A Short Story Review: Recall Mechanism, Philip K. Dick (1959)

First publication for 'Recall Mechanism', If, July 1959

4/5 (Very Good)

“In the privacy of his living room, he sat dully examining a series  of reports on carrot mutations.”

Paul Sharp files reports on what to rebuild in the swathes of H-bomb blasted California landscape for the Division of War Destruction Salvage…  Sharp’s yet another anxiety-ridden citizen attending the Pysch Front for therapy — he has a type of hallucination triggered by walking up steps that spins out of control.  Humphreys, an analyst for the Pysch Front, attempts to treat him.  But the cause of his trauma is from six months in the future…

Philip K. Dick, as always, is adept at creating his iconic post-war California with a series of unusual images: the Detroit Rat and its webs, mutated carrots and the accompanying diseases, bombed eucalyptus groves…  ‘Recall Mechanism’ is most interesting (in regards to the continuity of the PKD canon) for its discussion of the origins of one of PKD’s central themes — precognition and its practitioners, precogs.

Definitely worth finding/reading!


9 thoughts on “A Short Story Review: Recall Mechanism, Philip K. Dick (1959)

  1. I am going to have to look for this one. I’ve only read Dick’s major works and I’ve been meaning to check out his others.

    • “Recall Mechanism” is an enjoyable and readable piece,but I think that’s all……but maybe that’s enough.Well,the images of bizarre animals,vegetables,and devastated pastoral scenes are very evocative,but only seem to provide background to an otherwise nice short story of flawed precognitive ability,which I suppose is an interesting theme.

      It does prefigure much of what would become vital to Dick in the next decade,and the mutant rats and description of a post holocaust California,have early shades of “Dr Bloodmoney”.It was written near the end of his long stint as a serial writer of short stories,about the time he wrote the excellent novel,”Eye in the Sky”.

      Can’t disagree with you about “Martian Time-Slip”.What made it so great,is that it’s a maverick novel that “frightened” it seems,even the hardcover houses that had earlier published “Time Out of Joint” and “The Man in the High Castle”,and took two years to be published as a book.

      Don Wollheim at Ace,expressed conservative views of it that upset his vision of future sf it appears!It was a novel ahead of it’s time,with uncomfortable themes that nobody,even the wayward publishers of sf, weren’t ready for.

      When are you going to do a review of it?

  2. Oh shame…..oh well,alright then.It wasn’t published in Britain until 1976,in hardcover by NEL,with an introduction by Brian Aldiss.

    • I have the gorgeous first paperback US edition.

      Yeah, perhaps I’ll give it a reread eventually. But, I’ve reread a grand total of five or so novels total… There’s too much to read!

  3. Yes I know,by Ballantine.NEL also published it in paperback the following year,with a very nice,but “romantic” cover,that wasn’t indicative of the content.My 1983 edition by same company,has one with the harsh Martian desert landscape and dreary housing development,that leaves no doubt of what you’re in for inside!Of course,it’s often amusing too,as Brian Aldiss points out.

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