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Second Variety (Collected Stories: Vol 2) - Philip K. Dick After reading the final part of this five volume set of his chronologically ordered short stories, I fancies dipping into some of his earlier stories this time and so plumbed for volume two.

That these are from his early days as a writer, when he was churning out stories for the magazines by the dozen, is quite apparent . Many of the themes we commonly associate with Dick are to be found in here, often his first experiments with them, so they are of interest for that reason alone if nothing else. But these stories are very obviously written under the early days of the cold war and the prospect of nuclear annihilation is very much on the author's mind.

Many of the stories felt somewhat heavy handed and I could often see the twist a mile off but there were a few gems in here too. "Second Variety" and it's follow up "Jon's World" were both excellent. In a desperate attempt to avoid defeat at the hands of the Soviet Union in a third world war, the American's develop "Claws"; lethal, self replicating and deadly killing robots fuelled only by the desire to wipe out life. In "The Commuter" and "Small Town" we see Dick playing with the idea of shifting realities. In "Adjustment Team" the protagonist stumbles upon a secret benevolent organisation that is behind the scenes attempting to direct the course of human history. And in "The Impostor", we see Dick's first use of "replicants" and exploring the theme of how much one can rely on one's own memories.

All pretty much enjoyable to read but you would leave quite a few out if you were making a best of collection.