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The Gun by Philip K. Dick

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“The Gun” is a 1952 science fiction short story by Philip K. Dick. It is about the crew of a spaceship who discover a deadly automatic weapon.

More Star Trek References

Did you ever see the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Arsenal of Freedom?” It was awesome! The crew of the Enterprise were trapped on a dead planet where the weapons still functioned – and did their duty! Anyway, this story reminded me of that. Nothing quite like aggressive, deadly, smart, long-lived weapons eh?

Non-spoiler Summary in a Nutshell

Recently a bright explosion was seen in the night-time skies, so what do the humans do? They send a spaceship to investigate of course! But when they arrive they find a decimated planet and only a handful of crumbling ruins. So they are very surprised when they try to leave and are attacked by two crippling shots! Down they go. And while they are fixing their ship some of the crew discover a very powerful, automatic gun. But the real question is: what is it protecting?

Interesting Tidbits About This Story:

  • Page Count: 12
  • Word Count: 4,773

Where You Can Find The Gun:

If you liked this story you may also be interested in “A Matter of Importance” by Murray Leinster – about a couple of inter-stellar policemen who are investigating the disappearance of an inter-planetary spaceship.

6 thoughts to “The Gun by Philip K. Dick”

  1. SPOILER WARNING!!!!

    The story wasn’t “bad”, but it didn’t do much for me. I really liked the idea of dragon guarding the treasure and felt like the end had a nice ‘twilight zone’ twist, but the characters annoyed me. They made a lot of assertions with no evidence at all, or at least without any reasoning being shown to the reader. They decided very quickly that the gun was ‘alive’, knew what the cache of goods was after only examining just a few items, etc. That bothered me and seemed like sloppy storytelling, even given the time period in which it was written. I’m glad I read it, don’t get me wrong, but it certainly didn’t do for me what other PKD short stories (all which I’ve read from here, I believe) have done.

  2. Carl, Yep – I can totally see your point there. The characters were a little bit too amazing, weren’t they? I hadn’t thought about that, but now that you pointed it out I can definitely see it. In a way it is good to know that even great writers had some duds, and that we can all benefit from thinking more critically about the stories we read. Thanks!

  3. I’m glad you posted it and am glad I read it. When I read stories like this I often wonder if the problems (if one agrees there are problems) are a result of an editor hacking at it or are that way because of space limitations and the story had to be scaled way back. Who knows. There foundation of a great story was here, it just needed a little something more.

  4. Feel free to delete this: I wanted to comment on Pohl’s The Tunnel Under the World, but the comments section won’t come up when I try. I read it yesterday also and Wow!!! I posted about all three of these stories on my site yesterday. Tunnel was particularly special.

  5. Carl,

    Yeah, due to high levels of spam, I now turn off comments on an article after a couple of weeks. Sorry about that.

    Anyway, I am glad you enjoyed The Tunnel Under The World – I really liked that one as well. I enjoyed the whole premise, and really liked the ending. I know that you have mixed feelings about some of Pohl’s stories / novels, but this one ranks among his best IMO.

  6. I’ll definitely be reading more of his work. Even with the things I didn’t like about Gateway, I still saw his talent. I need to get back to reading his blog. I was trying to keep up with his posts about Asimov, but there are always so many blogs to try to keep up with. I think it is cool that he is still around and has embraced the technology.

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