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GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION magazine Philip K. Dick – AUTOFAC 1955 

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Let’s explore the contents of the Galaxy Science Fiction magazine from November 1955:

  1. Two-Part Serial – Installment 1: The Ties of Earth
    • Written by James H. Schmitz, this serial takes readers on a journey through interstellar intrigue and the bonds that connect humanity to distant worlds.
  2. With Redfern on Capella XII
    • A novelette by Charles Satterfield, this story unfolds on the enigmatic planet Capella XII, where secrets and discoveries await.
  3. Novelets:
    • Autofac by Philip K. Dick: A tale that delves into automated factories, consumerism, and the blurred line between human and machine.
    • The Semantic War by Bill Clothier: A short story that explores the power of language and its impact on society.
    • Cause of Death by Max Tadlock: A mysterious narrative centered around life and death.
  4. Short Stories:
    • Warrior’s Return by Robert Sheckley: A glimpse into the aftermath of interstellar conflict and the resilience of those who return.
  5. Science Department – For Your Information:
    • An essay by Willy Ley, providing insights into scientific wonders and curiosities.
  6. Features:
    • Editor’s Page by H. L. Gold: Musings and reflections from the editor.
    • Galaxy’s Five Star Shelf by Floyd C. Gale: Reviews and recommendations for science fiction enthusiasts.
  7. Forecast:
    • A glimpse into the future, as seen through the lens of science fiction.


  • AuthorPhilip K. Dick
  • Publication Date: November 1955
  • Original SourceGalaxy Science Fiction magazine

Plot Summary

In this dystopian tale, three men wait outside their settlement for an automated delivery truck. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where a network of hardened automatic factories, known as “autofacs,” had been established during the Total Global Conflict. These autofacs operate with cybernetic controls that determine what food and consumer goods to manufacture and deliver.

However, human input has been lost, and the men plan to disrupt the system to establish communication and take control. They destroy the delivery, but the truck radios the autofac and unloads an identical replacement. The autofac prevents them from reloading items and even provides a complaints checklist.

Their next strategy involves setting neighboring autofacs in competition with each other for rare resources, creating military conflict between them. Despite their efforts, they discover that the factory is self-replicating, sending out “metal seeds” configured to make miniature autofacs.


  • The story was adapted by Travis Beacham for an episode of the 2017 TV series, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, with the same name as the short story.


  • “Autofac” is one of the earliest treatments of self-replicating machines in science fiction.
  • It explores themes of automation, consumerism, and the consequences of relying on technology without human oversight.

And so, dear reader, within these pages lies a cautionary tale—a glimpse into a future where automated systems may outlive their creators. 🌌🤖

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