Sunday, March 20, 2011

Do Large Pigs Have the Ability to Control Us All?

As noted here previously, I've begun reading a collection of Phillip K. Dick's classic sci-fi short stories.

"Beyond Lies the Wub," from 1952, is one of his most famous. And surely one of his most pointed.

A spaceship crew captures a large pig-like beast called a "wub" who has the power of sophisticated conversation. The wub even alludes to a possible talent for mind-control. One crew member protests when the captain disregards this nonsense and demands that they kill and eat the wub.

After the captain takes some bites, he asks the horrified crew member to continue the conversation they were having about the travels of Odysseus. The only thing? The crew member had been having that conversation with the wub, not the captain.

I haven't researched what points Dick was attempting to make, but there are several ways to look at it. Ambiguity is always my favorite trait of the best science fiction. It makes you stop and think. In this case, it makes you think about how easily others can take control of our minds and may even be a statement on the pig-headedness of some humans insisting in conquering other species and being closed-minded to the obvious signs of their needs.

If these stories continue in this direction, I'll be adding Phillip K. Dick to my shelf of favorite sci-fi authors, alongside Robert A. Heinlein, Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, and Douglas Adams.

****1/2 out of ***** stars

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