A Short Story Review: ‘The Builder’, Philip K. Dick, (1953)

2/5 (Poor)

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….




5 thoughts on “A Short Story Review: ‘The Builder’, Philip K. Dick, (1953)

  1. It was nothing special,but I liked it when I first read it in the Panther edition of “A Handful of Darkness”,but the poignancy of this mild fable,does’t become clear until the very end.Dick was producing little pieces like this at a furious rate at the time,and didn’t seem to know what to do next,and came out with things like this.

    If he’d had the time though,he might have constructed something more powerful and meaningful.

    • I haven’t read these in a while — really old reviews. But yeah, so many writers of the period were cranking out stories to eek by a living. One of my favorites of the era was C. M. Kornbluth, I really enjoy his satirical short fiction.

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