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Illustration by Frank Kelly Freas for "The Golden Man" in If : Worlds of Science Fiction (April 1954)

"The Golden Man" is an 11,600-word science fiction novella by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was received by the Scott Meredith Literary Agency on June 24, 1953, and first published in the April 1954 issue of If magazine.[1] The story was illustrated by Kelly Freas in its original publication.[2] The novella was an inspiration for the 2007 American film Next.

Plot[]

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the existence of potentially powerful mutants has become a reality. The mutants are seen as dangerous and have been hunted to death by human beings for years. A golden-skinned mutant called Cris is captured by the government, which attempts to execute him. However, his appearance and abilities to see into the future allow him to escape.[3]

Storyline[]

The protagonists of the story are a government agent and his fiancée who are members of a government agency tasked with tracking down and sterilizing or eliminating mutants- individuals with physical abnormalities and superhuman powers (such as the ability to steal the appearance and memories of others) that make them a threat to normal humans. The eponymous "Golden Man" is a feral young man named Cris with gold-colored skin, who does not appear to be sapient but possesses the ability to see into the future (specifically, the ability to see all possible outcomes from any single action, described in the story as similar to a chess player with the ability to see all possible moves 5 steps ahead). The agency manages to capture Cris, but does not execute him immediately, due to their wish to study his ability. Unknown to the agency, Cris turns out to possess another power; his golden skin acts like a lion's mane and allows him to seduce members of the opposite sex. Cris influences the fiancée into freeing him, then impregnates her and makes his escape. The story ends with the protagonist reflecting on how animal instincts have triumphed over human intellect, and how that is the new direction evolution will take if Cris succeeds in replacing humanity.

References[]

  1. Rickman, Gregg (1989), To The High Castle: Philip K. Dick: A Life 1928-1963, Long Beach, Ca.: Fragments West/The Valentine Press, p.389 ISBN 0-916063-24-0
  2. Levack, Daniel (1981). PKD: A Philip K. Dick Bibliography, Underwood/Miller, p. 97 ISBN 0-934438-33-1
  3. Wikipedia, The Golden Man
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