Fiction Reviews

The Cosmic Puppets

(1957 / 2006 reprint) Philip K. Dick, Gollancz, 6.99, pbk, 143 pp, ISBN 0-575-07670-4


Ted Barton is driving on holiday with his wife when he realises that he is not that far from his old, familial home town. So why not drop in for a visit. This he does but he finds that things are slightly different. Streets and people are not as he remembers. At first he puts this down to poor recollection of his long-distant life as a child, but there are so many of these inconsistencies. He simply has to dig a little deeper. For his wife there is no such fascination and she leaves saying she'll wait for him at the next big town. Then Ted discovers that he is recorded as having died of fever as a child. Matters get worse when, after some more investigation, he tries to leave but his way is blocked by a timber lorry spill.

Clearly something is going on in Ted's home town (as if you did not know it from this being a Dick book) and something big at that... Unfortunately I can't say more as that would constitute a spoiler. Suffice to say that this 2006 edition nearly half a century on -- I'll say that again, half a century on -- from this novel's first publication again demonstrates that Dick's writing is far more future-proof than that of the average SF author. This one was written early on in the third of his three-and-a-bit decade long writing career, but you'd be hard pushed to tell.

One bit of advice, when you have finished reading this, do Google some of the principal characters and you'll find that Dick has drawn upon ancient myth including the Mazdean religion. Solid stuff.

Jonathan Cowie

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