Esprit S.F.

S.F. F. & F. Culture (Science-Fiction, Fantasy & Fantastic)

Impostor (Short story)

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© 1953 – Philip K. Dick

The story

In 2075, humans are at war against a very belligerent extraterrestrial specie came from Alpha Centaurus. From one planet to another, the enemy has repelled us to Earth where only the invention of the planetary shield protects us from extermination.

Earthlings are searching with ardour and with a strength born of despair the ultimate weapon which could annihilate the invaders.

Spencer Olham is an engineer to the research department where we finalise the construction of this destructive weapon.

And that’s when, from one day to the next, military authorities have decided to eliminate him. He is suspected being a Centaurian machine in charge of infiltrating the interior of terrestrial defences and making explode a U mini-bomb implanted in his body.

Spencer will only be saved by flight to prove to the world that he is not an impostor. But how to prove that we are what we believe we are? And how to be sure not to be this impostor?

My opinion

Here is a short story in the pure Dickian tradition, one of those where we’re never sure, to the last line, of the world’s reality and of the identity of the main character.

This theme is common in the work of Philip K. Dick. We found it, notably, and to speak only about the short stories adapted to the cinema, in We Can Remember It for You Wholesale[1]Adapted under the title Total Recall. or in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep[2]Adapted under the title Blade Runner.. In that two cases, just like in this story, the hero doubt about his identity.

To the end you will wonder if Spencer Olham is a human or an assembly of circuits and mechanisms constructed with one goal: destroy us.

So, a successful short story which had been adapted to cinema by Gary Fleder in 2001 under the same title.


1 Adapted under the title Total Recall.
2 Adapted under the title Blade Runner.
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