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.[2] A book was also released to republish "The Hanging Stranger" along with the nine other stories on which the Electric Dreams episodes were based.[3]


The protagonist, a store owner Ed Loyce,[4] is disturbed when he sees a stranger hanging from a lamppost, but finds that other people consider the apparent lynching unremarkable.[5]

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

TV adaptation[edit]


The television adaptation differs from the short story in having a more political focus.[6][7] The protagonist, Philbert Noyce played by Mel Rodriguez, is a low-motivation quality-control worker in an automated factory.[8] 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. A new, large, illuminated "kill all others" billboard appears with what looks like a body hanging in front of it, which doesn't appear to bother anyone. Noyce, now evading the authorities, who have identified him as an "other" and having his flight being broadcast on live television, climbs up on the billboard. He yells "we're all others!" and verifies that it's a real person in the noose by jumping onto him before falling off the billboard. His body is eventually hung in the place of the previous one.[9]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Publication: Science Fiction Adventures, December 1953". ISFDB. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  2. ^ O'Falt, Chris (2018-06-07). "'Kill All Others': Dee Rees' 'Electric Dreams' Episode Is a Masterclass in Science-Fiction World-Building". IndieWire. Retrieved 2020-11-16.
  3. ^ Athitakis, Mark (January 9, 2018). "'Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams' is a companion anthology to the new TV show". Washington Post. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  4. ^ Dick, Philip K. The Hanging Stranger.
  5. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer (January 22, 2018). "Every episode of Electric Dreams explained by the series showrunner". SYFY. Retrieved February 3, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Robertson, Adi (January 16, 2018). "How Electric Dreams updates Philip K. Dick's Cold War stories". The Verge. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  7. ^ Dick, Philip K. The Hanging Stranger.
  8. ^ Goodman, Tim (January 12, 2018). "'Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams': TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  9. ^ 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.

External links[edit]