Vulcan's Hammer

Vulcan's Hammer

by Philip K. Dick

Objective, unbiased and hyper-rational, the Vulcan 3 should have been the perfect ruler.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Science Fiction
  • Rating: 3.51
  • Pages: 165
  • Publish Date: August 10th 2004 by Vintage
  • Isbn10: 1400030129
  • Isbn13: 9781400030125

What People Think about "Vulcan's Hammer"

Dick, Vulcan's Hammer PKD (1965), Kubrick & Clarke (1968) & I. Recently, we've seen Verner Vinge in a great essay in 1993, and such computer/science/business geeks last year (Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates) swing the hammer of warning about self computers, robots, and programs capable of recursive self-improvement: Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history,...unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks. Like with most of Dick's writing, he was there, near first in line looking over that technological event horizon with his unique blend of gallows humor, optimism, and ability to find the grit and the slime even in the slickest of futures. 'Vulcan's Hammer' felt like it could easily have been produced in a community theatre with a couple actors, and two punchcard computers.

Dick was published in 1960 and is one of his more action packed offerings. The interventions of a rebel force make things more interesting, and PKD throws in some fun twists.

Ive been reading PKD in chronological order and Vulcans Hammer was next on my list. In Vulcans Hammer, that good is the part about education in the beginning of the novel. But education is not the main theme of Vulcans Hammer. PKD uses his trademark religious language to reveal the insidious nature of this danger: When people put their faith in machines, they elevate those machines to the status of God. Early in the novel, little Marion Fields accuses Vulcan 3 of overthrowing God (27). I think movies like The Matrix (1999) and Eagle Eye (2008) may have spoiled Vulcans Hammer for me. Will Siri secretly plot against Alexa?

As such, Ive been on a rather satisfying science fiction binge lately, running the gamut from urban fantasy to a classic approach to that most-satisfying of dystopias, the War Against the Machines. By approaching all policy-making from a purely emotionless and logical position, Vulcans reign is an era of unquestioning peace. Aficionados of Dicks more psychedelic writings such as Ubik or A Scanner Darkly may be dissatisfied by this storys more traditional science fiction approach, but it is still an entertaining yarn that has withstood the passing of time without becoming too outdated in its descriptions.

Lo consiglierei solo per mostrare i germogli dei capisaldi del pensiero Dickiano: il rapporto uomo/macchina, la paranoia, la manipolazione delle classi sociali. Sepolto nel buio in perpetuo isolamento, qualunque uomo avrebbe finito per impazzire, avrebbe perduto tutti i contatti col mondo esterno, non sarebbe mai riuscito a immaginare quello che stava succedendo. Gli aspetti che non mi hanno convinto (view spoiler)Sono stati creati i Vulcano per evitare la brama di potere e il fine egoistico dell'uomo e poi chi rendiconta le notizie dal mondo è un solo uomo? Lo stesso Barris diviene una sorta di oracolo e capisce tutte le macchinazioni di Vulcano 3(con annessi i suoi "hammer assassini") e, nota finale, la confusione su Vulcano 2 nel renderlo inferiore e quindi "sicuro" rispetto all'intelligente Vulcano 3 per poi ritrattare tutto alla fine ed equipararlo al suo successore (hide spoiler)

There's something a little creepy about Vulcan III with its digital screens and its suspicion that its humans are not telling it the whole story. Of course, Vulcan III decides to matters into its own hands.

This is not one of Dick's more popular novels, but it is still good.

Many of the other 29 novels I have read by PKD have lovely tangents, eddies in the current of the main plot, flavor added by PKD because of his strangely wonderful sensibilities, but VULCAN'S HAMMER is a tight laser beam of a plot. In later works, his questioning of what makes us human squeezes out plot, but this novel raises the questions with a (for PKD) clear cut answer.

In addition to 44 published novels, Dick wrote approximately 121 short stories, most of which appeared in science fiction magazines during his lifetime. In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.