Dick takes a walk through self driving

The variable man was first published in Imagination Stories of Science and Fantasy, January 1953 and is one of many Sci.Fi stories from the American Author, perhaps best known for his short stories that ended up being the inspiration for the Hollywood movie "Minority Report". But worth mentioning is also "Blade Runner", Total Recall and the recent "Adjustment Bureau".
Photography and web adaptation by Michael A Koontz 2014, a Norse View Imaging and Publishing

Music of the day Sarcastrophe - by Slipknot

To the daisy that is my sun and inspiration

Chapters and pages, library and language menu to the left of the screen

Kramer leaned back.

“You can see the situation. How can we deal with a factor like this? The perfect variable.”

“Perfect? Prediction should still be possible. A living thing still acts from necessity, the same as inanimate material. But the cause-effect chain is more subtle; there are more factors to be considered. The difference is quantitative, I think. The reaction of the living organism parallels natural causation, but with greater complexity.” Gross and Kramer looked up at the board plates, suspended on the wall, still dripping, the images hardening into place. Kramer traced a line with his pencil. “See that? It’s a pseudopodium. They’re alive, and so far, a weapon we can’t beat. No mechanical system can compete with that, simple or intricate. We’ll have to scrap the Johnson Control and find something else.” “Meanwhile the war continues as it is. Stalemate. Checkmate. They can’t get to us, and we can’t get through their living minefield.”

Kramer nodded. “It’s a perfect defense, for them. But there still might be one answer.”

“What’s that?”

“Wait a minute.” Kramer turned to his rocket expert, sitting with the charts and files. “The heavy cruiser that returned this week. It didn’t actually touch, did it? It came close but there was no contact.” “Correct.” The expert nodded. “The mine was twenty miles off. The cruiser was in space-drive, moving directly toward Proxima, line-straight, using the Johnson Control, of course. It had deflected a quarter of an hour earlier for reasons unknown. Later it resumed its course. That was when they got it.” “It shifted,” Kramer said. “But not enough. The mine was coming along after it, trailing it. It’s the same old story, but I wonder about the contact.”

“Here’s our theory,” the expert said. “We keep looking for contact, a trigger in the pseudopodium. But more likely we’re witnessing a psychological phenomena, a decision without any physical correlative. We’re watching for something that isn’t there. The mine decides to blow up. It sees our ship, approaches, and then decides.” “Thanks.” Kramer turned to Gross. “Well, that confirms what I’m saying. How can a ship guided by automatic relays escape a mine that decides to explode? The whole theory of mine penetration is that you must avoid tripping the trigger. But here the trigger is a state of mind in a complicated, developed life-form.” “The belt is fifty thousand miles deep,” Gross added. “It solves another problem for them, repair and maintenance. The damn things reproduce, fill up the spaces by spawning into them. I wonder what they feed on?”

“Probably the remains of our first-line. The big cruisers must be a delicacy. It’s a game of wits, between a living creature and a ship piloted by automatic relays. The ship always loses.” Kramer opened a folder. “I’ll tell you what I suggest.” “Go on,” Gross said. “I’ve already heard ten solutions today. What’s yours?”

“Mine is very simple. These creatures are superior to any mechanical system, but only because they’re alive. Almost any other life-form could compete with them, any higher life-form. If the yuks can put out living mines to protect their planets, we ought to be able to harness some of our own life-forms in a similar way. Let’s make use of the same weapon ourselves.” “Which life-form do you propose to use?”

“I think the human brain is the most agile of known living forms. Do you know of any better?” “But no human being can withstand outspace travel. A human pilot would be dead of heart failure long before the ship got anywhere near Proxima.”

“But we don’t need the whole body,” Kramer said. “We need only the brain.”


“The problem is to find a person of high intelligence who would contribute, in the same manner that eyes and arms are volunteered.” “But a brain….” “Technically, it could be done. Brains have been transferred several times, when body destruction made it necessary. Of course, to a spaceship, to a heavy outspace cruiser, instead of an artificial body, that’s new.”

The room was silent.

“It’s quite an idea,” Gross said slowly. His heavy square face twisted. “But even supposing it might work, the big question is whose brain?”

Confusing Reasons

for ever confusing wars

was all very confusing, the reasons for the war, the nature of the enemy. The Yucconae had been contacted on one of the outlying planets of Proxima Centauri. At the approach of the Terran ship, a host of dark slim pencils had lifted abruptly and shot off into the distance. The first real encounter came between three of the yuk pencils and a single exploration ship from Terra. No Terrans survived. After that it was all out war, with no holds barred. Both sides feverishly constructed defense rings around their systems. Of the two, the Yucconae belt was the better. The ring around Proxima was a living ring, superior to anything Terra could throw against it. The standard equipment by which Terran ships were guided in outspace, the Johnson Control, was not adequate. Something more was needed. Automatic relays were not good enough. —Not good at all, Kramer thought to himself, as he stood looking down the hillside at the work going on below him.

A warm wind blew along the hill, rustling the weeds and grass. At the bottom, in the valley, the mechanics had almost finished; the last elements of the reflex system had been removed from the ship and crated up. All that was needed now was the new core, the new central key that would take the place of the mechanical system.

A human brain, the brain of an intelligent, wary human being. But would the human being part with it? That was the problem. Kramer turned. Two people were approaching him along the road, a man and a woman. The man was Gross, expressionless, heavy-set, walking with dignity. The woman was—He stared in surprise and growing annoyance. It was Dolores, his wife. Since they’d separated he had seen little of her…. “Kramer,” Gross said. “Look who I ran into. Come back down with us. We’re going into town.”

“Hello, Phil,” Dolores said. “Well, aren’t you glad to see me?”

He nodded. “How have you been? You’re looking fine.” She was still pretty and slender in her uniform, the blue-grey of Internal Security, Gross’ organization. “Thanks.” She smiled. “You seem to be doing all right, too. Commander Gross tells me that you’re responsible for this project, Operation Head, as they call it.

Whose head have you decided on?” “That’s the problem.” Kramer lit a cigarette.

“This ship is to be equipped with a human brain instead of the Johnson system. We’ve constructed special draining baths for the brain, electronic relays to catch the impulses and magnify them, a continual feeding duct that supplies the living cells with everything they need. But—” “But we still haven’t got the brain itself,” Gross finished. They began to walk back toward the car. “If we can get that we’ll be ready for the tests.” “Will the brain remain alive?” Dolores asked. “Is it actually going to live as part of the ship?”

“It will be alive, but not conscious. Very little life is actually conscious. Animals, trees, insects are quick in their responses, but they aren’t conscious. In this process of ours the individual personality, the ego, will cease. We only need the response ability, nothing more.” Dolores shuddered.

“How terrible!”

“In time of war everything must be tried,” Kramer said absently. “If one life sacrificed will end the war it’s worth it. This ship might get through. A couple more like it and there wouldn’t be any more war.”

a life to sacrifice

They got into the car. As they drove down the road, Gross said, “Have you thought of anyone yet?”

Kramer shook his head. “That’s out of my line.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m an engineer. It’s not in my department.”

“But all this was your idea.”

“My work ends there.”

Gross was staring at him oddly. Kramer shifted uneasily.

“Then who is supposed to do it?” Gross said. “I can have my organization prepare examinations of various kinds, to determine fitness, that kind of thing—”

“Listen, Phil,” Dolores said suddenly.


She turned toward him. “I have an idea. Do you remember that professor we had in college. Michael Thomas?”

Kramer nodded.

“I wonder if he’s still alive.” Dolores frowned. “If he is he must be awfully old.” “Why, Dolores?” Gross asked. “Perhaps an old person who didn’t have much time left, but whose mind was still clear and sharp—”

“Professor Thomas.” Kramer rubbed his jaw. “He certainly was a wise old duck. But could he still be alive? He must have been seventy, then.” “We could find that out,” Gross said. “I could make a routine check.”

“What do you think?” Dolores said. “If any human mind could outwit those creatures—” “I don’t like the idea,” Kramer said. In his mind an image had appeared, the image of an old man sitting behind a desk, his bright gentle eyes moving about the classroom. The old man leaning forward, a thin hand raised— “Keep him out of this,” Kramer said.

“What’s wrong?” Gross looked at him curiously.

“It’s because I suggested it,” Dolores said. “No.” Kramer shook his head. “It’s not that. I didn’t expect anything like this, somebody I knew, a man I studied under. I remember him very clearly. He was a very distinct personality.”

“Good,” Gross said. “He sounds fine.”

“We can’t do it. We’re asking his death!” “This is war,” Gross said, “and war doesn’t wait on the needs of the individual. You said that yourself. Surely he’ll volunteer; we can keep it on that basis.”

“He may already be dead,” Dolores murmured.

“We’ll find that out,” Gross said speeding up the car. They drove the rest of the way in silence.


Mr. Spaceship

a science fiction story
Created by
Philip K Dick


the Blanket of night and dream is where tomorrows amber day field is born

For a long time the two of them stood studying the small wood house, overgrown with ivy, set back on the lot behind an enormous oak. The little town was silent and sleepy; once in awhile a car moved slowly along the distant highway, but that was all. “This is the place,” Gross said to Kramer. He folded his arms. “Quite a quaint little house.”

Kramer said nothing. The two Security Agents behind them were expressionless.

Gross started toward the gate. “Let’s go. According to the check he’s still alive, but very sick. His mind is agile, however. That seems to be certain. It’s said he doesn’t leave the house. A woman takes care of his needs. He’s very frail.” They went down the stone walk and up onto the porch. Gross rang the bell. They waited. After a time they heard slow footsteps. The door opened. An elderly woman in a shapeless wrapper studied them impassively. “Security,” Gross said, showing his card. “We wish to see Professor Thomas.”


“Government business.” He glanced at Kramer.

Kramer stepped forward. “I was a pupil of the Professor’s,” he said. “I’m sure he won’t mind seeing us.” The woman hesitated uncertainly. Gross stepped into the doorway. “All right, mother. This is war time. We can’t stand out here.”

The two Security agents followed him, and Kramer came reluctantly behind, closing the door. Gross stalked down the hall until he came to an open door. He stopped, looking in. Kramer could see the white corner of a bed, a wooden post and the edge of a dresser. He joined Gross.

In the dark room a withered old man lay, propped up on endless pillows. At first it seemed as if he were asleep; there was no motion or sign of life. But after a time Kramer saw with a faint shock that the old man was watching them intently, his eyes fixed on them, unmoving, unwinking. “Professor Thomas?” Gross said. “I’m Commander Gross of Security. This man with me is perhaps known to you—” The faded eyes fixed on Kramer.

“I know him. Philip Kramer…. You’ve grown heavier, boy.” The voice was feeble, the rustle of dry ashes. “Is it true you’re married now?” “Yes. I married Dolores French. You remember her.” Kramer came toward the bed. “But we’re separated. It didn’t work out very well. Our careers—”

“What we came here about, Professor,” Gross began, but Kramer cut him off with an impatient wave.

“Let me talk. Can’t you and your men get out of here long enough to let me talk to him?” Gross swallowed. “All right, Kramer.” He nodded to the two men. The three of them left the room, going out into the hall and closing the door after them. The old man in the bed watched Kramer silently. “I don’t think much of him,” he said at last. “I’ve seen his type before. What’s he want?”

“Nothing. He just came along. Can I sit down?” Kramer found a stiff upright chair beside the bed. “If I’m bothering you—” “No. I’m glad to see you again, Philip. After so long. I’m sorry your marriage didn’t work out.”

“How have you been?”

“I’ve been very ill. I’m afraid that my moment on the world’s stage has almost ended.” The ancient eyes studied the younger man reflectively. “You look as if you have been doing well. Like everyone else I thought highly of. You’ve gone to the top in this society.” Kramer smiled. Then he became serious. “Professor, there’s a project we’re working on that I want to talk to you about. It’s the first ray of hope we’ve had in this whole war. If it works, we may be able to crack the yuk defenses, get some ships into their system. If we can do that the war might be brought to an end.” “Go on. Tell me about it, if you wish.”

“It’s a long shot, this project. It may not work at all, but we have to give it a try.”

“It’s obvious that you came here because of it,” Professor Thomas murmured. “I’m becoming curious. Go on.”


in search of tomorrow

ter Kramer finished the old man lay back in the bed without speaking. At last he sighed. “I understand. A human mind, taken out of a human body.” He sat up a little, looking at Kramer. “I suppose you’re thinking of me.”

Kramer said nothing.

“Before I make my decision I want to see the papers on this, the theory and outline of construction. I’m not sure I like it.—For reasons of my own, I mean. But I want to look at the material. If you’ll do that—” “Certainly.” Kramer stood up and went to the door. Gross and the two Security Agents were standing outside, waiting tensely. “Gross, come inside.”

They filed into the room.

“Give the Professor the papers,” Kramer said. “He wants to study them before deciding.”

Gross brought the file out of his coat pocket, a manila envelope. He handed it to the old man on the bed. “Here it is, Professor. You’re welcome to examine it. Will you give us your answer as soon as possible? We’re very anxious to begin, of course.” “I’ll give you my answer when I’ve decided.” He took the envelope with a thin, trembling hand. “My decision depends on what I find out from these papers. If I don’t like what I find, then I will not become involved with this work in any shape or form.” He opened the envelope with shaking hands. “I’m looking for one thing.” “What is it?” Gross said.

“That’s my affair. Leave me a number by which I can reach you when I’ve decided.”

Silently, Gross put his card down on the dresser. As they went out Professor Thomas was already reading the first of the papers, the outline of the theory.

Kramer sat across from Dale Winter, his second in line. “What then?” Winter said.

“He’s going to contact us.” Kramer scratched with a drawing pen on some paper. “I don’t know what to think.”

“What do you mean?” Winter’s good-natured face was puzzled. “Look.” Kramer stood up, pacing back and forth, his hands in his uniform pockets. “He was my teacher in college. I respected him as a man, as well as a teacher. He was more than a voice, a talking book. He was a person, a calm, kindly person I could look up to. I always wanted to be like him, someday. Now look at me.” “So?”

“Look at what I’m asking. I’m asking for his life, as if he were some kind of laboratory animal kept around in a cage, not a man, a teacher at all.”

“Do you think he’ll do it?”

“I don’t know.” Kramer went to the window. He stood looking out. “In a way, I hope not.”

“But if he doesn’t—” “Then we’ll have to find somebody else. I know. There would be somebody else. Why did Dolores have to—”

The vidphone rang. Kramer pressed the button. “This is Gross.” The heavy features formed. “The old man called me. Professor Thomas.”

“What did he say?” He knew; he could tell already, by the sound of Gross’ voice.

“He said he’d do it. I was a little surprised myself, but apparently he means it. We’ve already made arrangements for his admission to the hospital. His lawyer is drawing up the statement of liability.” Kramer only half heard. He nodded wearily. “All right. I’m glad. I suppose we can go ahead, then.”

“You don’t sound very glad.”

“I wonder why he decided to go ahead with it.” “He was very certain about it.” Gross sounded pleased. “He called me quite early. I was still in bed. You know, this calls for a celebration.”

“Sure,” Kramer said. “It sure does.”

Middle of


Toward the middle of August the project neared completion.

They stood outside in the hot autumn heat, looking up at the sleek metal sides of the ship.

Gross thumped the metal with his hand. “Well, it won’t be long. We can begin the test any time.” “Tell us more about this,” an officer in gold braid said. “It’s such an unusual concept.”

“Is there really a human brain inside the ship?” a dignitary asked, a small man in a rumpled suit. “And the brain is actually alive?”

“Gentlemen, this ship is guided by a living brain instead of the usual Johnson relay-control system. But the brain is not conscious. It will function by reflex only. The practical difference between it and the Johnson system is this: a human brain is far more intricate than any man-made structure, and its ability to adapt itself to a situation, to respond to danger, is far beyond anything that could be artificially built.” Gross paused, cocking his ear. The turbines of the ship were beginning to rumble, shaking the ground under them with a deep vibration.

Kramer was standing a short distance away from the others, his arms folded, watching silently. At the sound of the turbines he walked quickly around the ship to the other side. A few workmen were clearing away the last of the waste, the scraps of wiring and scaffolding. They glanced up at him and went on hurriedly with their work. Kramer mounted the ramp and entered the control cabin of the ship. Winter was sitting at the controls with a Pilot from Space-transport. “How’s it look?” Kramer asked.

“All right.” Winter got up. “He tells me that it would be best to take off manually. The robot controls—” Winter hesitated. “I mean, the built-in controls, can take over later on in space.” “That’s right,” the Pilot said. “It’s customary with the Johnson system, and so in this case we should—”

“Can you tell anything yet?” Kramer asked.

“No,” the Pilot said slowly. “I don’t think so. I’ve been going over everything. It seems to be in good order. There’s only one thing I wanted to ask you about.” He put his hand on the control board. “There are some changes here I don’t understand.” “Changes?” “Alterations from the original design. I wonder what the purpose is.”

Kramer took a set of the plans from his coat. “Let me look.” He turned the pages over. The Pilot watched carefully over his shoulder.

“The changes aren’t indicated on your copy,” the Pilot said. “I wonder—” He stopped. Commander Gross had entered the control cabin. “Gross, who authorized alterations?” Kramer said. “Some of the wiring has been changed.”

“Why, your old friend.” Gross signaled to the field tower through the window.

“My old friend?”

“The Professor. He took quite an active interest.” Gross turned to the Pilot. “Let’s get going. We have to take this out past gravity for the test they tell me. Well, perhaps it’s for the best. Are you ready?” “Sure.” The Pilot sat down and moved some of the controls around. “Anytime.”

“Go ahead, then,” Gross said.

“The Professor—” Kramer began, but at that moment there was a tremendous roar and the ship leaped under him. He grasped one of the wall holds and hung on as best he could. The cabin was filling with a steady throbbing, the raging of the jet turbines underneath them. The ship leaped. Kramer closed his eyes and held his breath. They were moving out into space, gaining speed each moment.

Well, what do you think?” Winter said nervously. “Is it time yet?”

“A little longer,” Kramer said. He was sitting on the floor of the cabin, down by the control wiring. He had removed the metal covering-plate, exposing the complicated maze of relay wiring. He was studying it, comparing it to the wiring diagrams. “What’s the matter?” Gross said.

“These changes. I can’t figure out what they’re for. The only pattern I can make out is that for some reason—”

“Let me look,” the Pilot said. He squatted down beside Kramer. “You were saying?”

“See this lead here? Originally it was switch controlled. It closed and opened automatically, according to temperature change. Now it’s wired so that the central control system operates it. The same with the others. A lot of this was still mechanical, worked by pressure, temperature, stress. Now it’s under the central master.” “The brain?” Gross said. “You mean it’s been altered so that the brain manipulates it?”

Kramer nodded. “Maybe Professor Thomas felt that no mechanical relays could be trusted. Maybe he thought that things would be happening too fast. But some of these could close in a split second. The brake rockets could go on as quickly as—” “Hey,” Winter said from the control seat. “We’re getting near the moon stations. What’ll I do?”

They looked out the port. The corroded surface of the moon gleamed up at them, a corrupt and sickening sight. They were moving swiftly toward it.

“I’ll take it,” the Pilot said. He eased Winter out of the way and strapped himself in place. The ship began to move away from the moon as he manipulated the controls. Down below them they could see the observation stations dotting the surface, and the tiny squares that were the openings of the underground factories and hangars. A red blinker winked up at them and the Pilot’s fingers moved on the board in answer. “We’re past the moon,” the Pilot said, after a time. The moon had fallen behind them; the ship was heading into outer space. “Well, we can go ahead with it.”

Kramer did not answer.

“Mr. Kramer, we can go ahead any time.” Kramer started. “Sorry. I was thinking. All right, thanks.” He frowned, deep in thought.

“What is it?” Gross asked.

“The wiring changes. Did you understand the reason for them when you gave the okay to the workmen?” Gross flushed. “You know I know nothing about technical material. I’m in Security.”

“Then you should have consulted me.”

“What does it matter?” Gross grinned wryly. “We’re going to have to start putting our faith in the old man sooner or later.” The Pilot stepped back from the board. His face was pale and set. “Well, it’s done,” he said. “That’s it.” “What’s done?” Kramer said.

“We’re on automatic. The brain. I turned the board over to it—to him, I mean. The Old Man.” The Pilot lit a cigarette and puffed nervously. “Let’s keep our fingers crossed.”

Mr spaceship

piloted us through space

The ship was coasting evenly, in the hands of its invisible pilot. Far down inside the ship, carefully armoured and protected, a soft human brain lay in a tank of liquid, a thousand minute electric charges playing over its surface. As the charges rose they were picked up and amplified, fed into relay systems, advanced, carried on through the entire ship— Gross wiped his forehead nervously. “So he is running it, now. I hope he knows what he’s doing.”

Kramer nodded enigmatically. “I think he does.”

“What do you mean?”

“Nothing.” Kramer walked to the port. “I see we’re still moving in a straight line.” He picked up the microphone. “We can instruct the brain orally, through this.” He blew against the microphone experimentally. “Go on,” Winter said.

“Bring the ship around half-right,” Kramer said. “Decrease speed.”

They waited. Time passed. Gross looked at Kramer. “No change. Nothing.”

“Wait.” Slowly, the ship was beginning to turn. The turbines missed, reducing their steady beat. The ship was taking up its new course, adjusting itself. Nearby some space debris rushed past, incinerating in the blasts of the turbine jets. “So far so good,” Gross said.

They began to breathe more easily. The invisible pilot had taken control smoothly, calmly. The ship was in good hands. Kramer spoke a few more words into the microphone, and they swung again. Now they were moving back the way they had come, toward the moon. “Let’s see what he does when we enter the moon’s pull,” Kramer said. “He was a good mathematician, the old man. He could handle any kind of problem.”

The ship veered, turning away from the moon. The great eaten-away globe fell behind them. Gross breathed a sigh of relief. “That’s that.”

“One more thing.” Kramer picked up the microphone. “Return to the moon and land the ship at the first space field,” he said into it. “Good Lord,” Winter murmured. “Why are you—”

“Be quiet.” Kramer stood, listening. The turbines gasped and roared as the ship swung full around, gaining speed. They were moving back, back toward the moon again. The ship dipped down, heading toward the great globe below.

“We’re going a little fast,” the Pilot said. “I don’t see how he can put down at this velocity.”

The port filled up, as the globe swelled rapidly. The Pilot hurried toward the board, reaching for the controls. All at once the ship jerked. The nose lifted and the ship shot out into space, away from the moon, turning at an oblique angle. The men were thrown to the floor by the sudden change in course. They got to their feet again, speechless, staring at each other. The Pilot gazed down at the board. “It wasn’t me! I didn’t touch a thing. I didn’t even get to it.”

The ship was gaining speed each moment. Kramer hesitated. “Maybe you better switch it back to manual.”

The Pilot closed the switch. He took hold of the steering controls and moved them experimentally. “Nothing.” He turned around. “Nothing. It doesn’t respond.” No one spoke. “You can see what has happened,” Kramer said calmly. “The old man won’t let go of it, now that he has it. I was afraid of this when I saw the wiring changes. Everything in this ship is centrally controlled, even the cooling system, the hatches, the garbage release. We’re helpless.” “Nonsense.” Gross strode to the board. He took hold of the wheel and turned it. The ship continued on its course, moving away from the moon, leaving it behind. “Release!” Kramer said into the microphone. “Let go of the controls! We’ll take it back. Release.”

“No good,” the Pilot said. “Nothing.” He spun the useless wheel. “It’s dead, completely dead.”

“And we’re still heading out,” Winter said, grinning foolishly. “We’ll be going through the first-line defense belt in a few minutes. If they don’t shoot us down—” “We better radio back.” The Pilot clicked the radio to send. “I’ll contact the main bases, one of the observation stations.” “Better get the defense belt, at the speed we’re going. We’ll be into it in a minute.”

“And after that,” Kramer said, “we’ll be in outer space. He’s moving us toward outspace velocity. Is this ship equipped with baths?”

“Baths?” Gross said.

“The sleep tanks. For space-drive. We may need them if we go much faster.” “But good God, where are we going?” Gross said. “Where—where’s he taking us?” The Pilot obtained contact. “This is Dwight, on ship,” he said. “We’re entering the defense zone at high velocity. Don’t fire on us.” “Turn back,” the impersonal voice came through the speaker. “You’re not allowed in the defense zone.”

“We can’t. We’ve lost control.”

We have no control

“Lost control?”

“This is an experimental ship.”

Gross took the radio. “This is Commander Gross, Security. We’re being carried into outer space. There’s nothing we can do. Is there any way that we can be removed from this ship?” A hesitation. “We have some fast pursuit ships that could pick you up if you wanted to jump. The chances are good they’d find you. Do you have space flares?” “We do,” the Pilot said. “Let’s try it.”

“Abandon ship?” Kramer said. “If we leave now we’ll never see it again.” “What else can we do? We’re gaining speed all the time. Do you propose that we stay here?” “No.” Kramer shook his head. “Damn it, there ought to be a better solution.” “Could you contact him?” Winter asked. “The Old Man? Try to reason with him?”

“It’s worth a chance,” Gross said. “Try it.”

“All right.” Kramer took the microphone. He paused a moment. “Listen! Can you hear me? This is Phil Kramer. Can you hear me, Professor. Can you hear me? I want you to release the controls.” There was silence. “This is Kramer, Professor. Can you hear me? Do you remember who I am? Do you understand who this is?”

Above the control panel the wall speaker made a sound, a sputtering static. They looked up.

“Can you hear me, Professor. This is Philip Kramer. I want you to give the ship back to us. If you can hear me, release the controls! Let go, Professor. Let go!” Static. A rushing sound, like the wind. They gazed at each other. There was silence for a moment. “It’s a waste of time,” Gross said.


The sputter came again. Then, mixed with the sputter, almost lost in it, a voice came, toneless, without inflection, a mechanical, lifeless voice from the metal speaker in the wall, above their heads. “… Is it you, Philip? I can’t make you out. Darkness…. Who’s there? With you….” “It’s me, Kramer.” His fingers tightened against the microphone handle. “You must release the controls, Professor. We have to get back to Terra. You must.”

Silence. Then the faint, faltering voice came again, a little stronger than before. “Kramer. Everything so strange. I was right, though. Consciousness result of thinking. Necessary result. Cognito ergo sum. Retain conceptual ability. Can you hear me?” “Yes, Professor—”

“I altered the wiring. Control. I was fairly certain…. I wonder if I can do it. Try….” Suddenly the air-conditioning snapped into operation. It snapped abruptly off again. Down the corridor a door slammed. Something thudded. The men stood listening. Sounds came from all sides of them, switches shutting, opening. The lights blinked off; they were in darkness. The lights came back on, and at the same time the heating coils dimmed and faded. “Good God!” Winter said.

Water poured down on them, the emergency fire-fighting system. There was a screaming rush of air. One of the escape hatches had slid back, and the air was roaring frantically out into space. The hatch banged closed. The ship subsided into silence. The heating coils glowed into life. As suddenly as it had begun the weird exhibition ceased. “I can do—everything,” the dry, toneless voice came from the wall speaker. “It is all controlled. Kramer, I wish to talk to you. I’ve been—been thinking. I haven’t seen you in many years. A lot to discuss. You’ve changed, boy. We have much to discuss. Your wife—” The Pilot grabbed Kramer’s arm.

“There’s a ship standing off our bow. Look.”

Outside their port

a Terran Pursuit ship

They ran to the port.

A slender pale craft was moving along with them, keeping pace with them. It was signal-blinking.

“A Terran pursuit ship,” the Pilot said. “Let’s jump. They’ll pick us up. Suits—” He ran to a supply cupboard and turned the handle. The door opened and he pulled the suits out onto the floor.

“Hurry,” Gross said. A panic seized them. They dressed frantically, pulling the heavy garments over them. Winter staggered to the escape hatch and stood by it, waiting for the others. They joined him, one by one. “Let’s go!” Gross said. “Open the hatch.”

Winter tugged at the hatch. “Help me.”

They grabbed hold, tugging together. Nothing happened. The hatch refused to budge. “Get a crowbar,” the Pilot said. “Hasn’t anyone got a blaster?” Gross looked frantically around. “Damn it, blast it open!”

“Pull,” Kramer grated. “Pull together.”

“Are you at the hatch?” the toneless voice came, drifting and eddying through the corridors of the ship. They looked up, staring around them. “I sense something nearby, outside. A ship? You are leaving, all of you? Kramer, you are leaving, too? Very unfortunate. I had hoped we could talk. Perhaps at some other time you might be induced to remain.” “Open the hatch!” Kramer said, staring up at the impersonal walls of the ship. “For God’s sake, open it!”

There was silence, an endless pause. Then, very slowly, the hatch slid back. The air screamed out, rushing past them into space.

One by one they leaped, one after the other, propelled away by the repulsive material of the suits. A few minutes later they were being hauled aboard the pursuit ship. As the last one of them was lifted through the port, their own ship pointed itself suddenly upward and shot off at tremendous speed. It disappeared. Kramer removed his helmet, gasping. Two sailors held onto him and began to wrap him in blankets. Gross sipped a mug of coffee, shivering.

“It’s gone,” Kramer murmured.

“I’ll have an alarm sent out,” Gross said.

“What’s happened to your ship?” a sailor asked curiously. “It sure took off in a hurry. Who’s on it?” “We’ll have to have it destroyed,” Gross went on, his face grim. “It’s got to be destroyed. There’s no telling what it—what he has in mind.” Gross sat down weakly on a metal bench. “What a close call for us. We were so damn trusting.” “What could he be planning,” Kramer said, half to himself. “It doesn’t make sense. I don’t get it.”

As the ship sped back toward the moon base they sat around the table in the dining room, sipping hot coffee and thinking, not saying very much. “Look here,” Gross said at last. “What kind of man was Professor Thomas? What do you remember about him?”

Kramer put his coffee mug down. “It was ten years ago. I don’t remember much. It’s vague.”

He let his mind run back over the years. He and Dolores had been at Hunt College together, in physics and the life sciences. The College was small and set back away from the momentum of modern life. He had gone there because it was his home town, and his father had gone there before him. Professor Thomas had been at the College a long time, as long as anyone could remember. He was a strange old man, keeping to himself most of the time. There were many things that he disapproved of, but he seldom said what they were. “Do you recall anything that might help us?” Gross asked. “Anything that would give us a clue as to what he might have in mind?”

Kramer nodded slowly. “I remember one thing….”

One day he and the Professor had been sitting together in the school chapel, talking leisurely. “Well, you’ll be out of school, soon,” the Professor had said. “What are you going to do?” “Do? Work at one of the Government Research Projects, I suppose.”

“And eventually? What’s your ultimate goal?”

Kramer had smiled. “The question is unscientific. It presupposes such things as ultimate ends.”

“Suppose instead along these lines, then: What if there were no war and no Government Research Projects? What would you do, then?”

“I don’t know. But how can I imagine a hypothetical situation like that? There’s been war as long as I can remember. We’re geared for war. I don’t know what I’d do. I suppose I’d adjust, get used to it.” The Professor had stared at him. “Oh, you do think you’d get accustomed to it, eh? Well, I’m glad of that. And you think you could find something to do?”

Gross listened intently. “What do you infer from this, Kramer?”

“Not much. Except that he was against war.”

“We’re all against war,” Gross pointed out. “True. But he was withdrawn, set apart. He lived very simply, cooking his own meals. His wife died many years ago. He was born in Europe, in Italy. He changed his name when he came to the United States. He used to read Dante and Milton. He even had a Bible.” “Very anachronistic, don’t you think?”

“Yes, he lived quite a lot in the past. He found an old phonograph and records, and he listened to the old music. You saw his house, how old-fashioned it was.” “Did he have a file?” Winter asked Gross.

“With Security? No, none at all. As far as we could tell he never engaged in political work, never joined anything or even seemed to have strong political convictions.” “No,” Kramer, agreed. “About all he ever did was walk through the hills. He liked nature.”

“Nature can be of great use to a scientist,” Gross said. “There wouldn’t be any science without it.”

“Kramer, what do you think his plan is, taking control of the ship and disappearing?” Winter said. “Maybe the transfer made him insane,” the Pilot said. “Maybe there’s no plan, nothing rational at all.”

“But he had the ship rewired, and he had made sure that he would retain consciousness and memory before he even agreed to the operation. He must have had something planned from the start. But what?” “Perhaps he just wanted to stay alive longer,” Kramer said. “He was old and about to die. Or—”

“Or what?”

“Nothing.” Kramer stood up. “I think as soon as we get to the moon base I’ll make a vidcall to earth. I want to talk to somebody about this.” “Who’s that?” Gross asked.

“Dolores. Maybe she remembers something.” “That’s a good idea,” Gross said.


and Dolores

“Where are you calling from?” Dolores asked, when he succeeded in reaching her.

“From the moon base.”

“All kinds of rumors are running around. Why didn’t the ship come back? What happened?” “I’m afraid he ran off with it.”


“The Old Man. Professor Thomas.” Kramer explained what had happened. Dolores listened intently. “How strange. And you think he planned it all in advance, from the start?” “I’m certain. He asked for the plans of construction and the theoretical diagrams at once.”

“But why? What for?”

“I don’t know. Look, Dolores. What do you remember about him? Is there anything that might give a clue to all this?” “Like what?” “I don’t know. That’s the trouble.”

On the vidscreen Dolores knitted her brow. “I remember he raised chickens in his back yard, and once he had a goat.” She smiled. “Do you remember the day the goat got loose and wandered down the main street of town? Nobody could figure out where it came from.” “Anything else?” “No.” He watched her struggling, trying to remember. “He wanted to have a farm, sometime, I know.”

“All right. Thanks.” Kramer touched the switch. “When I get back to Terra maybe I’ll stop and see you.”

“Let me know how it works out.” He cut the line and the picture dimmed and faded. He walked slowly back to where Gross and some officers of the Military were sitting at a chart table, talking. “Any luck?” Gross said, looking up.

“No. All she remembers is that he kept a goat.”

“Come over and look at this detail chart.” Gross motioned him around to his side. “Watch!” Kramer saw the record tabs moving furiously, the little white dots racing back and forth.

“What’s happening?” he asked.

“A squadron outside the defense zone has finally managed to contact the ship. They’re maneuvering now, for position. Watch.” The white counters were forming a barrel formation around a black dot that was moving steadily across the board, away from the central position. As they watched, the white dots constricted around it. “They’re ready to open fire,” a technician at the board said. “Commander, what shall we tell them to do?”

Gross hesitated. “I hate to be the one who makes the decision. When it comes right down to it—”

“It’s not just a ship,” Kramer said. “It’s a man, a living person. A human being is up there, moving through space. I wish we knew what—” “But the order has to be given. We can’t take any chances. Suppose he went over to them, to the yuks.”

Kramer’s jaw dropped. “My God, he wouldn’t do that.”

“Are you sure? Do you know what he’ll do?” “He wouldn’t do that.”

Gross turned to the technician. “Tell them to go ahead.”

“I’m sorry, sir, but now the ship has gotten away. Look down at the board.”

unusual Strategies

old Prussian devices

Gross stared down, Kramer over his shoulder.

The black dot had slipped through the white dots and had moved off at an abrupt angle. The white dots were broken up, dispersing in confusion. “He’s an unusual strategist,” one of the officers said. He traced the line. “It’s an ancient maneuver, an old Prussian device, but it worked.” The white dots were turning back. “Too many yuk ships out that far,” Gross said. “Well, that’s what you get when you don’t act quickly.” He looked up coldly at Kramer. “We should have done it when we had him. Look at him go!” He jabbed a finger at the rapidly moving black dot. The dot came to the edge of the board and stopped. It had reached the limit of the chartered area. “See?” —Now what? Kramer thought, watching. So the Old Man had escaped the cruisers and gotten away. He was alert, all right; there was nothing wrong with his mind. Or with his ability to control his new body. Body—The ship was a new body for him.

He had traded in the old dying body, withered and frail, for this hulking frame of metal and plastic, turbines and rocket jets. He was strong, now. Strong and big. The new body was more powerful than a thousand human bodies. But how long would it last him? The average life of a cruiser was only ten years. With careful handling he might get twenty out of it, before some essential part failed and there was no way to replace it. And then, what then? What would he do, when something failed and there was no one to fix it for him? That would be the end. Someplace, far out in the cold darkness of space, the ship would slow down, silent and lifeless, to exhaust its last heat into the eternal timelessness of outer space. Or perhaps it would crash on some barren asteroid, burst into a million fragments. It was only a question of time.

“Your wife didn’t remember anything?” Gross said.

“I told you. Only that he kept a goat, once.” “A hell of a lot of help that is.” Kramer shrugged. “It’s not my fault.” “I wonder if we’ll ever see him again.” Gross stared down at the indicator dot, still hanging at the edge of the board. “I wonder if he’ll ever move back this way.”

“I wonder, too,” Kramer said.

That night Kramer lay in bed, tossing from side to side, unable to sleep.

The moon gravity, even artificially increased, was unfamiliar to him and it made him uncomfortable. A thousand thoughts wandered loose in his head as he lay, fully awake. What did it all mean? What was the Professor’s plan? Maybe they would never know. Maybe the ship was gone for good; the Old Man had left forever, shooting into outer space. They might never find out why he had done it, what purpose—if any—had been in his mind. Kramer sat up in bed. He turned on the light and lit a cigarette.

His quarters were small, a metal-lined bunk room, part of the moon station base. The Old Man had wanted to talk to him. He had wanted to discuss things, hold a conversation, but in the hysteria and confusion all they had been able to think of was getting away. The ship was rushing off with them, carrying them into outer space. Kramer set his jaw. Could they be blamed for jumping? They had no idea where they were being taken, or why. They were helpless, caught in their own ship, and the pursuit ship standing by waiting to pick them up was their only chance. Another half hour and it would have been too late. But what had the Old Man wanted to say? What had he intended to tell him, in those first confusing moments when the ship around them had come alive, each metal strut and wire suddenly animate, the body of a living creature, a vast metal organism? It was weird, unnerving. He could not forget it, even now. He looked around the small room uneasily.

What did it signify, the coming to life of metal and plastic? All at once they had found themselves inside a living creature, in its stomach, like Jonah inside the whale. It had been alive, and it had talked to them, talked calmly and rationally, as it rushed them off, faster and faster into outer space. The wall speaker and circuit had become the vocal cords and mouth, the wiring the spinal cord and nerves, the hatches and relays and circuit breakers the muscles. They had been helpless, completely helpless. The ship had, in a brief second, stolen their power away from them and left them defenseless, practically at its mercy. It was not right; it made him uneasy. All his life he had controlled machines, bent nature and the forces of nature to man and man’s needs. The human race had slowly evolved until it was in a position to operate things, run them as it saw fit. Now all at once it had been plunged back down the ladder again, prostrate before a Power against which they were children. Kramer got out of bed. He put on his bathrobe and began to search for a cigarette.

While he was searching, the vidphone rang. He snapped the vidphone on.


The face of the immediate monitor appeared. “A call from Terra, Mr. Kramer. An emergency call.”

“Emergency call? For me? Put it through.” Kramer came awake, brushing his hair back out of his eyes. Alarm plucked at him. From the speaker a strange voice came. “Philip Kramer? Is this Kramer?”

“Yes. Go on.”

“This is General Hospital, New York City, Terra. Mr. Kramer, your wife is here. She has been critically injured in an accident. Your name was given to us to call. Is it possible for you to—” “How badly?” Kramer gripped the vidphone stand. “Is it serious?”

“Yes, it’s serious, Mr. Kramer. Are you able to come here? The quicker you can come the better.”

“Yes.” Kramer nodded. “I’ll come. Thanks.”

Moving ships

and injuries

The screen died as the connection was broken. Kramer waited a moment. Then he tapped the button. The screen relit again. “Yes, sir,” the monitor said.

“Can I get a ship to Terra at once? It’s an emergency. My wife—”

“There’s no ship leaving the moon for eight hours. You’ll have to wait until the next period.” “Isn’t there anything I can do?”

“We can broadcast a general request to all ships passing through this area. Sometimes cruisers pass by here returning to Terra for repairs.” “Will you broadcast that for me? I’ll come down to the field.”

“Yes sir. But there may be no ship in the area for awhile. It’s a gamble.” The screen died.

Kramer dressed quickly. He put on his coat and hurried to the lift. A moment later he was running across the general receiving lobby, past the rows of vacant desks and conference tables. At the door the sentries stepped aside and he went outside, onto the great concrete steps. The face of the moon was in shadow. Below him the field stretched out in total darkness, a black void, endless, without form. He made his way carefully down the steps and along the ramp along the side of the field, to the control tower. A faint row of red lights showed him the way. Two soldiers challenged him at the foot of the tower, standing in the shadows, their guns ready.


“Yes.” A light was flashed in his face. “Your call has been sent out already.”

“Any luck?” Kramer asked.

“There’s a cruiser nearby that has made contact with us. It has an injured jet and is moving slowly back toward Terra, away from the line.” “Good.” Kramer nodded, a flood of relief rushing through him. He lit a cigarette and gave one to each of the soldiers. The soldiers lit up.

“Sir,” one of them asked, “is it true about the experimental ship?”

“What do you mean?”

“It came to life and ran off?” “No, not exactly,” Kramer said. “It had a new type of control system instead of the Johnson units. It wasn’t properly tested.” “But sir, one of the cruisers that was there got up close to it, and a buddy of mine says this ship acted funny. He never saw anything like it. It was like when he was fishing once on Terra, in Washington State, fishing for bass. The fish were smart, going this way and that—” “Here’s your cruiser,” the other soldier said.


An enormous vague shape was setting slowly down onto the field. They could make nothing out but its row of tiny green blinkers. Kramer stared at the shape. “Better hurry, sir,” the soldiers said. “They don’t stick around here very long.”

“Thanks.” Kramer loped across the field, toward the black shape that rose up above him, extended across the width of the field. The ramp was down from the side of the cruiser and he caught hold of it. The ramp rose, and a moment later Kramer was inside the hold of the ship. The hatch slid shut behind him. As he made his way up the stairs to the main deck the turbines roared up from the moon, out into space. Kramer opened the door to the main deck. He stopped suddenly, staring around him in surprise.

There was nobody in sight. The ship was deserted. “Good God,” he said. Realization swept over him, numbing him. He sat down on a bench, his head swimming. “Good God.”

The ship roared out into space leaving the moon and Terra farther behind each moment.

And there was nothing he could do.

Your wife

is fine

“So it was you who put the call through,” he said at last. “It was you who called me on the vidphone, not any hospital on Terra. It was all part of the plan.” He looked up and around him. “And Dolores is really—” “Your wife is fine,” the wall speaker above him said tonelessly.

“It was a fraud. I am sorry to trick you that way, Philip, but it was all I could think of. Another day and you would have been back on Terra. I don’t want to remain in this area any longer than necessary. They have been so certain of finding me out in deep space that I have been able to stay here without too much danger. But even the purloined letter was found eventually.” Kramer smoked his cigarette nervously. “What are you going to do? Where are we going?”

“First, I want to talk to you. I have many things to discuss. I was very disappointed when you left me, along with the others. I had hoped that you would remain.” The dry voice chuckled. “Remember how we used to talk in the old days, you and I? That was a long time ago.” The ship was gaining speed. It plunged through space at tremendous speed, rushing through the last of the defense zone and out beyond. A rush of nausea made Kramer bend over for a moment. When he straightened up the voice from the wall went on, “I’m sorry to step it up so quickly, but we are still in danger.

Another few moments and we’ll be free.” “How about yuk ships? Aren’t they out here?”

“I’ve already slipped away from several of them. They’re quite curious about me.”


“They sense that I’m different, more like their own organic mines. They don’t like it. I believe they will begin to withdraw from this area, soon.

Apparently they don’t want to get involved with me. They’re an odd race, Philip. I would have liked to study them closely, try to learn something about them. I’m of the opinion that they use no inert material. All their equipment and instruments are alive, in some form or other. They don’t construct or build at all. The idea of making is foreign to them. They utilize existing forms. Even their ships—” “Where are we going?” Kramer said. “I want to know where you are taking me.”

“Frankly, I’m not certain.”

“You’re not certain?”

“I haven’t worked some details out. There are a few vague spots in my program, still. But I think that in a short while I’ll have them ironed out.”

“What is your program?” Kramer said.

“It’s really very simple. But don’t you want to come into the control room and sit? The seats are much more comfortable than that metal bench.” Kramer went into the control room and sat down at the control board. Looking at the useless apparatus made him feel strange.

“What’s the matter?” the speaker above the board rasped.

the silence

of being powerless

Kamer gestured helplessly. “I’m—powerless. I can’t do anything. And I don’t like it. Do you blame me?”

“No. No, I don’t blame you. But you’ll get your control back, soon. Don’t worry. This is only a temporary expedient, taking you off this way. It was something I didn’t contemplate. I forgot that orders would be given out to shoot me on sight.” “It was Gross’ idea.”

“I don’t doubt that. My conception, my plan, came to me as soon as you began to describe your project, that day at my house. I saw at once that you were wrong; you people have no understanding of the mind at all. I realized that the transfer of a human brain from an organic body to a complex artificial space ship would not involve the loss of the intellectualization faculty of the mind. When a man thinks, he is. “When I realized that, I saw the possibility of an age-old dream becoming real. I was quite elderly when I first met you, Philip.

Even then my life-span had come pretty much to its end. I could look ahead to nothing but death, and with it the extinction of all my ideas. I had made no mark on the world, none at all. My students, one by one, passed from me into the world, to take up jobs in the great Research Project, the search for better and bigger weapons of war. “The world has been fighting for a long time, first with itself, then with the Martians, then with these beings from Proxima Centauri, whom we know nothing about. The human society has evolved war as a cultural institution, like the science of astronomy, or mathematics. War is a part of our lives, a career, a respected vocation. Bright, alert young men and women move into it, putting their shoulders to the wheel as they did in the time of Nebuchadnezzar. It has always been so. “But is it innate in mankind? I don’t think so. No social custom is innate. There were many human groups that did not go to war; the Eskimos never grasped the idea at all, and the American Indians never took to it well. “But these dissenters were wiped out, and a cultural pattern was established that became the standard for the whole planet.

Now it has become ingrained in us.

“But if someplace along the line some other way of settling problems had arisen and taken hold, something different than the massing of men and material to—” “What’s your plan?” Kramer said. “I know the theory. It was part of one of your lectures.”

“Yes, buried in a lecture on plant selection, as I recall. When you came to me with this proposition I realized that perhaps my conception could be brought to life, after all. If my theory were right that war is only a habit, not an instinct, a society built up apart from Terra with a minimum of cultural roots might develop differently. If it failed to absorb our outlook, if it could start out on another foot, it might not arrive at the same point to which we have come: a dead end, with nothing but greater and greater wars in sight, until nothing is left but ruin and destruction everywhere. “Of course, there would have to be a Watcher to guide the experiment, at first. A crisis would undoubtedly come very quickly, probably in the second generation. Cain would arise almost at once. “You see, Kramer, I estimate that if I remain at rest most of the time, on some small planet or moon, I may be able to keep functioning for almost a hundred years. That would be time enough, sufficient to see the direction of the new colony. After that—Well, after that it would be up to the colony itself. “Which is just as well, of course. Man must take control eventually, on his own.

One hundred years, and after that they will have control of their own destiny. Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps war is more than a habit. Perhaps it is a law of the universe, that things can only survive as groups by group violence. “But I’m going ahead and taking the chance that it is only a habit, that I’m right, that war is something we’re so accustomed to that we don’t realize it is a very unnatural thing. Now as to the place! I’m still a little vague about that. We must find the place, still. “That’s what we’re doing now. You and I are going to inspect a few systems off the beaten path, planets where the trading prospects are low enough to keep Terran ships away. I know of one planet that might be a good place. It was reported by the Fairchild Expedition in their original manual. We may look into that, for a start.”

The ship was silent.

Happy fresh beginnings

Kramer sat for a time, staring down at the metal floor under him. The floor throbbed dully with the motion of the turbines. At last he looked up.

“You might be right. Maybe our outlook is only a habit.” Kramer got to his feet. “But I wonder if something has occurred to you?”

“What is that?”

“If it’s such a deeply ingrained habit, going back thousands of years, how are you going to get your colonists to make the break, leave Terra and Terran customs?

How about this generation, the first ones, the people who found the colony? I think you’re right that the next generation would be free of all this, if there were an—” He grinned. “—An Old Man Above to teach them something else instead.” Kramer looked up at the wall speaker. “How are you going to get the people to leave Terra and come with you, if by your own theory, this generation can’t be saved, it all has to start with the next?”

The wall speaker was silent. Then it made a sound, the faint dry chuckle.

“I’m surprised at you, Philip. Settlers can be found. We won’t need many, just a few.” The speaker chuckled again. “I’ll acquaint you with my solution.”

At the far end of the corridor a door slid open.

There was sound, a hesitant sound. Kramer turned.


Dolores Kramer stood uncertainly, looking into the control room. She blinked in amazement. “Phil! What are you doing here? What’s going on?”

They stared at each other.

“What’s happening?” Dolores said. “I received a vidcall that you had been hurt in a lunar explosion—”

The wall speaker rasped into life. “You see, Philip, that problem is already solved. We don’t really need so many people; even a single couple might do.”

Kramer nodded slowly. “I see,” he murmured thickly. “Just one couple. One man and woman.”

“They might make it all right, if there were someone to watch and see that things went as they should. There will be quite a few things I can help you with, Philip. Quite a few. We’ll get along very well, I think.” Kramer grinned wryly. “You could even help us name the animals,” he said. “I understand that’s the first step.”

“I’ll be glad to,” the toneless, impersonal voice said. “As I recall, my part will be to bring them to you, one by one. Then you can do the actual naming.”

“I don’t understand,” Dolores faltered. “What does he mean, Phil? Naming animals. What kind of animals? Where are we going?”

Kramer walked slowly over to the port and stood staring silently out, his arms folded. Beyond the ship a myriad fragments of light gleamed, countless coals glowing in the dark void. Stars, suns, systems. Endless, without number. A universe of worlds. An infinity of planets, waiting for them, gleaming and winking from the darkness. He turned back, away from the port. “Where are we going?” He smiled at his wife, standing nervous and frightened, her large eyes full of alarm. “I don’t know where we are going,” he said. “But somehow that doesn’t seem too important right now…. I’m beginning to see the Professor’s point, it’s the result that counts.” And for the first time in many months he put his arm around Dolores. At first she stiffened, the fright and nervousness still in her eyes. But then suddenly she relaxed against him and there were tears wetting her cheeks. “Phil … do you really think we can start over again—you and I?”

He kissed her tenderly, then passionately.

And the spaceship shot swiftly through the endless, trackless eternity of the void….

mr Spaceship


Philip K Dick

Author(s) and photography

Philip K Dick
Michael A Koontz

   Author page, Michael A Koontz
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    We have previously talked about getting enough natural amounts of omega 3 in our food. So let us cast our net a bit wider and deeper as we go hunting for natural Omega 3 sources in the deep sea.
    Yes, we are what we eat kiddos.
    And so, the time has come to talk about one of the better Omega 3 sources out there, which is fish ( like cows, fish love munching away on plant-based food such as Algae and so they end up with a ton of Omega 3, and so can you. ), and outside of Omega 3 fish also used to be a sustainable source of proteins and omega 3 amongst other things.
    The key word is used to be. But like us, and the cows, fish are what they eat.
    And today, outside of depleted fish stocks, fish swim in bodies of waters, polluted, and depleted of oxygen and ruined by us, the human species. And as health & fitness loving professionals and human beings, we always have to consider the world we live in, because we are all what we eat and the way we live becomes the state of our body & mind, life, and health. And if the fish you eat is full of toxins, plastic, and other unhealthy things, that is what you too will consume and thus, become.
    So, here is my question:
    How prevalent is plastic pollution in deep sea fish right now?.

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 28, Let us get healthy and dirty with Omega 3 and milk.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 28 in our School of Fitness.
    As far as health & fitness goes, eating healthy food on a daily basis is the ever-present and perfectly fitted glove that wraps the fit hand that is regular and challenging workouts in the gym.
    And one of those nutritious, and essential for our health, nutrient staples are Omega 3´s. We get it in all sorts of seafood. And we can get it from omega 3 fortified foods such as eggs.
    Another wonderful omega 3 source are plant-based foods such as chia seeds. But, meat and dairy products from grass-fed cattle can also contain natural amounts of omega 3.
    So, here is my question:
    How much Omega 3 do you actually get from one L ( 1L ) of milk produced from grass fed cattle?.

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 27, How big do you need your daily calorie deficit to be, in order to roughly drop 250g of bodyfat per week.

    Quality time needed: 7 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 27 in our School of Fitness.
    From a healthy fit perspective, both short & long term, what we need to sculpt is a life of daily physical activity in the right amount and the right intensity coupled with healthy food choices and the proper amount of nutrients.
    And those healthy choices include making sure that we get enough of those healthy nutrients in order to perform, in the gym and daily life, and we need enough of them in order for our body and mind to stay healthy, happy, capable and fit.
    Eat too little protein and you will start losing lean muscle mass, and your health will start to decline too since proteins are not just the major building blocks of our muscles, they are in fact the mud and water, wood and concrete that builds our entire body, be it your internal organs, your skin, hair, muscles, cells, or our brain.
    And the total amount of daily calories we consume is, of course, pretty much the same thing, eat too little in total, and you will start noticing how your health and fitness level slowly deteriorate. And if you do the opposite and stuff your tummy full with too many daily calories you will start gaining pure body fat in excessive amounts and it will continue to build unless you change your daily choices.
    So, here is my question:
    How big do you need to make your daily calorie deficit in order to lose 250g of body fat per week ( roughly ) while eating enough protein to preserve your lean muscle mass?.

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 26, Black coffee, is it a natural diuretic that causes dehydration or a health improving rehydrating drink?

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 26 in our School of Fitness.
    Black coffee, the mere words are capable of sending hundreds of millions of people into a state of Nirvana filled with transcending bliss and harmony :).
    But black coffee is also a cup of rejuvenating health for our entire system. It calms the mind with its slowly rising aroma, helps us keep cancer and diabetes at bay, harnesses our creative focus like an arrow in flight, and in enough quantities, it can even boost peoples gym going efforts.
    But is there all there is to it?. Well, here is my question:
    Is the old saying true that your daily coffee drives so much fluid out of your body that you need to supplement your coffee intake with equal measures water too in order to stay hydrated?.

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 25, Tell us the major muscles in your back.

    Quality time needed: 3 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 25 in our School of Fitness.
    Outside of our legs and ass, there is no other muscle group that comes close to sheer size, strength, health impact and lean muscle mass potential than our back. So as exhausting as a proper back workout is, this is one big and essential muscle group you should never skimp out on, no matter if your own goals are all in on health and wellness, sports or just sheer looks, or all of the above.
    Here is my question:
    Tell me the major muscles that makes up our back. Straight and simple folks.

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 24, Can Maintained Fitness prevent the negative health impact of chemotherapy?.

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 24 in our School of Fitness.
    Chemotherapy is one of those crucial things that no one ever hoped to one day experience. But when the going gets real tough in life, its a life saver.
    However, undergoing Chemotherapy is no walk in the park and while it can save your life and defeat cancer, it will also take its toll on your body. So much so that a recent study from Australia revealed that just 13 weeks of chemotherapy caused the heart to age by an equivalent of six years.
    Here is my question:
    Can maintained fitness exercise during chemotherapy prevent the now established cardiovascular aging associated with chemotherapy?.

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 23, How much will my daily fitness activity reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease?.

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 23 in our School of Fitness.
    How are you enjoying 2018 so far?. I am having a blast, in the gym and outside it, workouts are wondrously good and that is because I stay at it, week in and week out. Stay persistent with food and fitness people and reap the benefits in body & mind. Keeping to a daily fitness schedule is just a choice, after all, and a very healthy choice at that.

    And, for the next fitness school question, let us dig deep down on that word "persistent" and uncover just how much weekly fitness will scientifically aid your health on low, moderate and intense fitness levels.
    And as such, here is my question for you:
    Can as little as 30 minutes of daily low-level physical fitness activity reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by as much as 24% compared to not doing that daily activity?.

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 22, is there any difference at all in recovery capacity after a hard leg workout in the gym depending on your biological age?.

    Quality time needed: 9 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 22 in our School of Fitness.
    2017 came and went in a glorious display of Northern lights. But now that we are all one year older. Let us take a look at that age-old saying that we recover worse and slower after a hard workout in the gym as we grow beyond our 30´s.
    Is there any truth to this at all? Or is this just one more thing that people got wrong in the name of lacking insight, age-related fears, and youth-obsessed peer pressure?.
    To put it simply.
    Will the 22-year-old you recover better after a kick-ass weight lifting workout in the gym doing intense deadlifts than the 50 year old you will be able to do, or can you safely go at it just as hard knowing that you will recover and improve just as good?.

  • Fitness & Health: Going plant-based with your food choices is one of the better food choices you can do.

    Quality time needed: 2 minutes

    Complete the circle.
    Every single day.
    Fitness, Food & Health, its just science baby, smiles, sweat and science :).

    Eating healthy is an essential part of every human beings healthy fit lifestyle.
    And like keeping active and healthy at the gym and in daily life it's a daily choice.
    Going plant-based with your food choices is one of the better food choices you can do. As long as you keep on top of your protein, your fat ( Omega 3 mainly ), iron, B12, Iodine and creatine going plant-based is very easy to do and super beneficial for health & fitness ( and the planet ).

  • The first day of 2018. A tiny micro-short story and the best fitness & health advice you will ever get in life. Let us kickstart 2018 and lay nothing but healthy fit days on the road ahead.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes

    The arrival of 2018
    And the best health & fitness advice you will ever get.
    Life in the Anthropocene, its just science baby, smiles, sweat and science :).

    Enjoy a healthy fit, and happy 2018 people, but before I start our shiny new year by giving you the single best health & fitness advice you´ll ever get in life, a tiny little micro-short story to welcome you to the rest of your life.
    "the dragon that climbed the world of ice"
    'I watched it climb
    the world of ice that towered us both
    its mighty tail stung the icy cavern beneath us, like a spear it was thrust into the chest of the icy mountain, sending splatter of man-sized ice blocks and snow that bled into the bottomless pit, while it drove its left and right limbs into the frosty mountain above us

    and slowly
    over the endless void of time

    the dragon climbed its way upward
    through a world of ice that tried to hold us captive

    we climbed
    endless step by endless step towards the moon and the stars to hunt them one by one'.

  • Life in the Anthropocene & saving the endangered Rhino. Kenyan ultra marathon providing the adventure of a lifetime and a world improving good cause.

    Quality time needed: 5 minutes

    Health & Fitness
    And the ultra marathon to save the Rhino.
    Life in the Anthropocene is all about our global and individual responsibility.

    And in some ways, I can not think about a much better and more current way to emphasize our individual and globally shared responsibility than the Kenyan Ultra Marathon taking place in 2018.
    It's like all the other sports competitions ever done about the individual responsibility to shape and form your ongoing life and fitness journey so that you can endure and conquer that particular challenge.
    But it is equally much a team effort, to better our planet and to save the Rhino.
    As such it serves as a proxy for our own health, and our modern day pollution, the local and global poverty, the gender and class-based inequality, the competition itself, and the endangered wildlife and all the species rapidly going extinct across the entire world.
    We are all responsible. Individually and globally.
    And in that spirit, this ultramarathon is not just about bringing together runners from all around the world, it is also a marathon to save the endangered Rhino from going extinct, and to better the entire world.

  • Naughty xmas poetry "There are secrets hiding, in the xmas tree" and a merry winter solstice to you guys.

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes

    Winter solstice poetry
    a quality xmas
    and happy new year.

    Enjoy the rest of December people and make sure to allow yourselves and others the only gift truly worth something this xmas. And that is to breathe and exhale, relax and enjoy each and every moment.
    Do not suffocate each other or stress yourself out as you try in vain to achieve the perfect holiday, there is no such thing when it comes to the way we celebrate new years eve, winter solstice, xmas or whatever you call it.
    Chasing perfection and meaningless details are what kills that perfect day even before it starts. So just enjoy your day, yourself and each other the way you are.
    Have a good one and now, here is my perfect xmas in the shape of a naughty winter solstice poem ( and moment ) I am calling "There are secrets hiding, in the xmas tree", enjoy the read and the days ahead :).

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 18, will obesity increase my risk of developing Alzheimer?.

    Quality time needed: 3 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 18 in our School of Fitness.
    Obesity is no friend of any individuals longterm health. We all know that.
    But is cheering each other into obesity and being overweight also scientifically speaking, causing an increase in the risk of developing Alzheimer?.

  • Anthropocene: We have real global progress but also life diminishing quality for hundreds of million of people. Official UNICEF study.

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes

    Global progress.
    And diminishing lives.
    Life in the Anthropocene.

    In a world of global progress in a lot of important aspects, we can never close our eyes to the simple fact that hundreds of millions of people around this beautiful world are witnessing how their lives are becoming increasingly worse.
    “In a time of rapid technological change leading to huge gains in living standards, it is perverse that hundreds of millions are seeing living standards actually decline, creating a sense of injustice among them and failure among those entrusted with their care,” “No wonder they feel their voices are unheard and their futures uncertain.”
    - Laurence Chandy, UNICEF Director of Data, Research, and Policy.

  • Black Friday 20% off: fine art for the living room walls by yours truly.

    Quality time needed: 3 minutes

    The art of living.
    Fine art for the living room walls by yours truly.
    Black Friday discount.

    You pick the size, the framing and whether you prefer the white margin or zero margins on your print and there you go, parcel on the way.
    Printing & shipping is handled by the Swedish fine art gallery Printler and they ship to all of Europe.
    And for Black Friday you´ll even get a 20% discount, valid until Monday 27 Nov.

  • 'At the bridge to Asgard, sprouts and roots grow the ever tree'. Here we live in the age of the Anthropocene.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes

    sprouts and roots
    A healthy you, is a healthy world.
    Life in the Anthropocene.

    'At the bridge to Asgard, sprouts and roots grow the ever tree' through the gates of life and death, and the turning of the Midgard snake.
    We walk beneath a starry sky, weaved by light and dark and obscured shades our eyes can not see.

    We melt and turn the tides of time, as we spill the soil between our fingers.
    It drips back down to where it came from, all while the ants and worms grow unseen layers of brand new soil.

  • Fitness & Health: 'Health at a Glance' is a European health report covering obesity around Europe in 2017.

    Quality time needed: 7 minutes

    Health at a Glance
    A European health report 2017
    Fitness & Health.

    Health at a Glance is a European health report for 2017. And in it the United Kingdom is revealed to be Western Europes most obese nation.
    So, perhaps, fish and chips and beer just isnt the best of national food obsessions.
    Another important highlight that bounces right back at you is how obesity in the UK has increased by 92% since the 1990s ( it´s been increasing in every nation btw, but good ol England is leading the pack ).

    And since we also know by now that obesity & overweight is not just about a individual increase in body fat %, which would have been perfectly fine and all down to personal preferences in body composition and aesthetics, but instead is directly tied to a huge increase in several health issues, such as diabetes & cancer and severely decreased quality of life and longevity.

  • Anthropocene & the annual 'good country index' is back for its worldwide summary with the year 2017. And Scandinavia once again dominates.

    Quality time needed: 3 minutes

    the good country index 2017
    Life beyond 2028.

    Sweden once again dominates the good country index, sort of making it an annual business as usual reveal in other words.
    Sweden is followed closely by another Scandinavian country, namely Denmark, which, is no real surprise, the Nordic nations can be found at the top of the world, year after year, after year in a long range of beneficial, quality of life metrics and studies.

  • 9 million annual deaths due to worldwide pollution in air, soil, water. Life in the Anthropocene.

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes

    9 million
    annual deaths due to worldwide pollution
    The art of living.

    Every year the number of people that die prematurely due to worldwide pollution keep on increasing. And right now that pollution in water, soil, air, chemical or work-related pollution is already taking the life of 9 million people around the world.

    Let us think about that for one more second, every single year 9 million people end up dying prematurely due to the modern day pollution we all contribute to.

  • Health & Fitness science: Maintain healthy mitochondria through exercise-induced mitophagy.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes

    Health in muscles and heart.
    Life is your own art.

    New research once again showcases how exercise improves muscle health and, exercise capacity and how that positive mechanism with perpetual fitness regimes in the end greatly improves general health and longevity for each individual.
    Allowing continued fitness activity to become one of the finest predictors we have of general mortality and biological health and wellbeing in any given population and individual.
    This particular study was published in the journal Nature Communications and it digs deep down inside our bodies as it takes a long look at how exercise helps the body and mind keep healthy and strong by transforming and maintaining our body on a cellular level.

  • Anthropocene & the human health. Plastic litter in our salt, tap water, honey, fish & food. Land and soil and blood system.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes

    Plastic Litter
    Tap water, Sea salt & Food.
    Life in the Anthropocene.

    In Europe, 72% of all tap water contains 1.9 fibers of plastic litter per 500ml of water.
    That number increases to 94% of all tap water in the USA which contains 4.8 plastic litter fibers per 500ml of water. And worldwide 83% of all tap water contains plastic litter.
    But the issue of plastic contamination in our water is not just about tap water, nor is it, as we have previously talked about, only a concern with sea food. This is a growing man-made health issue which has been going on for a very long time and by now it is part of every aspect of society and our natural world.
    For instance, scientists found plastics in products in studies on Chinese Sea salt in 2015.

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