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In 2004, French writer Emmanuel Carrère published I Am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey Into the Mind of Philip K. Dick, which the author describes in his preface in this way:
The book you hold in your hands is a very peculiar book. I have tried to depict the life of Philip K. Dick from the inside, in other words, with the same freedom and empathy – indeed with the same truth – with which he depicted his own characters.
Critics of the book have complained about the lack of fact checking, sourcing, notes and index, "the usual evidence of deep research that gives a biography the solid stamp of authority." It can be considered a nonfiction novel about his life.
On August 8, 2006, actor Paul Giamatti announced that his company, Touchy Feely Films, plans to produce a biopic about Dick, with the permission of Isa Dick Hackett, Philip K Dick's daughter, through her company Electric Shepherd Productions. The film will be titled The Owl in Daylight, but is not an adaptation of the never-finished novel with the same title. It will open in 2009. Tony Grisoni, who wrote the screenplays for films such as Terry Gilliam's Tideland and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, is writing the film script, and Giamatti will play Philip K. Dick.
Writer-director John Alan Simon is making a semiautobiograhical film based on Philip K Dick's novel Radio Free Albemuth starring Shea Whigham as the author. It will open in 2008.
A 2008 film titled Your Name Here, by Matthew Wilder, will feature Bill Pullman as science fiction author William J. Frick, a character based on Philip K. Dick.
Style and works
For complete bibliography, see Bibliography of Philip K. Dick.
Dick occasionally wrote under pen names, most notably Richard Philips and Jack Dowland. The surname Dowland refers to composer John Dowland, who is featured in several works. The title Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said directly refers to Dowland's best-known composition, Flow My Tears. In the novel The Divine Invasion, the 'Linda Fox' character is an intergalactically famous singer whose entire body of work consists of remakes of John Dowland compositions. Also, some protagonists in Dick's short fiction are named 'Dowland'.
The short story "Orpheus with Clay Feet" was published under the pen name "Jack Dowland". The protagonist desires to be the muse for fictional author Jack Dowland, considered the greatest science fiction author of the 20th century. In the story, Dowland publishes a short story titled "Orpheus with Clay Feet", under the pen name "Philip K. Dick". In the semi-autobiographical novel VALIS, the protagonist is named "Horselover Fat"; "Philip", or "Phil-Hippos", is Greek for "horselover", while "dick" is German for "fat" (actually a cognate of thick).
Although he never used it himself, Dick's fans and critics often refer to him familiarly as "PKD" (cf. Jorge Luis Borges' "JLB"), and use the comparative literary adjectives "Dickian" and "Phildickian" in describing his style and themes (cf. Kafkaesque, Orwellian).
Dick's stories typically focus on the fragile nature of what is "real" and the construction of personal identity. His stories often become surreal fantasies as the main characters slowly discover that their everyday world is actually an illusion constructed by powerful external entities (such as in Ubik), vast political conspiracies, or simply from the vicissitudes of an unreliable narrator. "All of his work starts with the basic assumption that there cannot be one, single, objective reality," writes science fiction author Charles Platt. "Everything is a matter of perception. The ground is liable to shift under your feet. A protagonist may find himself living out another person's dream, or he may enter a drug-induced state that actually makes better sense than the real world, or he may cross into a different universe completely."
Alternate universes and simulacra were common plot devices, with fictional worlds inhabited by common, working people, rather than galactic elites. "There are no heroes in Dick's books," Ursula K. Le Guin wrote, "but there are heroics. One is reminded of Dickens: what counts is the honesty, constancy, kindness and patience of ordinary people." Dick made no secret that much of his ideas and work were heavily influenced by the writings of Carl Jung, the Swiss founder of the theory of the human psyche he called "Analytical Psychology" (to distinguish it from Freud's theory of psychoanalysis). Jung was a self-taught expert on the unconscious and mythological foundations of conscious experience and was open to the reality underlying mystical experiences. The Jungian constructs and models that most concerned Dick seem to be the archetypes of the collective unconscious, group projection/ hallucination, synchronicities, and personality theory. Many of Dick's protagonists overtly analyze reality and their perceptions in Jungian terms (see Lies Inc.), while other times, the themes are so obviously in reference to Jung their usage needs no explanation. Dick's self-named "Exegesis" also contained many notes on Jung in relation to theology and mysticism.
Mental illness was a constant interest of Dick's, and themes of mental illness permeate his work. The character Jack Bohlen in the 1964 novel Martian Time-Slip is an "ex-schizophrenic". The novel Clans of the Alphane Moon centers on an entire society made up of descendants of lunatic asylum inmates. In 1965 he wrote the essay titled Schizophrenia and the Book of Changes.
Drug use was also a theme in many of Dick’s works, such as A Scanner Darkly and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. Dick was a drug user for much of his life. According to a 1975 interview in Rolling Stone, Dick wrote all of his books published before 1970 high on amphetamines. "A Scanner Darkly (1977) was the first complete novel I had written without speed," said Dick in the interview. He also experimented briefly with psychedelics, but wrote The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, which Rolling Stone dubs "the classic LSD novel of all time," before he had ever tried them. Despite his heavy amphetamine use, however, Dick later said that doctors had told him that the amphetamines never actually affected him, that his liver had processed them before they reached his brain.
The Man in the High Castle (1962) occurs in an alternate universe United States ruled by the victorious Axis powers. It is considered a defining novel of the alternate history sub-genre, and is the only Dick novel to win a Hugo Award. Philipkdickfans.com recommends this novel, along with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Ubik, as an introductory novel to readers new to the writing of Philip K. Dick.
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965) utilizes an array of science fiction concepts and features several layers of reality and unreality. It is also one of Dick’s first works to explore religious themes. The novel takes place in the twenty-first century, when, under United Nations authority, mankind has colonized the solar system's every habitable planet and moon. Life is physically daunting and psychologically monotonous for most colonists, so the UN must draft people to go to the colonies. Most entertain themselves using "Perky Pat" dolls and accessories manufactured by Earth-based "P.P. Layouts". The company also secretly creates "Can-D", an illegal but widely available hallucinogenic drug allowing the user to "translate" into Perky Pat (if the drug user is a woman) or Pat's boyfriend, Walt (if the drug user is a man). This recreational use of Can-D allows colonists to experience a few minutes of an idealized life on Earth by participating in a collective hallucination.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) is the story of a bounty hunter policing the local android population. It occurs on a dying, poisoned Earth de-populated of all "successful" humans; the only remaining inhabitants of the planet are people with no prospects off-world. Androids, also known as andys, all have a preset "death" date. However, a few andys seek to escape this fate and supplant the humans on Earth. The 1968 story is the literary source of the film Blade Runner (1982). It is both a conflation and an intensification of the pivotally Dickian question, What is real, what is fake? Are the human-looking and human-acting androids fake or real humans? Should we treat them as machines or as people? What crucial factor defines humanity as distinctly 'alive', versus those merely alive only in their outward appearance?
Ubik (1969) uses extensive networks of psychics and a suspended state after death in creating a state of eroding reality. A group of psychics is sent to investigate a group of rival psychics, but several of them are apparently killed by a saboteur's bomb. Much of the novel flicks between a number of equally plausible realities; the "real" reality, a state of half-life and psychically manipulated realities. In 2005, Time Magazine listed it among the "All-TIME 100 Greatest Novels".
Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (1974) concerns Jason Taverner, a television star living in a dystopian near-future police state. After being attacked by an angry ex-girlfriend, Taverner awakens in a dingy Los Angeles hotel room. He still has his money in his wallet, but his identification cards are missing. This is no minor inconvenience, as security checkpoints (manned by "pols" and "nats", the police and National Guard) are set up throughout the city to stop and arrest anyone without valid ID. Jason at first thinks that he was robbed, but soon discovers that his entire identity has been erased. There is no record of him in any official database, and even his closest associates do not recognize or remember him. For the first time in many years, Jason has no fame or reputation to rely on. He has only his innate charisma to help him as he tries to find out what happened to his past and avoid the attention of the pols. The novel was Dick's first published novel after years of silence, during which time his critical reputation had grown, and this novel was awarded the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. It is the only Philip K. Dick novel nominated both for a Hugo and for a Nebula Award.
In an essay written two years before dying, Dick described how he learned from his Episcopalian priest that an important scene in Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said -- involving its other main character, Police General Felix Buckman, the policeman of the title -- was very similar to a scene in the Book of Acts. Film director Richard Linklater discusses this novel in his film Waking Life, which begins with a scene reminiscent of another Dick novel, Time Out of Joint.
A Scanner Darkly (1977) is a bleak mixture of science fiction and police procedural novels; in its story, an undercover narcotics police detective begins to lose touch with reality after falling victim to the same permanently mind altering drug, Substance D, he was enlisted to help fight. Substance D is instantly addictive, beginning with a pleasant euphoria which is quickly replaced with increasing confusion, hallucinations and eventually total psychosis. In this novel, as with all Dick novels, there is an underlying thread of paranoia and dissociation with multiple realities perceived simultaneously. It was adapted to film by Richard Linklater.
VALIS, (1980) is perhaps Dick’s most postmodern and autobiographical novel, examining his own unexplained experiences (see above). It may also be his most academically studied work, and was adapted as an opera by Tod Machover. VALIS was voted Philip K. Dick‘s best novel at the website philipkdickfans.com. Later works like the VALIS trilogy were heavily autobiographical, many with "two-three-seventy-four" (2-3-74) references and influences. The word VALIS is the acronym for Vast Active Living Intelligence System; it is the title of a novel (and is continued thematically in at least three more novels). Later, PKD theorized that VALIS was both a "reality generator" and a means of extraterrestrial communication. A fourth VALIS manuscript, Radio Free Albemuth, although composed in 1976, was discovered after his death and published in 1985. This work is described by the publisher (Arbor House) as "an introduction and key to his magnificent VALIS trilogy."
Regardless of the feeling that he was somehow experiencing a divine communication, Dick was never fully able to rationalize the events. For the rest of his life, he struggled to comprehend what was occurring, questioning his own sanity and perception of reality. He transcribed what thoughts he could into an eight-thousand-page, one-million-word journal dubbed the Exegesis. From 1974 until his death in 1982, Dick spent sleepless nights writing in this journal, often under the influence of prescription amphetamines. A recurring theme in Exegesis is PKD's hypothesis that history had been stopped in the 1st century A.D., and that "the Empire never ended". He saw Rome as the pinnacle of materialism and despotism, which, after forcing the Gnostics underground, had kept the population of Earth enslaved to worldly possessions. Dick believed that VALIS had communicated with him, and anonymous others, to induce the impeachment of U.S. President Richard M. Nixon, whom Dick believed to be the current Emperor of Rome incarnate.
Awards and honors
During his lifetime, Dick received the following awards and nominations:
- Hugo Awards
- Best Novel
- 1963 - winner: The Man in the High Castle
- 1975 - nominee: Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said
- Best Novelette
- 1968 - nominee: Faith of Our Fathers
- Nebula Awards
- Best Novel
- 1965 - nominee: Dr. Bloodmoney
- 1965 - nominee: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
- 1968 - nominee: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
- 1974 - nominee: Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said
- 1982 - nominee: The Transmigration of Timothy Archer
- John W. Campbell Memorial Award
- Best Novel
- 1975 - winner: Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said
- Graouilly d'Or (Festival de Metz, France)
- 1979 - winner: A Scanner Darkly
Also of note is the convention Norwescon which each year presents the Philip K. Dick Award.
Influence and legacy
Dick has influenced many writers, including William Gibson, Jonathan Lethem, and Ursula K. Le Guin. Dick has also influenced filmmakers, his work being compared to films such as the Wachowski brothers's The Matrix, David Cronenberg's Videodrome, eXistenZ, and Spider, Charlie Kaufman's Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Alex Proyas's Dark City, Andrew Niccol's The Truman Show and Gattaca, Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys, Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street, David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, David Fincher and Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club, Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky, Darren Aronofsky's Pi, Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko and Southland Tales, and Christopher Nolan's Memento.
A number of Dick's stories have been made into films. Dick himself wrote a screenplay for an intended film adaptation of Ubik in 1974, but the film was never made. Many film adaptations have not used Dick's original titles. When asked why this was, Dick's ex-wife Tessa said, "Actually, the books rarely carry Phil's original titles, as the editors usually wrote new titles after reading his manuscripts. Phil often commented that he couldn't write good titles. If he could, he would have been an advertising writer instead of a novelist." Films based on Dick's writing have accumulated a total revenue of around US $700 million as of 2004.
The most famous film adaptation is Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (based on Dick's 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). A screenplay had been in the works for years before Scott took the helm, with Dick being extremely critical of all versions. Dick was still apprehensive about how his story would be adapted for the film when the project was finally put into motion. Among other things, he refused to do a novelization of the film. But contrary to his initial reactions, when he was given an opportunity to see some of the special effects sequences of Los Angeles 2019, Dick was amazed that the environment was "exactly as how I'd imagined it!" Following the screening, Dick and Scott had a frank but cordial discussion of Blade Runner's themes and characters, and although they had incredibly differing views, Dick fully backed the film from then on. Dick died from a stroke less than four months before the release of the film.
Total Recall (1990), based on the short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale", evokes a feeling similar to that of the original story while streamlining the plot; however, the action-film protagonist is totally unlike Dick's typical nebbishy protagonist, a fearful and insecure anti-hero. The film includes such Dickian elements as the confusion of fantasy and reality, the progression towards more fantastic elements as the story progresses, machines talking back to humans, and the protagonist's doubts about his own identity. Total Recall 2070 (1999), a single season Canadian TV show (22 episodes), based on thematic elements from "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and interwoven with snippets of other Dick stories, is much closer in feel to both Dick's works than the better-known films based on them. The main character is aptly named David Hume.
Steven Spielberg's adaptation of "The Minority Report" faithfully translates many of Dick's themes, but changes major plot points and adds an action-adventure framework.
Dick's 1953 story "Impostor" has been adapted twice: first in 1962 for the British anthology television series Out of This World and then in 2002 for the movie Impostor. Impostor utilizes two of Dick's most common themes: mental illness, which diminishes the sufferer's ability to discriminate between reality and hallucination, and a protagonist persecuted by an oppressive government.
The film Screamers (1995) was based on a Dick short story "Second Variety"; the location was altered from a war-devastated Earth to a generic science fiction environment of a distant planet. A sequel, titled
The Walt Disney Animation Studios is to produce a CGI adaptation of King of the Elves set to be released in winter 2012.
Stage and Radio
At least two of Dick's works have been adapted for the stage. The first was the opera VALIS, composed and with libretto by Tod Machover, which premiered at the Pompidou Center in Paris on December 1, 1987, with a French libretto. It was subsequently revised and readapted into English, and was recorded and released on CD (Bridge Records BCD9007) in 1988. The second known stage adaptation was Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, produced by the New York-based avant-garde company Mabou Mines. It premiered in Boston at the Boston Shakespeare Theatre (June 18-30, 1985) and was subsequently staged in New York and Chicago.
A radio drama adaptation of Dick's short story "Mr. Spaceship" was aired by the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yleisradio) in 1996 under the name Menolippu Paratiisiin. Radio dramatizations of Dick's short stories Colony and The Defenders were aired by NBC in radio as part of the series X Minus One.
Marvel Comics plans to adapt Dick's short story "The Electric Ant" as a limited series to be released in 2009. The comic will be produced by writer David Mack (Daredevil) and artist Pascal Alixe (Ultimate X-Men), with covers provided by artist Paul Pope.
Since his death, Dick has appeared as a character in a number of novels and stories, most notably Michael Bishop's The Secret Ascension (1987; currently published as Philip K. Dick Is Dead, Alas), which is set in a Gnostic alternative universe where his non-genre work is published but his science fiction is banned by a totalitarian USA in thrall to a demonically possessed Richard Nixon.
Other fictional post-mortem appearances by Dick include:
- the short story "The Transmigration of Philip K" (1984) by Michael Swanwick (to be found in the 1991 collection Gravity's Angels),
- the short play Kindred Blood in Kensington Gore (1992) by Brian W. Aldiss,
- the Faction Paradox novel Of the City of the Saved... (2004) by Philip Purser-Hallard.
- the Spanish feature film PROXIMA (2007) by Carlos Atanes, where the character Felix Cadecq is based on Dick.
A 2005 play entitled 800 Words: the Transmigration of Philip K. Dick by Victoria Stewart re-imagines Dick's final days.
Few other writers of fiction have had such an impact on contemporary philosophy as Dick. His foreshadowing of postmodernity has been noted by philosophers as diverse as Jean Baudrillard, Fredric Jameson and Slavoj Žižek. Žižek is especially fond of using Dick's short stories to articulate the ideas of Jacques Lacan.  Jean Baudrillard offers this interpretation:
"It is hyperreal. It is a universe of simulation, which is something altogether different. And this is so not because Dick speaks specifically of simulacra. SF has always done so, but it has always played upon the double, on artificial replication or imaginary duplication, whereas here the double has disappeared. There is no more double; one is always already in the other world, an other world which is not another, without mirrors or projection or utopias as means for reflection. The simulation is impassable, unsurpassable, checkmated, without exteriority. We can no longer move "through the mirror" to the other side, as we could during the golden age of transcendence."
Main article: Bibliography of Philip K. Dick
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- ^ Bernstein, Richard (1991-11-03). "The Electric Dreams of Philip K. Dick". The New York Times Book Review.
- ^ Williams, Paul. "Short Stories". Introduction. Philip K. Dick Trust. Retrieved on 2008-04-14.
- ^ "Philip K. Dick". kirjasto.sci.fi (2004). Retrieved on 2008-04-14.}
- ^ a b Grossman, Lev (2005). "Ubik - ALL-TIME 100 Novels", Time. Retrieved on 2008-04-14.
- ^ Stoffman, Judy "A milestone in literary heritage" Toronto Star (February 10, 2007)
- ^ Library of America Philip K. Dick: Four Novels of the 1960s
- ^ Library of America H.P. Lovecraft: Tales
- ^ Associated Press "Library of America to issue volume of Philip K. Dick" USA Today (November 28, 2006)
- ^ Sutin, Lawrence (2003). "Philip K. Dick". Author - Official Biography. Philip K. Dick Trust. Retrieved on 2008-04-14.
- ^ Sutin, Lawrence (2005). Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick. Carroll & Graf, 53. ISBN 0786716231.
- ^ Sutin, Lawrence (2005). Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick. Carroll & Graf, 83-84. ISBN 0786716231.
- ^ Gillespie, Bruce (October 1990). "The Non-Science Fiction Novels of Philip K. Dick". Nova Mob Meeting; brg, No. 1, ANZAPA (Australia and New Zealand Amateur Publishing Association). philipkdickfans.com. Retrieved on 2008-04-14.
- ^ a b Platt, Charles (1980). Dream Makers: The Uncommon People Who Write Science Fiction. Berkley Publishing. ISBN 0-425-04668-0.
- ^ a b "The Religious Affiliation of Science Fiction Writer Philip K. Dick". Famous Science Fiction Writers / Famous Episcopalians. Adherents.com (2005-07-25). Retrieved on 2008-04-14.
- ^ Philip K. Dick Trust (June 24, 2005). "About The Philip K. Dick Android Project: A Note from Laura and Isa". Press release. Retrieved on 2008-04-14.
- ^ Waxman, Sharon (2006-06-24). "A Strange Loss of Face, More Than Embarrassing", Movies, The New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-04-14.
- ^ a b Sutin, Lawrence (2005). Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick. Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0786716231.
- ^ Carrère, Emmanuel (2004). I Am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey Into the Mind of Philp K. Dick. New York: Metropolitan Books, 315. ISBN 0-8050-5464-2.
- ^ O'Hagen, Sean (2005-06-12). ". Retrieved on 2008-04-15.
- ^ Taylor, Charles (2004-06-20). "Just Imagine Philip K. Dick", New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-04-15.
- ^ Berry, Michael (2004-07-04). "The dead no longer lie in grave silence", San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved on 2008-04-15.
- ^ Philip K. Dick Trust (2006-08-08). "Paul Giamatti Set to Play Philip K. Dick in Biopic". Press release. Retrieved on 2008-04-14.
- ^ The Owl in Daylight at the Internet Movie Database
- ^ a b "Criticism and analysis". Gale Research (1996). Archived from the original on 2007-03-07. Retrieved on 2007-04-20.
- ^ Williams, Paul (1975-11-06). "The Most Brilliant Sci-Fi Mind on Any Planet: Philip K. Dick". philipkdickfans.com. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2008-04-14.
- ^ Williams, Paul (1975-11-06). "The Most Brilliant Sci-Fi Mind on Any Planet: Philip K. Dick". philipkdickfans.com. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2008-04-14.
- ^ "Overview". philipkdickfans.com. Retrieved on 2008-04-14.
- ^ Machover, Tod. "Valis CD". MIT Media Lab. Retrieved on 2008-04-14.
- ^ "PKD Race Results". philipkdickfans.com. Retrieved on 2008-04-14.
- ^ William Gibson on PKD, philipkdickfans.com
- ^ Gun With Occasional Music Review, sff.net
- ^ The SF Site Featured Review: The Lathe of Heaven, SF Site
- ^ a b c d e Scriptorium - Philip K. Dick, The Modern Word
- ^ a b c d e f g How Hollywood woke up to a dark genius, The Daily Telegraph
- ^ Slant Magazine DVD Review: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Slant Magazine
- ^ Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Guardian
- ^ a b On Writers and Writing; It's Philip Dick's World, We Only Live in It, New York Times
- ^ Philip K. Dick's Future Is Now, Washington Post
- ^ Donnie Darko, Salon.com,
- ^ Richard Kelly’s Revelations: Defending Southland Tales., Cinema Scope
- ^ Philip K. Dick's Hollywood Afterlife, Slashdot
- ^ Knight, Annie; John T. Cullen and the staff of Deep Outside SFFH (November 2002). "About Philip K. Dick: An interview with Tessa, Chris, and Ranea Dick". Deep Outside SFFH. Far Sector SFFH. Retrieved on 2008-04-14.
- ^ "Hollywood and Philip K. Dick" (April 15, 2004). The Economist 371 (8371): 83. Retrieved on 2008-04-14.
- ^ Kermode, Mark. (2000-07-15). On the Edge of Bladerunner [TV documentary]. UK: Channel 4.
- ^ ""MARVEL BRINGS PHILIP K DICK’S ELECTRIC ANT TO LIFE IN NEW SERIES"". philipkdick.com (JULY 24, 2008).
- ^ "Victoria Stewart". The Playwrights' Center. Retrieved on 2007-07-30.
- ^ Žižek, Slavoj. "'The Desert and the Real'", Lacan.com. Retrieved on 2007-05-26.
- ^ Baudrillard, Jean. "'Simulacra and Science Fiction'", Science Fiction Studies. Retrieved on 2007-05-26.