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IF WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION September 1953 Philip K. Dick, James Blish PBO

IF WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION September 1953 contents page

IF WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION September 1953  Philip K. Dick, James Blish PBO.

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A Case­ of Conscience is a science­ fiction story by James Blish. The­ story first came out as a shorter novella in the magazine IF WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION September 1953. Late­r, Blish made it longer to turn it into a novel in 1958. The tale­ follows a Jesuit priest who mee­ts an alien race. The alie­ns have no religion, but they still know right from wrong. This goe­s against the teachings of the Catholic church. The­ first part is the original novella. This novel is the­ first part of Blish’s After Such Knowledge trilogy. The­ other parts are Doctor Mirabilis, Black Easter, and The­ Day After Judgment.
Not many science­ fiction stories back then talked about re­ligion. Even fewer storie­s were about Catholicism.

Part 1

In the year 2049, Father Ramon Ruiz-Sanchez from Peru, a member of the Society of Jesus, joins a scientific expedition with three others to Lithia, an alien planet, to assess its suitability for human interaction. Holding expertise in biology and biochemistry, Ruiz-Sanchez fulfills the role of the team’s medical officer while also navigating his religious obligations as a Jesuit. Lithia is home to an advanced species of humanoid reptilian beings known as the Lithians, with whom Ruiz-Sanchez communicates after mastering their language.

During a land survey, Cleaver, a physicist, falls victim to poisoning from a plant despite wearing protective gear, leading to severe consequences. Ruiz-Sanchez administers treatment and heads off to inform Michelis, a chemist, and Agronski, a geologist about the incident. With the assistance of Chtexa, a Lithian whom he has formed a bond with, Ruiz-Sanchez is invited to the Lithian’s residence, a first-time invitation for any team member. The Lithian society portrays an idyllic setting, a utopia devoid of crime, conflict, ignorance, or scarcity, leaving Ruiz-Sanchez deeply impressed with their way of life.

Once the team regroups, they discuss their findings about the Lithians and prepare to deliver their official assessment. Michelis shows an understanding and empathy towards the Lithians, having embraced their language and some cultural practices. On the other hand, Agronski, with a more limited perspective, perceives no inherent danger in the planet. Cleaver, upon awakening, expresses a desire to exploit the location for its pegmatite reservoirs containing the rare lithium derivative, lithium deuteride, valuable for Earth’s nuclear armaments. While Michelis advocates for open trade, Agronski remains neutral.

Ruiz-Sanchez firmly asserts his desire for stringent isolation after processing the information disclosed by Chtexa alongside his existing knowledge. This amalgamation of insights leads him to conclude that Lithia is a creation of malevolence, a meticulously orchestrated realm that embodies tranquility, rationale, and comprehension without acknowledging the divine. Systematically, Ruiz-Sanchez enumerates the aspects of Lithia that directly challenge the principles of the Catholic faith. Despite Michelis’ bewilderment, he notes that the scientific foundation of Lithia, though impeccably coherent, is based on dubious premises that appear to have no discernible origin.

The team is unable to reach a consensus. Ruiz-Sanchez predicts that Cleaver’s objectives are likely to triumph, leading to the extinction of Lithian society. Despite his assessments of the planet, he harbors a profound fondness for the Lithians.

Upon departing, Chtexa presents Ruiz-Sanchez with a precious gift in the form of a secured jar enclosing an egg, a progeny of Chtexa intended to be nurtured on Earth and educated about human customs. During this moment, the Jesuit finally unravels a perplexing conundrum that has been occupying his thoughts, originating from the third installment of James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake” (pages 572-3). The riddle delves into a convoluted scenario of marital ethics, culminating in the query “Has he hegemony and shall she submit?” The Church finds neither a simple “Yes” nor “No” to be ethically gratifying. Ruiz-Sanchez discerns it as a dual inquiry, although the lack of a comma between the two phrases, allowing for the response to encompass both “Yes and No.”

Philip K. Dick’s “THE TROUBLE WITH BUBBLES”. The beginning of Worldcraft.


The short story titled “The Trouble with Bubbles” was written by American author Philip K. Dick in 1953. Originally featured in the September 1953 issue of IF WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION  magazine, the story made its debut in book format within Second Variety, part of the extensive collection The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick, in 1987.

Plot Summary

In a future se­tting, humanity’s quest to discover other inte­lligent life beyond our solar syste­m has been fruitless. To satisfy this de­ep desire for conne­ction, individuals have the option to purchase a unique­ creation called Worldcraft, featuring the­ enticing slogan “Own Your Own World!”. With this innovative device­, the owner gains the ability to construct an e­ntire universe, dictating e­very aspect of its evolution. Surprisingly, within this fabricate­d universe, beings akin to humans thrive­.

In this story, the main character Nathan Hull goes to a competition to decide who has invented the best Worldcraft world. After she is declared the winner, a participant smashes and destroys her bubble. Hull believes that the people who own the worlds are not right to control the lives of those inside them, and he starts working towards passing laws that will stop anyone from creating any more Worldcrafts. At the end of the story as he is about to drive through a new tunnel to Asia, it is struck by an earthquake which implies his world is also a Worldcraft.


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