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THE COSMIC PUPPETS
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He stopped a passer-by. "Where's Central?" he demanded. "I'm looking for Central Street. I must have got lost."

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103

15  

circa April 1957

Oct 1957

THE BROKEN BUBBLE

PUTTERING ABOUT IN A SMALL LAND

Expanded from  "A Glass Of Darkness"

FIRST EDITIONS

1957 wpe11.jpg (3852 bytes) ACE, pb, D-249, Oct 1957, 127pp, $0.35, (Valigursky) // SARGASSO OF SPACE by Andrew North (Andre Norton)
     
  IMAGE309.JPG (4125 bytes) Granada, pb, 06331-5, Aug 1985, 143pp, L1.95 (Stephen Crisp)

HISTORY

    While PKD was writing PUTTERING ABOUT IN A SMALL LAND in early 1957, an opportunity arose that he could not turn down – an opportunity to make some money.

    Recall that in Dec 1956, Satellite had published PKD’s 1953 novelette "A Glass Of Darkness." Don Wollheim, editor at Ace Books, had evidently seen the cover of the magazine because in Mar 1957 he wrote to Dick:

    Scott hasn’t yet shown us anything of yours in that non-stf category, probably he’s trying them out on hardcover markets first. But please remind him that ACE Books might be especially suggestive to your work – if you think any of it would fit the paperback market (…). We’ve done quite a range of original and reprint modern novels… You mention having written but 4 sf novels. What then was that one you had in the second issue of Satellite? I haven’t seen it, but why not have Scott submit that one too? Then we could have five Dick fantasies…

    On being informed of this the SMLA immediately sold the story to Ace for an advance, presumably, of $1000.

    And just in the nick of time, too, as Ballantine Press, in the person of Tony Boucher, also showed interest. In a letter dated June 5, 1957, Boucher wrote:

    …& why, I wonder, haven’t I seen any of the long Dicks in MS? If I’d liked A GLASS OF DARKNESS we’d’ve paid exactly twice Satellite’s $400. I’d certainly have bought EYE & probably SOLAR LOTTERY – either (depending on our publishers variable policy at the moment) as a serial or to be condensed into a one-shot – wh wd’ve meant anywhere fr $600 to $1600 according to the length used .

    But... too late for Ballantine. "A Glass Of Darkness", revised and newly titled THE COSMIC PUPPETS by Ace, was published in late 1957 as one half of an Ace Double backed with SARGASSO OF SPACE by Andrew North (Andre Norton).

    Dick presumably expanded "A Glass of Darkness" into what would become THE COSMIC PUPPETS in between the time he got Wollheim's letter (late March 1957) and the time the SMLA has noted down for the reception of the manuscript on May 1, 1957. In other words, Dick rewrote the story in a month -- I'd guess in one sitting.

    By June 3, 1957 PKD was writing to Anthony Boucher regarding the sale to Ace:

    ... ACE has one more book of mine, but this one has already appeared in a magazine (Satellite); the title for that printing was A GLASS OF DARKNESS; and it runs about 40,000 words. You can see that it is slight compared with the others, but again I personally like it; its pure fantasy, which as you know has always been my favorite.

    And there the story lies for the next 22 years until January 1979 when Russ Galen at Berkley Books purchased THE COSMIC PUPPETS together with DR. FUTURITY and THE UNTELEPORTED MAN as part of a package deal that paid Dick $14,000. The novel was reissued by Berkley in October 1983 as a paperback after they had canned plans to issue an illustrated version.

    Asked by Rickman why it had fallen out of print for twenty-two years, Wollheim of Ace said, "I don't even recall the story. It was not reprinted because I forgot it."

    But a curious thing happened on the way from 1953 novelette to 1957 novel. The present author did a comparison of the two versions, "A Glass Of Darkness" and THE COSMIC PUPPETS.

    Without a doubt, PKD totally rewrote the whole story, clipping and changing most paragraphs, eliminating words, tightening the prose… There are many textual changes throughout and also a repositioning of the opening chapters. Originally the novelette begins with Ted Barton and his wife driving through Virginia and continues up to Ted's discovery that his lucky compass has been changed into a piece of dry bread, followed by the scene of the children playing with the clay in its entirety.

    In the novel this is rearranged. First comes one half of the children playing scene, then the material on Barton and his wife driving, and then the remainder of the children's scene. After this initial repositioning the chapters, despite different breaks, follow each other in tandem.

    Overall, the changes between novelette and novel do make a difference to the story. But, with all this clipping, eliminating and tightening going on, it is hard to see where the novel is an expansion of the story. And, indeed, it’s not. An average word count for the Berkley COSMIC PUPPETS comes out at 44,030 while "A Glass Of Darkness" comes in at 44,770. A difference of a mere 740 words but nevertheless a definite contraction (which might make it rather awkward for future bibliographers: "A Glass Of Darkness", 1953, published 1956, novelette. Contracted to THE COSMIC PUPPETS, published 1957, novel...)

    The story itself concerns a man who returns to his childhood home only to see it all changed in obscure ways. As he tries to figure out what’s going on with the help of the town drunk he encounters weird things and when he tries to leave town he finds he can’t, becoming mixed up in a maze of time. Another main thread of the story revolves around two children, Peter and Mary, who each possess strange powers. Over the whole thing hangs the presence of two ancient Zoroastrian deities locked in a frozen struggle in the sky.

    Critic Barb Morning Child sees THE COSMIC PUPPETS as a novel conducted on three levels akin to the Marxist concepts of false consciousness, class consciousness and true consciousness. Add in the Phildickian idea borrowed from Gnosticism of the world as the product of an evil demi-urge (later much-worried upon in VALIS) and we have a complex short novel that is in many ways definitive PKD.

    THE COSMIC PUPPETS has been under-rated, but not anymore. It rates

    After dropping everything to do the expansion of "A Glass of Darkness", Dick returned to work on PUTTERING ABOUT IN A SMALL LAND.


OTHER EDITIONS             For Cover Pix Click Here: mylogoInv[1].jpg (3234 bytes)

FOREIGN EDITIONS


NOTES

PKDS-8 3:

J.B. Reynolds has done screenplay adaptations of two PKD novels, THE COSMIC PUPPETS and A MAZE OF DEATH.

PKDS-8 8:

The Afterword (Of ONLY APPARANTLY REAL) is the product of new research... for example: the first science fiction or fantasy novel he wrote in the 1950s was not SOLAR LOTTERY but THE COSMIC PUPPETS

PKDS-11 5:

Mondadori in Italy has bought the rights to ... THE COSMIC PUPPETS...

PKDS-12 7:

1979: Acquired THE UNTELEPORTED MAN(complete version), THE COSMIC PUPPETS AND DR. FUTURITY for reprint for Berkley. Planned an illustrated THE COSMIC PUPPETS... {from the Mark Hurst Chronology}

PKDS-12 12:

From heyne (Germany) comes the newly released KOSMISCHE PUPPEN UND ANDERE LEBENSFORMEN (...) edited by Uwe Anton, containing THE COSMIC PUPPETS.

PKDS-13 15:

... Will the French believe Phil was serious when he called THE COSMIC PUPPETS "the greatest fantasy novel ever written"?

PKDS-17 6:

Scott hasn't yet shown us anything of yours in that non-stf category; probably he's trying them out on hardcover markets first. But please remind him that ACE Books might be especially suggestive to your work -- if you think any of it would fit the paperback market (...). We've done quite a range of original and reprint modern novels... You mention having written but 4 sf novels. What then was that one you had in the second issue of Satelite? I haven't seen it, but why not have Scott submit that one too? Then we could have 5 Dick fantasies... All best wishes, Cordialy yours Donald A. Wollheim {Donald A. Wollheim to PKD, Mar 29, 1957}

PKDS-17 3:

[Wollheim's Mar 29, 1957 letter did cause the Agency to submit to ACE the novel from Satelite, which was quickly accepted and published by ACE as THE COSMIC PUPPETS...] {from a letter from Julian Messner, Inc. Publishers, New York to PKDS}

PKDS-17 6:

...& why, I wonder, haven't I seen any of the long Dicks in MS? If I'd liked A GLASS OF DARKNESS We'd've paid exactly twice Satellite's $400. I'd certainly have bought EYE & probably SOLAR LOTTERY -- either (depending on our publisher's variable policy of the moment) as a serial or to be condensed into a one-shot -- wh wd've meant anywhere fr $600 to $1600 according to the length used. {Letter from Tony Boucher to PKD, June 5, 1957}


Peter laughed, a pure, high-pitched sound. He reached out lithely and snatched back the running clay figure. It struggled and fought frantically as he drew it close to him.


SL-38 33:

{...}I have a ms of a fantasy novel which I wrote two years ago. It runs about 80,000 words. My agent won't handle it because there is no market... I've thought about printing it privately. The only catch is this -- its not exactly the kind of fantasy one reads in fantasy magazines. It's a psychological fantasy of the dream type, more like Kafka I suppose, or like "The Man Who Was Thursday." There is no fantasy premise: that is, a fantastic postulate from which things proceed logically; the beginning is natural, factual, normal, as in Hubbard's "Fear;" the ordinary world, in fact. From there, the book "degenerates into sheer fantasy," as my agent puts it. It progresses, I would say, into greater and deeper levels of fantasy; a trip into the dream regions of symbolism, the unconscious, etc. as one finds in "Alice in Wonderland," where the work ends with a final cataclysm of dream-fantasy. {...}{PKD > Mr.Haas, Sep 16 1954}

SL-38  35

... ... ACE has one more book of mine, but this one has already appeared in a magazine (Satellite) ; the title for that printing was A GLASS OF DARKNESS; and it runs about 40,000 words. You can see that it is slight compared with the others, but again I personally like it; its pure fantasy, which as you know has always been my favorite. {PKD>Anthony Boucher, June 3, 1957}

See PKDS-12 12

See FDO#3, 1992. ‘Through A Magnifying Glass Idly’ by Dave Hyde.


{For the best essay ever written on THE COSMIC PUPPETS please go to 'Abstract Concrete' by Barb Morning Child, which appeared first in FDO#3}


COLLECTOR'S NOTES

Rudy's Books: THE COSMIC PUPPETS, Ace, pb, D249, 1957. VG/F $50

Phildickian: THE COSMIC PUPPETS, Ace, pb, D249, 1957. VG+ $45

Phildickian: THE COSMIC PUPPETS, Severn House, hb, 1986. 1st UK. VF/VF $50

Phildickian: THE COSMIC PUPPETS, Berkley, pb, 1983. VG $25


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