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114

1973

1974

Cadbury, The Beaver That Lacked

The Pre-Persons

 

FIRST PUBLICATION


HISTORY:

     "A Little Something For Us Tempunauts" was written by special request; as Tessa Dick said:

    Even then I wanted to get a job, and Phil said, "No way." So he started more writing. While he was somewhere in between finishing FLOW MY TEARS for Doubleday and beginning SCANNER, Ed Ferman wrote from F&SF and said they were doing an anniversary issue and they would like a story. So Phil wrote the story of the Tempunauts.

    Phil, too, writes of this time:

    In August 1970 I stopped writing, mid-point through FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID, and almost never wrote again. I had never in my life gone two whole years without being able to work, and I became more and more convinced with each passing month that I would never find my way back to writing – various editors asked me for stuff, I tried to write, I could not; I had to say sorry I have ceased writing, probably forever. Around December of 1972 I got a letter from Ed Ferman requesting a story and I sure wanted to write it; Tessa and I needed the money and I yearned to get back to writing… if I did not, and soon, then we could not marry, I was doomed forever in my sole career… I thought and thought but couldn’t get the handle on any idea worth anything – I was going to write to Ed and say what I had been saying to everyone else: "Sorry, but I can’t do it."

    Then a friend came by with the story The Poets of Millgrove, Iowa, and I read the first sf story in years that galvanized me into new life – like Kant reading Hume.

    That story, by John T. Sladek, can stand in the ranks of the all-time great short stories in the English language. Not with sf stories but with all, The masterpieces.

    Perhaps the first sf story to do so. Let’s face it – could any before that really do that?

    The Poets of Millgrove, Iowa changed in a flash my entire conception of what a good sf story is.

    So then I wrote "A Little Something For Us Tempunauts" for Ed Ferman because I had a new mind, a whole mind again, a writer’s mind, and it was set facing the future once more. Not miserably back in the direction of the past.

    Strangely enough, though, "A Little Something For Us Tempunauts" didn’t get published in F & SF but first saw publication in FINAL STAGE in 1974. Although Tessa Dick refers to the story as being written for F & SF, it was actually requested by Ed Ferman for FINAL STAGE. PKD clears this up in a letter to Charles Brown:

    P.S. Also, Charlie, I wrote and sold a 5,500 word story, the first story-length piece I’ve done in years. To Ed Ferman and Barry Malzberg for their new anthology, FINAL STAGE. They commissioned it. On the topic of time travel.

    It’s a downer, too. I consider time-travel a distinct downer. As bad as dope.

    "A Little Something For Us Tempunauts" was selected for the 1977 Ballantine collection, THE BEST OF PHILIP K. DICK and has other anthology appearances also.

    Philip Dick said of this story:

    In this story I felt a vast weariness over the space program, which had thrilled us so at the start -- especially the first lunar landing -- and then had been forgotten and virtually shut down, a relic of history. I wondered, if time-travel became a 'program', would it suffer the same fate? Or was there an even worse possibility latent in it, within the very nature of the paradoxes of time-travel?

    In this story tired chrononauts crash and die when their time machine returns from a trip to the future. But they’re still alive… and participate in their own funeral. Are they in a closed time-loop – and can they get out of it? Only time will tell…

    "A Little Something For Us Tempunauts" rates


 Other Magazine and Anthology appearances

1975 bestsf4a.jpg (7906 bytes) THE BEST SF OF THE YEAR #4, Ballantine, pb, ?, 1975, ?, ? (?) {Ed. Carr}     
1975 fs1a.jpg (8018 bytes) FINAL STAGE, Penguin, pb, ?, 1975, ?,?, (?) {Ed. Ferman}
1977 Xbest-of1.jpg (19204 bytes) THE BEST OF PHILIP K. DICK, Ballantine, pb, ?, 1977, ?, ? (DiFate)
1987 THE COLLECTED STORIES OF PHILIP K. DICK, Vol.5
1987 DarkDescent11.jpg (12123 bytes) THE DARK DESCENT, Tor, hb, ?, 1987, 1011pp, $29.95 (?) {Ed. Hartwell} 0-312-93035-6
1991 DarkDescent22.jpg (11176 bytes) THE DARK DESCENT, Grafton, ?, ?, 1991, ?,? (?) {Ed. Hartwell}

NOTES:

Philip K. Dick: Breakthroughs & Breakins, SF Commentary, July-‘Sep 1973

    In August 1970 I stopped writing, mid-point through FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID, and almost never wrote again. I had never in my life gone two whole years without being able to work, and I became more and more convinced with each passing month that I would never find my way back to writing – various editors asked me for stuff, I tried to write, I could not; I had to say sorry I have ceased writing, probably forever. Around December of 1972 I got a letter from Ed Ferman requesting a story and I sure wanted to write it; Tessa and I needed the money and I yearned to get back to writing… if I did not, and soon, then we could not marry, I was doomed forever in my sole career… I thought and thought but couldn’t get the handle on any idea worth anything – I was going to write to Ed and say what I had been saying to everyone else: "Sorry, but I can’t do it."

    Then a friend came by with the story THE POETS OF MILLGROVE, IOWA, and I read the first sf story in years that galvanized me into new life – like Kant reading Hume.

    That story, by John T. Sladek, can stand in the ranks of the all-time great short stories in the English language. Not with sf stories but with all, The masterpieces.

    Perhaps the first sf story to do so. Let’s face it – could any before that really do that?

    THE POETS OF MILLGROVE, IOWA changed in a flash my entire conception of what a good sf story is.

    So then I wrote A LITTLE SOMETHING FOR US TEMPUNAUTS for Ed Ferman because I had a new mind, a whole mind again, a writer’s mind, and it was set facing the future once more. Not miserably back in the direction of the past.
{An open letter from Philip K. Dick to John Sladek, Apr 23, 1973.} 

PKDS-13 5:

    (TD:) Even then I wanted to get a job, and Phil said, "No way." So he started more writing. While he was somewhere in between finishing FLOW MY TEARS for Doubleday and beginning SCANNER, Ed Ferman wrote from F&SF and said they were doing an anniversary issue and they would like a story. So Phil wrote the story of the Tempunauts." {Tessa Dick & J.B. Reynolds 1986}

Levack 107

    In this story I felt a vast weariness over the space program, which had thrilled us so at the start -- especially the first lunar landing -- and then had been forgotten and virtually shut down, a relic of history. I wondered, if time-travel became a 'program', would it suffer the same fate? Or was there an even worse possibility latent in it, within the very nature of the paradoxes of time-travel?  

------see also:


 Collector’s Notes

 


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