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73

<Dec 31, 1953

1955

Upon The Dull Earth

Pay For The Printer

 

FIRST PUBLICATION

HISTORY:

    PKD followed "Upon The Dull Earth" a day later with "Foster, You’re Dead." This story was first published in Fred Pohl’s Star Science Fiction Stories #3 in 1955.

    From there it was picked up (illegally) by the Russian tabloid Ogonek (1958). Philip K. Dick’s friend, Betty Jo Robirds, recalls

    Phil telling her that he was listening to KPFA one night, heard a discussion of the lead story in the Russian magazine that was equivalent to Life and that he recognized it as his own work. ‘Phil thought he was having an hallucination!’

PKD’s bibliographer (Levack) notes that

    The author’s complimentary copy was destroyed by the U.S. Post Office as Communist propaganda.

    But with this Rickman disagrees, resurrecting one of PKD’s relations, Neil Hudner, who remembers being shown the story in Russian.

    In a 1958 letter to his friend, Walt Lanferman, Dick wrote of the situation with Ogonek:

    But, more interesting, the Soviet Union has taken an interest in my stuff (so long, Walt. Nice having known you). Their largest circulation weekly, Ogonek, printed in a Russian translation, with illustrations, a story of mine, Foster, You're Dead, an anti-war story; it took up five of the Look-size glossy pages, five out of about 32.
    Ogonek is printed by Pravda, and this particular week's edition had a circulation of one and half million. So a fair amount of royalty money was due me. I wrote the Soviet Union and got no answer. But recently, apparently due to the fact that Stevenson went there this summer represented various US authors such as myself (in fact he was given my name by the American Authors' League) there's been a change of policy, and now Ogonek writes me to say they've sent a royalty check. I'm told that it should run about 4,000 rubles -- about $1000. Also, Ogonek wants me to submit material to them direct -- the story they used was reprinted from a US Ballantine anthology which caused quite a stir here; was written up in a Harper's editorial and in an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (the latter unfavorably) {...}

    When Tony Boucher was preparing his anthology, A TREASURY OF GREAT SCIENCE FICTION (published in 1959), PKD wrote to him and suggested that "Foster, You’re Dead!" was ‘about my best’ and thought that it might fit well in Boucher’s anthology. (In the end, Boucher selected "The Father-Thing" for this anthology)

    In this letter Dick refers again to his Ogonek dealings:

    By the way -- the above mentioned story was picked up by Ogonek, the largest circulation Soviet weekly (1,500,00). They even drew a number of archaic, foul illustrations for it ... so I have more readers in the USSR than in this country. An odd situation. I never got a cent for the reprint; I wrote to Ogonek, asking for a copy of the magazine, but they didn't answer the letter.

    Of the story itself, PKD had this to say:

    One day I saw a newspaper headline reporting that the President suggested that if Americans had to buy their bomb shelters, rather than being provided with them by the government, they'd take better care of them, an idea which made me furious. Logically, each of us should own a submarine, a jet fighter, and so forth. Here I just wanted to show how cruel the authorities can be when it comes to human life, how they can think in terms of dollars, not people.

    It is fitting that "Foster, You’re Dead" was first published by Fred Pohl as the story is similar in intent to several of Pohl’s own science fiction tales dealing with runaway consumerism (see his THE SPACE MERCHANTS, for example).

    In Dick’s tale a young boy is completely demoralized by his family’s lack of a nuclear bomb shelter. He faces ridicule at school and hostility at home when he tries to talk his dad into buying the latest model. His father finally gives in and buys the shelter only to find a few days later that it is useless against the Soviet’s new bore-pellets weapon. To make the shelter worthwhile will take an expensive adapter… which dad can’t afford and he sends the shelter back to the shop. In the end, the boy sneaks into the dealer’s showroom and attempts to move into his repossessed shelter. But he’s ejected and we find him aimlessly walking the streets perhaps with the fifty cents fee in his pocket for entrance to the public shelter, perhaps not.

    "Foster, You’re Dead" rates


Other Magazine and Anthology appearances.    Click here for Cover Pix: aaaPKDickBooks.jpg (3234 bytes)

??? FosterBallantine.jpg (9477 bytes) STAR SCIENCE FICTION 3, Ballantine, pb, ?, ?, ?,? (?) {Ed. Pohl}  
1977 THE BEST OF PHILIP K. DICK, Ballantine, pb, 25359, 1977, ?,?(?)       
1987   THE COLLECTED STORIES OF PKD  
       

NOTES:

Levack 95

    One day I saw a newspaper headline reporting that the President suggested that if Americans had to buy their bomb shelters, rather than being provided with them by the government, they'd take better care of them, an idea which made me furious. Logically, each of us should own a submarine, a jet fighter, and so forth. Here I just wanted to show how cruel the authorities can be when it comes to human life, how they can think in terms of dollars, not people.

TTHC 266

    In addition to story sales in the U.S. the Meredith agency arranged foreign sales of their author's work. One story the translation of which the agency did not arrange was his vivid anti-Cold War story "Foster, You're Dead!" ({...}) which popped up in the Soviet magazine Ogonek in 1958. (It had already been mentioned in passing in an essay in Harper's in 1955, "Utopias You Won't Like," as "social satire tinged with bitterness.") Betty Jo Robirds remembers Phil telling her that he was listening to KPFA one night, heard a discussion of the lead story in the Russian magazine that was equivalent to Life, and that he recognized it as his own work. "Phil thought he was having an hallucination!" In later years he occasionally referred to this coup, exaggerating government depravity as he did so. He seems to have told the editors of his bibliography that "the author's complimentary copy was destroyed by the U.S. Post Office as Communist propaganda."26 (This is unlikely, as Neil Hudner remembers that "He showed it to me in Russian.") In fact, in a letter to the FBI in 1974 he claimed one of his friends in their Oakland Bureau helped him get a royalty check for the story the Russians had "stolen."27

{fn26: Levack, PKD: A Philip K. Dick Bibliography, 96.}
{fn27: PKD>FBI, 3-20-74}

SL-38 42

Dear Tony,

    It occurs to me that if you're looking for a story of mine to include in the treasury of s-f, in my opinion my story FOSTER, YOU'RE DEAD is about my best. It appeared in the Star S-F Anthology Number Three.
    By the way -- the above mentioned story was picked up by Ogonek, the largest circulation Soviet weekly (1,500,00). They even drew a number of archaic, foul illustrations for it ... so I have more readers in the USSR than in this country. An odd situation. I never got a cent for the reprint; I wrote to Ogonek, asking for a copy of the magazine, but they didn't answer the letter.
What about some of those short fantasies that you printed of mine? Or is this a strictly s-f collection? If I live to be 100 I'll never write anything as good as those, again. Especially LITTLE MOVEMENT. When I read that, I marvel that I could have written it. Ah, the inspiration of youth ...

    Cordially, PKD

    PS. How about "Beyond Lies The Wub?" Planet Stories, July 1952. Never been reprinted, & virtually unknown. Not a half-bad story. {PKD>A.Boucher, Oct 29, 1958}

SL-38 48

Dear Walt,

    {...} But, more interesting, the Soviet Union has taken an interest in my stuff (so long, Walt. Nice having known you). Their largest circulation weekly, Ogonek, printed in a Russian translation, with illustrations, a story of mine, Foster, You're Dead, an anti-war story; it took up five of the Look-size glossy pages, five out of about 32.
    Ogonek is printed by Pravda, and this particular week's edition had a circulation of one and half million. So a fair amount of royalty money was due me. I wrote the Soviet Union and got no answer. But recently, apparently due to the fact that Stevenson went there this summer represented various US authors such as myself (in fact he was given my name by the American Authors' League) there's been a change of policy, and now Ogonek writes me to say they've sent a royalty check. I'm told that it should run about 4,000 rubles -- about $1000. Also, Ogonek wants me to submit material to them direct -- the story they used was reprinted from a US Ballantine anthology which caused quite a stir here; was written up in a Harper's editorial and in an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (the latter unfavorably) {...} {PKD>Walt Lanferman, Dec 30, 1958}

SRG 43

    "Foster, You're Dead" hardly qualifies as speculative fiction about business manipulation of prospective buyers. To alleviate the social opprobrium suffered by his son in school, a father buys the latest model in bomb shelters despite the prohibitive cost. Within 24-hours of purchase, he finds it outmoded by a newly-announced enemy weapon and usable only if fitted with an adapter. This is a further debt he cannot handle, and a stern economic fact his son cannot handle in the face of the stronger peer pressure.


Collector’s Notes

Ken Lopez: "Foster, You’re Dead!" in Star Science Fiction #3 {Ed. Frederick Pohl}, 1955 (1st). NF. Signed by the author and also by Richard Matheson. Previous owner stamp; near fine in wrappers. $375

Philidickian: "Foster, You’re Dead!" in Star Science Fiction #3 {Ed. Frederick Pohl}, Ballantine, pb, 1962 (2nd). G+. There is creasing, rubbing to the edges (no tears), and the pages are lightly yellowed. The binding is still tight. $6.50


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