This collection of short stories by Philip K. Dick are great, thought provoking, funny, and some really frightening.
This collection is definitely darker then the first collection in this series. With stories such as the `Second Variety': A dead world of endless ash and slag because of some nuclear war, nevertheless with a few Americans and Russians alive, still fighting it out. But they don't need to worry about each other. Artificial intelligence variations are being developed, by other artificial intelligence, and the top forms look just like humans. Varity one and three have been identified. But what about variety two? This story will definitely give you some spine chills.
The story `Progeny' introduces new psychological development techniques for raising children. These techniques involve taking human parents completely out of the equation.
'Naturally, robots could do the best job. Robots train him scientifically, according to a rational technique. Not according to emotional whim. Robots didn't get angry. Robots didn't nag and whine. They didn't spank a child or yell at him. They didn't give conflicting orders. They didn't quarrel among themselves or use the child for their own ends. And there could be no Oedipus Complex, with only robots around.
No complexes at all. It had been discovered long ago that neurosis could be traced to childhood training. To the way parents brought up the child. The inhibitions he was taught, the manners, the lessons, the punishments, the rewards. Neuroses, complexes, warped developments, all stemmed from the subjective relationship existing between the child and the parent. If perhaps the parent could be eliminated as a factor ...'
The human father is upset about not being able to raise his son and only getting the occasional visit. But does the child care?
Then there is the story `James P. Crow', where humans are inferior to Robots. But there are still a few things that humans are exceptional at:
'Humans made good entertainers. That was one area the robots couldn't compete in. Human beings painted and wrote and danced and sang and acted for the amusement of robots. They cooked better, too, but robots didn't eat. Human beings had their place. They were understood and wanted: as body servants, entertainers, clerks, gardeners, construction workers, repairmen, odd-jobbers and factory workers.
But when it came to something like civic control coordinator or traffic supervisor for the usone tapes that fed energy into the planet's twelve hydro-systems - Humans would be allowed to have jobs Robots have, if they can pass the `Lists' - exams created by the Robots, that they also use to see which Robot gets a certain Job. A slight problem is that no human has ever passed a List. They're not smart enough. However there is one man. He passed his Lists 10 years ago. And now he's up to Class Two. The Robots are worried and are trying to hush it up. But the news is spreading and more and more humans are finding out about this super human that goes by the name of James P. Crow. And if this human gets to Class One then he will sit on the Council and help rule the planet. But is it better to have Robots in control or Humans? What happened last time humans ran the planet?'
All the stories will make you think, and give you some good entertainment. Some of them are anti-human, quite frightening and a bit disturbing. If Philip K Dick is a prophet, let's hope he gets those ones wrong.