X-Minus One: Philip K. Dick’s Colony

SFFaudio Online Audio

I guess I’m starting on another Dick kick. I’ve been thinking, and reading a lot of his short stories lately. Thanks in part to the two Blackstone Audio audiobook collections entitled The Selected Stories Of Philip K. Dick.

The first story in Blackstone Audio’s The Selected Stories Of Philip K. Dick, Volume 2 is Colony.

I’ve read Colony maybe a half dozen times over the years, I still find it utterly readable.

First published in the June 1953 issue of Galaxy magazine, Colony is a cleverly plotted one-note tale of paranoia and identity.

Robert Silverberg’s wonderful 1987 essay on it, entitled Colony: I Trusted The Rug Completely, points out how very far ahead of the reader Dick is. Dick indulges our expectations, teases us with a foreshadowing doom and still pulls off the unexpected twist ending. The story is also notable for inventing a couple of minor tropes; namely the Robot Door and the Robot Psyche Tester (both with emotive personalities rivaling that of their fellow human protagonists).

This is one of the few PKD tales given the old radio drama treatment.

Unfortunately, there were a few detrimental changes made to the 1956 X-Minus One adaptation. Maybe it’s the audio drama format that neutralizes much of the humor in Colony. It certainly pacifies some of the absurdities. And the 1950s script adds in an unnecessary bit of sexual harassment that’s absent from the original 1950s text (perhaps so as to have it better fit into the decade). On the whole, however, X-Minus One’s adaptation is still well worth listening to. It retains much of the dialogue and the anti-consumerism message, and it also retains the excellent and story-making ending.

Dick wrote, in regards to this story:

The ultimate paranoia is not when everyone is against you, it’s when everything is against you. Instead of “My boss is plotting against me”, it would be “My boss’ phone is plotting against me”.

Here’s the play:

X-Minus OneX-Minus One – Colony
Based on the story by Philip K. Dick; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 29 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: NBC
Broadcast: October 10, 1956
Colony tells the story of an advance research team scouting the planet Blue in the Aldebaran star system to assess what may be required to render this newly discovered planet habitable. Strange occurrences soon plague members of the scout team, as they are attacked by inanimate objects with the unmistakable intent to kill. It is soon discovered that some force, or entities unknown, have the power to mimic any conceivable object, rendering even seemingly benign items such as a belt, a bath towel, or even a weapon such as a blaster, instruments of murder.

Here are the original illustrations from Galaxy:
Colony by Philip K. Dick - illustrated by Ed Emshwiller
Colony by Philip K. Dick - illustrated by Ed Emshwiller
Colony by Philip K. Dick - illustrated by Ed Emshwiller

And here are the images and the audio combined into a YouTube video:

Posted by Jesse Willis

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