Many, many years ago, I stumbled across a mention of a little known story – The Pre-Persons by Philip K. Dick. I was immediately intrigued for two reasons. The first being that Dick is one of the legends of sci-fi. Even if you haven’t heard of him, you’re familiar with his work. Dick wrote the stories that inspired Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, and Man in the High Castle to name just a few.
The other reason was the subject matter. Abortion.
While it might seem strange given mainstream sci-fi in the current year, many of the greats of science fiction were conservative, at least relative to today. When Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court in 1973, it sent shockwaves through American society and the sci-fi community was no exception. The Pre-Persons was Phillip K. Dick’s response.
My interest piqued, I set about tracking down a copy. First, I naturally checked my collection of short stories from the author. Unsurprisingly, I came up empty. Undaunted, I headed to my local Barnes and Nobles. Then the library. Then searching collections on Amazon. I couldn’t find The Pre-Persons listed in a single available collection. It was as if the story were being suppressed. Which meant it had to be good.
Fortunately, when it comes to books, I am indefatigable. If I really want to find a particular book, I will find it, even if it takes years. Thanks to Amazon, it only took a couple weeks and I was purchased the October, 1974 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine where The Pre-Persons first appeared.
So, was it worth the hype? Yes. And then some. Dick pulls zero punches in the story, hitting the reader right in the face with the brutal and arbitrary nature of the reasoning behind abortion. Right off the bat, we are treated to a scene of a child hiding from what amounts to an abortion wagon. If that sounds strange, it’s because in this dystopian world it has been decided that a child can be aborted until they are ration which has been arbitrarily decided to be the age of 12, when people can be taught algebra.
PKD doesn’t just recognize the absurdity of the pro-choice position. He makes many eerily accurate predictions. First, who could forget Ralph Northam calmly discussing killing a child after it was born? In the Netherlands, a child can be euthanized before he is a year old. Men in this world are heavily denigrated by wives who read a lot like the Karens of today, especially those who ‘shout their abortion’. Perhaps most relevant to current society, no one really changes their mind, even in the face of glaring evidence that their ‘rationality’ position is utterly baseless.
As luck would have it, The Pre-Persons has become more available in recent years thanks to its having entered the public domain and the efforts of many to make it available in PDF. Given that our culture is currently undergoing another shockwave with the long-awaited reversal of Roe v. Wade, there hasn’t been a better time since its first printing to sit down with the most controversial and hard-hitting work of one of sci-fi’s greats.
A PDF is attached below!