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The Variable Man (2010)

by Philip K. Dick(Favorite Author)
3.68 of 5 Votes: 4
review 1: I spent a week with some classic SF this summer. It is amazing how relevant some of the stories remain. This Philip K Dick story is about waging virtual war - not pushing the big red button (in this case to launch the ultimate weapon, Icarus) until the computers tell us the probability of winning is overwhelming. Now, the war is with Proxima Centauri and not some Middle Eastern country, but the parallels are uncanny. In this story, the entire equation is thrown out of balance by the arrival of the variable man - with a surprising and thoughtful ending. I won't spoil the end, but this is a great read for fans of the genre.
review 2: Like most of Dick's writing, this novella says much more than the words on the page. It's a wonderfully entertaining sci-fi s
... moretory when viewed just from the surface. But peeling back the layers, this little book speaks to the ever-present need for holistic thinkers, generalists, people who have internalized vast quantities of knowledge from a wide variety of sources and can assimilate this knowledge as needed, across the various fields of learning. In an era when specialists are valued "über alles", generalists are distrusted, and areas of specialization are narrowing significantly, it's refreshing to read a story from the past with implications far into the future, telling how truly limiting specialization can be without the balance and oversight of a liberal education with general application. In short, the world is lost without both the guidance of those who can see the big picture, working with artistic thinkers, whose combination of "outside the box" mentality plus relentless pursuit of perfection and tenacity in reaching goals give meaning and purpose the work of the specialists whom we already so highly value. In short, this novella has everything I want in a book: an entertaining story with a layer of serious thought as underpinning. less
Reviews (see all)
Not a great piece of science fiction but a good read.
entertaining and forgettable.
1984 grade C+short stories
Good stuff.
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