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The Eyes Have It

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  1,144 ratings  ·  137 reviews
It was quite by accident I discovered this incredible invasion of Earth by lifeforms from another planet. As yet, I haven't done anything about it; I can't think of anything to do. I wrote to the Government, and they sent back a pamphlet on the repair and maintenance of frame houses. Anyhow, the whole thing is known; I'm not the first to discover it. Maybe it's even under ...more
ebook, 4 pages
Published June 14th 2007 by TeknoBooks (first published June 1953)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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 ·  1,144 ratings  ·  137 reviews

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Bill Kerwin

First published in Science Fiction Stories (1953), “The Eyes Have It” is perhaps the shortest of Philip Dick’s short stories. Although on the surface it appears to be a mere bagatelle, it is also a sophisticated exploration if the idomatic structures of the English language.

It is in the form of a monologue by a narrator who wishes to warn us about an imminent alien invasion. He appears to be paranoid, but claims to have evidence, which has found in the text of a novel he recently found abandoned
Katrina McCollough
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The inside of Philip K Dick's brain is an amazing place.
La Coccinelle
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, short-stories
So... somebody noticed those weird, disembodied eyeballs decades before I was even born! Whew. I'm glad I wasn't just imagining it.

This story is kind of hilarious to readers like me who can't figure out why certain writers seem to enjoy putting their characters' eyeballs through a literary version of CrossFit. Here's an excerpt from a review I wrote back in 2009, Blue Moon by Alyson Noël:

... the word you're looking for is "gaze"... not "eyes". When I see eyes grazing, raking, resting, and roamin
Aug 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
Taking English phrases literally can lead to craziness.
Tristram Shandy
How to Read a Story?

The Eyes Have It is probably as deep as it is short, which would make it square in terms of geometry, but applying our everyday conceptions to PKD means one has got another think coming.

In this little story, we have got an unnamed first-person narrator who found a book on a bus and starts reading it. Seemingly harmless sentences like “his eyes moved from person to person”, containing cliché metaphors, set off the alarm bells in the narrator’s head because he takes them as evi
Geeky Paranoid Protagonist playing literally with the workings of English words. Quite funny and enjoyable wearing his shoes.
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Metonymy at the outer limits. Also, the amorphous structure and expectations of some science fiction.
Isca Silurum
Jun 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Very short whimsical piece. In the hands of Pratchett it would be an amusing episode of word play, with PKD it is resonant of mental illness. Purely down to my reading history.
Debbie Zapata
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gutenberg
A short short story, by an author I have seen mentioned many times but have never read. I will reserve judgment on the author's work in general until I can read more of his work, and longer pieces. This one was cute: an example of what can go wrong in a reader's mind if he takes the words on the page too literally.
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It takes me quite a while to figure out what's going on and when I get his trick my mind goes like, "AWWWWWWWW!"
Aliens can pull off their body parts. Weird...
Michael Sorbello
This short story is an extreme example of taking a book too seriously. A man grows paranoid as he takes the words he reads in an eerie novel literally, seeing visions of the horrific words he reads in his surroundings and driving him wild with frenzied visions of fright. A bit silly in some areas, but the cleverness of the idea is worth applauding.
Joseph Inzirillo
Jun 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a book. A short story written by Dick. His twisted view and sense of foreboding is absolutely on point! Great story.
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Read as a part of Minority Report and Other Stories

This was clearly a tongue in cheek, very short story which takes us through a man's thoughts as he takes phrases he reads in a book, like "He gave her a hand" and "Her eyes followed him up the stairs", literally. So the man thinks there's an alien race on earth that can take off their body parts and organs which inevitably leads to a humorous freak-out.
Lucia Némethová
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, short-stories
"I have absolutely no stomach for it." :)
The comicality of this super short short story is based on taking idiomatic language too literally.
Kori ☾
Oh wow, I feel a mental break down coming.
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very short funny story about a man who believes he has uncovered an alien invasion.
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-story, 4-stars
A fun, very short story. A humorous take on the English language. I didn't laugh out loud, but it did make me smile. Audible version, narrated by Ian Gordon.
Jun 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Cool little short parody piece playing on the style of language common to average literature and even everyday, a take on perception and interpretation...
Sep 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sounds like Junie B Jones is related to him.
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Somewhat funny and interesting to think about. The belief in an alien invasion has shaped the way the narrator sees reality, even mediated through text. Could make for an interesting linguistics or philosophy tale.
Terence Blake
Jun 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
When I first read this early story of Philip K. Dick I found it pretty silly, but on reflection it is a perfect illustration of the interplay of alienation and estrangement that I find interesting in much science fiction. I recently listened to an interview with PKD where he claimed that one of his books was released as a mainstream novel in hardcover, and as a science fiction novel in paperback. The duality of status confirmed the duality of language that this text already highlights.

The story
Oct 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is such a cute little story. It's all about the use of idioms in English, and although the gimmick of taking these things literally isn't drowning with originality, it makes for a good laugh, at least for someone interested in language like me.

It is interesting, if rather logical, that our use of idioms is quite often related to our bodies. One thing is wondering about the effect - does it make us more disconnected and detached from our bodies? - but even more interestingly, it makes for c
Cynthia Peña
Jul 26, 2015 rated it liked it
I was reading this amusing, short story while waiting for my clearance paper to be signed and was able to finish it even before I've acquired the signature. How literally the character took the lines, made up of metaphors and similes (ex. poor Bibney has lost his head...he has utterly no guts..etc), of the book he was reading made me giggle. According to the protagonist's understanding, the characters of the book he was reading were disintegrating into parts, encouraging him to think that they w ...more
Stuart Aken
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humour
Brilliant! Every writer should read this short.

Philip K. Dick is generally known for his excellent science fiction, of course. In this short and funny piece he makes a gentle but telling attack on those authors who fail to understand where the line is drawn between metaphor and reportage.

If you enjoy literary humour and have a taste for jokes made at the expense of those who don't quite understand how language should be used, you'll love this little gem. I did. Great fun; with a message for al
A. B. Neilly
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories, aliens
The one I read was a collection of two stories. The first one is so funny, because it tales the use of language in a novel and turns around its meaning, until it unveils a terrible conspiracy from aliens. I found it really witty.

The other story theme is the result of a human colonization over planets that belonged to an alien race. When the aliens fight back, the life of a boy changes dramatically because those who he considered his friends are no longer the same. A great story.
C.S.  Ferrier
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This delightful little short story will only take you a few minutes to read, but it's brilliant. Dick plays up a theme of something we all do when reading a novel, misunderstand and take to literally the context of bad writing.

While reading this I guffawed several times, lough enough to interrupt my cats naps. Take ten minutes and read this, you won't regret it.
Alpha Lim
Haha. This was hilarious. I guess this is how an author trolls another.

The author is clearly being a Dick in writing this lolworthy satirical essay.

Excellent educational stuff for writers and aspiring writers.
Sep 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Free podcast. Amusing little story, reminds me of Mark Twain.
This is why I seek out PKD, for satirical, humorous little gems like this one.
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The Evolution of ...: The Eyes Have It - Philip K. Dick 13 30 Sep 10, 2018 03:59AM  

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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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