Philip K. Dick
On this page:
(1928 - 1982)
Left photo from: Clute's SF Encyclopedia
(right from editor's present collection)
By the 1950's the main stream view
of the future, was that it was going
to be wonderful. Just wonderful.
One of the few writers that dared to
look around and see the world for what
it was, was Philip K. Dick.
Many of his novels deal with the madness
of a world gone mad. There is no other
word for it: The angst that modern
people suffer in their lives makes the
future that we now live in a shameless
lie. With all of the potentiality of
progress and understanding, we see the
daily portrayal of plots, killing, and
"downsizing" -- all driven by consumer-
based free markets. And yet, under all
of this is the on-going assault on our
senses and inner self. In a world that
worships the material, there is very
definitely something missing: The
spiritual, the altruistic, the religous.
Phil's novels deal with the same world
that we live in and the world that we
are living in more and more each day.
His novels are peopled with us, with
each of us just searching for meaning,
just trying to survive -- and all the
while the upper crust of society that
would have us believe how wonderful it
is to be at the top -- is corroding and
falling apart: Drugs, mindless revenge,
and a grabling of all the dregs of the
And yet, through all of this, it is by
the simple faith in original religon of
Jesus, Paul and the Gnostics that the
characters survive. There is a certain
nobility and sprituality that pervades
the minds and personae of the people
in his novels that allows them to
My words are in-adequate to relay to you
the beauty and profound dignity of his
writing and the search for meaning that
he explores. Many of his novels are
disturbing, because they do not sugar-
coat the truth. I have never been able
to make it all the way through his novel
"Through a Scanner Darkly", because it
reminds me of so many of my old friends
who were likewise destroyed by drugs.
Some of the writing refelected the darkest
days of history during the cold war,
the McCarthy era and the red-hunt days.
These are events of past history, and yet
they are sure to be repeated again and again
since we never seem to learn the lessons.
Here are a few of the novels you will
probably enjoy (or not):
Solar Lottery. (His first sf novel).
Doctor Bloodmoney (or how I learned to stop
worrying and get along after the bomb).
Deus Irae (with Roger Zelaney)
Our Friends from Frolix-9
For the most part, he was never paid well,
and he never expected to "make it big".
As such, the same characters (names,
personalities) are used over and over in
several novels. But, for the most part,
each novel is a beautiful construct of ideas,
events, and the people who must live in the
world that we created.
His novel: "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep"
was made into the movie "Bladrunner". However,
there is very little of the original content
in the movie. (It is an excellent movie in its
own right, but it is "based upon" rather than
"of" the novel).
The Man in the High Castle. This won Phil his
only Hugo award (there are a total of about 45
novels, and several collections of short stories).
It is truely an "approachable" part of his work.
And it was made into a film, which my Dad happened
to catch on TV.
At the time of his death, he had completed a
trilogy of novels that are perhaps his most
"significant" (if I may be allowed to use such
an absurd word). However, they deal with the
darkest time in American History: The intrigues
surrounding Watergate. It is now clear that
Nixon's own people played on his own paranoia
and fears about "losing his place in history".
A scoundral surrounded by scoundrals. This
is dealt with in the book:
Radio Free Albemuth
In dealing with the drug scene in Berkley and
his own "cure" by some interviening angel in
1974, he put together the above novel, as well
as the two final works:
The Divine Invasion
In reviewing his life, it is difficult to
understand how one man could understand so
much about our world, the people in it, and
their problems. At times, the sadness of
it all is almost totally over-whelming.
And we are given "vent" to the absurdity of
it all by either glib news casts, mind-
shaping corporate ads, or self serving
politicians who will stop at nothing to
be re-elected and retain power -- all
the while our world falls closer and
closer to the brink of anihilation.
Pray for us Saint Philip.
Pray for our future,
for our children,
and for our very world.
Palmer Eldrich, common themes
And then the odd stuff,
The extract from the following page follows (rated R)
(in a review of "ExtraTerrestrial Sex Fetish")
From the appendix "Statement by the Case Historian":
I would like to say that I expect ETSF to cause much
consternation — not because it is intrinsically
polemical, like an abortion debate, but because
it defies genres in a way rarely done before.
(Sade and Kierkegaard wrote similarly recombinant
works, but who else?)
Many will reject ETSF as pornography. Pornographers
will reject it as philosophy. Philosophers will
reject it as literature. Litterateurs will reject
it as science fiction. Sci-fi readers might accept
it, because they tend to be more flexible about
these things — and yet, in spite of my enormous
respect for science fiction, I don't think ETSF
is that either. "Science" means knowledge, and
knowledge by definition is true; "fiction" means
counterfeit, and counterfeit is by definition
false. The term "science fiction" is thus an
oxymoron meaning something like "truth falsified."
This is probably an accurate description of certain
classic works of the genre: Philip K. Dick really
had a way of fucking with reality, and is "fucking
with reality" anything other than falsifying truth?
Conversely, I think ETSF falls in a weird bastard
category more like "pseudo-science non-fiction,"
by which I mean falsity — the belief in UFOs,
Martians, grays, Little Green Men"
— exhibited and analyzed.