The Defenders by Philip K Dick – short thought about the writer’s “pattern”

When you read one author’s works for a long time, you begin to see certain patterns.  For example, Lovecraft will spend pages over pages about the indescribable and unspeakable horror from something out of space or this world.  Sherlock Holmes stories contain many daily chit-chats between Sherlock Holmes and John Watson where Holmes explains his methods and Watson is awed like always.  I’m not saying these are bad; Lovecraft needs to describe those unspeakable horrors to emphasize the hopelessness of the situation, and Holmes and Watson’s conversations lead to the same conclusion(Watson admiring Holmes for whatever he does) so that Holmes’ lecture on deduction can be taken with admiration.

Philip K Dick has such pattern too, but one of his signature traits is rather interesting.  The one of such characteristics of his writings is twist.  None of PKD’s stories are straight-forward; when you think the situation will go in certain way, PKDk always twist the situation in opposite direction.

The Defenders is the good example of Philip K Dick’s “clichés”.  In the future where America and Soviets continues fighting the war after the nuclear blasted the whole surface, the Americans start to suspect something is not right.  For the last eight years, the humans have been using the robots called “leady” to fight the war on the surface but recent examination of one leady did not exhibit evidence of radiation.  Intrigued by this anomaly, the few American officers travel to the surface to investigate only to find that what they have believed was a lie.

This work is full of PKD’s signature characteristics, and you may feel dejavu if you have read his other works; the basic premise is similar to Penultimate Truth, and the concept of robots fighting humanity’s war can be seen in Second Variety as well.  Yet the same plot did not make it less amazing.  PKD’s concepts are quite fascinating that I did not mind reading variance of the same theme; for example, the humanity created killer robots to fight their war, how will the robots react?  Second Variety told one version of this scenario, and The Defenders showed completely different outcome despite being rooted from the same concept.  Every time you read the recurring theme in PKD’s work, you can be assured that it will not be the mere repetition.  There will be a twist when you think the story is going one way, and that twist keeps the story fresh.

I recommend reading both The Defenders and Second Variety and make comparisons.  If the writer finds him/herself writing about recurring theme, he/she should give variety into the subject in order to prevent redundancy and to experiment on the subject.   Examining how PKD handles the repeated topics may give you a hint with how you should handle observed redundancy.

Also, they are both good stories in my opinion.  So just read them both.


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