Read Vulcan's Hammer by Philip K. Dick Online

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Objective, unbiased and hyper-rational, the Vulcan 3 should have been the perfect ruler. The omnipotent computer dictates policy that is in the best interests of all citizens—or at least, that is the idea. But when the machine, whose rule evolved out of chaos and war, begins to lose control of the “Healer” movement of religious fanatics and the mysterious force behind theiObjective, unbiased and hyper-rational, the Vulcan 3 should have been the perfect ruler. The omnipotent computer dictates policy that is in the best interests of all citizens—or at least, that is the idea. But when the machine, whose rule evolved out of chaos and war, begins to lose control of the “Healer” movement of religious fanatics and the mysterious force behind their rebellion, all Hell breaks loose. Written in 1960, Philip K. Dick’s paranoid novel imagines a totalitarian state in which hammer-headed robots terrorize citizens and freedom is an absurd joke. William Barris, the morally conflicted hero, may be the only person who can prevent the battle for control from destroying the world—if, that is, he can decide which side he’s on.Winner of both the Hugo and John W. Campbell awards for best novel, widely regarded as the premiere science fiction writer of his day, and the object of cult-like adoration from his legions of fans, Philip K. Dick has come to be seen in a literary light that defies classification in much the same way as Borges and Calvino. With breathtaking insight, he utilizes vividly unfamiliar worlds to evoke the hauntingly and hilariously familiar in our society and ourselves....

Title : Vulcan's Hammer
Author :
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ISBN : 9781400030125
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 165 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Vulcan's Hammer Reviews

  • Darwin8u
    2018-11-15 15:21

    I'm not threatening you. I'm pointing out the facts to you. If we're excluded from the ruling elite, why should we cooperate?"-- Philip K. Dick, Vulcan's HammerPKD (1965), Kubrick & Clarke (1968) & I. J. Good (1965) were all publishing early warnings about an eventual technological singularity. 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. In the near term, world militaries are considering autonomous-weapon systems that can choose and eliminate targets.” and “humans, limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded by A.I.” - Stephen Hawking, 2014 interviews.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. One thing I did notice about this book, and I think it has been true in other of his books, but I never noticed in those, is how stripped down Dick can make some of his books. These are almost Beckett-level SciFi. I only have a handful of Dick left to read (not counting his monumental The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick and his many, many short stories, but I wouldn't be surprised if the next PKD I read had two robots, one named Vladimir and Estragon talking about God. That, in essence, is this book. It is Vulcan 2 and Vulcan 3 discussing, through man, the meaning of life, perhaps. Or perhaps, no. But anyway, my point is in this books and several other Dick really trims the books down. Yes, there is a future, and yes, there are a variety of people and character, but what you notice, really is how spare the future is. 'Vulcan's Hammer' felt like it could easily have been produced in a community theatre with a couple actors, and two punchcard computers. That is an over-simplification, obviously, but it still feels close. One other thought. I'm not sure the technological singularity is going to be a steep cliff. I think, personally, it feels more like the heat has been turned on and we are all sitting quietly in the water, waiting for Amazon to tell us what to buy or Google to tell us where to go. I'm no Luddite, and even if I were, I'm not sure I would know where to jump to.

  • Lyn
    2018-11-12 16:21

    Vulcan's Hammer by Philip K. Dick was published in 1960 and is one of his more action packed offerings. Released by pulp generator Ace Books, I could not help wandering how a phone conversation between Dick and his editor went “we could use more action, laser beams and robots, the kids LOVE laser beams and robots”. Well, bills have to be paid and books need to be published to be read. Not one of his best, but definitely not bad either. There are some concessions made to a wider audience, but the structure and tone are pure PKD. This is a dystopian world following a nuclear war, and a bureaucracy runs the world, being aided by a super computer, but who is really running things? The interventions of a rebel force make things more interesting, and PKD throws in some fun twists. All the same, this is Dick writing and there is plenty of time for some introspective philosophy and social commentary. PKD themes check list: paranoia, autocracy, dehumanization, mental illness, and rage against the machine. 1960, fairly early on, so not much drug use or theological ravings, but still a fun trip with Phil.

  • Chloe
    2018-11-04 21:22

    There are few things better for me during the gloomy overcast months of winter than a good genre fiction bender. On those days when the sky seems especially oppressive, there is nothing I like more than tucking into a bit of escapist reading and forgetting that the world at large even exists outside the page. As such, I’ve 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. This has been a tried and true trope of sci-fi long before James Cameron brought the wrath of Arnold reigning down on Sarah Connor. No, even that great god of the Golden Age of science fiction, Asimov, was concerned with the coming conflict while crafting his three laws of robotics and between H.A.L. and his Rama robots Clarke made deft work of the AI question. Familiar ground though this may be, there are few authors able to evoke the sheer terror of confronting a coldly logical machine horde than the prince of paranoia, Philip K. Dick.In Dick’s budding dystopia, humans have outsourced all decision making to Vulcan, a supercomputer that is two parts SkyNet to one part Mycroft Holmes (the genial AI that assisted the miner’s rebellion in Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress) that is fed endless streams of information in order to better facilitate its decision-making. By approaching all policy-making from a purely emotionless and logical position, Vulcan’s reign is an era of unquestioning peace. Humans are endlessly fickle though and, while many happily line up to serve as Vulcan’s agents at large, a faction comprised of mystics and luddites arises that seeks to destroy Vulcan and the new serfdom that it has inadvertently created. Inevitably, after realizing that it can never fully compensate for humanity’s inherent madness, Vulcan realizes that humans are too irrational and prone to chaos to be left to their own devices and the subjugation must commence! The only thing standing in the way of its success is a bureaucrat who is starting to doubt the wisdom of not thinking for oneself.This is classic Dick, before he went completely off the rails and began spouting off about meeting angels and spotting federal agents lurking in every shadow. No, here he keeps his paranoia in check, sprinkling in only enough so that the reader can realize not only the dread that Dick felt at the abdication of human free will to binary monsters but also the personal disgust that he held for any who would willingly serve such a machine. You could probably stretch the analogy to encapsulate Dick’s distrust of large institutions in general and governments in particular, but that would just be forcing too much meaning into what is, at its core, an entertaining romp through a future that is both insufferably dull and existentially horrific. Aficionados of Dick’s more psychedelic writings such as Ubik or A Scanner Darkly may be dissatisfied by this story’s 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.

  • Marco Simeoni
    2018-10-20 18:29

    Mi disprezzate perché avevo fiducia in una macchina? Ma ogni volta che leggiamo un quadrante, un indice di misurazione, ogni volta che viaggiamo, non mostriamo di avere fiducia in una macchina?quasi 3*Amo la capacità di Philip Dick di creare trame complesse con la semplicità di uno sbadiglio al mattino. È come se i suoi neuroni fossero frattali carichi di storie pronte a essere trasmesse ai posteri. Premesso ciò... questo romanzo è forse uno dei peggiori che abbia mai letto di questo autore. Lo consiglierei solo per mostrare i germogli dei capisaldi del pensiero Dickiano: il rapporto uomo/macchina, la paranoia, la manipolazione delle classi sociali. Ci sono tutti... allo stato grezzo. Sono incerti, non riescono a comunicarmi veridicità, non mi lasciano immergere nella storia. Inoltre in molti punti è scritto anche maluccio.In un mondo arrivato a un passo dell'estinzione i governi mondiali decidono di demandare le scelte più importanti riguardanti la Terra a una classe di elaboratori di calcolo estremamente all'avanguardia denominata "Vulcano".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. Più il tempo passava, più si sarebbe allontanato dalla realtà, per vivere in un mondo irreale creato dalla sua fantasia malata. Vulcano 3, invece, si muoveva nella direzione opposta.La storia si svolge nel pieno del conflitto fra il potere istituzionale e una sempre maggiore fascia di persone di classe economica medio-bassa guidate dai Guaritori. Non mi dilungo troppo su questa figura perché il suo ruolo è molto poco strutturato.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 poichi rendiconta le notizie dal mondo è un solo uomo? Inoltre c'è molta ingenuità da parte di William Barris nel fidarsi del direttore generale Dill. 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)]Più che un "vulcano" uno sbuffo di vapore, ma la colpa è dello stesso Dick. Mi ha abituato troppo bene.Potrebbe sembrare tutto da buttare ma non è così. Ci sono passaggi in cui ci si avvita in alienazioni di pensiero che si rischia di non fidarsi più neanche del vicino che accende la TV a volume alto (Cosa sta tentando di nascondere? Eh? EH?):Be, supponiamo che non mi denunciate... Chi vi dice che questa non sia una messinscena, una trappola per mettere alla prova la vostra fedeltà al sistema? Dovete agire, potrebbe essere un tranello!Inoltre la sua abilità visionaria è presente anche in questo romanzo (scritto nel 1960)In quell'anno, le nazioni di cui era formato il mondo si riunirono e decisero di sottostare, ma in maniera realistica non idealmente come al tempo dell'ONU...Si avvicinò al tavolino, e prese uno degli opuscoli. Era intitolato: Quando avete votato l'ultima volta?- Le ultime elezioni hanno avuto luogo vent'anni fa - gli ricordò Fields - Lo insegnano, questo, ai bambini nelle vostre scuole?- Dovrebbero - disse Barris.mi hanno messo i brividi queste due parti quando le ho lette. Però doveva ancora arrivare la stoccata finale.L'insoddisfazione delle masse non si basa sulle privazioni economiche, ma su un senso d'incapacità a ottenere quello che vogliono. E ciò che vogliono non è un livello di vita superiore, ma un maggior potere sociale. Questo è il loro scopo principale. A causa del loro orientamento emotivo, insorgono e passano all'azione quando compare una figura di capo dotato di ascendente e capace di raggrupparli in un'unità funzionale, invece di lasciarli come sono, e cioè una massa caotica di elementi informi.

  • Charles Dee Mitchell
    2018-11-09 22:21

    Even Lawrence Sutin, PKD's biographer, refers to this one as dreck. As per usual for Dick's novels of this period, there has been a devastating war in the 1970's, and this time around humanity's bad idea for how to handle post-war society it to turn everything over to computers. These machines' decisions will be based purely on logic, war will come to an end, but of course an elaborate police system must be put into place to maintain this logical utopia. Underground movements are breaking out across the globe.The computer has had three incarnations, Vulcan I, Vulcan II, and the current Vulcan III that only one man can access in its impregnable stronghold deep underground in Switzerland. The current director maintains a fondness for dusty old Vulcan II. He enjoys making the punch cards that feed it information and then reading the printouts it releases, although those messages now take up to a day or so to appear. 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.Dick's novel has all the pieces in place but then has nowhere to go with them. The conclusion is as predictable as it is anti-climactic. Vulcan's Hammer was the "B side" of an Ace Double, so it has if nothing else the virtue of brevity.

  • Jim
    2018-10-21 16:20

    Vulcan's Hammer is a curiously prophetic book about computers taking charge of humanity -- and this at a time before computers could realistically be perceived as a threat. I've been working with computers since 1964, and in 1960, when the novel by Philip K. Dick was written, they were pretty rudimentary. There are three centers of force in Vulcan's Hammer: the Unity organization, which serves the computer; the "Healers," who want to sabotage Unity; and the computer itself, Vulcan 3, which as the book goes on, becomes a force of and by itself.This is not one of Dick's more popular novels, but it is still good. It was based on a short story of the same name that was published in Future Science Fiction #29 (1956) before being released four years later in an Ace double edition along with John Brunner's The Skynappers.

  • Estelle
    2018-11-01 23:24

    One of the most accessible and straightforward PKD novels I've read so far. "Vulcan's Hammer" is more pulp than thought-provoking scifi, but still an enjoyable read, well paced and suspenceful. And pretty short.

  • Karl Kindt
    2018-11-05 16:49

    After having read 29 novels and dozens of short stories by my favorite author, this one surprised me with joy. This might be my favorite single novel by PKD. This is certainly the most focused, tight, and complete of all of his SF novels. 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. That is why this surprises me. I am used to much more pure angst and less plot. This has the clear plot of PKD's earlier work but still touches on the philosophical posers PKD fills his later works with. 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. It still rises above melodrama (are there two sides fighting against each other? are you kidding? this is PKD, so there are at least three sides in conflict, none quite the opposite of the other), but it actually has a central hero (filled with some self-doubt) who commits himself to what he finds is the best way through a maze of moral issues. I love this book. I think it has become the book I recommend to those who have never read PKD before but who I want to hook.

  • Byron'Giggsy' Paul
    2018-11-14 23:47

    Wow. I love dystopias and I love PKD. I'm surprised this book doesn't rate better overall and rate better against PKDs other works. It seems polarizing, some dismissing it as one of his weaker novels, but looking over reviews here, it seems many readers consider this one of their all-time favorites, not just Dick favorites. For those that like it, the clear, concise, and focused writing seems to draw them and me in. Its a basic straightforward dystopia and man vs supercomputer story, and it works. It's just plain enjoyable. Maybe it doesn't have the social worth of 1984, but it was nice to read a story of this type and just plow through it and enjoy it for what it is.Also, dystopian fiction is quite popular in the Young Adult genre, which is also quite popular at this time. The clear writing makes me think this would also be a great choice for younger readers, it is certainly accessible for teens.

  • Printable Tire
    2018-11-13 21:20

    This, Dr. Futurity, and Lies, Inc., are Philip K Dick on autopilot. Vulcan's Hammer was especially telling of a man trying to make some quick cash with a rehashed sci-fi story involving flying hammer enforcers. Little subterfuge or deeper meaning here, just another straight-out sci-fi action yawnfest of a sturdy individual fighting an oppressed society.I was relieved to read in a book of interviews with Philip K Dick I was reading concurrently as I read his books (as a sort of "audio commentary" to them) that he felt this and Dr. Futurity were his weakest works, and after writing them he realized if he didn't delve deeper into what he wanted to accomplish as a writer (as he did immediatly afterward with the Man in the High Castle) there would no joy or worth in writing anymore.

  • Sandy
    2018-11-04 20:24

    According to Philip K. Dick authority Lawrence Sutin, in his well-researched biography "Divine Invasions," by 1959, although Dick had already had some 85 short stories as well as half a dozen novels published, his interest in creating more sci-fi had reached a low point. The future Hugo winner was at this point hoping to become more of a mainstream author, having by this time already written nine such novels, none of which had been published...yet. Still, with bills to pay, a wife (his third of an eventual five) to support, and his first child on the way, economic necessities did, it seem, perforce drive him back, unenthusiastically, to the sci-fi realm. Two of the results from this period are "Dr. Futurity" and "Vulcan’s Hammer," both of which Dick expanded from earlier novelettes. The book in question, "Vulcan’s Hammer," originally appeared in the shorter form in a 1956 issue of the 35-cent "Future Science Fiction" magazine; its first appearance as a short novel came in '60, as one half of one of those cute little "Ace doubles" (D-457, for all you collectors out there), backed by John Brunner's "The Skynappers." And although Dick's enthusiasm for his sci-fi work may have reached its nadir here, before zooming off into a decade of prodigious output and greatness, his novel in question, as it turns out, is not an uninteresting one; this author, it seems, could not write an uninteresting book if he tried.In "Vulcan’s Hammer," the year is 2029--a safe 70 years after the time of its creation. The first Atomic War had ended in 1992, and the following year, the 70 nations of the world had decided that mankind could not be trusted to run its own affairs. Thus, the supercomputer known as Vulcan 3 had been put in charge, to dispassionately and unemotionally handle all of Earth's needs. The members of the Unity party, based in Geneva, kept a tight control of humankind and carried out Vulcan 3's dictates, and all had been going well for 30+ years. But by 2029, an opposition group calling itself the Healers Movement has come into existence, its goal being to destroy the hidden fortress of Vulcan 3 and return mankind's destiny to humans. We witness events through the eyes of William Barris, a North America-based Unity director; get to know his boss, Unity leader Jason Dill; encounter the creator of the Healers Movement, Father Fields; and meet the widow of a slain Unity functionary, Rachel Pitt. Eventually, as the old Vulcan 2 computer is destroyed, more and more Unity members are slain, and mysterious flying superweapons begin appearing, it grows apparent that a third player--aside from the Unity and Healers groups--has entered the fray. But who...or what?Writing in his book "The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction," Scottish critic David Pringle calls "Vulcan's Hammer" a "very minor work," and indeed, Sutin goes so far as to call it and "Dr. Futurity" "Phil's two worst-ever SF novels." I would agree that "Vulcan's Hammer" is certainly not, by any stretch, one of its author's stronger works, but still found it an enjoyable enough quick read, and it is surely a more satisfying experience than Dick's expanded "Lies, Inc." (1984), which gets my vote for Dick's worst novel ever. "Vulcan’s Hammer," short as it is at 139 pages (I refer here to that 1960, 35-cent Ace double, which I was fortunate enough to lay my hands on, thanks to NYC bookstore extraordinaire The Strand), is nevertheless complexly plotted, and the inner motivations of the major characters are at least partly suspect throughout. Thus, a Unity man could secretly be a Healer spy and vice versa. The book unveils numerous surprises and twists as it proceeds, and pleasingly dishes out futuristic bits of business (such as robot taxis; a housing development in the non-nuclear-irradiated Sahara; skin-absorbing tranquilizers; newspaper-vending robots) to help sell its central conceit."Vulcan’s Hammer" is atypical in the Dickian oeuvre in that it is completely devoid of humor. Also missing are the pet concerns that would crop up in so many of the author's later works, such as recreational drugs, opera and classical music, cigars, the German language, cars, divorce, and of course, the slippery nature of so-called "reality." Still, as to that last item, things aren't quite what they seem in the world ruled by Vulcan 3, and the Unity organization's headman, Jason Dill, surely does have some secrets to hide. As I say, the book is intelligent and gripping, with nary a wasted word. Indeed, the book's ending, in which the fortress of Vulcan 3 is breached, really is a tad rushed, and Dick seems to be grasping in his effort to convey a pitched, three-way battle. Sutin uncharitably calls this denouement "a scene that defines anticlimax."There are, truth to tell, some other minor problems with "Vulcan’s Hammer." Some parts of the book feel a bit dated (such as the use of punch cards to feed the supercomputer with information and queries, as well as that reference to the Russian city of Stalingrad, which, in reality, has been called Volgograd since 1961). Dick is also guilty of an occasional mistake with his wording here and there, such as when he writes "Heads turned questionably toward the back," instead of "questioningly." And his descriptions of the Vulcan 3 itself, its underground bunker and its precise locale, are fuzzy and vague, requiring the reader to exert his/her imaginative faculties to the utmost.As you can tell, "Vulcan’s Hammer" (the title becomes doubly significant as the novel proceeds) is something of a mixed bag. But as it turns out, even a minor, phoned-in Dick novel can be a fun and diverting experience for the reader. The book gets a mild recommendation from me, although it is of course a must-read for all of Dick's many completists....(By the way, this review originally appeared on the FanLit website at http://www.fantasyliterature.com/ ... an ideal destination for all fans of Philip K. Dick....)

  • Jackson
    2018-11-15 20:47

    Pulpy Dick.

  • Felix Zilich
    2018-11-14 20:39

    Третья Мировая убедила человечество в собственной некомпетентности. В результате, в 1992 году правительства всех стран собрались в Женеве и передали верховную власть машине. Это был мегакопьютер нового поколения “Вулкан-3”, живущий своей собственной жизнью в недрах швейцарского подземного комплекса. Отныне именно он принимает все политичеcкие решения и создает законы, пишет школьные программы и вершит правосудие. Но при этом он все равно остается машиной - грудой обыкновенного железа, постоянно нуждающегося в обслуживании. Постоянно нуждающегося в людях, которые смогли бы изо дня в день воплощать его идеи в жизнь. Именно для этого создается концерн “Единство”, члены которого предстоит стать новой элитой послевоенной эпохи. Уильям Баррис - один из высокопоставленных членов этой бюрократической системы. Расследуя убийство своего коллеги Артура Питта от рук бесчинствующей толпы фанатиков-неолуддитов, он понимает, что в правящей верхушке “Единстве” завелся предатель. Дальнейшее расследование этого скользкого вопроса открывает Баррису еще более страшную правду. Оказывается, что все эти годы глава “Единства” Джейсон Дилл намеренно скрывал от “Вулкана-3” сам факт существования неолуддистского подполья… Опытному читателю хватит десяти страниц, чтобы заподозрить нечто неладное. В сюжете рассматриваемого романа начисто отсутствуют тема развода и ментальных отклонений – а это значит, что перед нами какой-то совершенно неправильный Дик. На самом деле, дата выхода книги и простота ее построения не должны смущать и сбивать с толку. Разгадка этого недоразумения довольно проста. Несмотря на то, что в библиографии автора “Молот Вулкана” идет под номером восемь, написан он был гораздо раньше предшествующей семерки. Если точнее, то новелла с совершенно аналогичным названием увидела свет, когда писателю стукнуло только 26 лет, а за его плечами был всего лишь один развод и две-три заметные публикации.В контексте описываемого романа особенно любопытен недавний бурный дебат о “Филиппе Дике как дедушке американского киберпанка”. Разумеется, здесь совсем как в нашей любимой “Матрице” храбрые повстанцы сражаются против господства машин, пытаясь разгромить их подземное логово. Понятно, что здесь совсем как у Вачовских компьютерный мегамозг создает армию летающих осьминогов, которые уничтожают все живое на своем пути. Ага-ага, некоторые образы этой книги, действительно, соответствуют современным канонам жанра, но при этом несут в себе совершенно иное смысловое наполнение. Для Филиппа Дика машины - это всего лишь машины. То бишь механизмы, несущие реальную угрозу всему живому, несмотря на все свою громоздкость и медлительность. В этом отношении, взгляд писателя на проблемы кибернетики совершенно анахронистичен и не идет дальше идей покойного чеха Карела Чапека. (2005.12.20)

  • Joseph
    2018-11-12 17:22

    Here’s the great sci-fi formula of the 60s: Humanity builds a big computer to prevent war; i.e. humans build a computer to protect themselves from themselves. Computer makes unauthorized but allowed “enhancements” to itself. Computer decides that humanity’s very existence is a threat to humanity and its own circuitry. The computer takes steps to eradicate large sections of the human population. Climax ensues and story ends in one of three ways: The luddites win and computers are totally destroyed or the computers win and a sequel is planned.It would be really easy to say that Philip K. Dick adheres to this formula in his 1960 slim novelVulcan's Hammer: A Novel, except the surprises twisting the plot around are so fine and exquisite that one quickly realized Dick didn’t follow the formula, he invented it. Seemingly forgotten by modern readers, this near perfect story examines the dichotomy of free will vs. social order against the backdrop of a crumbling government caught in a quagmire of red tape, infighting, and bottlenecks. Through the eyes of an upper level paper pusher (the director of North America), his boss, and a family of rebels the reader watches as two computers fight for dominance as they attempt to follow the now contradictory directives given to them: Keep humanity and themselves safe.Forty-seven years old now, the story is contradictorily quaint and up-to-date. Like most 60s sci-fi writers, Dick failed to catch the miniaturization phenomena (his generations of computers get substantially larger), but he does predict the passing of punch cards (thank goodness). And he catches onto a timeless struggle in humanity’s understanding of morality. For instance, his motley crew of protagonist struggle to come to terms with government officials who side with a computer even as that computer is busy mowing down as many people as possible. These government officials cling to the hope of their party line like so many Ba’ath party members during the invasion of Iraq. Voices call for their punishment. But then, in a moment of beautiful grace, Dick reminds the reader that “this is all they know.” He calls for us to recognize the humanity of the people we so desperately want to vilify.As far as the end of the great equation is concerned, Dick moves beyond the expected outcomes and reaches a conclusion that allows for free will, governments and machines. While that sounds simple and pat, he manages to keep the philosophical ideals that play off each other throughout the story from compromising. It’s as unsettling and as well conceptualized as the story’s initial premise.

  • Scott Holstad
    2018-11-14 16:44

    Philip K. Dick's Vulcan's Hammer was a good, quick, and entertaining book to read. Published in 1960, it envisions a world run by the Vulcan III, a Skynet-type computer that oversees all of the world, its governments, and citizens. (There were two previous iterations of Vulcan -- I and II.) Only the Unity Managing Director, Jason Dill, has access to this computer. Early in the book, a regional director named William Barris becomes suspicious of some things, particularly as there is a populist uprising amongst Luddites and social parasites instigated by self named Healers. Why hasn't Vulcan III issued any proclamations on the Healers over the 15+ months they've been revolting against Unity? Is Dill withholding information from the computer for some obscure reason?This is one of Dick's most straightforward and "sci fi" books he wrote. There are lasers and flying cars, super computers taking over the world, and little flying killing "hammer" robots. The plot is fast paced, so character development takes a back seat in this novel, but that's okay -- it's an enjoyable book anyway. Dick's paranoia is ever present, although not drug-fueled (thank God!), and people who don't obey societal dictums are taken to the feared Atlanta, where they undergo forced psychotherapy. Egads! Heh.Barris becomes suspicious of Dill and flies to Geneva to confront him, where his suspicions are confirmed -- Dill has been holding back from the Vulcan III. He's doing this because the Vulcan II, still in operation, has warned him that III has become a living entity and may become uncontrollable -- which is exactly what happens. Civil war occurs, the Healers try to take over, Vulcan III starts operating on its own, and everything becomes crazy. In this novel, there's war, there are murders, there's sexual intrigue, there's technology, there's mystery -- shoot, there's a little bit for everyone. What isn't here is Dick's oft-used dealings with alternate realities, and I was a bit taken aback by that. Doesn't every Dick novel deal with alternate realities? Apparently not. This book actually reads like one of his excellent short stories and at 166 pages, is close to being one. Is this work Dick's finest? No. Are we satisfied with the ending? Perhaps. Is this still a bit of enjoyable escapism at work? Most definitely. Heartily recommended for Dick fans, sci fi fans, and people who appreciate reading speculative fiction.

  • Perry Whitford
    2018-11-13 21:35

    "You detest me because I put my faith in a machine? My God, every time you read a gauge or a dial or a meter ... aren't you putting your faith in a machine?"After an atomic war, the nations of the world come together under a paranoid technocracy run by the Unity organization, where all major decisions have been abdicated to an impartial, unemotional super-computer called Vulcan 3.For something like fifty years further war has been avoided, but not everyone's happy. The little-valued working classes have started to rebel, led by the quasi-religious Healer Movement and their elusive figurehead, Father Fields. William Barris, North American Director of Unity operations, simultaneously finds himself both combating and aiding and abetting the Healer's after he meets Fields, as all the while Vulcan 3 remains mysteriously silent about the biggest threat to its autonomy. 'Vulcan's Hammer' was published in 1960 and says Philip K. Dick on the cover, but like many of his early novels it could easily have been written by someone else - unlike his work from just a few years thereafter, which could only have written by the man himself.But what you lose here in craziness you gain in coherency, as the plot is tighter than would later be the case, though the machine-led future society of Unity is only superficially sketched, and Dick's perennial themes of distorted reality and mental illness only serve as surface detail.Can we trust the machines to run things for us? I reckon you must have seen enough dystopian sci-fi movies to give yo some idea about that, but Dick puts an interesting, action-packed spin on a familiar story.

  • Kübra
    2018-11-11 21:23

    Philip K. Dick, bu kez felsefi yönünden çok politik yönü ağır basan ve yine ince eleştiriler dahil pek çok şey barındıran Vulcan'ın Çekici'yle karşımızda. Kitap ülkemizde 1998 yılında Metis Bilimkurgu dizisi kapsamında yayımlandı. Bilimkurgunun önde gelen isimlerinden iyi eserlerin yayımlandığı bu serideki diğer pek çok kitap gibi tekrar basılma şansı bulamadı ve uzun yıllardır raflarda yok. Sıkı bir PKD takipçisiyseniz sahaflarda zor da olsa bulma imkanınız var tabi. Yazarın daha iyi kitaplarını okumakla birlikte ben Vulcan'ın Çekici'ni beğendim. Özellikle ilk bölümleri çok sevdim. Dikkat çekici unsurlarıyla ilk sayfadan dikkatinizi cezbetmeyi başarıyor, yer yer şaşırtıyor ve bir miktar da aksiyon içeriyor. Kurduğu bu sistemin eksik yanlarını gün yüzüne çıkarıp entrikalara mekanik bir boyut katıyor. Ben birkaç kitapla birlikte okudum ve birtakım zaman sıkıntısı yaşadım ama aslında tek oturuşta dahi bitirilebilecek bir kitaptı. Yazarın türdeşlerinden ayrılan o hayran kaldığımız özellikleri bu kitapta da kendini gösteriyor.edit: Yukarıda 98'den beri baskısı yok diye yakınmıştım ama Mayıs 2017'de Alfa Yayınları'ndan yeni baskı geldi (hemen edindim tabii). Çeviri de değişmiş. İlk incelemede bazı terimlerde farklılıklar gözüme çarptı. Misal İyileştiriciler Şifacılar olarak çevrilmiş bu baskıda. Genel anlamda her iki çeviri de sorunsuz.

  • Tina
    2018-11-18 18:50

    Not a lot to say about this novel. Easy to read, easy to follow, easy to digest. Likable main character that isn't all that deep but nonetheless you want to see where he's going next. No real twist, unfortunately. I can't say whether this novel would be more fun to read back when it was written or nowadays. It's intriguing now because it's funny to see what people thought the future was going to look like, what their fears about the future were, and how much their "future" still looked like their current day (particularly in this case by how Unity is run by white men), but it's also kind of boring in that the technology today is a far more high-tech now than Dick predicted. I think my iphone has more processing power than Vulcan 3, for example. In the same breath, certain things would have been more interesting to a reader from the 70s than a reader today, probably because the technology would have seemed mind-bogglingly advanced and futuristic. To me, it was quaint. So, overall, it's basically a novel about Skynet's shittier cousin but is enjoyable enough to read.

  • Denis
    2018-10-28 23:28

    From my understanding (based on the Wikipedia Bibliography) this was written in 1953 and was PKD's first scifi novel. It is a good story about a future when a computer rules the world. I don't know if this was a common story-type but it predates Asimov's first "Multivac" story by two years. And that the "Vulcan 3" AI in this story becomes sentient, makes it predate Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by thirteen years.It is a competently written 50's 'yarn' by a young man who was just getting started in a career that within a decade, he would be known of as a master of the genre.

  • Justin
    2018-10-24 15:41

    Not one of his more enjoyable ones for me, but it was still entertaining. My main problem with it was the characters were going into the situation with one train of thought and halfway through, without any evidence they had the solution that is completely opposite from what they went in the meeting with and without any new input. It made it choppy for me. Otherwise, it was a good sci-fi dystopia novel.

  • Amber
    2018-10-21 21:20

    There are no words to describe the genius of PKD. I am once again, stunned. I laughed, I cried. My mind was blown WIDE open, like it is every single time I read his work.This book was written in 1960 and it is 100% relevant today. He has (again!) peeled back the veil of Maya expertly, so we dummies may be enlightened and astounded. Thank you, Phil.

  • Davide Nole
    2018-11-05 22:41

    I LOVED this book, it dives into my favourite theme (that being the relationship between humans and machines) and exploits it so perfectly well. The characters are absolutely amazing, they look and feel real, even though they may behave in a somehow stereotypical way sometimes.

  • Steven
    2018-11-05 16:48

    Very early PKD and it shows. Some of his recurring themes would begin to show here, but they are not fully matured. Very pulpy, and overall not his greatest work.

  • Fantasy Literature
    2018-11-09 23:27

    3.5 stars from Sandy, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATUREDisclaimer: just so you know, some of the books we review are received free from publishersAccording to Philip K. Dick authority Lawrence Sutin, in his well-researched biography Divine Invasions, by 1959, although Dick had already had some 85 short stories as well as half a dozen novels published, his interest in creating more sci-fi had reached a low point. The future Hugo winner was at this point hoping to become more of a mainstream author, having by this time already written nine such novels, none of which had been published … yet. Still, with bills to pay, a wife (his third of an eventual five) to support, and his first child on the way, economic necessities did, it seem, perforce drive him back, unenthusiastically, to the sci-fi realm. Two of the results from this period are Dr. Futurity and Vulcan’s Hammer, both of which Dick expanded from earlier novelettes. The book in question, Vulcan’s Hammer, originally appeared in the shorter form in a 1956 issue of the 35-cent Future Science Fiction magazine; its first appearance as a short novel came in ’60, as one half of one of those cute little “Ace doubles” (D-457, for all you collectors out there), backed by John Brunner’s The Skynappers. And although Dick’s enthusiasm for his sci-fi work may have reached its nadir here, before zooming off into a decade of prodigious output and greatness, his novel in question, as it turns out, is not an uninteresting one; this author, it seems, could not write an uninteresting book if he tried.In Vulcan’s Hammer, the year is 2029 — a safe 70 years after the time of its creation. The first Atomic War had ended in 1992, and the following year, the 70 nations of the world had decided that mankind could not be trusted to run its own affairs. Thus, the supercomputer known as Vulcan 3 had been put in charge, to dispassionately and unemotionally handle all of Earth’s needs. The members of the Unity party, based in Geneva, kept a tight control of humankind and carried out Vulcan 3’s dictates, and all had been going well for 30+ years. But by 2029, an opposition group calling itself the Healers Movement has come into existence, its goal being to destroy the hidden fortress of Vulcan 3 and return mankind’s destiny to humans. We witness events through the eyes of William Barris, a North America-based Unity director; get to know his boss, Unity leader Jason Dill; encounter the creator of the Healers Movement, Father Fields; and meet the widow of a slain Unity functionary, Rachel Pitt. Eventually, as the old Vulcan 2 computer is destroyed, more and more Unity members are slain, and mysterious flying superweapons begin appearing, it grows apparent that a third player — aside from the Unity and Healers groups — has entered the fray. But who … or what?...3.5 stars from Sandy, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE

  • Joel Flank
    2018-10-20 22:42

    Vulcan's Hammer is another eerily prescient story from Philip K Dick. Written in 1960, it tells the story of a world ruled by a totalitarian world government, which is controlled by a near omniscient super-computer AI,Vulcan 3. After nearly obliterating mankind in war, humans ceded ultimate control of government to a computer, thinking it would be immune to the petty emotions which lead to conflict.In this world, William Barris, a middle manager of the government starts to find out that the utopian world isn't quite as shiny and wonderful as he used to think, when he starts investigating the death of one of his field agents. This ultimately puts him on a collision course with the highest ranks of power, where he discovers the truths behind the veneer, that humans will always vie for power, causing conflict, and that the motives of a super-computer are no more pristine than a mortal ruler. The tense action and thriller aspects work well to advance the plot, and for a pre-Terminator story, there's some really fun aspects of how the super-AI winds up defending itself, as well as interesting subplot about a rival AI. More than 50 years later, this is still a highly relevant work, as we enter a reality with AI and machine learning becoming more and more sophisticated.

  • Ralph
    2018-11-14 19:26

    This book is from an early portion of Phil’s writing career (1960) and so lacks the style we later come to associate with him, but it does reflect a theme that appears in novel after novel, that of the faceless authoritarian, the nearly omnipotent autocrat that controls people lives through force. It is a very pulpish, action-oriented tale with an admirable attempt at storytelling on an epic scale. The attempt falls just short, however, because the epic nature is conveyed only through visual effects—mile-high skyscrapers and vast fleets of flying weapons unleashed by the titular computer that directs the world’s affairs—not an epic theme. It’s interesting to note that only a year after writing this entertaining potboiler as a journeyman writer, Phil gave the world “The Man in the High Castle,” a masterpiece by a mature writer. Fans of the author will be interested in “Vulcan’s Hammer” as a transitional novel, though others will enjoy it as a rousing good tale.

  • Antonio Ippolito
    2018-10-25 18:27

    Not one of the deeper or more inventive novels by Dick, still a very pleasant read, with Dick's unique brand of paranoia against machines (both self-providing behemoths and lethal, slithering micromachines), paranoia between men in power, loathing of Fifties' conformist Philistines and "corporate warriors", rebellious cultists.Not very clear the role of Marion Fields, the child of the rebel leader, nor the rationale of the killing of the teacher, but this may be due to cuts in Italian edition.

  • Ivan Castellucci
    2018-11-17 19:28

    "Vulcano 3" è un romanzo che tratta una delle tematiche più care a Dick: il rapporto fra uomo e macchina.Fino a che punto è giusto affidarsi ad una macchina? Non si rischia di perdere la propria umanità? Quella soggettività che l'uomo cerca di ca di eliminare, è veramente il male?Recensione completa sul mio blog: https://capitolonero.blogspot.it/2017...

  • Shane
    2018-10-29 21:44

    Along with Robert Silverberg, PKD writes Sci-fi like no one else. I have yet to read anything from PKD that I didn't love and 'Vulcan's Hammer' continues that streak. Just like so many of his books this one is more about humans and their struggles with fear and paranoia than it is about Science fiction.

  • Richard
    2018-11-01 17:36

    The cover art of my paperback pretty much gave the plot away. But the plot is fairly thin. There is no alternate realities or psyonic powers and the quasi-religious cult is fairly tame. There is no surprising plot reversal at the end.