- The Cosmic Puppets
infobox Book |
name = The Cosmic Puppets
image_caption = Cover of first edition (paperback)
Philip K. Dick
language = English
Science fiction novel
release_date = 1957
media_type = Print (
pages = 127 pp
isbn = NA
followed_by = The Cosmic Puppets a 1957 novel by
science fictionauthor Philip K. Dick. It was expanded from his short story " A Glass of Darkness", first published in the December 1956 issue of " Satellite Science Fiction".
In addition to using elements of science fiction and fantasy, "The Cosmic Puppets" also works as a "small town" novel in the popular sense.
Ted Barton left Millgate,
Virginiaseveral years ago, but with his wife Peg, returns to find the town strangely transformed. Street names and landmarks do not exist as he remembered them, and the inhabitants of the town are similarly oblivious to their past. Peg proves intolerant of her husband's interest, and abandons him while he explores the town.
While in Millgate, Barton makes the accquaintance of three sympathetic inhabitants of the town. These are Doctor Meade, a
family physician; his daughter, Mary; and William Christopher, a town drunk. However, Mary has a menacing counterpart- Peter Trilling, the deceptively young offspring of the town's hotel owner. After Barton's departure from Millgate is blocked by a permanently jacknifed logging truck obstructing the only route out of the town, he discovers that Christopher remembers the town's erased past.
Christopher recalls an event entitled "the Change," which occurred thirteen years beforehand, after Barton left Millgate. In his previous life, he was an
electrician, and is now working to revert Millgate to its previous state of existence. Dr Meade and Mary have the same agenda, as Meade's "Shady House" patients turn out to be "Wanderers," the transparent former inhabitants of the erased Millgate, who can communicate with Mary and others. Barton is able to revert objects, as well as an erased park, at which point Mary discloses that she is also aware of the Change and the prior Millgate.
Mary and Peter are engaged in a low-intensity supernatural war against one another. She can only use bees, moths, cats and flies against his control over
golems, spiders, snakes and rats, and initially seems to kill Mary through his servitors. However, even this traumatic event is not enough to cause Dr Meade to abandon the comforting illusion of his false human identity. Two vast, supernatural entities loom over Millgate, however, and Barton realises that Meade is one of them, as Peter Trilling reverts to his own, malignant divine self. He uses his servitors to attack Barton, Christopher and the Wanderers, but is stopped as Meade remembers his past, and reassumes his own divine identity.
At the denouement, Millgate finds itself in the crossfire of a battle between the twin but diametrically opposed demigods of
Zurvanism(a Zoroastriansect), Ahrimanand Ormazd. Ormazd eventually triumphs, and Mary reveals her own true identity as Ormazd's messianic daughter, Armaiti, who arranged for Barton's exile and return to the town when it was time to overthrow Ahriman's false illusion. The former Millgate returns to solidity, Christopher resumes his career as an electrician, and Barton leaves the town, having restored the 'true' nature of the community to what it was.
Bibliography of Philip K. Dick
* [http://theopencritic.com/?p=57 The Cosmic Puppets] Review at The Open Critic
* [http://pkdickbooks.com/SFnovels/Cosmic_Puppets.html "The Cosmic Puppets" cover art gallery]
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