Speculative Short Fiction Deserves Love discussion

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Individual Stories > The Defenders by Philip K. Dick

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message 1: by Bunny (new)

Bunny | 327 comments This was a blast from the past for sure! I found it really dated, so dated it became kind of charming in a way. Or you know, terrifying... could be both. The amazing levels of conformity for example. The government(s) tell everybody to march into underground bunkers, and off they all march, nobody protests, nobody says hey hang on a minute. When was this written? It feels like early 50's maybe?

(goes to look)


message 2: by Bunny (last edited Aug 16, 2015 08:56PM) (new)

Bunny | 327 comments Yeah, 1953. Other elements that make it very much of its time, the sort of... massive, uniform, regulated Corps of Engineers vision of technology. You build the Hoover Dam and the Panama Canal and the tallest skyscraper, because techology should be big and impressive. If you build an underground habitat, you build one giant access tunnel. Because that''s what you do. That's what seems efficient to the time.

Also "plump, attractive" Mary who serves him breakfast and coffee and does the dishes while he reads his newspaper. Apparently she is on some sort of team that works with schoolchildren? But whatever it is she does, apparently she can stay home from it when her husband gets time off. Also just the way he talks to her, giving orders and laughing at her fears, while she never directly contradicts him but couches everything as a question or a plea... its 1950 alright!

Of course the Cold War, and apparently there are only two cultures left on Earth, the Soviets and their sphere of influence and the Americans and theirs. Which will shortly unify into one culture to rule them all, as the logical goal of social progress. Again you have this idea that one big, uniform, regulated one size fits all system is how you do. There's one right way to do everything and it usually involves rivets and a lecture from some sort of authority figure.

I can just feel myself breaking out in hippy flowers ;-)


message 3: by Ben (new)

Ben Nash | 64 comments PKD stories age poorly, but, for me, there's usually something attractive to his ideas.

Even though he buys into this 50s American view of things, I feel like I can see the underlying cynicism that came out stronger later in his career. The way he uses 'undersurface' shows it here, I think. It feels to me like a propaganda term. Not 'underground' or 'shelter' or something like that, but a term that tries to be optimistic while hiding the truth.


message 4: by Bunny (last edited Aug 18, 2015 11:40AM) (new)

Bunny | 327 comments Yes, even though this is a very early story, you can definitely see that he's already doing the thing where the protagonist loudly proclaims to himself and others that everything is fine and that he supports the structures of his world, while the author makes it clear that some of that is self delusion. And that everything is not as fine fine as the protagonist wants to claim.


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