Title: Beyond Lies the Wub
Author: Philip K. Dick
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Mark Turetsky (Audiobook Narrator)
The wub stood sagging, its great body settling slowly. It was sitting down, its eyes half shut. A few flies buzzed about its flank, and it switched its tail.
“It” sat. There was silence.
“It’s a wub,” Peterson said. “I got it from a native for fifty cents. He said it was a very unusual animal. Very respected.”
“This? It’s a pig A huge dirty pig “
“Yes sir, it’s a pig. The natives call it a wub.”
“A huge pig. It must weigh four hundred pounds.” Franco grabbed a tuft of the rough hair. The wub gasped. Its eyes opened, small and moist. Then its great mouth twitched. A tear rolled down the wub’s cheek and splashed on the floor.
“Maybe it’s good to eat,” Peterson said nervously.
“We’ll soon find out,” Franco said.
(This review originally appeared on my blog Winter Distractions on May 14, 2013)
I’m finding that I don’t read enough short stories. In my collection, I have quite a few short story collections, but I always find that when I go to read a book, I must read the ENTIRE BOOK and not just settle at one story out of the book. So, for me to read a short story is quite an accomplishment.
Science fiction is not something I read every day. For me, I like to find science fiction stories that are not only accessible to new-to-the-genre readers like me, but ones that are also quirky and somewhat different. With Philip K. Dick’s Beyond Lies the Wub, that was exactly what I got. For most of the story, I had a scrunched-up look on my face because it was just so different that by the time I finished, I knew that I had found the short story for me. And maybe the author for me (since I really haven’t read any of Dick’s work in the past).
This story is about the “wub” — a pig-like creature that is found by the crew of a space liner. What’s interesting about the “wub” is that the description we’re given pretty much lays the creature out as a pig, which makes the inhabitants of the space liner very keen on eating it. However, the wub talks and has philosophical conversations. Apparently, that’s one smart pig.
It was interesting not only that Franco (who seemed to be the leader of this crew) was so keen on killing and eating the wub, but that the wub was also very much aware to this fact. What makes the wub any different from a human on the space liner? I mean, the wub seemed to have a brain, an opinion, and an awareness — buy just because it speaks, does that make it any different from any other animal that does NOT speak?
Really, this story just opened up a huge bag of philosophical worms and even though the pace is slower, it’s a short read, and there’s nothing overly exciting in it, it’s still very much a quirky story that will open up conversation among its readers. Especially that ending. Once I finished reading it, I had to go back a few paragraphs to read it again before I could fully form an opinion on it. In some ways, it’s a delightfully quirky little read, but in others, it’s kind of horrifying and sad.