The Best of Philip K. Dick is a collection of 11 novellas and short stories by the author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the source novel for the science fiction film, Bladerunner, starring Harrison Ford. It was originally published in mass market paperback format in 1978.
Beyond the Door: It was a darling cuckoo clock that Larry Thomas bought for his wife, Doris. Got a good deal too, buying it at wholesale. But Larry and that damned cuckoo just never got along. You know what? For such a small thing, that wooden bird had one helluva sharp beak.
Beyond Lies the Wub: A dirty, 400-pound pig, the wub only cost half-a-buck. But it can speak, carry on conversations, and read minds. It's intelligent, but the spaceship crew is hungry and has it for dinner – not "over for," but "for" dinner – with a surprising result.
The Crystal Crypt: The last humans on the last flight from Mars to Terra are forced to land on the moon Deimos. Amongst the passengers is a trio of saboteurs whose last act on Mars was the theft of a city. They got away, of course, but they failed to realize that Martians are not that stupid.
The Defenders: A war rages overhead. Not in the sky, just on the ground. That's "overhead" because humans have been sheltered underground for eight years. And the weapons are getting smarter, finally prompting a suspicious human delegation to venture to the surface for a confrontation with the Leadys.
The Gun: As they flew by, all they could see were ruins. The planet is burned dry and the air is radioactive. Suddenly, their spaceship is struck by something atomic. Damaged and forced to land, they find an immense gun operated by sensors, and it's guarding the planet's treasure.
The Skull: He's a hunter, a hired killer who carries something to help him identify his prey – the intended victim's skull. How can he do it? The answer is a crystal time cage that takes him back 200 years to December 1960, to a xenophobic town where people are wary of strangers.
The Eyes Have It: Earth has been invaded by aliens that can be identified by the way their eyes detach from humanoid bodies and move around independently on their own. Plus, they can split in half, and they have no innards. In fact everything's detachable! Or so some of us think.
Second Variety: War just isn't the same any more, especially when government moved to the moon, leaving the soldiers behind, augmenting with small robotics that cut the Reds to pieces before hauling them away for disposal. The robots have improved themselves, and Variety 3 is the most dangerous. Or is it Variety 2?
The Variable Man (novella): Terra and Centaurus prepare for war, designing offensive and defensive weapons, keeping track of who's ahead in the arms race. A faster-than-light bomb is invented, signaling a "Go" when the odds shift in Terra's favor. Everything's set, until a fixit man from 215 years ago materializes, throwing everything into a tizzy. His work causes the bomb to fail, but is this bad? Or does it ensure a brighter future for Terrans?
Mr. Spaceship: The Yucconae (yuks) of Proxima protect their planet with living mines that can decide for themselves whether or not to detonate. So the Terrans develop a spaceship guided by the brain of a former professor, highly intelligent but very old and sickly. But like many an old man, he gets single-minded, and stubborn. Adam, meet Eve.
Piper in the Woods: Is it just delusory that the young corporal on Asteroid Y-3 thinks he's become a plant? Or that his newest ambition is to just sit in the sun and contemplate? Then, there are five more ... then 20, then 30. Just what is going on here? There is a forest, and it bears investigating.
The stories are all highly entertaining and imaginative, each presenting an ironic twist in its conclusion.
Philip K. Dick
Halcyon Press Ltd. Ebook edition ($1.99)