Galactic Pot-Healer

Galactic Pot-Healer is a science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in 1969. The novel deals with a number of philosophical and political issues such as repressive societies, fatalism, and the search for meaning in life.

Dick also wrote a children's book set in the same universe, Nick and the Glimmung, in 1966. It was published posthumously in 1988.

Galactic Pot-Healer
Cover of first edition (paperback)
AuthorPhilip K. Dick
CountryUnited States
GenreScience fiction
PublisherBerkley Books
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)

Plot introduction

The story concerns a man who thanklessly heals pots in a totalitarian future Earth, only to be summoned by a godlike alien known as Glimmung, who has recruited him as part of a multispecies specialist team sent to "Plowman's Planet" (or Sirius Five) for a mystical quest, which is to raise the sunken cathedral of Heldscalla from a surreal alien ocean.

Plot summary

The novel opens in a dismal future America, the “Communal North American Citizen's Republic.” The United States government has become extremely intrusive and repressive, monitoring the actions, speech and even thoughts of its citizens.

The protagonist, Joe Fernwright, is a pot-healer, one who can perfectly restore pottery to brand new condition. Joe finds himself constantly depressed and idle at the opening of the novel. He is unemployed and on a war veteran's social security benefit, given that ceramic pottery has been replaced by plastics, and his profession is not in great demand. He longs for purpose and meaning in life. His one entertainment is to call various friends on the worldwide telephone network and swap puzzles. These puzzles are created by translating a common English proverb or phrase into another language by using a language translation computer, and then translating it back to English the same way. The object of the game is to guess the original from the double translation.

Joe finds meaning when he is summoned to "Plowman's Planet"/Sirius Five by a mysterious highly evolved alien, Glimmung, with seemingly godlike powers. Along with other similarly talented but depressed and alienated people and creatures from all over the galaxy they are employed by Glimmung, in a grand endeavor to raise an ancient sunken cathedral from the ocean floor.

Glimmung is also in a struggle with the Kalends, a species gifted with precognition who are constantly writing a book that supposedly foretells the future, one which inevitably is proven right. Glimmung is determined to continue with his struggle, even when the book predicts certain failure.

At the conclusion of the book, Fernwright and his companions are offered the opportunity to join a gestalt or hive mind that also encompasses Glimmung. Fernwright and an unnamed octopoid companion alone refuse the offer. Fernwright is then given various options, such as going back to earth, going with the octopoid to its planet, going to Mali's planet ( a young humanoid female he had become romantically involved with and who chose to become a part of the collective conscious ) or stay back on Sirius Five. The octopoid also suggests to him that he should start creating pots with the tools Glimmung has given him instead of just healing them. The story ends by saying the first pot he created was 'awful.'

Bibliographic information

Galactic Pot-Healer was originally published in 1969 by Berkley Medallion Books. A hardback edition was issued in 1969 by the Science Fiction Book Club (Nelson Doubleday, Inc.). It is currently published in the United States by Vintage Books, ISBN 0-679-75297-8, and in the United Kingdom by Gollancz.

A Time for George Stavros

A Time for George Stavros was an early, unpublished, non-science fiction novel by author Philip K. Dick. It was written sometime around 1955, a time when Dick was getting his science fiction published but still dreamed of being a mainstream writer.


"Autofac" is a 1955 science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick that features one of the earliest treatments of self-replicating machines (and Dick's second, after his 1953 short story Second Variety). It appeared originally in Galaxy Science Fiction of November 1955, and was reprinted in several collections, including The Variable Man published in 1957, and Robots, Androids, and Mechanical Oddities published in 1984.

The story was adapted by Travis Beacham for an episode of the 2017 TV series, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams.

Beyond the Door (short story)

"Beyond the Door" is a low fantasy short story by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in the January 1954 issue of Fantastic Universe. The plot follows a cuckoo clock, which may or may not be intelligent, and a cuckolded husband.

Breakfast at Twilight

"Breakfast at Twilight" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was received by the Scott Meredith Literary Agency on January 17, 1953 and first published in Amazing Stories, July 1954.

Confessions d'un Barjo

Confessions d'un Barjo (known as Barjo for the English-language market) is a 1992 French film adaptation of Philip K. Dick's non-science fiction novel Confessions of a Crap Artist, originally written in 1959 and published in 1975, the only non-science fiction novel of Dick's to be published in his lifetime. The film was directed by Jérôme Boivin and written by Jacques Audiard and Jérôme Boivin, and stars Anne Brochet, Richard Bohringer and Hippolyte Girardot. "Barjo" translates as "nutcase" or "nut job".

Human Is

"Human Is" is a science fiction short story by Philip K. Dick. It was first published in Startling Stories, Winter 1955. The plot centers on the crisis facing a woman whose cold and emotionally abusive husband returns from a survey mission to the dying planet Rexor IV, changed for the better—his psyche was replaced by a Rexorian, glad to have escaped the confines of its dying planet.

The story was adapted by Jessica Mecklenburg for an episode of the 2017 TV series, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams.

Mary and the Giant

Mary and the Giant is an early, non-science fiction novel written by Philip K. Dick in the years between 1953 and 1955, but not published until 1987.

Meddler (short story)

"Meddler" is a science fiction short story by Philip K. Dick. It was first published in Future Science Fiction, October 1954 with illustration by Virgil Finlay. Dick had submitted many short stories to magazines and made approximately fifteen sales before becoming a client of the Scott Meredith Literary Agency. This was his second SMLA submission, received by SMLA on July 24, 1952. His first SMLA submission was The Builder, received by SMLA on July 23, 1952.

Nick and the Glimmung

Nick and the Glimmung is a children's science fiction novel originally written by American author Philip K. Dick in 1966. It was first published by Gollancz in 1988. It is set on "Plowman's Planet" (Sirius Five), in the same continuity as his adult science fiction novel Galactic Pot-Healer.

Not by Its Cover

"Not by Its Cover" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick, a sequel to his first published science fiction short story, "Beyond Lies the Wub". The story continues the former's theme of immortality, although not focusing on a living Wub itself, but rather its fur.

Novelty Act

"Novelty Act" is a short story by Philip K. Dick. It involves a dystopian future in which the characters' lives are based on entertaining the First Lady of the United States with "novelty acts".

Our Friends from Frolix 8

Our Friends From Frolix 8 is a 1970 science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick.

Philip K. Dick

Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American writer known for his work in science fiction. His work explored philosophical, social, and political themes, with stories dominated by monopolistic corporations, alternative universes, authoritarian governments, and altered states of consciousness. His writing also reflected his interest in metaphysics and theology, and often drew upon his life experiences in addressing the nature of reality, identity, drug abuse, schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences.

Born in Illinois, he eventually moved to California and began publishing science fiction stories in the 1950s. His stories initially found little commercial success. His 1962 alternative history novel The Man in the High Castle earned Dick early acclaim, including a Hugo Award for Best Novel. He followed with science fiction novels such as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) and Ubik (1969). His 1974 novel Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel. Following a series of religious experiences in February 1974, Dick's work engaged more explicitly with issues of theology, philosophy, and the nature of reality, as in such novels as A Scanner Darkly (1977) and VALIS (1981). A collection of his non-fiction writing on these themes was published posthumously as The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick (2011). He died in 1982, at age 53, due to complications from a stroke.

Dick's writing produced 44 published novels and approximately 121 short stories, most of which appeared in science fiction magazines during his lifetime.A variety of popular films based on Dick's works have been produced, including Blade Runner (1982), Total Recall (adapted twice: in 1990 and in 2012), Minority Report (2002), A Scanner Darkly (2006), The Adjustment Bureau (2011), and Blade Runner 2049 (2017).

In 2005, Time named Ubik one of the hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923. In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.

Puttering About in a Small Land

Puttering About in a Small Land is an early non-science fiction novel by American science fiction author Philip K. Dick. It was written sometime in 1957, but remained unpublished until it was released posthumously in 1985.

Strange Eden

"Strange Eden" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was first published in Imagination magazine, December 1954.

The Days of Perky Pat

"The Days of Perky Pat" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in 1963 in Amazing magazine.

The Electric Ant

"The Electric Ant" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was first published in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine in October 1969.

The Pre-persons

"The Pre-persons" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was first published in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine, October 1974.

The story was a pro-life response to Roe v. Wade. Dick imagines a future where the United States Congress has decided that abortion is legal until the soul enters the body. The specific instant is defined by the administration, at present the moment a person has the ability to perform simple algebraic calculations (around the age of 12).

The main protester — a former Stanford mathematics major — demands to be taken to the abortion center, since he claims to have forgotten all his algebra.

Vintage PKD

Vintage PKD is a collection of science fiction stories, novel excerpts and non-fiction by Philip K. Dick. It was first published by Vintage Books in 2006.

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