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58

<Jun 24, 1953

Apr 1954

Time Pawn

The Turning Wheel

See: THE GOLDEN MAN

FIRST PUBLICATION


HISTORY:

    Three weeks after mailing in the ms for "Time Pawn", PKD sent off another long story, "The God Who Runs." This reached the SMLA on Jun 24, 1953. It was published in the Apr 1954 issue of If under the title "The Golden Man." The story illustration was by Kelly Freas.

    Sporadically anthologized over the last 50 years, "The Golden Man", by lending its name to the 1980 collection THE GOLDEN MAN, marks a focal point in the parade of Philip K. Dick’s short stories. This was the last of the story collections published before his death and it gave PKD the opportunity to comment on the stories selected by the editor, Mark Hurst. In many cases, these comments are the only thing we have by PKD on these stories. For "The Golden Man" Dick had much to say:

   In the early Fifties much American science fiction dealt with human mutants and their glorious super-powers and super-faculties by which they would presently lead mankind to a higher state of existence, a sort of promised land. John W. Campbell. Jr., editor at Analog, demanded that the stories he bought dealt with such wonderful mutants, and he also insisted that the mutants always be shown as (1) good; and (2) firmly in charge. When I wrote "The Golden Man" I intended to show that (1) the mutant might not be good, at least good for the rest of mankind, for us ordinaries; and (2) not in charge but sniping at us as a bandit would, a feral mutant who potentially would do us more harm than good. This was specifically the view of psionic mutants that Campbell loathed, and the theme in fiction that he refused to publish… so my story appeared in If.

    We sf writers of the Fifties liked If because it had high quality paper and illustrations; it was a classy magazine. And, more important, it would take a chance with unknown authors. A fairly large number of my early stories appeared in If; for me it was a major market. The editor of If at the beginning was Paul W. Fairman. He would take a badly-written story by you and rework it until it was okay – which I appreciated. Later James L. Quinn the publisher became himself the editor, and then Frederik Pohl. I sold to all three of them.

    In the issue of If that followed the publishing of "The Golden Man" appeared a two-page editorial consisting of a letter by a lady school teacher complaining about "The Golden Man". Her complaints consisted of John W. Campbell, Jr.’s complaint: she upbraided me for presenting mutants in a negative light and she offered the notion that certainly we could expect mutants to be (1) good; and (2) firmly in charge. So I was back to square one.

    My theory as to why people took this view is this: I think these people secretly imagined they were themselves early manifestations of these kindly, wise, super-intelligent Ubermenschen who would guide the stupid – i.e. the rest of us – to the Promised Land. A power phantasy was involved here, in my opinion. The idea of the psionic superman taking over was a role that appeared originally in Stapleton’s ODD JOHN and A.E.Van Vogt’s SLAN. "We are persecuted now," the message ran, "and despised and rejected. But later on, boy oh boy, we will show them!"

    As far as I was concerned, for psionic mutants to rule us would be to put the fox in charge of the hen house. I was reacting to what I considered a dangerous hunger for power on the part of neurotic people, a hunger which I felt John W. Campbell, Jr. was pandering to – and deliberately so. If, on the other hand, was not committed to selling any one particular idea; it was a magazine devoted to genuinely new ideas, willing to take any side of an issue. Its several editors should be commended, inasmuch as they understood the real task of science fiction: to look in all directions without restraint. (1979)

    Here I am also saying that mutants are dangerous to us ordinaries, a view which John W. Campbell, Jr. deplored. We were supposed to view them as our leaders. But I always felt uneasy as to how they would view us. I mean, maybe they wouldn't want to lead us. Maybe from their superevolved lofty level we wouldn't seem worth leading. Anyhow, even if they agreed to lead us, I felt uneasy as to where we would wind up going. It might have something to do with buildings marked SHOWERS but which really weren't.(1978)

    As for the story itself, in a post-apocalypse world a fearful government sends out agents to hunt down mutants and kill them. Always afraid of finding the one that will undo Homo Sapiens status in the world they finally find him. But can they destroy him? Or will he escape to breed?

    "The Golden Man" earns


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


NOTES:

    Here I am saying that mutants are dangerous to us ordinaries, a view which John W. Campbell, Jr. deplored. We were supposed to view them as our leaders. But I always felt uneasy as to how they would view us. I mean, maybe they wouldn't want to lead us. Maybe from their superevolved lofty level we wouldn't seem worth leading. Anyhow, even if they agreed to lead us, I felt uneasy as to where we would wind up going. It might have something to do with buildings marked SHOWERS but which really weren't. {THE COLLECTED STORIES OF PHILIP K. DICK, Vol.3, Citadel Twilight, tp, 1991. ISBN: 0-8065-1226-1, p411-412. Also in THE GOLDEN MAN 'Story Notes'}

SRG 52

    When one lives in and accepts a society of unanimity, any abberation affronts the unimaginitive and provokes, or at least, invites repressive reactions. Repression lives in many forms. Dick sets up two of these for the reader in "The Golden Man" (legalized murder) and "The Little Black Box" (legalized manhunts). In the first story a disasterous war has visited upon the world a terrifying problem, human mutation. The world's governments dedicate themselves to rooting out and destroying deviants, such as telepaths, telekinetics, and those with multiple organs or misshapen bodies or non-human features. But what happens when the deviant is so superior that, like a god, he dwarfs normal men in both intellect and physical ability? Superiority will not be denied. Change is undeniable and, ironically, the "normal" becomes the deviation; the legal murderer will be exterminated.

DISCovering Authors, Gale Research Inc., 1996.

    Dick had, John Clute maintained in the Washington Post Book World , a "self-lacerating, feverish, deeply argued refusal to believe that the diseased prison of a world we all live in could possibly be the ‘real’ world." As Dick himself explained it in his introduction to the story collection The Golden Man: "I want to write about people I love, and put them into a fictional world spun out of my own mind, not the world we actually have, because the world we actually have does not meet my standards." In the Afterword to that same collection, Dick explained why he chose to write science fiction: "SF is a field of rebellion: against accepted ideas, institutions, against all that is. In my writing I even question the universe; I wonder out loud if it is real, and I wonder out loud if all of us are real."


Collector’s Notes

Rudy’s Books: "The Golden Man" in If, Apr 1954 (1st). VG+. $7.50

Rudy's Books: THE GOLDEN MAN, Berkley, SFBC, NF/VG. $30

Phildickian: "The Golden Man" in BEYOND THE BARRIERS OF SPACE AND TIME {Ed. Judith Merrill}, Random House, hb, BOMC, 1954 (1st such). VG/VG. The book is clean and tight with only light shelfwear. Internally, the pages are clean and free of markings. The dust jacket is lightly creased at the spine ends, with rubbing to the edges of the rear panel. Otherwise, the dj is crisp and covered with a brodart. The art is bright! $15


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