What The Dead Men Say

  "Man With A Broken Match"

Manuscript received at SMLA Apr 15, 1963

Previous 91 Next
Waterspider   Chronology Orpheus With Clay Feet

(1964 Jun): WORLDS OF TOMORROW (1964 Jun): WORLDS OF TOMORROW {ill. by Finlay}
(1969): UBIK (expanded into novel)

line.gif (3829 bytes)

PKDS-2    7

{...}1. As thousands of busy little Dickians have no doubt known for years, Chapter 1 of UBIK contains over a page of material lifted nearly verbatim from the first part of Dick's 1964 short story "What The Dead Men Say." Raymond Chandler used to do this all the time on the grounds that his short stories were of no value and no one would remember them, but surely Dick didn't think this way. In fact, "What The Dead Men Say" had just been reprinted -- in the ACE SF Special THE PRESERVING MACHINE -- when UBIK was published in 1969. Why did Dick do it? Surely the effort of slightly reworking the scene would have been no problem to PKD. He could even have used the character of von Vogelsang, the mortuary director -- there is nothing in either UBIK or the short story to prevent the two narratives from taking place in the same universe. Though in fact both stories share other similarities -- messages found in strange places or on the phone lines, in UBIK from Runciter, in "Dead Men" from Sarapis. And yet -- such uninventive recycling of material seems uncharacteristic of Dick. Did he do it elsewhere? Was this one of his periods of personal distress?

{Patrick Nielsen Hayden > PKDS, 1983}

PKDS-20    20

    I was rereading "What The Dead Men Say" in THE PRESERVING MACHINE and I came across an interesting passage. It appears at the beginning of Chapter IV (p.278 in the ACE edition and p.362 in the Grafton edition).

          "Do you think Gam has a chance this time?" Kathy asked.
    "No, not really. But miracles in politics do happen; look at Richard     Nixon's incredible comeback in 1968."

    The reason this passage is unusual is that the book credits the story as having been published in June, 1964, four years before the 1968 election which saw Richard Nixon win in a landslide.

    Is this an amazing of political prognostication or did Dick insert this passage after its appearance in Worlds Of Tomorrow in 1964 and before publication of THE PRESERVING MACHINE in 1969. Anyone know the answer?

[Yes. The comment was included in the original magazine story (written in early '63). Dick's prediction is mentioned by Steven Godersky in the Levack bibliography -- PW]

{Marc Landau > PKDS, 1989}

Radio Free Albemuth    18

{note: Here's what PKD had to say elsewhere about Nixon in RADIO FREE ALBEMUTH}:

Chapter4. The purpose of killing the leading political figures in the United States by violent assassination, allegedly by screwed-up loners, was to get Ferris F. Fremont elected. It was the only way. He could not effectively compete. Despite his agressive campaigns, he bordered on the worthless. Some time ago one of his aides must have pointed that out to him. "If you're going to get into the White House, Ferris," the aide must have said, "you've got to kill everyone else first." Taking him literally, Ferris Fremont did so, starting in 1963 and working his way forward during the administration of Lyndon Johnson. By the time Lyndon Johnson had retired, the field was clear. The man who could not compete did not have to.

{...} When he took office, it was on the wave of a huge mandate. Who else could they vote for? When you consider that in effect Fremont was running against no one else, that the Democratic Party had been infiltrated by his people, spied on, wiretapped, reduced to shambles, it makes more sense. Fremont had the backing of the U.S. intelligence community, as they like to call themselves, and ex-agents played an effective role in decimating political opposition. In a one party system there is always a landslide.

Return to philipdick.com