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Electronic mechanic Jennings wakes up with no memory of the past two years of his life -- except that he had agreed to work for Retherick Construction.Payment for his services, now completed, is a bag of seemingly worthless objects: a code key, a ticket stub, a receipt, a length of wire, half a poker chip, a piece of green cloth and a bus token.But when he is confronted by Electronic mechanic Jennings wakes up with no memory of the past two years of his life -- except that he had agreed to work for Retherick Construction.Payment for his services, now completed, is a bag of seemingly worthless objects: a code key, a ticket stub, a receipt, a length of wire, half a poker chip, a piece of green cloth and a bus token.But when he is confronted by the Special Police, who seem to be investigating Retherick for their own reasons, Jennings finds himself running for his life, realizing that the "worthless" objects are the key to unlocking his recent past, and ensuring that he has a future.Viewed by many as the greatest science fiction writer on any planet, Philip K. Dick has written some of the most intriguing, original and thought-provoking fiction of our time. He has been described by The Wall Street Journal as the man who, "More than anyone else…really puts you inside people's minds."


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Electronic mechanic Jennings wakes up with no memory of the past two years of his life -- except that he had agreed to work for Retherick Construction.Payment for his services, now completed, is a bag of seemingly worthless objects: a code key, a ticket stub, a receipt, a length of wire, half a poker chip, a piece of green cloth and a bus token.But when he is confronted by Electronic mechanic Jennings wakes up with no memory of the past two years of his life -- except that he had agreed to work for Retherick Construction.Payment for his services, now completed, is a bag of seemingly worthless objects: a code key, a ticket stub, a receipt, a length of wire, half a poker chip, a piece of green cloth and a bus token.But when he is confronted by the Special Police, who seem to be investigating Retherick for their own reasons, Jennings finds himself running for his life, realizing that the "worthless" objects are the key to unlocking his recent past, and ensuring that he has a future.Viewed by many as the greatest science fiction writer on any planet, Philip K. Dick has written some of the most intriguing, original and thought-provoking fiction of our time. He has been described by The Wall Street Journal as the man who, "More than anyone else…really puts you inside people's minds."

30 review for Paycheck and Other Classic Stories

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tim Hicks

    A lot of reviewers here seem to have missed that these stories are mostly from Dick's earliest work, and that they were written 55-60 years ago. They're not his best work, and are perhaps most useful in examining how he got started. Some of the stories are predictable, some aren't. Some have wonderfully clever ideas, some don't. Mozart wrote at least 48 symphonies; at most 5 are anything like famous. Michael Jordan missed more than 9000 shots in his career, and yet people watched him anyway. A A lot of reviewers here seem to have missed that these stories are mostly from Dick's earliest work, and that they were written 55-60 years ago. They're not his best work, and are perhaps most useful in examining how he got started. Some of the stories are predictable, some aren't. Some have wonderfully clever ideas, some don't. Mozart wrote at least 48 symphonies; at most 5 are anything like famous. Michael Jordan missed more than 9000 shots in his career, and yet people watched him anyway. A great collection of short stories? No. A worthwhile read to learn more about PK Dick and have a decent time on the way? Yes.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    Philip K. Dick once explained that he felt novels must be driven by the characters, whereas short stories are driven by an idea or a concept (something like that, i'm paraphrasing). In my estimation, Dick's great strength is not his dialogue and character development. Instead, it's his ability to take an aspect of culture or society, and turn it on it's ear. Nothing showcases this ability like his short stories. For anyone who's on the fence regarding Dick's work, I recommend picking this one up Philip K. Dick once explained that he felt novels must be driven by the characters, whereas short stories are driven by an idea or a concept (something like that, i'm paraphrasing). In my estimation, Dick's great strength is not his dialogue and character development. Instead, it's his ability to take an aspect of culture or society, and turn it on it's ear. Nothing showcases this ability like his short stories. For anyone who's on the fence regarding Dick's work, I recommend picking this one up. On the brightside, short stories are pretty non-committal, at least time-wise...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    This collection of short stories from PKD shows the beginning explorations of themes that would later form the core of his work - themes of identity, time travel, and the humanity/inhumanity of objects and robots. It is a fantastic look into a strange mind.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Too funny! Didn't realize this was a collection of short stories and was wondering how the different parts would eventually come together. Figured out the truth on chapter 5 - duh! Too funny! Didn't realize this was a collection of short stories and was wondering how the different parts would eventually come together. Figured out the truth on chapter 5 - duh!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I haven't had the pleasure of being a PKD fan for long, but I can say, without a doubt, that he is one of my favorite authors. Before Paycheck, I've only been familiar with Dick's novels, so I therefore had not read any of his short stories. How astounded was I then when confronted with Paycheck and Other Classic Stories at a used bookstore while on holiday in Savannah, Georgia? Ecstatic would be a more appropriate word, I think. Needless to say, I was more than excited to read through several o I haven't had the pleasure of being a PKD fan for long, but I can say, without a doubt, that he is one of my favorite authors. Before Paycheck, I've only been familiar with Dick's novels, so I therefore had not read any of his short stories. How astounded was I then when confronted with Paycheck and Other Classic Stories at a used bookstore while on holiday in Savannah, Georgia? Ecstatic would be a more appropriate word, I think. Needless to say, I was more than excited to read through several of PKD's shorter works. I have to admit, PKD's short stories, while intriguing, didn't grasp me as much as his larger novels usually do. I love PKD for his vision, and I felt myself longing for his usual amount of imagery and detail. However, every single story within this collection had me either grinning from ear to ear or looking up from the page with "Mother of God!"-like horror. Which goes to show you how fun this collection really is. All in all, if you love PKD, then you'll love Paycheck. It's as simple as that...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bob Walder

    Beware those of you who have seen the film and are looking for "the book of the film". This is yet another collection of Dick's short stories, Paycheck making up only the first 20-30 pages. It's a good short story, and I am always amazed by how many of his were taken up by Hollywood and expanded into feature films - the guy did have some good ideas though! Beware those of you who have seen the film and are looking for "the book of the film". This is yet another collection of Dick's short stories, Paycheck making up only the first 20-30 pages. It's a good short story, and I am always amazed by how many of his were taken up by Hollywood and expanded into feature films - the guy did have some good ideas though!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andy Mascola

    A collection of short and medium-length speculative fiction tales written between 1952 and 1955. PKD was in his mid-20s when he wrote these stories that range from serious Twilight Zone-esque parables to cute and funny yarns. Liked it.‬

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nina {ᴡᴏʀᴅs ᴀɴᴅ ᴡᴀᴛᴇʀ}

    4 stars might be generous since I don't love the majority of these short stories, but I'm just biased because, strangely enough, I really enjoy Philip K. Dick's works! So, the stories in this collection are: "Paycheck" "Nanny" "Jon’s World" "The Little Movement"" "Breakfast at Twilight" "Small Town" "The Father-Thing" "The Chromium Fence" "Autofac" "The Days of Perky Pat" "Stand-by" "A Little Something for Us Tempunauts" "The Pre-persons" And my favourite stories were Paycheck, Nanny, Jon's World, and The Pre 4 stars might be generous since I don't love the majority of these short stories, but I'm just biased because, strangely enough, I really enjoy Philip K. Dick's works! So, the stories in this collection are: "Paycheck" "Nanny" "Jon’s World" "The Little Movement"" "Breakfast at Twilight" "Small Town" "The Father-Thing" "The Chromium Fence" "Autofac" "The Days of Perky Pat" "Stand-by" "A Little Something for Us Tempunauts" "The Pre-persons" And my favourite stories were Paycheck, Nanny, Jon's World, and The Pre-Persons. Why do I like these? Paycheck is a clever look at time travel - or in this case, time scooping, where on could use a special mirror device to look forward into the future and then use the special claw device to scoop up something from that point. I love it. The story not only gives us action and tension, but also brings forward the question of having the power and ability to look forward into the future. It's definitely PKD all over it. Nanny is not my favourite because I love it. I like it because the ending notes frustrate me. It's a thought provoking story about the consumerism, marketing practice, the violence loving/competitive nature of some facets of society, and materialism. The problem with this story is I kept thinking, what about the children? How will they deal with attachment when their Nanny is constantly in a live or die situation??? And the amazing thing is, parents don't consider this for their children - a great contrast to society now where we're deeply concerned with who we leave our children in the care of - instead they're more concerned off buying bigger and better. In doing this, they do in some ways protect their children, but risk having to buy another. It becomes almost barbaric! Jon's World is a sad little story. It's also about time travel, but also about a father who lobotomises his own child (there is so many socially unacceptable things about this) child before he goes on a mission back in time to save the Earth from technological apocalypse (not unlike Terminator's Judgement Day). He does it to his child because Jon is getting worse - his vision's, or his father thinks--hallucinations. But when he goes back in time and with his partner completes the mission, while accidentally killing an important key figure, and then returns back to the future. It's in the new present that he realises he had made a mistake. That the world that they had come back to was the world his son had been seeing all along. He attempts to go back, but he's stopped by his partner. And The Pre-Persons is obviously a statement about abortion, the age acceptable for killing an unborn child, and what it means. I like this one because of this statement. Especially the part when a highly qualified man with a Stanford degree makes the pound van take him to the pound along with all the other children who don't have a D card - as if they were merely stray cats or dogs (in this stories, stray cats and dogs aren't even collected, just killed, while loose children are designated as 'strays' that have to be collected for a price). He does it to make a statement, and it does, getting into the papers the same day. But, as always, I enjoyed PKD's works. They've always got something to say, even the not so great ones - I didn't really have much to say about Perky Pat or the Father-Thing.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Like many of his contemporaries, Philip K. Dick started out serving a kind of informal apprenticeship writing short stories for the various pulp science fiction magazines of the 1950's. The first of these early stories are collected here, in the order they were written (rather than by publishing date). If you've read short science fiction stories from this period, you'll recognize many of the plot elements Dick uses here. There are intrepid spacemen landing on strange worlds, nuclear wars, all-k Like many of his contemporaries, Philip K. Dick started out serving a kind of informal apprenticeship writing short stories for the various pulp science fiction magazines of the 1950's. The first of these early stories are collected here, in the order they were written (rather than by publishing date). If you've read short science fiction stories from this period, you'll recognize many of the plot elements Dick uses here. There are intrepid spacemen landing on strange worlds, nuclear wars, all-knowing computers, robots, etc. etc. For many of these stories, if I didn't know PKD had written them, I might just as easily have said they were written by Frederic Brown, or Ray Bradbury or any number of other writers from the forties and fifties. There were certain tropes the magazine editors wanted, and the authors knew how to crank out the stories that would sell to those editors. Some, like "The Skull" and "Colony," have utterly predictable twist endings. Some, like the title story, "Paycheck," are clever and enjoyable. There are a couple stories featuring an eccentric inventor named Doctor Labyrinth that are funny in a weird, quirky way. A few, like "Roog," are considered classics. Nothing as mindblowing as PKD's novels, but an interesting look at the early part of his career.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mark Adams

    Dick is an amazing science fiction writer. His full novels are fine, but take some getting into. I think he is at his best when he writes short stories. I love this volume in particular. You can almost never guess exactly where he's going with the ending. There are some really unconventional plot structures, which I find refreshing. Dick is an amazing science fiction writer. His full novels are fine, but take some getting into. I think he is at his best when he writes short stories. I love this volume in particular. You can almost never guess exactly where he's going with the ending. There are some really unconventional plot structures, which I find refreshing.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I really like Phillip Dick, he's definately (IMHO) one of the best sci-fi writers ever. Of course, this book is a collection of short stories so invariably you will have some that you like better than others. My favorite stories were "Paycheck," "The Variable Man," "The Skull," and "The Infinities." "The Indefatigable Frog" was very clever, but "Out in the Garden" just gave me the creeps. I really like Phillip Dick, he's definately (IMHO) one of the best sci-fi writers ever. Of course, this book is a collection of short stories so invariably you will have some that you like better than others. My favorite stories were "Paycheck," "The Variable Man," "The Skull," and "The Infinities." "The Indefatigable Frog" was very clever, but "Out in the Garden" just gave me the creeps.

  12. 4 out of 5

    GMCL Temecula

    This is a collection of short stories from Philip K. Dick's early career. Some of the stories presented here might not be what one would usually think of when considering the genre of Science-Fiction. As Philip K. Dick points out in the introduction, specifics regarding spaceships and laser-guns isn't what the form is all about- rather, the work must revolve around a "conceptual dislocation- the new idea, in other words". He further separates it from fantasy by acknowledging that a judgement cal This is a collection of short stories from Philip K. Dick's early career. Some of the stories presented here might not be what one would usually think of when considering the genre of Science-Fiction. As Philip K. Dick points out in the introduction, specifics regarding spaceships and laser-guns isn't what the form is all about- rather, the work must revolve around a "conceptual dislocation- the new idea, in other words". He further separates it from fantasy by acknowledging that a judgement call must be made in regards to the possibility of the idea. With that in mind, as strange or near-fantastical as several of the stories in this book are, they seem to fall well within this definition of sci-fi, with the exception of two or three stories. I mention "near-fantastical" because there are stories where animals speak and machines perform miraculous feats but upon reflection many of these things occur in a way that one can believe in their possibility [find synonym], at least within the universe presented. There are also a few that might actually cross that line into fantasy (such as The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford), though these seem to be more lighthearted/tongue in cheek. The length of the stories vary, some being very short, others approaching novella length, most somewhere in between. Dick makes excellent use of the length of the story, the central idea being strong in all of them, the plotting tight, etc. The characters can be a bit thin or underdeveloped but this isn't unusual in short stories, particularly in these kind where all the elements of it are made to serve the central idea. Rarely will things be explained in an exposition dump, but rather the details of the universe depicted are revealed bit by bit. This can be disorienting at times, and the pace may even be relentless. The length of the stories allow one to be carried along at a brisk pace, alleviating this for the most part- in Dick's full length novels this aspect tends to be more pronounced. While this can be very interesting in its own right it also might not agree with every reader, something to keep in mind if you would like to use this book to branch out to his novels. Overall this book serves as an excellent introduction to Philip K. Dick's work and an enjoyable read on its own. The stories that stood out to me personally were Beyond Lies the Wub, Mr. Spaceship, Expendable, and the titular Paycheck. -Posted by Emmanuel R

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dan Trefethen

    Picked this up at the little free library because I've enjoyed some of Dick's novels and stories in the past. However, this collection is comprised of some of his earliest work, material he wrote quickly and published in the pulps of the 1950s. It shows. It's the early part of the Cold War period and there's a lot of warlike stories that have a twist to them. Dick obviously opposed the simplicity of the Us v. Them mentality, throwing in twists on that theme. He also showed early indications of an Picked this up at the little free library because I've enjoyed some of Dick's novels and stories in the past. However, this collection is comprised of some of his earliest work, material he wrote quickly and published in the pulps of the 1950s. It shows. It's the early part of the Cold War period and there's a lot of warlike stories that have a twist to them. Dick obviously opposed the simplicity of the Us v. Them mentality, throwing in twists on that theme. He also showed early indications of an acknowlegement that there are non-human entities that were persons, in stories like "Beyond Lies the Wub" and "Colony". The title story is probably the best known and most complex, and the only story herein that was made into a movie. It's clear why the publisher named the collection this way. This book is for Dick fans who are curious about the origins of his thoughts and the structure of his early work, but those unfamiliar with Dick should not start here.

  14. 5 out of 5

    E Wilson

    This was one of my son's books. I don't know if I agree with the statement that Mr. Dick was the greatest science fiction mind on any planet, but he does have an unbelievable imagination. Many of the stories portray our future world as a rather dismal place where humans toil monotonously making weapons of war. The earth, and sometimes the whole solar system is united in a fight against other worlds. Some of the stories are bland and predictable. Some, like The Preserving Machine are bizarre-the idea This was one of my son's books. I don't know if I agree with the statement that Mr. Dick was the greatest science fiction mind on any planet, but he does have an unbelievable imagination. Many of the stories portray our future world as a rather dismal place where humans toil monotonously making weapons of war. The earth, and sometimes the whole solar system is united in a fight against other worlds. Some of the stories are bland and predictable. Some, like The Preserving Machine are bizarre-the idea of putting musical scores in an experimental box and they come out as birds and insects. The King of the Elves and Expendable are more fantasy than science fiction. My favorites were Meddler where a desperate attempt to thwart a foreseen problem backfires, and The Colony with a surprise but not surprising ending.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mirko

    PKD is classic SF. What that means is that most of the twists in his stories have been re-used by every SF/supernatural thriller. This collection reads like a set of blue-prints to be used in other stories - not a lot of meat, minimal character development, just the setup and the twist. I'm just sorry that they don't pack the same punch as they did when they were written (50-60s). What's really cool are the notes on the stories that are in the Introduction and Afterword. They shed some light on h PKD is classic SF. What that means is that most of the twists in his stories have been re-used by every SF/supernatural thriller. This collection reads like a set of blue-prints to be used in other stories - not a lot of meat, minimal character development, just the setup and the twist. I'm just sorry that they don't pack the same punch as they did when they were written (50-60s). What's really cool are the notes on the stories that are in the Introduction and Afterword. They shed some light on how the ideas came to be, and why Phil was writing them in his way.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sean Hall

    Dick's stories flow smoothly, and I never feel bogged down by overly complex writing, expansive setting, or unnecessary details. I am constantly surprised where the story takes me, and enjoy going along for the ride as Dick will introduce fantastic elements rooted in (for the characters involved) what seems like normal life situations. Considering the time period these stories were written, there is a very 1950s feel to the dialogue, which I think makes a nice juxtaposition to the futuristic ele Dick's stories flow smoothly, and I never feel bogged down by overly complex writing, expansive setting, or unnecessary details. I am constantly surprised where the story takes me, and enjoy going along for the ride as Dick will introduce fantastic elements rooted in (for the characters involved) what seems like normal life situations. Considering the time period these stories were written, there is a very 1950s feel to the dialogue, which I think makes a nice juxtaposition to the futuristic elements.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    Like most short story collections, this one is a bit hit and miss - but more hit than miss. A lot of interesting ideas here, and it fills the gap in the origin of concepts that were integrated later into novels. Particularly enjoyed "Paycheck", "Autofac", and the really wild boy-and-his-dog-esque "perky pat". Autofac was neat as a sequel to "Second Variety", which i didnt really expect. The worst story in ther collection by far is "the pre-persons" which is a weird satire about abortion - it was ha Like most short story collections, this one is a bit hit and miss - but more hit than miss. A lot of interesting ideas here, and it fills the gap in the origin of concepts that were integrated later into novels. Particularly enjoyed "Paycheck", "Autofac", and the really wild boy-and-his-dog-esque "perky pat". Autofac was neat as a sequel to "Second Variety", which i didnt really expect. The worst story in ther collection by far is "the pre-persons" which is a weird satire about abortion - it was haunting, weird, and i guess highlights PKD's catholic side

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jude Fawley

    There's some pleasant stand-outs here--I love the tone and concept of Nanny, for instance, and Meddler comes to mind--but it feels obvious sometimes that this is a person at the beginning of their career, with room to grow. The way he handles women, too, in stories like Paycheck and Mr. Spaceship--essentially forced/blackmailed into relationships with the protagonist as part of a "happy" ending--is hard to overlook. I've got hopes for his later short stories though. There's some pleasant stand-outs here--I love the tone and concept of Nanny, for instance, and Meddler comes to mind--but it feels obvious sometimes that this is a person at the beginning of their career, with room to grow. The way he handles women, too, in stories like Paycheck and Mr. Spaceship--essentially forced/blackmailed into relationships with the protagonist as part of a "happy" ending--is hard to overlook. I've got hopes for his later short stories though.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mish

    The short story collection definitely shows how PKD approached topics and literature, and each story is a little more subtle than the last. PKD definitely favors standoffs between older, archaic methods of doing things and newer, modern ways of doing things. This theme is made clearest in "The Variable Man". 9/10 The short story collection definitely shows how PKD approached topics and literature, and each story is a little more subtle than the last. PKD definitely favors standoffs between older, archaic methods of doing things and newer, modern ways of doing things. This theme is made clearest in "The Variable Man". 9/10

  20. 4 out of 5

    Michael Campisi

    I was worried that as a work of SF this book would have dated to the point that the stories were too far removed from the future I imagine when reading SF. However the writing is excellent and the collection of short stories compelling, stimulating, thought provoking and enjoyable from beginning to last.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tapio

    Collection of short stories bunched together seemingly semi-randomly, riding on the 2003 movie Paycheck. The stories vary a bit quality-wise, with highlights like Stand-by and Autofac. Not really Dick at his best, with some mediocre stories too.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Topher

    Book 2 of 14 books in 14 days I very much enjoyed paycheck and some of the others in this book but it didn't feel as much like the Dick novels I'm used to, though I expect that's because it's much of his earlier work. Book 2 of 14 books in 14 days I very much enjoyed paycheck and some of the others in this book but it didn't feel as much like the Dick novels I'm used to, though I expect that's because it's much of his earlier work.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bob Wolniak

    I love PKD short stories. These are mostly early to mid-50s and mostly sci-fi with a couple fantasy tales thrown in. Very good stuff but not as well-developed, prescient or profound as his 60s novels were. Still, unnevenly clever and occasionally crude., very worth reading.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mat

    If you're a Philip K Dick or sci-fi fan, this is for you. Maybe not ever story is a hit, but after all, this is some of his earliest work. But even when he was in his early 20s, he truly has some gems in here that are enough to keep you reading through some of his not-so-accomplished shorts. If you're a Philip K Dick or sci-fi fan, this is for you. Maybe not ever story is a hit, but after all, this is some of his earliest work. But even when he was in his early 20s, he truly has some gems in here that are enough to keep you reading through some of his not-so-accomplished shorts.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joe B.

    These are some of the most imaginative and thought provoking stories I have ever read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Austin Wright

    VOLUME 1 of 5.....

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sage

    I'm chalking this up as read even though I only made it to the two thirds point. I just can't. maybe his later work was good, shocking, etc. but this is tripe. I'm chalking this up as read even though I only made it to the two thirds point. I just can't. maybe his later work was good, shocking, etc. but this is tripe.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rob Christopher

    A whole lot of gems in here. Extremely enjoyable.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mike S

    Philip K Dick is unbelievably creative, his stories are endlessly imaginative. This collection has some really good stories in it. If you like sci-fi you have to sample Philip K Dick.

  30. 5 out of 5

    B.

    I liked these stories for their simple pleasure diversions. It was kind of like reading a collection of Outer Limits synopses.

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