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The Defenders by Philip K. Dick

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This is a guest post by Saurabh Sawhney.

A future history saga by Philip K. Dick. It was later developed as a novel, ‘The Penultimate Truth’ in 1964.

Non-spoiler story
It begins in the near future, as near today as then, and speaks of an all-engulfing war fought by men’s proxy war-robots. The Earth’s surface is contaminated by radiation and ravaged by war. The imagery of underground living is muted, but evokes a strong enough reaction. What happens when the humans decide to visit the surface after eight long years, forms the central thesis of the story. Some technological issues crop up, as they are bound to in a tale of the future written 60 years back. Overall, however, an intriguing read, and surprisingly relevant in today’s geopolitical realities.

The story, written in 1953, is a war story, and the anguish of the just concluded World War seeps through. A rational voice protesting against the futility of war is its unidentified narrator. A side note is the relationship between humans and sentient robots.

Philip K. Dick 1928 – 1982
Philip Dick started writing in 1951, mostly publishing within the realm of Science Fiction, but also making efforts at ‘serious’ literature which went largely unappreciated during his lifetime. His stories won several awards, including the Hugo for ‘The Man in the High Castle’ in 1963. A number of his stories have also been successfully adapted for Hollywood films.

Ed Emshwiller

Word count

First Published
Galaxy Science Fiction, January 1953

Link to the story

Saurabh Sawhney recently published his short story The Teabags on – be sure to check it out!