The Golden Man is a short story written by legendary science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. It is the story of evolution; what it is and what might cause it in humans.
The central character of the story is a man named Cris, age eighteen. Cris has never spoken to anyone in his life and has the uncanny ability to absolutely master many endeavors. He also has an innate ability to utterly charm women. Even more unusual about Cris is that he is literally colored gold from head to toe, like a living statue.
Cris is the result of the aftereffects of some sort of global nuclear war, the details of which aren't elaborated on. He's born about forty years after the end of the war, the result of leftover radiation still floating around the environment.
In the long interim since the war, there have been a rash of exceptional mutants, some with telekinetic ability, some with the ability to control minds, and all sorts of physical variations; this element of the story is quite reminiscent of the long-running X-Men saga featured by Marvel Comics and on the big screen. Cris is, of course, one of these mutants. It is worth noting that this story never actually refers to Cris or any of the others as mutants.
The government in this scenario has formed a group called the DCA whose job it is to scour the country, hunting down mutants and bringing them into a laboratory environment where they can be tested and then given euthanasia.
The "voice of reason" in this story is named Wisdom, who runs the lab and realizes the real purpose in keeping the mutants in check: to keep humans in the dominant role on earth. He is constantly nervous and frightened of the possibility of a Homo superior appearing and his incapacity in terms of dealing with it.
The primary villain of The Golden Man is George Baines, who tracks down and eventually captures Cris in a fashion, much to the chagrin of Cris's family. Once in the lab, Cris's abilities become quite clear: he is able to see a short amount of time into the future and thus is able to manipulate the course of events in advance and as they occur in order to survive. The remainder of the story is a study into what exactly survival of the fittest entails.
As usual with Philip K. Dick, this story raises a number of interesting issues. The biggest one is the question of what exactly it would take to unseat the current form of human from its control in the world. A common answer is that of a greater cognition, but this story argues that a superior ability for complex thought isn't necessarily what would unseat us.
Another interesting issue is the issue that this story shares with the X-Men saga: how should culture deal with mutants, and what are the repercussions of these different methods of handling mutants? This story takes the perspective that humans would directly kill mutant forms of ourselves in order to remain dominant, but in that might help select those that are best equipped for dominating the human race.
Phillip K. Dick is a legendary science fiction writer; among his most well-known works are The Man in the High Castle, considered to be the best alternate history novel ever written; The Minority Report, which is about to be made into a major motion picture starring Tom Cruise; and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the novel upon which the film Blade Runner was based.