The Great C

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"The Great C"
AuthorPhilip K. Dick
CountryUnited States
Genre(s)Science fiction
Published inFantastic Story Magazine
Publication typeMagazine
PublisherBest Books
Media typePrint
Publication dateSeptember 1953[1]

"The Great C" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick.[2] It was first published in 1953 in Cosmos Science Fiction and later in The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick, and parts of the work along with Planet for Transients were later used in the full-length novel Deus Irae.[3][4] It has since been republished several times, including in Beyond Lies the Wub in 1988.

Plot summary[edit]

The story is about a human tribe living in the distant future in a post-apocalyptic world, where a computer called the Great C has destroyed the world. Each year, the tribe sends a young man with three questions to the Great C, and if the computer cannot answer the questions, it will leave the tribe alone. On the other hand, if the computer can answer, the young man will be killed by the computer.

A young man from the tribe is sent to the Great C, with three questions prepared by the wise men of the tribe. He reaches the Great C in a destroyed building in the ruins of a city. The man asks his questions, first, he asks where rain comes from. The Great C answers with ease. His two other questions (why doesn't the sun fall out of the sky? and How the world came to existence?) are also easily answered by the computer. The Great C then absorbs the man and uses his body as energy, awaiting next year, for the next young man. Meanwhile, the tribe prepares for next year, coming up with difficult questions.


Among the subtexts in "The Great C" is the biblical version of the Phoenician god Moloch who demands the sacrifice of human babies. Thus, although it is a science fiction story, it has the classic underlaying of fantasy.[5]


  1. ^ Broderick (editor), Damien (2010). Skiffy and Mimesis: More Best of ASFR: Australian SF Review. Borgo Press. pp. 56, 59. ISBN 9781434457875. Retrieved 8 June 2014.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Hjorth (editor), Daniel; Kostera (editor), Monika. Entrepreneurship and the Experience Economy. Copenhagen Business School Press. pp. 103–104. ISBN 9788763002059. Retrieved 8 June 2014.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Palmer, Christopher (2003). Philip K. Dick: Exhilaration and Terror of the Postmodern. Liverpool University Press. ISBN 9780853236184. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  4. ^ Mackey, Douglas A. (1988). Philip K. Dick (Twayne's United States Authors Series). Twayne Publishers. pp. 9, 112. ISBN 9780805775150. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  5. ^ Rossi, Umberto (2011). The Twisted Worlds of Philip K. Dick: A Reading of Twenty Ontologically Uncertain Novels. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-7864-4883-8.

External links[edit]