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Philip Kindred Dick

Philip K. Dick
Born December 16, 1928(1928-12-16)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died March 2, 1982 (aged 53)
Santa Ana, California, U.S.
Pen name Richard Philips
Jack Dowland
Occupation Novelist, essayist, short story writer
Nationality American
Genres Science fiction
Speculative fiction
Social science fiction
Notable work(s) Ubik, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and The Man in the High Castle
Official website

Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American novelist, short story writer, and essayist whose published work during his lifetime was 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. He often drew upon his own life experiences and addressed the nature of drug abuse, paranoia and schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences in novels such as A Scanner Darkly and VALIS.[4]

The novel The Man in the High Castle bridged the genres of alternate history and science fiction, earning Dick a Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1963.[5] Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, a novel about a celebrity who awakens in a parallel universe where he is unknown, won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel in 1975.[6] "I want to write about people I love, and put them into a fictional world spun out of my own mind, not the world we actually have, because the world we actually have does not meet my standards," Dick wrote of these stories. "In my writing I even question the universe; I wonder out loud if it is real, and I wonder out loud if all of us are real."[7] Dick referred to himself as a "fictionalizing philosopher."

In addition to 44 published novels (as of January 2010),[8] Dick wrote approximately 121 short stories, most of which appeared in science fiction magazines.[9] Although Dick spent most of his career as a writer in near-poverty,[10] nine of his stories have been adapted into popular films since his death, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly and Minority Report. In 2005, Time magazine named Ubik one of the one hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923.[11] In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.[12][13][14][15]

Owing to the fact that most of Dick's novels were first published in paperback, the Philip K. Dick Award was established to honor the best original work published in paperback each year.



Early life

Philip Kindred Dick and his twin sister, Jane Charlotte Dick, were born six weeks prematurely to Dorothy Kindred Dick and Joseph Edgar Dick in Chicago.[16] Dick's father, a fraud investigator for the United States Department of Agriculture, had recently taken out life insurance policies on the family. An insurance nurse was dispatched to the Dick household. Upon seeing the malnourished Philip and injured Jane, the nurse rushed the babies to hospital.[citation needed] Baby Jane died en route, just five weeks after her birth (January 26, 1929). The death of Philip's twin sister profoundly affected his writing, relationships, and every aspect of his life, leading to the recurrent motif of the "phantom twin" in many of his books.

The family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. When Philip turned five, his father was transferred to Reno, Nevada. Dorothy refused to move, and she and Joseph divorced. Joseph fought her for custody of Philip but did not win the case. Dorothy, determined to raise Philip alone, took a job in Washington, D.C. and moved there with her son. Philip K. Dick was enrolled at John Eaton Elementary School from 1936 to 1938, completing the second through the fourth grades. His lowest grade was a "C" in written composition, although a teacher remarked that he "shows interest and ability in story telling." In June 1938, Dorothy and Philip returned to California.

Dick attended Berkeley High School in Berkeley, California. He and Ursula K. Le Guin were members of the same high school graduating class (1947), yet were unknown to each other at the time. After graduating from high school he briefly attended the University of California, Berkeley as a German major, but dropped out before completing any coursework rather than participate in mandatory ROTC training. At Berkeley, Dick befriended poet Robert Duncan and poet and linguist Jack Spicer, who gave Dick ideas for a Martian language. Dick claimed to have been host of a classical music program on KSMO Radio in 1947.[17] From 1948 to 1952 he worked in a record store. In 1955, Dick and his second wife, Kleo Apostolides, received a visit from the FBI. They believed this resulted from Kleo's socialist views and left-wing activities. The couple briefly befriended one of the FBI agents.[18]


Dick sold his first story in 1951. From that point on he wrote full-time, selling his first novel in 1955. The 1950s were a difficult and impoverished time for Dick. He once said, "We couldn't even pay the late fees on a library book." He published almost exclusively within the science fiction genre, but dreamed of a career in the mainstream of American literature. During the 1950s he produced a series of nongenre, non-science fiction novels. In 1960 he wrote that he was willing to "take twenty to thirty years to succeed as a literary writer." The dream of mainstream success formally died in January 1963 when the Scott Meredith Literary Agency returned all of his unsold mainstream novels. Only one of these works, Confessions of a Crap Artist, was published during Dick’s lifetime.[19]

In 1963, Dick won the Hugo Award for The Man in the High Castle.[5] Although he was hailed as a genius in the science fiction world, the mainstream literary world was unappreciative, and he could publish books only through low-paying science fiction publishers such as Ace. Even in his later years, he continued to have financial troubles. In the introduction to the 1980 short story collection The Golden Man, Dick wrote: "Several years ago, when I was ill, Heinlein offered his help, anything he could do, and we had never met; he would phone me to cheer me up and see how I was doing. He wanted to buy me an electric typewriter, God bless him—one of the few true gentlemen in this world. I don't agree with any ideas he puts forth in his writing, but that is neither here nor there. One time when I owed the IRS a lot of money and couldn't raise it, Heinlein loaned the money to me. I think a great deal of him and his wife; I dedicated a book to them in appreciation. Robert Heinlein is a fine-looking man, very impressive and very military in stance; you can tell he has a military background, even to the haircut. He knows I'm a flipped-out freak and still he helped me and my wife when we were in trouble. That is the best in humanity, there; that is who and what I love."

The last novel written during Dick's life was The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. It was published shortly after his death in 1982. In 1972, Dick donated manuscripts, papers and other materials to the Special Collections Library at California State University, Fullerton where they are archived in the Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Collection in the Pollak Library. It was in Fullerton that Philip K. Dick befriended budding science-fiction writers K. W. Jeter, James Blaylock, and Tim Powers.

Mental health

On February 20, 1974, Dick was recovering from the effects of sodium pentothal administered for the extraction of an impacted wisdom tooth. Answering the door to receive delivery of extra analgesic, he noticed that the delivery woman was wearing a pendant with a symbol that he called the vesicle pisces. This name seems to have been based on his confusion of two related symbols, the ichthys (two intersecting arcs delineating a fish in profile) that early Christians used as a secret symbol, and the vesica piscis. After the delivery woman's departure, Dick began experiencing strange visions. Although they may have been initially attributable to the medication, after weeks of visions he considered this explanation implausible. "I experienced an invasion of my mind by a transcendentally rational mind, as if I had been insane all my life and suddenly I had become sane," Dick told Charles Platt.[20]

Throughout February and March 1974, he experienced a series of visions, which he referred to as "two-three-seventy four" (2-3-74), shorthand for February-March 1974. He described the initial visions as laser beams and geometric patterns, and, occasionally, brief pictures of Jesus and of ancient Rome. As the visions increased in length and frequency, Dick claimed he began to live a double life, one as himself, "Philip K. Dick", and one as "Thomas", a Christian persecuted by Romans in the 1st century A.D. Despite his history of drug use and elevated stroke risk, Dick began seeking other rationalist and religious explanations for these experiences. He referred to the "transcendentally rational mind" as "Zebra", "God" and, most often, "VALIS". Dick wrote about the experiences in the semi-autobiographical novels VALIS and Radio Free Albemuth.

At one point Dick felt that he had been taken over by the spirit of the prophet Elijah. He believed that an episode in his novel Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said was a detailed retelling of a story from the Biblical Book of Acts, which he had never read.[21]

Marriages and children

Dick married five times, and had two daughters and a son; each marriage ended in divorce.

  • May 1948, to Jeanette Marlin – lasted six months divorced 1948
  • June 14, 1950, to Kleo Apostolides – divorced 1959
  • April 1, 1959, to Anne Williams Rubinstein – divorced October 1965
    • child: Laura Archer, born February 25, 1960
  • July 6, 1966, to Nancy Hackett – divorced 1972
    • child: Isolde Freya Dick (now Isa Dick Hackett), born March 15, 1967
  • April 18, 1973, to Leslie (Tessa) Busby – divorced 1977
    • child: Christopher Kenneth, born July 25, 1973


Philip K. Dick Android in the Nextfest Exhibition at Navy Pier

Philip K. Dick died in Santa Ana, California, on March 2, 1982. He had suffered a stroke five days earlier, and was disconnected from life support after his EEG had been consistently isoelectric since losing consciousness. After his death, his father Edgar took his son's ashes to Fort Morgan, Colorado. When his twin sister Jane died, her tombstone had both their names carved on it, with an empty space for Dick's death date. Brother and sister were eventually buried next to each other.

Dick was "resurrected" by his fans in the form of a remote-controlled android designed in his likeness.[22] The android of Philip K. Dick was included on a discussion panel in a San Diego Comic Con presentation about the film adaptation of the novel, A Scanner Darkly. In February 2006, an America West Airlines employee misplaced the android's head, and it has not yet been found.[23]

Biographical treatments


Lawrence Sutin's 1989 biography of Dick, Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick, is considered the standard biographical treatment of Dick's life.[24]

In 1993, French writer Emmanuel Carrère published Je suis vivant et vous êtes morts which was first translated and published in English in 2004 as 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.[25]

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."[26][27][28] It can be considered a non-fiction novel about his life.


Writer-director John Alan Simon is making a semiautobiograhical film based on Dick's novel Radio Free Albemuth starring Shea Whigham as the author.[29]

A 2008 film titled Your Name Here, by Matthew Wilder, features Bill Pullman as science fiction author William J. Frick, a character based on Dick.

BBC2 released in 1994 a biographical documentary as part of its Arena arts series called Arena - Philip K Dick: A day in the afterlife.[30]

The Gospel According to Philip K. Dick was a documentary film produced in 2001.[31]

The Penultimate Truth About Philip K. Dick was another biographical documentary film produced in 2007.[32]

Style and works

Pen names

Dick occasionally wrote under pen names, most notably Richard Philips and Jack Dowland.[citation needed] The surname Dowland refers to Renaissance 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, created specifically with Linda Ronstadt in mind, is an intergalactically famous singer whose entire body of work consists of recordings 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".


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[33]), 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."[20]

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."[33] 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.[citation needed]

"Phil Dick's third major theme is his fascination with war and his fear and hatred of it. One hardly sees critical mention of it, yet it is as integral to his body of work as oxygen is to water." -- Steven Owen Godersky[34]

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.[24]

Drug use (including religious, recreational, and abuse) 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,[35] Dick wrote all of his books published before 1970 while 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.[35]

Selected works

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,[36] and is the only Dick novel to win a Hugo Award. 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.[37]

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" published since 1923.[11]

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.[6] It is the only Philip K. Dick novel nominated for both 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.[21] 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.[38] VALIS was voted Philip K. Dick‘s best novel at the website[39] 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.

In a 1968 essay titled "Self Portrait", collected in the 1995 book The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick, Dick reflects on his work and lists which books he feels "might escape World War Three": Eye in the Sky, The Man in the High Castle, Martian Time-Slip, Dr. Bloodmoney, The Zap Gun, The Penultimate Truth, The Simulacra, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (which he refers to as "the most vital of them all"), Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and Ubik.[40] In a 1976 interview, Dick cited A Scanner Darkly as his best work, feeling that he "had finally written a true masterpiece, after 25 years of writing".[41]

Awards and honors

During his lifetime, Dick received the following awards and nominations:

The convention Norwescon which each year presents the Philip K. Dick Award.

Influence and legacy

Dick has influenced many writers, including William Gibson,[47] Jonathan Lethem,[48] and Ursula K. Le Guin.[49] Dick has also influenced filmmakers, his work being compared to films such as the Wachowski brothers's The Matrix,[50] David Cronenberg's Videodrome,[51] eXistenZ,[50] and Spider,[51] Spike Jonze's Being John Malkovich,[51] Adaptation,[51], Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,[52][53] Alex Proyas's Dark City,[50] Peter Weir's The Truman Show[50], Andrew Niccol's Gattaca,[51] Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys,[51] Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street,[54] David Lynch's Mulholland Drive,[54] David Fincher's Fight Club,[51] Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky,[50] Darren Aronofsky's Pi,[55] Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko[56] and Southland Tales,[57] and Christopher Nolan's Memento.[58]

The Sonic Youth album Sister was in part inspired by Dick. The "sister" of the title was Dick's fraternal twin, who died shortly after her birth, and whose memory haunted Dick his entire life.

The Philip K. Dick Society was an organization dedicated to promoting the literary works of Dick and was previously led by Dick's longtime friend the music journalist Paul Williams. Williams also served as Dick's literary executor for several years after Dick's death and wrote one of the first biographies of Dick, entitled Only Apparently Real: The World of Philip K. Dick.

The 2010 science fiction film "15 Till Midnight" cites Dick's influence with an "acknowledgment to the works of" credit.[59]


National Library for the Blind

In response to a 1975 request from the National Library for the Blind for permission to make use of The Man In The High Castle Dick responded, "I also grant you a general permission to transcribe any of my former, present or future work, so indeed you can add my name to your 'general permission' list."[60] A number of his books and stories are available in braille and other specialized formats through the NLS.[61]


As of December 30, 2009, six of Phillip K. Dick's early works in the public domain in the United States are available in ebook form from Project Gutenberg. See Dick, Philip K., 1928-1982 at Project Gutenberg.


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."[62] Films based on Dick's writing have accumulated a total revenue of around US $700 million as of 2004.[63]

  • Blade Runner (1982), based on Dick's 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford. 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!", though Ridley Scott has mentioned he had never even read the source material.[64] 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", directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film evokes a feeling similar to that of the original story while streamlining the plot; however, the action-film protagonist is totally unlike Dick's 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[citation needed]. The main character is aptly named David Hume.
  • Confessions d'un Barjo (1992), titled Barjo in its English-language release, a French film based on Dick's non-science-fiction novel Confessions of a Crap Artist. Reflecting Dick's popularity and critical respect in France, Barjo faithfully conveys a strong sense of Dick's aesthetic sensibility, unseen in the better-known film adaptations. A brief science fiction homage is slipped into the film in the form of a TV show.

Future films based on Dick's writing include the animated adaptation King of the Elves from the Walt Disney Animation Studios, set to be released in the winter of 2012; Radio Free Albemuth, based on Dick's novel of the same name, which has been completed and is currently awaiting distribution; and a film adaptation of Ubik which, according to Dick's daughter, Isa Dick Hackett, is in advanced negotiation.[65]

In February 2009, it was reported that Dick's 1954 short story "Adjustment Team" will be developed as a film titled The Adjustment Bureau starring Matt Damon.[66] In May 2009, The Halcyon Company, known for developing the Terminator franchise, announced that after Terminator Salvation, they will next adapt Dick's Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said.[67] Halcyon acquired the first-look rights to the works of Philip K. Dick in 2007.

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, adapted by Linda Hartinian and 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[68] were aired by NBC in 1956 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.[69]

Also in 2009, BOOM! Studios will publish a 24-issue miniseries comic book adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?[70] Blade Runner, the 1982 film adapted from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, had previously been adapted to comics as A Marvel Comics Super Special: Blade Runner.

The comics magazine Weirdo published The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick by artist R. Crumb in 1986. Though this is not an adaptation of a specific book or story by Dick, it incorporates elements of Dick's experience which he related in short stories, novels, essays, and the Exegesis.

In popular culture

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 an 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 play Kindred Blood in Kensington Gore (1992) by Brian W. Aldiss.
  • A 2005 play entitled 800 Words: the Transmigration of Philip K. Dick by Victoria Stewart re-imagines Dick's final days.[71]

Contemporary philosophy

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[citation needed]. Žižek is especially fond of using Dick's short stories to articulate the ideas of Jacques Lacan.[72] 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."[73]


See also


  1. ^ "Replies to 'A Questionnaire for Professional SF Writers and Editors", 1969, (The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick, 1995)
  2. ^ Terry Gilliam's Unresolved Projects
  3. ^ " Interview by Michael Sragow.". Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  4. ^ Behrens, Richard; Allen B. Ruch (2003-03-21). "Philip K. Dick". The Scriptorium. The Modern Word. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  5. ^ a b c "1963 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  6. ^ a b c d "1975 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  7. ^ Bernstein, Richard (1991-11-03). "The Electric Dreams of Philip K. Dick". The New York Times Book Review. 
  8. ^ Williams, Paul. "Introduction to the Novels Page". Novels and Collections Bibliography. The Philip K. Dick Estate. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  9. ^ Williams, Paul. "Short Stories". Introduction. Philip K. Dick Trust. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  10. ^ "Philip K. Dick". 2004. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  11. ^ a b Grossman, Lev (2005). "Ubik - ALL-TIME 100 Novels". Time.,24459,ubik,00.html. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  12. ^ Stoffman, Judy "A milestone in literary heritage" Toronto Star (February 10, 2007)
  13. ^ Library of America Philip K. Dick: Four Novels of the 1960s
  14. ^ Library of America H.P. Lovecraft: Tales
  15. ^ Associated Press "Library of America to issue volume of Philip K. Dick" USA Today (November 28, 2006)
  16. ^ Sutin, Lawrence (2003). "Philip K. Dick". Author - Official Biography. Philip K. Dick Trust. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  17. ^ Sutin, Lawrence (2005). Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick. Carroll & Graf. p. 53. ISBN 0786716231. 
  18. ^ Sutin, Lawrence (2005). Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick. Carroll & Graf. pp. 83–84. ISBN 0786716231. 
  19. ^ 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). Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  20. ^ a b Platt, Charles (1980). Dream Makers: The Uncommon People Who Write Science Fiction. Berkley Publishing. ISBN 0-425-04668-0. 
  21. ^ a b "The Religious Affiliation of Science Fiction Writer Philip K. Dick". Famous Science Fiction Writers / Famous Episcopalians. 2005-07-25. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  22. ^ Philip K. Dick Trust (June 24, 2005). "About The Philip K. Dick Android Project: A Note from Laura and Isa". Press release. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  23. ^ Waxman, Sharon (2006-06-24). "A Strange Loss of Face, More Than Embarrassing". Movies (The New York Times). Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  24. ^ a b Sutin, Lawrence (2005). Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick. Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0786716231. 
  25. ^ Carrère, Emmanuel (2004). I Am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey Into the Mind of Philp K. Dick. New York: Metropolitan Books. pp. 315. ISBN 0-8050-5464-2. 
  26. ^ O'Hagen, Sean (2005-06-12). "What a clever Dick". The Observer.,6121,1504386,00.html#article_continue. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  27. ^ Taylor, Charles (2004-06-20). "Just Imagine Philip K. Dick". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  28. ^ Berry, Michael (2004-07-04). "The dead no longer lie in grave silence". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  29. ^,0,2944531.story?page=1
  30. ^ Arena - Philip K Dick: A day in the afterlife
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ a b "Criticism and analysis". Gale Research. 1996. Archived from the original on 2007-03-07. Retrieved 2007-04-20. 
  34. ^ The Collected Stories Of Philip K. Dick, Volume 1, The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford, (1990), Citadel Twilight, p. xvi, ISBN 0-8065-1153-2
  35. ^ a b Williams, Paul (1975-11-06). "The Most Brilliant Sci-Fi Mind on Any Planet: Philip K. Dick". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  36. ^ The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick - an infinity plus review Adam Roberts, Infinity Plus
  37. ^ "Overview". Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  38. ^ Machover, Tod. "Valis CD". MIT Media Lab. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  39. ^ "PKD Race Results". Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  40. ^ Philip K. Dick, "Self Portrait", 1968, (The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick, 1995)
  41. ^ AN INTERVIEW WITH PHILIP K. DICK Daniel DePerez, September 10, 1976, Science Fiction Review, No. 19, Vol. 5, no. 3, August 1976
  42. ^ a b "1965 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  43. ^ "1968 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  44. ^ "1974 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  45. ^ "1982 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  46. ^ "1978 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  47. ^ William Gibson on PKD,
  48. ^ Gun With Occasional Music Review,
  49. ^ The SF Site Featured Review: The Lathe of Heaven, SF Site
  50. ^ a b c d e Scriptorium - Philip K. Dick, The Modern Word
  51. ^ a b c d e f g How Hollywood woke up to a dark genius, The Daily Telegraph
  52. ^ Slant Magazine DVD Review: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Slant Magazine
  53. ^ Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Guardian
  54. ^ a b On Writers and Writing; It's Philip Dick's World, We Only Live in It, New York Times
  55. ^ Philip K. Dick's Future Is Now, Washington Post
  56. ^ Donnie Darko,,
  57. ^ Richard Kelly’s Revelations: Defending Southland Tales., Cinema Scope
  58. ^ Philip K. Dick's Hollywood Afterlife, Slashdot
  59. ^ [1], IMDb
  60. ^ The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick, 1975-1976. Novato, California : Underwood-Miller, 1993 (Trade edition) ISBN 0-88733-111-4 p. 240
  61. ^ Home Page of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)
  62. ^ 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 2008-04-14. 
  63. ^ "Hollywood and Philip K. Dick". The Economist 371 (8371): 83. April 15, 2004. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  64. ^ Kermode, Mark. (2000-07-15). On the Edge of Bladerunner. [TV documentary]. UK: Channel 4. 
  65. ^
  66. ^ Studios weigh star packages MICHAEL FLEMING, Feb. 24, 2009, Variety
  67. ^ Philip K. Dick's 'Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said' Being Adapted Alex Billington,, 12 May 2009
  68. ^ The Defenders at
  71. ^ "Core Member Profile Victoria Stewart". The Playwrights' Center. 20 May 2008. Retrieved 4 March 2010. 
  72. ^ Žižek, Slavoj. "'The Desert and the Real'". Retrieved 2007-05-26. 
  73. ^ Baudrillard, Jean. "'Simulacra and Science Fiction'". Science Fiction Studies. Retrieved 2007-05-26. 

External links


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From Wikiquote

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

Philip Kindred Dick (16 December 19282 March 1982) was an American science fiction writer.



A human being without the proper empathy or feeling is the same as an android built so as to lack it, either by design or mistake. We mean, basically, someone who does not care about the fate which his fellow living creatures fall victim to; he stands detached, a spectator, acting out by his indifference John Donne's theorem that "No man is an island," but giving that theorem a twist: that which is a mental and a moral island is not a man.
  • Can any of us fix anything? No. None of us can do that. We're specialized. Each one of us has his own line, his own work. I understand my work, you understand yours. The tendency in evolution is toward greater and greater specialization. Man's society is an ecology that forces adaptation to it. Continued complexity makes it impossible for us to know anything outside our own personal field - I can't follow the work of the man sitting at the next desk over from me. Too much knowledge has piled up in each field. And there are too many fields.
    • "The Variable Man" (short story, 1952)
    • from The Collected Short Stories of Philip K. Dick, v.1: The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford (1987)
  • Doctor Labyrinth, like most people who read a great deal and who have too much time on their hands, had become convinced that our civilization was going the way of Rome. He saw, I think , the same cracks forming that had sundered the ancient world, the world of Greece and Rome; and it was his conviction that presently our world, our society, would pass away as theirs did, and a period of darkness would follow.
    • "The Preserving Machine" (short story, 1953)
    • from The Collected Short Stories of Philip K. Dick, v.1: The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford (1987)
  • One long-past innocent day, in my prefolly youth, I came upon a statement in an undistinguished textbook on psychiatry that, as when Kant read Hume, woke me forever from my garden-of-eden slumber. "The psychotic does not merely think he sees four blue bivalves with floppy wings wandering up the wall; he does see them. An hallucination is not, strictly speaking, manufactured in the brain; it is received by the brain, like any 'real' sense datum, and the patient act in response to this to-him-very-real perception of reality in as logical a way as we do to our sense data. In any way to suppose he only 'thinks he sees it' is to misunderstand totally the experience of psychosis."
    • "Drugs, Hallucinations, and the Quest for Reality" (1964) quoting an unknown psychiatric text
    • reprinted in The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick (1995) Lawrence Sutin, ed.
  • Don't try to solve serious matters in the middle of the night.
    • "What The Dead Men Say" (1964)
  • In one of the most brilliant papers in the English language [David] Hume made it clear that what we speak of as 'causality' is nothing more than the phenomenon of repetition. When we mix sulphur with saltpeter and charcoal we always get gunpowder. This is true of every event subsumed by a causal law - in other words, everything which can be called scientific knowledge. "It is custom which rules," Hume said, and in that one sentence undermined both science and philosophy.
    • "The Day the Gods Stopped Laughing," unpublished article written in the late 60's
    • quoted by Gregg Rickman in To The High Castle: Philip K. Dick: A Life 1928-1962 (1989)
  • I, for one, bet on science as helping us. I have yet to see how it fundamentally endangers us, even with the H-bomb lurking about. Science has given us more lives than it has taken; we must remember that.
    • "Self Portrait" (1968), reprinted in The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick (1995), ed. Lawrence Sutin
  • What about [my] books? How do I feel about them?
    I enjoyed writing all of them. But I think that if I could only choose a few, which, for example, might escape World War Three, I would choose, first, Eye in the Sky. Then The Man in the High Castle. Martian Time-Slip (published by Ballantine). Dr. Bloodmoney (a recent Ace novel). Then The Zap Gun and The Penultimate Truth, both of which I wrote at the same time. And finally another Ace book, The Simulacra.
    But this list leaves out the most vital of them all: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. I am afraid of that book; it deals with absolute evil, and I wrote it during a great crisis in my religious beliefs. I decided to write a novel dealing with absolute evil as personified in the form of a "human." When the galleys came from Doubleday I couldn't correct them because I could not bear to read the text, and this is still true.
    Two other books should perhaps be on this list, both very new Doubleday novels: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and another as yet untitled [Ubik]. Do Androids has sold very well and has been eyed intently by a film company who has in fact purchased an option on it. My wife thinks it's a good book. I like it for one thing: It deals with a society in which animals are adored and rare, and a man who owns a real sheep is Somebody. . . and feels for that sheep a vast bond of love and empathy. Willis, my tomcat, strides silently over the pages of that book, being important as he is, with his long golden twitching tail. Make them understand, he says to me, that animals are really that important right now. He says this, and then eats up all the food we had been warming for our baby. Some cats are far too pushy. The next thing he'll want to do is write SF novels. I hope he does. None of them will sell.
    • "Self Portrait" (1968), reprinted in The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick (1995), ed. Lawrence Sutin
  • Spinoza saw... that if a falling stone could reason, it would think, "I want to fall at the rate of thirty-two feet per second."
    • "The Android and the Human" (1972), reprinted in The Dark-Haired Girl (1988) and in The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick (1995), ed. Lawrence Sutin
  • These creatures are among us, although morphologically they do not differ from us; we must not posit a difference of essence, but a difference of behavior. In my science fiction I write about about them constantly. Sometimes they themselves do not know they are androids. Like Rachel Rosen, they can be pretty but somehow lack something; or, like Pris in We Can Build You, they can be absolutely born of a human womb and even design androids - the Abraham Lincoln one in that book - and themselves be without warmth; they then fall within the clinical entity "schizoid," which means lacking proper feeling. I am sure we mean the same thing here, with the emphasis on the word "thing." A human being without the proper empathy or feeling is the same as an android built so as to lack it, either by design or mistake. We mean, basically, someone who does not care about the fate which his fellow living creatures fall victim to; he stands detached, a spectator, acting out by his indifference John Donne's theorem that "No man is an island," but giving that theorem a twist: that which is a mental and a moral island is not a man.
    • "Man, Androids and Machine" (1975)
    • reprinted in The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick (1995) Lawrence Sutin, ed.
  • My major preoccupation is the question, 'What is reality?' Many of my stories and novels deal with psychotic states or drug-induced states by which I can present the concept of a multiverse rather than a universe. Music and sociology are themes in my novels, also radical political trends; in particular I've written about fascism and my fear of it.
    • Statement of 1975 quoted in the Dictionary of Literary Biography (1981) vol. 8, part 1
  • People just have no criterion left to evaluate the importance of things. I think the only thing that would really affect people would be the announcement that the world was going to be blown up by the hydrogen bomb. I think that would really affect people. I think they would react to that. But outside of that, I don't think they would react to anything. "Peking has been wiped out by an earthquake, and the RTD -- the bus strike is still on." And some guy says, "Damnit! I'll have to walk to work!"
  • I think that, like in my writing, reality is always a soap bubble, Silly Putty thing anyway. In the universe people are in, people put their hands through the walls, and it turns out they're living in another century entirely. ... I often have the feeling -- and it does show up in my books -- that this is all just a stage.
    • Interview, Science Fiction Review (August 1976)
  • Giving me a new idea is like handing a cretin a loaded gun, but I do thank you anyhow, bang, bang.
    • Letter to Patricia Warrick (May 17, 1978), published in Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick, 1977-1979 (1993)

The Man Who Japed (1956)

  • Odd that the brain could function on its own, without acquainting him with its purposes, its reasons. But the brain was an organ, like the spleen, heart, kidneys. And they went about their private activities. So why not the brain?

The World Jones Made (1956)

  • An Irishman hears that the banks are failing. He runs into the bank where he keeps his money and demands every cent of it. 'Yes sir,' the teller says politely. 'Do you want it in cash or in the form of a check?' The Irishman replies: 'Well, if you have it, I don't want it. But if you haven't got it, I must have it immediately.'

Confessions of a Crap Artist (1959)

  • I did not attend the services, because it seems to me, as Pythagoras says, the body is the tomb of the soul and that by being born a person has already begun to die.
  • The hell with the newspapers. Nobody reads the letters to the editor column except the nuts. It's enough to get you down.

The Man in the High Castle (1962)

  • What does it mean, insane? A legal definition. What do I mean? I feel it, see it, but what is it? It is something they do, something they are. It is their unconsciousness...Do they ignore parts of reality? Yes. But it is more. It is their plans...Their view; it is cosmic...They see through the here, the now, into the vast black deep beyond, the unchanging. And that is fatal to life. Because eventually there will be no life; there was once only the dust particles of space, the hot hydrogen gases, nothing more, and it will come again.
  • (Insanity) is not hubris, not pride; it is inflation of the ego to its ultimate - confusion between him who worships and that which is worshipped. Man has not eaten God; God has eaten man.
  • Perhaps if you know you are insane then you are not insane.
  • Whom the gods notice they destroy. Be small...and you will escape the jealousy of the great.
  • It's the fault of those physicists and that synchronicity theory, every particle being connected with every other; you can't fart without changing the balance in the universe. It makes living a funny joke with nobody around to laugh. I open a book and get a report on future events that even God would like to file and forget. And who am I? The wrong person; I can tell you that.
  • Can anyone alter fate? All of us combined...or one great figure...or someone strategically placed, who happens to be in the right spot. Chance. Accident. And our lives, our world, hanging on it.
  • Little kids are that way; they feel if their parents aren't watching what they do then what they do isn't real.
  • This is an artifact and that was a relic. This is alive in the now, whereas that merely remained.
  • Life is short. Art, or something not life, is long, stretching out endless, like concrete worm. Flat, white, unsmoothed by any passage over or across it. Here I stand. But no longer.
  • Are we to assist it in gaining power in order to save our lives? Is that the paradox of our earthly situation?
  • To save one life, Mr. Tagomi had to take two. The logical, balanced mind cannot make sense of that. A kindly man like Mr. Tagomi could be driven insane by the implications of such reality.
  • We have entered a Moment when we are alone. We cannot get assistance, as before. Well, Mr. Tagomi thought, perhaps that too is good. Or can be made good. One must still try to find the Way.
  • That is the artist's job: take mineral rock from dark silent earth, transform it into shining light-reflecting form from sky.
  • I feel the hot winds of karma driving me. Nevertheless I remain here. My training was correct: I must not shrink from the clear white light, for if I do, I will once more re-enter the cycle of birth and death, never knowing freedom, never obtaining release. The veil of maya will fall once more.
  • This hypnagogic condition. Attention-faculty diminished so that twilight state obtains; world seen merely in symbolic, archetypal aspect, totally confused with unconscious material.
  • I will never fully understand; that is the nature of such creatures. Or is this Inner Truth now, this that is happening to me? I will wait. I will see. Which it is. Perhaps it is both.
  • Even if all life on our planet is destroyed, there must be other life somewhere which we know nothing of. It is impossible that ours is the only world; there must be world after world unseen by us, in some region or dimension that we simply do not perceive. Even though I can't prove that, even though it isn't logical - I believe it.
  • We do not have an ideal world, such as we would like, where morality is easy because cognition is easy. Where one can do right with no effort because he can detect the obvious.
  • (Hawthorne Abendsen) told us about our own world. This, what's around us now. He wants us to see it for what it is. And I do, and more so each moment.
  • You're killing yourself with cynicism. Your idols got taken away from you one by one and now you have nothing to give your love to.
  • [Fiction] Appeals to the base lusts that hide in everyone no matter how respectable on the surface.
  • We can travel anywhere we want, even to other planets. And for what? To sit day after day, declining in morale and hope. Falling into an interminable ennui.
  • Dilemma of a civilized man; body mobilized but danger obscure.

Martian Time-Slip (1964)

  • Insanity - to have to construct a picture of one's life, by making inquiries of others.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)

Adapted into the 1982 film Blade Runner.

  • For Mercer everything is easy, he thought, because Mercer accepts everything. Nothing is alien to him. But what I've done, he thought; that's become alien to me. In fact everything has become unnatural; I've become an unnatural self.
  • "Everything is true", he said. "Everything anybody has ever thought".
  • The electric things have their life too. Paltry as those lives are.
  • You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe.

A Maze of Death (1970)

A novel about colonists to Delmak-O, all seemingly mentally ill and suspicious of each other. One of Dick's weirder and darker novels.

  • Forty-two. His age had astounded him for years, and each time that he had sat so astounded, trying to figure out what had become of the young, slim man in his twenties, a whole additional year slipped by and had to be recorded, a continually growing sum which he could not reconcile with his self-image. He still saw himself, in his mind's eye, as youthful, and when he caught sight of himself in photographs he usually collapsed ... Somebody took my actual physical presence away and substituted this, he had thought from time to time. Oh well, so it went.

We Can Build You (1972)

  • 'A rolling stone gathers no moss.'
    Try as I might I could not remember the meaning. At last I hazarded, 'Well, it means a person who's always active and never pauses to reflect - ' No, that didn't sound right. I tried again. 'That means a man who is always active and keeps growing in mental and moral stature won't grow stale.' He was looking at me more intently, so I added by way of clarification, 'I mean, a man who's active and doesn't let grass grow under his feet, he'll get ahead in life.'
    Doctor Nisea said, 'I see.' And I knew that I had revealed, for the purposes of legal diagnosis, a schizophrenic thinking disorder.
    'What does it mean?' I asked. 'Did I get it backward?'
    'Yes, I'm afraid so. The generally-accepted meaning of the proverb is the opposite of what you've given; it is generally taken to mean that a person who - '
    'You don't have to tell me,' I broke in. 'I remember - I really knew it. A person who's unstable will never acquire anything of value.'
    • chapter 17, page 224.

Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (1974)

  • Fear... can make you do more wrong than hate or jealousy. If you're afraid you don't commit yourself to life completely; fear makes you always, always hold something back.
  • He could not endure what he found himself going through, and he could not get away. It seemed to him as if he sat behind the tiller of his custom-made unique quibble, facing a red light, green light, amber light all at once; no rational response was possible. Her irrationality made it so. The terrible power, he thought, of illogic. Of the archetypes. Operating out of the drear depths of the collective unconscious which joined him and her — and everyone else — together. In a knot which could never be undone, so long as they lived.
    • p.54

A Scanner Darkly (1977)

  • If I had known it was harmless I would have killed it myself.
  • Where there's dope, there's hope!
  • "Sometimes I wish I knew how to go crazy. I forget how."
    "It's a lost art," Hank said. "Maybe there's an instruction manual on it."
  • They wanted to have a good time, but they were like children playing in the street; they could see one after another of them being killed--run over, maimed, destroyed--but they continued to play anyhow.
  • Drug misuse is not a disease, it is a decision, like the decision to step out in front of a moving car. You would call that not a disease but an error in judgement. When a bunch of people begin to do it, it is a social error, a life-style. In this particular life-style the motto is "Be happy now because tomorrow you are dying," but the dying begins almost at once, and the happiness is a memory.
  • One of the most effective forms of industrial or military sabotage limits itself to damage that can never be thoroughly proven - or even proven at all - to be anything deliberate. It is like an invisible political movement; perhaps it isn't there at all. If a bomb is wired to a car's ignition, then obviously there is an enemy; if public building or a political headquarters is blown up, then there is a political enemy. But if an accident, or a series of accidents, occurs, if equipment merely fails to function, if it appears faulty, especially in a slow fashion, over a period of natural time, with numerous small failures and misfirings- then the victim, whether a person or a party or a country, can never marshal itself to defend itself.
  • What does a scanner see? he asked himself. I mean, really see? Into the head? Down into the heart? Does a passive infrared scanner like they used to use or a cube-type holo-scanner like they use these days, the latest thing, see into me - into us - clearly or darkly? I hope it does, he thought, see clearly, because I can't any longer these days see into myself. I see only murk. Murk outside; murk inside. I hope, for everyone's sake, the scanners do better. Because, he thought, if the scanner sees only darkly, the way I myself do, then we are cursed, cursed again and like we have been continually, and we'll wind up dead this way, knowing very little and getting that little fragment wrong too.
  • "Then shall it come to pass the saying that is written," a voice said. "Death is swallowed up. In victory." Perhaps only Fred heard it. "Because," the voice said, "as soon as the writing appears backward, then you know which is illusion and which is not. The confusion ends, and death, the last enemy, Substance Death, is swallowed not into the body but up - in victory. Behold, I tell you the sacred secret now: we shall not all sleep in death."
  • Robert Arctor halted. Stared at them, at the straights in their fat suits, their fat ties, their fat shoes, and he thought, Substance D can't destroy their brains; they have none.
  • I saw Substance D growing. I saw death rising from the earth, from the ground itself, in one blue field, in stubbled color.
  • How did I get here? The pain so unexpected and undeserved and for some reason cleared away the cobwebs. I realized I didn't hate the cabinet door, I hated my life my house, my family. My backyard, my power mower. Nothing would ever change, nothing new would ever be expected; it had to end, and it did. Now in the dark world where I dwell ugly things and surprising things, and sometimes little wondrous things spill out at me constantly, and I can count on nothing.
  • "Mountains, Bruce, mountains," the manager said. "Mountains, Bruce, mountains," Bruce said and gazed.
    "Echolalia, Bruce, echolalia," the manager said. "Echolalia, Bruce-"
    "Okay, Bruce," the manager said, and shut the cabin door behind him, thinking, I believe I'll put him among the carrots. Or beets. Something simple. Something that won't puzzle him.

"If You Find This World Bad, You Should See Some of the Others" (1977)

A speech published in the collection The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick.

  • A novelist carries with him constantly what most women carry in large purses: much that is useless, a few absolutely essential items, and then, for good measure, a great number of things that fall in between. But the novelist does not transport them physically because his trove of possessions is mental. Now and then he adds a new and entirely useless idea; now and then he reluctantly cleans out the trash -- the obviously worthless ideas -- and with a few sentimental tears sheds them. Once in a great while, however, he happens by chance onto a thoroughly stunning idea new to him that he hopes will turn out to be new to everyone else. It is this final category that dignifies his existence. But such truly priceless ideas... perhaps during his entire lifetime he may, at best, acquire only a meager few. But that is enough; he has, through them, justified his existence to himself and to his God.

"How To Build A Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later" (1978)

A speech published in the collection I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon and The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick. Available online.

  • Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups...So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.
  • The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.
  • Science Fiction writers, I am sorry to say, really do not know anything. We can't talk about science because our knowledge of it is limited and unofficial, and usually our fiction is dreadful.
  • This, to me, is the ultimately heroic trait of ordinary people; they say no to the tyrant and they calmly take the consequences of this resistance.
  • An EEG of a person watching TV shows that after about half an hour the brain decides that nothing is happening, and it goes into a hypnoidal twilight state, emitting alpha waves. This is because there is such little eye motion.
  • Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

Introduction to The Golden Man (1980)

  • This is why I love SF. I love to read it; I love to write it. The SF writer sees not just possibilities but wild possibilities. It's not just "What if..." It's "My God; what if..." In frenzy and hysteria.
  • That was my problem then and it's my problem now; I have a bad attitude. In a nutshell, I fear authority but at the same time I resent it -- the authority and my own fear -- so I rebel. And writing SF is a way to rebel. ... SF is a rebellious art form and it needs writers and readers and bad attitudes -- an attitude of "Why?" or "How come?" or "Who says?"
  • And of course, in my writing, there is the constant theme of music, love of, preoccupation with, music. Music is the single thread making my life into a coherency. ... It's my job and my vice mixed together. You can't hope for better than that: having your job and your sin commingled.
  • People have told me that everything about me, every facet of my life, psyche, experiences, dreams, and fears, are laid out explicitly in my writing, that from the corpus of my work I can be absolutely and precisely inferred. This is true.
  • Writing is a lonely way of life. You shut yourself up in your study and work and work.
  • One thing I've found that I can do that I really enjoy is rereading my own writing, earlier stories and novels especially. It induces mental time travel, the same way certain songs you hear on the radio do ... the whole thing returns, an eerie feeling that I'm sure you've experienced.
  • Several years ago, when I was ill, Heinlein offered his help, anything he could do, and we had never met; he would phone me to cheer me up and see how I was doing. He wanted to buy me an electric typewriter, God bless him -- one of the few true gentlemen in this world. I don't agree with any ideas he puts forth in his writing, but that is neither here nor there. One time when I owed the IRS a lot of money and couldn't raise it, Heinlein loaned the money to me. I think a great deal of him and his wife; I dedicated a book to them in appreciation. Robert Heinlein is a fine-looking man, very impressive and very military in stance; you can tell he has a military background, even to the haircut. He knows I'm a flipped-out freak and still he helped me and my wife when we were in trouble. That is the best in humanity, there; that is who and what I love.

VALIS (1981)

A novel featuring Dick himself. The title is an acronym for Vast Active Living Intelligence System, Dick's gnostic vision of God.

  • We hypostasize information into objects. Rearrangement of objects is change in the content of the information; the message has changed. This is a language which we have lost the ability to read. We ourselves are a part of this language; changes in us are changes in the content of the information. We ourselves are information-rich; information enters us, is processed and is then projected outwards once more, now in an altered form. We are not aware that we are doing this, that in fact this is all we are doing.
  • It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.
  • A lot can be said for the infinite mercies of God, but the smarts of a good pharmacist, when you get down to it, is worth more.
  • To fight the Empire is to be infected by its derangement ... Whoever defeats the Empire becomes the Empire; it proliferates like a virus ... thereby it becomes its enemies.
  • The Empire Never Ended
  • Mental illness is not funny.
  • Crazy people do not apply the principle of scientific parsimony... they shoot for the baroque.
  • Helping people was one of the two basic things Fat had been told to give up; helping people and taking dope. He had stopped taking dope, but all his energy and enthusiasm were now totally channelled into saving people. Better he had kept on with the dope.
  • Fish cannot carry guns.
  • It is amazing that when someone else spouts the nonsense you yourself believe you can readily perceive it as nonsense.
  • Certainly it constitutes bad news if the people who agree with you are buggier than batshit.
  • Madness has its own dynamism. It just goes on.

The Divine Invasion (1981)

  • It was evident to Elias Tate that this was the government. First they shake hands with you, he thought, and then they murder you.
  • They think they are free because they have never been free, and do not know what it means.

The Transmigration of Timothy Archer (1982)

  • Barefoot conducts his seminars on his houseboat in Sausalito. It costs a hundred dollars to find out why we are on this Earth. You also get a sandwich, but I wasn't hungry that day. John Lennon had just been killed and I think I know why we are on this Earth; it's to find out that what you love the most will be taken away from you, probably due to an error in high places rather than by design.
    • Page 7
  • The trouble with being educated is that it takes a long time; it uses up the better part of your life and when you are finished what you know is that you would have benefited more by going into banking.
    • Page 13
  • I realized, then, that I had stood without intending to. Flight reaction, I said to myself. Instinctive. Upon experiencing close adversaries. The lizard part of the brain.
    • Page 158
  • Madness, like small fish, runs in hosts, in vast numbers of instances.
    • Page 236

Lies, Inc. (1984)

Originally published as The Unteleported Man in 1964, republished with additional material in 1983. Published with further additional material as Lies, Inc. in 1984.

  • When two people dream the same dream, it ceases to be an illusion.

In Pursuit of Valis: Selections from the Exegesis (1991)

Edited by Lawrence Sutin.

  • I am a fictionalizing philosopher, not a novelist; my novel & story-writing ability is employed as a means to formulate my perception. The core of my writing is not art but truth. Thus what I tell is the truth, yet I can do nothing to alleviate it, either by deed or explanation. Yet this seems somehow to help a certain kind of sensitive troubled person, for whom I speak. I think I understand the common ingredient in those whom my writing helps: they cannot or will not blunt their own intimations about the irrational, mysterious nature of reality, & for them, my corpus of writing is one long ratiocination regarding this inexplicable reality, an investigation & presentation, analysis & response & personal history. My audience will always be limited to those people.
  • Each of us assumes everyone else knows what HE is doing. They all assume we know what WE are doing. We don't...Nothing is going on and nobody knows what it is. Nobody is concealing anything except the fact that he does not understand anything anymore and wishes he could go home.

Quotes about Philip K. Dick

  • Dick's fiction calls up our basic cultural assumptions, requires us to reexamine them, and points out the destructive destinations to which they are carrying us. The American Dream may have succeeded as a means of survival in the wilderness of early America; it allowed us to subdue that wilderness and build our holy cities of materialism. But now, the images in Dick's fiction declare, we live in a new kind of wilderness, a wasteland wilderness, because those cities and the culture that built them are in decay. We need a new American dream to overcome this wasteland.
    • Patricia S. Warrick, Mind in Motion: The Fiction of Philip K. Dick (1987)
  • [He would spend] three days straight writing a couple hundred pages. I didn't get any sleep either because every ten minutes [he would ask] "How do you spell _____, I need some coffee, Is there any food?" …He'd lay down for about ten minutes, get up again, and write some more.
  • [H]e never went anywhere, and never left his house. I didn't realize what a big deal it was then, but the older I get, the less I want to go anywhere. We live in the mountains, on a dirt road, in the middle of nowhere. ... He didn't like driving either. I remember he had a car for about three or four years before he passed away and it only had about 600 miles on it.
  • It was either Phil [Dick] or [Ace editor] Terry Carr who came up with the idea of an Ace Double edition of the Holy Bible. One of these days Ace will print the Holy Bible as a Double, back to back, the Old Testament and the New Testament each cut to exactly 30,000 words, the Old Testament titled Master of Chaos and the New Testament titled The Thing with Three Souls.
    • Poul Anderson, posthumous appreciation of Philip K. Dick in Locus magazine #256 (5/82)
    • quoted by Gregg Rickman in To The High Castle; Philip K. Dick: A Life 1928-1962 (1989)
      • alternate versions: In Divine Invasions by Lawrence Sutin, Karen Anderson, wife of Poul Anderson, is quoted. In this version of the anecdote, each half is 20,000 words, and the New Testament is The Things with Three Souls. In an e-mail from Arthur Hlavaty (5/28/95) the Old Testament is given as Wargod of Israel and the New Testament as The Thing with Three Souls.
  • Writer X may sell 500,000 copies. All those 500,000 people may think, nice book. I liked it. I'll read the guy's next one. And 40,000 people may read a Phil Dick book, and be loud and vocal and persuasive about feeling the book had incredible impact on them intellectually and emotionally. The guy with the 500,000 will not be seen as a major writer and the guy with the 40,000 will. Because nobody's talking about the guy with the 500,000 readers.
    • Russ Galen, Philip K. Dick's agent
    • quoted by Gregg Rickman in To The High Castle: Philip K. Dick: A Life 1928-1962 (1989)
  • The worlds through which Philip Dick's characters move are subject to cancellation or revision without notice. Reality is approximately as dependable as a politician's promise.
    • Roger Zelazny in Philip Dick: Electric Shepherd (1975), Bruce Gillespie, ed.
  • Is it real? Does it matter?
    • Robin Temple, on all of Philip K. Dick's books.

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