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Shell Game

Author: Philip K. Dick
Publisher: Citadel Press
Pages: 0
Personal Rating: 0/10
Goodreads: 3/5
Found in:The Philip K. Dick Reader [1997]
A group of paranoid mental patients, long stranded on an alien planet by shipwreck of the robot controlled hospital spaceship transporting them to a mental hospital, believe themselves to be constantly under attack by aliens or Terrans. They discover the damaged ship in a bog, and from recorded tapes they learn their condition and the circumstances of the shipwreck. Even when they discover this evidence of the truth and attempt to verify or disprove the information on the ship's tapes, they construct sophisticated explanations to explain the "attacks" as a plot by the enemy who they now regard as definitely Terrans. After much internal dispute and sometimes violent conflict at the end of the story the survivors of the infighting are unsure if they are paranoid or victims of a plot. As one of them states they are like rulers who are all 12 or 13 inches long so have no basis for comparison. How would people determine whether they suffer from paranoia when they agree they have evidence all or none of them are paranoid is a central question of the story.