For Philip K. Dick, ‘The Builder’ is not one of his better stories — nor is close to the best of his early 1950s works (‘The Preserving Machine’). A man (with the aid of his son) despite the continuous complaints of his perplexed wife, casually racist co-workers, and taunting neighbor is “compelled” (by what force remains unknown) to construct a large wooden vessel in his garage. The pay-off is forced and somewhat silly. However, the odd feel of sci-fi inflected life (I’m not sure the story is even sci-fi) in the suburbs so key to many PKD stories (for example, A Scanner Darkly) gives the tale a few pencil strokes of uncanny realism. Not really worth the time unless you’re a PKD completest….
First appeared in Amazing Stories, December-January, 1953….