The Hanging Stranger

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"The Hanging Stranger" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick, originally published in December 1953 in the magazine Science Fiction Adventures. It has been reprinted in several anthologies, and published in French, Italian and German.[1] It was adapted by Dee Rees into the episode "Kill All Others" or "K.A.O." for the 2017 television series, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams. A book was also released to republish "The Hanging Stranger" along with the nine other stories on which the Electric Dreams episodes were based.[2]


The protagonist Ed Loyce[3] is a store owner who is disturbed when he sees a stranger hanging from a lamppost, but finds that other people consider the apparent lynching unremarkable.[4]

He finds evidence that alien insects had taken over, manages to get out of town, talks to the police commissioner there who believes him, and after getting all the information about what he knew from him, explains the body was hung to see if any reacted to it, anyone they didn't have control over. He then takes him outside and hangs him from a lamppost.

TV adaptation[edit]


The television adaptation differs from the short story in having a more political focus.[5] Additionally, the television adaptation has little or nothing to do with the published story even in regard to basic setting ideas such as bus vs train, present vs future, or local store owner vs factory peon etc.[6] The protagonist, Philbert Noyce played by Mel Rodriguez, is a low-motivation quality control worker in an automated factory.[7] Noyce hears and sees the phrase "kill all others" used during a television appearance by the sole candidate for the Presidency in the one-party state of MexUsCan. Few others acknowledge seeing or hearing the message, but many are affected by it. Only one of Noyce's co-workers seems to believe what he says about the message and the political system. He becomes increasingly agitated by this policy statement and his totalitarian society over the course of the episode. His wife, workmates and fellow citizens remain unconcerned by the "kill all others" message and by their society's heavy-handed responses to his concerns.[8]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Publication: Science Fiction Adventures, December 1953". Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  2. ^ Athitakis, Mark (January 9, 2018). "Review | 'Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams' is a companion anthology to the new TV show". Washington Post. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  3. ^ Dick, Philip K. The Hanging Stranger.
  4. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer (January 22, 2018). "Every episode of Electric Dreams explained by the series showrunner". Syfy. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  5. ^ Robertson, Adi (January 16, 2018). "How Electric Dreams updates Philip K. Dick's Cold War stories". The Verge. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  6. ^ Dick, Philip K. The Hanging Stranger.
  7. ^ Goodman, Tim (January 12, 2018). "'Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams': TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  8. ^ Metz, Nina (January 11, 2018). "Philip K. Dick's daughter brings his short stories to life in Amazon's 'Electric Dreams'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 3, 2018.

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