Saturday, October 11, 2008

"Beyond Lies the Wub" by Philip K. Dick

Source: Time Traveler Show | MP3
Length: 32 min
Reader: Mac Kelly

The story: Philip K. Dick is probably best know today for the many science fiction movies based on his stories and novels: Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly, Blade Runner (from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep), Total Recall (from "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale"), and Screamers (from "Second Variety"). This short story "Beyond Lies the Wub" was Dick's first published piece of fiction. In it, Peterson, a junior member of a space freighter on a distant planet, buys a piglike beast called a wub, intending to use it for food. After blastoff, he discovers the wub is actually very intelligent, but his captian still insists on eating the animal. Peterson is caught between doing what he is told and doing what his conscience tells him.

Even though this was Dick's first short story, much of his trademark style is apparent. Dick has a wry sense of humor that he often used to satarize greedy commercialism, as he does here. Much of his work (or at least what I've read of it) concerns beings which are not what they appear to be at first look. Dick was a big fan of Carl Jung, and so the wub's discourse on The Odyssey sounds an awful lot like the beginning of a Jungian thesis. If this is your first introduction to the work of this science fiction master, you've picked a good place to start.

Rating: 8/10

The reader: Mac Kelly accomplishes something with this story rarely seen in audiobook narraration: he actually enhanses the story with his voice. Kelly's voicing of the wub, in particular, brings out its porcine character better than the actual text. The rest of his narration is equally excellent and the recording environment is nicely silent. Surrounding the actual story are several promotions for other podcasts and audiobooks for sale, but since these are directly related to the story itself, they are unobjectionable and may be useful to some listeners.

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