“Autofac,” Philip K. Dick, 1955 – Humans attempt to turn off a network of machines that endlessly produces a set of items that a long-gone bureaucracy has determined are essential to their lives. The survivors wish to begin post-war Reconstruction, but the machines have their own survival instinct. They will continue to tunnel through the earth in search of raw materials and, once Earth’s resources have been consumed, they will go off-world.
Comments: Themes of industrialism, relationship of production to consumption, wartime production. Images of “rows of plastic houses” and identical goods, establish a theme of conformity of culture through consumption. Read in The Ruins of Earth.
Author: Wikipedia: “Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American novelist, short story writer and essayist whose published work is almost entirely in the science fiction genre. Dick explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments, and altered states. In his later works Dick’s thematic focus strongly reflected his personal interest in metaphysics and theology.”