checked it out, and I think I'd previously read every story here except for "Retreat Syndrome". On a positive note, they're all pretty good stories, and this collection features some of PDK's most humorous and whimsical work. On a negative note, the author's misogyny is in full swing during "Retreat Syndrome", which features lines like, "She did it for petty, spiteful motives, for hated of me; nothing to do with the a ...more
Jun 13, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my introduction to PKD's work. A few years ago, when I first got back into reading, I checked out a copy of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep from the library but I never finished it. I found this collection of short stories at a used bookstore for $1. In continuing with my trend of reading short story collections this year I thought I'd add this one to the list.

The Preserving Machine is a collection of short stories, published in 1969, focusing on PKD's earlier work from the 50's and
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was my first experience reading PKD, and overall I found his stories delightfully odd and even goofy at times. Definitely some mild mysogyny--he describes many of the female characters in terms of their breasts, and they tend to be more one-dimensional (either vapid or vindictive) when compared to the male characters. But, as a white male writer of the 50s/60s, I suppose that's to be expected.

My favorite stories were:
(view spoiler)
Philip K. Dick was a fascinating and creative writer, but let's face it, stylistically he is mediocre at best. This story collection is not his most shining moment. It includes a few well-known stories (e.g. the well-known but actually rather absurd "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale"), along with several others I don't recall encountering before. Dick's characteristic concerns, notably a deep suspicion of the existence of objective reality, are consistently in evidence here, but not generall ...more
Carlos Sogorb
Dec 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Como la mayoría de los cuentos de Dick, carece de presentación y desenlace. El planteamiento filosófico resulta interesante: como evolucionarían las obras artísticas a través del tiempo si fueran seres vivos. Por desgracia como en la mayoría de los casos, Dick plantea conceptos interesantes para luego desarrollarlos de forma demasiado limitada y juvenil.
David Smith
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Consistent quality. I was fascinated by him mentioning Nixon's miracle comeback of 1968 in a story written in 1964, and also by his use of 3D printers in another story. Granted they were aliens, but still. ...more
Marsha Valance
A collection of 15 Dick short stories. A Science Fiction Book Club selection.
Feb 07, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
2/10. Media de los 14 libros que he leído de este autor : 3/10 (Y mira que me gustan las pelis que han hecho basadas en libros de este tío, conste)
Joseba Bonaut
Jun 05, 2021 rated it liked it
La idea es genial. Luego se queda en algo anecdótico. Hago referencia sólo al cuento, no la colección
Esteban Martínez
Relatos cortos de ciencia ficción. Imaginativos. Está el que luego se convertiría en la clásica película de Schwarzenegger: "El vengador del futuro." ...more
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Simple idea put into a over-the-top short story that makes you think about the little time we've spent here. Beautiful. ...more
Adriana Greco
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

El universo textual de Dick nos ofrece un contacto persistente con la irrealidad pura que desenmascara las tramas íntimas de la vida en sociedad, llevándonos una y otra vez al cuestionamiento de sus reglas. Conceptos como el tiempo, la locura o la muerte pueden distorsionarse desde su mirada particular para avanzar hacia un espacio único donde se reconoce la cotidianidad más descarnada. En efecto, cuando nos instalamos en la maravilla de sus mundos percibimos la riqueza de sus símbolo
Ryan Sean O'Reilly
An early collection of short stories touching on cold-war era fears, and other weird pseudo-realities.

Philip K. Dick is known fairly well for toying with reality in his fiction and meta-fictional stories. His ideas negotiate the fuzzy edges of existential questions. He pushes boundaries in his writing and yet his straight-ahead prose (sometimes criticized) makes his more “out-there” concepts easier to digest.

This book is a collection of early stories by the writer with a few from the middle of
Jun 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, short-stories
I've got to admit that PKD is a large gap in my science fictional life. I've read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep but before this collection of short stories, that was it, and I've got to say that I didn't hugely enjoy that. However, I've been very impressed with this collection and will probably look out for more Dick short stories.

As the state of reality and mental illness were recurring aspects of Dick's own life, it's natural that they would occur in his fiction as well, and those themes
Dec 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of early to mid period Philip K Dick, and it really is from one of the golden ages of Science-Fiction, from the kitsch fifties until the late sixties - when sci-fi writers like Dick were doing drugs and really taking SF to weird and unsettling places. Dick progresses from straight 'what if' of 50s pulp into really odd and paranoid SF. In that sense, it's akin to the Beatles 'Revolver', where the conventional and routine begins to be stretched into new and more psychological ...more
Erik Graff
May 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sf & Dick fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
I like Philip K. Dick for his ideas, not for his writing. His work reflects the fact that he wrote quickly, often for the pennies a word the pulps paid in the fifties and sixties. But he didn't write cynically; he wrote, like David Lindsay and Colin Wilson, with a purpose. The primary issue he dealt with was a questioning of our unthinking conceits about the nature of reality, particularly about our own identities--questions which, for him and fans like myself, had both philosophical and religio ...more
Aug 02, 2009 rated it liked it
I found that Dick is not a great writer, but rather an observant visionary, with a flair for metaphor and an infatuation with man's ignorance and self-destruction. Most of the stories in this book are predictable, though there are a handful of stand outs. The story which shares the same name as the book is absolutely amazing. "The Preserving Machine" (story) is a remarkable reference to politics and the creative process told with Dick's standard dystopian references. I also enjoyed "Pay for the ...more
Nov 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this collection while living in Berkeley, in the early 1970's. This is the first collection of PKD's short stories and had 14 years of published stories to draw from, resulting in a very good set of fifteen, including 1966's "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale", source of the movies "Total Recall" (1990 & 2012), and a very funny "Roog".
Where PDK can expand a novel's plot widely, these are very concise and pointed, and somewhat twisted. Way to go Philip, this is a great collection.
Dmitry Verkhoturov
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Безумно крутые рассказы. Полный список:
"The Preserving Machine"
"War Game"
"Upon the Dull Earth"
"War Veteran"
"Top Stand-By Job"
"Beyond Lies the Wub"
"We Can Remember It for You Wholesale"
"Captive Market"
"If There Were No Benny Cemoli"
"Retreat Syndrome"
"The Crawlers"
"Oh, to be a Blobel!"
"What the Dead Men Say"
"Pay for the Printer"
Ian St. Germain
Dec 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
The Preserving Machine - bizarre, wonderful. Vintage PK, forces you to fill in a lot of the story with your own ideas and imagination. Fascinating.
The War Game - amazing. truth is in the details, in the obvious. paranoia at its best.
Abel Caine fiji
Jun 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I accidentally found this book way back in the 80s. Every movie that's been made from these stories was instantly recognizable and painful for how they ruined it. This is 1 of my precious for the kids. ...more
David Allen
Dec 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dick's first story collection, this has most of the usual PKD themes (paranoia, inquiries into the nature of reality, ordinary men caught in situations out of their control, bare-breastedness), and includes the story on which "Total Recall" was based. The only dud is the title story. ...more
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Philip K Dick: The Preserving Machine and other short stories 12 45 Sep 16, 2013 03:26PM  

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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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