Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick
Born Philip Kindred Dick
December 16, 1928(1928-12-16)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died March 2, 1982(1982-03-02) (aged 53)
Santa Ana, California, U.S.
Pen name Richard Phillips
Jack Dowland
Occupation Novelist, essayist, short story writer
Nationality American
Genres Science fiction
Speculative fiction
Notable work(s) Ubik, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and The Man in the High Castle


Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American novelist, short story writer and essayist whose published work is almost entirely in the science fiction genre. Dick explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments and altered states. In his later works Dick's thematic focus strongly reflected his personal interest in metaphysics and theology. He often drew upon his own life experiences in addressing the nature of drug abuse, paranoia and schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences in novels such as A Scanner Darkly and VALIS.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8] "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."[9] Dick referred to himself as a "fictionalizing philosopher."

In addition to 44 published novels,[10] Dick wrote approximately 121 short stories, most of which appeared in science fiction magazines during his lifetime.[11] Although Dick spent most of his career as a writer in near-poverty,[12] ten of his stories have been adapted into popular films since his death, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, and The Adjustment Bureau. In 2005, TIME magazine named Ubik one of the one hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923.[13] In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.[14][15][16][17]


Personal life

Philip Kindred Dick and his twin sister, Jane Charlotte Dick, were born six weeks prematurely on December 16, 1928 in Chicago to Dorothy Kindred Dick, and Joseph Edgar Dick who worked for the United States Department of Agriculture.[18][19] Jane died six weeks later on 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.[18]

The family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. When Philip turned five, his father was transferred to Reno, Nevada. When Dorothy refused to move, she and Joseph divorced. Both parents fought for custody of Philip, who was awarded to the mother. Dorothy, determined to raise Philip alone, took a job in Washington, D.C. and moved there with her son. Philip 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. It was around this time that he became interested in science fiction.[20] Dick states that in 1940 at the age of twelve he read his first science fiction magazine entitled "Stirring Science Stories".[20]

Dick attended Berkeley High School in Berkeley, California. He and fellow science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin were members of the same high school graduating class (1947), but were unknown to each other at the time. After graduating from high school he briefly attended the University of California, Berkeley from September 1949 and withdrew November 11, 1949, with an hon. dismissal granted January 1, 1950. Dick was an undeclared major and took classes in history, philosophy, and zoology. Through his studies in philosophy, he realized that existence is based on the internal-based perception of a human, which doesn't necessarily correspond to external reality; he described himself as an "acosmic pan-enthiest," believing in the universe only as an extension of God.[21] After reading the works of Plato and pondering the possibilities of metaphysical realms, Dick came to the final conclusion that, in a certain sense, the world is not entirely real and there is no way to confirm whether or not it is truly there. This question from his early studies persisted as a theme in many of his novels. Dick dropped out, according to his third wife Anne in her memoir, because of his ongoing anxiety problems. Anne states that he did not like the 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.[22]

From 1948 to 1952 Dick worked in a record store. In 1955, he and his second wife, Kleo Apostolides, received a visit from the FBI, which they believed to be the result of Kleo's socialist views and left-wing activities. The couple briefly befriended one of the FBI agents.[23]

Around this time in his life, Dick's marriage to his third wife had fallen apart, and he was divorced in 1964. But by 1966, he met Nancy Hackett and married her by the end of the year.[24]

Dick was married five times: to Jeanette Marlin (May 1948 to November 1948), Kleo Apostolides (June 14, 1950 to 1959), Anne Williams Rubinstein (April 1, 1959 to October 1965), Nancy Hackett (July 6, 1966 to 1972), and Leslie (Tessa) Busby (April 18, 1973 to 1977). Dick had three children, Laura Archer (February 25, 1960), Isolde Freya Dick (now Isa Dick Hackett) (March 15, 1967), and Christopher Kenneth (July 25, 1973).

Dick was quite miserable during his marriage to Anne, and he felt his creativity to be stifled by her. She repeatedly claimed that his constant work on writing was detrimental to her, and their relationship. Feeling an immense amount of pressure from his family responsibilities, Dick retreated from his family and wrote "The Man in the High Castle" based on his personal concerns and frustration, which became one of his most famous works. [25]

Dick tried to stay off the political scene due to the high societal turmoil from the Vietnam war; however, he did show some anti-Vietnam war and anti-governmental sentiments. In 1968, he participated in an anti-war pledge called the "Writers and Editors War Tax Protest",[26][27] resolving not to pay income taxes, which resulted in the IRS seizing his car.

On February 17, 1982, after completing an interview, Dick contacted his therapist complaining of failing eyesight, and was advised to go to a hospital immediately, but did not. The next day he was found unconscious on the floor of his Santa Ana, California home after suffering a stroke. In the hospital, he suffered another stroke after which his brain activity ceased. Five days later, on March 2, 1982 he was disconnected from life support and died. After his death, Dick's father Joseph took his son's ashes to Fort Morgan, Colorado where they were buried next to his twin sister Jane, whose tombstone had been inscribed with both their names when she died 53 years earlier.[23][28][29]


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 non-genre, relatively conventional 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.[30]

In 1963, Dick won the Hugo Award for The Man in the High Castle.[7] 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."

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. The last novel written during Dick's life was The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. It was published shortly after his death in 1982.

Unusual experiences

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 encountered a Christian woman who was calling door to door. She was wearing a Christian fish pendant; Dick called the symbol the "vesicle pisces." This name seems to have been based on his conflation of two related symbols, the Christian ichthys symbol (two intersecting arcs delineating a fish in profile) which the woman was wearing, and the vesica piscis.

Dick recounted that as the sun glinted off the gold pendant, the reflection caused the generation of a "pink beam" that mesmerized him. Dick came to believe the beam imparted wisdom and clairvoyance; he also believed it to be intelligent. On one occasion, Dick was startled by the pink beam. It imparted the information to him that his infant son was ill. The Dicks rushed the child to the hospital where Dick's suspicion and his diagnosis were confirmed.[31]

After the 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.[32]

Beam hallucinations such as Dick's are quite common. The most famous sufferer of an identical condition was inventor Nikola Tesla.[33]

Throughout February and March 1974, he experienced a series of visions, which he referred to as "2-3-74", shorthand for February–March 1974. Aside from the "pink beam", Dick described the initial visions as geometric patterns, and, occasionally, brief pictures of Jesus and 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. He referred to the "transcendentally rational mind" as "Zebra", "God" and "VALIS." Dick wrote about the experiences, first in the semi-autobiographical novel Radio Free Albemuth and then in VALIS, The Divine Invasion and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, i.e., the VALIS trilogy.

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.[34]

His experiences and faith were documented and discussed in a private journal which was published as Exegesis.

Pen names

Dick had two professional stories published under the pen names Richard Phillips and Jack Dowland. "Some Kinds Of Life" in Fantastic Universe, October, 1953 was published as by Richard Phillipps apparently because "Planet For Transients" was published in the same issue under his own name.[35]

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".

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'.

Style and works


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[36]), 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."[32]

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."[36] Dick made no secret that much of his ideas and work were heavily influenced by the writings of Carl Jung.[28][37] 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.[28] 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.[citation needed] 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[38]

Dick frequently focused on the question, "What is human?" In works such as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? beings can appear totally human in every respect while lacking soul or compassion, while completely alien beings such as Glimmung in Galactic Pot-Healer may be more humane and complex than Dick's human characters.

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.[39]

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,[40] 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.[40]

Selected works

The Man in the High Castle (1962) is set in an alternate universe United States ruled by the victorious Axis powers. It is considered a defining novel of the alternate history sub-genre,[41] 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 Dick's writing.[42]

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 UN 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).[43] It is both a conflation and an intensification of the pivotally Dickian question, What is real, what is fake? 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.[13]

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.[8] 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 Acts of the Apostles.[34] 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. It may also be his most academically studied work, and was adapted as an opera by Tod Machover.[44] VALIS was voted Philip K. Dick‘s best novel at the website[45] 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. 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 posthumously 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 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, or How We Got Along After the Bomb, 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.[46] 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".[47]



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."[48] Films based on Dick's writing have accumulated a total revenue of over US $1 billion as of 2009.[49]

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.[51] Ubik is set to be made into a film by Michael Gondry.[52]

The Halcyon Company, known for developing the Terminator franchise, acquired right of first refusal to film adaptations of the works of Philip K. Dick in 2007. In May 2009, they announced plans for an adaptation of Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said.[53] It has been reported in 2010 that Ridley Scott will produce an adaptation of The Man in the High Castle for BBC, in the form of a mini-series.[54]

Stage and radio

Four of Dick's works have been adapted for the stage. One 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. Another 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 play based on Radio Free Albemuth also had a brief run in the 1980s. In November 2010, a production of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, adapted by Edward Einhorn, premiered at the 3LD Art and Technology Center in Manhattan.[55]

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[56] were aired by NBC in 1956 as part of the series X Minus One.


Marvel Comics adapted Dick's short story "The Electric Ant" as a limited series which was released in 2009. The comic was produced by writer David Mack (Daredevil) and artist Pascal Alixe (Ultimate X-Men), with covers provided by artist Paul Pope.[57]

Also in 2009, BOOM! Studios published a 24-issue miniseries comic book adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?[58] 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.

Alternate formats

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."[59] A number of his books and stories are available in braille and other specialized formats through the NLS.[60]

As of July 17, 2010, eleven of Philip 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.

Influence and legacy

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.[39]

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.[28]

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."[61][62][63] It can be considered a non-fiction novel about his life.

Dick has influenced many writers, including William Gibson,[64] Jonathan Lethem,[65] and Ursula K. Le Guin.[66] The prominent literary critic Fredric Jameson proclaimed Dick the "Shakespeare of Science Fiction", and praised his work as "one of the most powerful expressions of the society of spectacle and pseudo-event".[67] Dick has also influenced filmmakers, his work being compared to films such as the Wachowski brothers's The Matrix,[68] David Cronenberg's Videodrome,[69] eXistenZ,[68] and Spider,[69] Spike Jonze's Being John Malkovich,[69] Adaptation,[69] Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,[70][71] Alex Proyas's Dark City,[68] Peter Weir's The Truman Show,[68] Andrew Niccol's Gattaca,[69] In Time,[72] Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys,[69] Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street,[73] David Lynch's Mulholland Drive,[73] Alejandro Amenábar's Open Your Eyes,[74] David Fincher's Fight Club,[69] Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky,[68] Darren Aronofsky's Pi,[75] Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko[76] and Southland Tales,[77] and Christopher Nolan's Memento[78] and Inception.[79]

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.

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

Dick was recreated by his fans in the form of a remote-controlled android designed in his likeness.[80] 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.[81] In January 2011, it was announced that Hanson Robotics had built a replacement.[82]


  • BBC2 released in 1994 a biographical documentary as part of its Arena arts series called Philip K Dick: A day in the afterlife.[83]
  • The Gospel According to Philip K. Dick was a documentary film produced in 2001.[84]
  • The Penultimate Truth About Philip K. Dick was another biographical documentary film produced in 2007.[85]
  • the 1987 film The Trouble with Dick, in which Tom Villard plays a character named "Dick Kendred" (cf. Philip Kindred Dick) who is a science fiction author[86]
  • the Spanish feature film PROXIMA (2007) by Carlos Atanes, where the character Felix Cadecq is based on Dick
  • 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
  • Writer-director John Alan Simon has been reported to be making a semi-autobiograhical film based on Dick's novel Radio Free Albemuth starring Shea Whigham as the author.[87]
  • The 2010 science fiction film 15 Till Midnight cites Dick's influence with an "acknowledgment to the works of" credit.[88]

In fiction

  • 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.
  • the Faction Paradox novel Of the City of the Saved... (2004) by Philip Purser-Hallard
  • the short story "The Transmigration of Philip K" (1984) by Michael Swanwick (to be found in the 1991 collection Gravity's Angels)
  • in Thomas M. Disch's The Word of God (2008)[89]
  • 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 the Batman Beyond episode "Sentries of the Last Cosmos", the character Eldon Michaels claims a type writer on his desk to have belonged to Philip K. Dick.


  • the short play Kindred Blood in Kensington Gore (1992) by Brian W. Aldiss
  • a 2005 play, 800 Words: the Transmigration of Philip K. Dick by Victoria Stewart, which re-imagines Dick's final days.[90]

Contemporary philosophy

Dick's foreshadowing of postmodernity has been noted by philosophers as diverse as Jean Baudrillard, Fredric Jameson and Slavoj Žižek.[3] 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.[91]

For his anti-government skepticism, Philip K. Dick was afforded minor mention in Mythmakers and Lawbreakers, a collection of interviews about fiction by anarchist authors. Noting his early authorship of "The Last of the Masters", an anarchist themed novelette, author Margaret Killjoy expressed that while Dick never fully sided with anarchism, his opposition to government centralization and organized religion has influenced anarchist interpretations of gnosticism.[92]

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.

See also


  • Sutin, Lawrence (2005). Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick. Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0-7867-1623-1.
  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. ^ a b Myriam Díaz-Diocaretz, Stefan Herbrechter (2006). The Matrix in theory. Rodopi. pp. 136. ISBN 904201639. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ " Interview by Michael Sragow.". Retrieved November 3, 2009. 
  6. ^ Behrens, Richard; Allen B. Ruch (March 21, 2003). "Philip K. Dick". The Scriptorium. The Modern Word. Retrieved April 14, 2008. 
  7. ^ a b c "1963 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved June 26, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b c d "1975 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved June 26, 2009. 
  9. ^ Bernstein, Richard (November 3, 1991). "The Electric Dreams of Philip K. Dick". The New York Times Book Review. 
  10. ^ Williams, Paul. "Introduction to the Novels Page". Novels and Collections Bibliography. The Philip K. Dick Estate. Retrieved January 27, 2010. 
  11. ^ Williams, Paul. "Short Stories". Introduction. Philip K. Dick Trust. Retrieved April 14, 2008. 
  12. ^ "Philip K. Dick". 2004. Retrieved April 14, 2008. 
  13. ^ a b Grossman, Lev (October 16, 2005). "Ubik – ALL-TIME 100 Novels". TIME.,24459,ubik,00.html. Retrieved April 14, 2008. 
  14. ^ Stoffman, Judy "A milestone in literary heritage" Toronto Star (February 10, 2007)
  15. ^ Library of America Philip K. Dick: Four Novels of the 1960s
  16. ^ Library of America H.P. Lovecraft: Tales
  17. ^ Associated Press "Library of America to issue volume of Philip K. Dick" USA Today (November 28, 2006)
  18. ^ a b Kucukalic, Lejla (2008). Philip K. Dick: canonical writer of the digital age. Taylor and Francis. pp. 27. ISBN 0-415-96242-0. 
  19. ^ Sutin, Lawrence (2003). "Philip K. Dick". Author – Official Biography. Philip K. Dick Trust. Retrieved April 14, 2008. 
  20. ^ a b Sutin p.3
  21. ^ Dick, Philip K. "An Interview With America's Most Brilliant Science-Fiction Writer" Interview by Joe Vitale. Interview With Philip K Dick. Print Interviews. Web. 22 Oct. 2011.
  22. ^ Sutin, p. 53
  23. ^ a b Sutin, pp. 83–84
  24. ^ Liukkonen, Petri. "Philip K. Dick." Web. 23 Oct. 2011
  25. ^ Liukkonen, Petri. "Philip K. Dick." Web. 23 Oct. 2011
  26. ^ “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” January 30, 1968 New York Post
  27. ^ Dick, Philip K. "An Interview With America's Most Brilliant Science-Fiction Writer" Interview by Joe Vitale. Interview With Philip K Dick. Print Interviews. Web. 22 Oct. 2011.
  28. ^ a b c d Chap. 24
  29. ^ "Find A Grave: Philip K. Dick". 
  30. ^ 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). Archived from the original on February 16, 2008. Retrieved April 14, 2008. 
  31. ^ "Prophets of Science Fiction: Philip K. Dick". The Science Channel. Aired Wednesday, November 16th, 2011.
  32. ^ a b Platt, Charles (1980). Dream Makers: The Uncommon People Who Write Science Fiction. Berkley Publishing. ISBN 0-425-04668-0. 
  33. ^ Cheney, Margaret (1981). Tesla: Man Out of Time. Prentice-Hall.
  34. ^ a b "The Religious Affiliation of Science Fiction Writer Philip K. Dick". Famous Science Fiction Writers / Famous Episcopalians. July 25, 2005. Retrieved April 14, 2008. 
  35. ^ Levack, Daniel (1981). PKD: A Philip K. Dick Bibliography, Underwood/Miller, pp. 116, 126 ISBN 0-934438-33-1
  36. ^ a b "Criticism and analysis". Gale Research. 1996. Archived from the original on March 7, 2007. Retrieved April 20, 2007. 
  37. ^ A Conversation With Philip K. Dick
  38. ^ 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
  39. ^ a b Sutin, npg
  40. ^ a b Williams, Paul (November 6, 1975). "The Most Brilliant Sci-Fi Mind on Any Planet: Philip K. Dick". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 14, 2008. 
  41. ^ The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick – an infinity plus review Adam Roberts, Infinity Plus
  42. ^ "Overview". Archived from the original on February 22, 2008. Retrieved April 14, 2008. 
  43. ^ ^ Sammon, Paul M. (1996). Future Noir: the Making of Blade Runner. London: Orion Media. p. 49. ISBN 0-06-105314-7.
  44. ^ Machover, Tod. "Valis CD". MIT Media Lab. Archived from the original on March 12, 2008. Retrieved April 14, 2008. 
  45. ^ "PKD Race Results". Archived from the original on February 16, 2008. Retrieved April 14, 2008. 
  46. ^ Philip K. Dick, "Self Portrait", 1968, (The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick, 1995)
  47. ^ AN INTERVIEW WITH PHILIP K. DICK Daniel DePerez, September 10, 1976, Science Fiction Review, No. 19, Vol. 5, no. 3, August 1976
  48. ^ 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 April 14, 2008. 
  49. ^ "Philip K. Dick Films". Philip K. Dick Trust. August 11, 2009. Retrieved September 3, 2010. 
  50. ^ Kermode, Mark (July 15, 2000). On the Edge of Bladerunner (TV documentary). UK: Channel 4. 
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^ Philip K. Dick's 'Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said' Being Adapted Alex Billington,, May 12, 2009
  54. ^ Sweney, Mark (October 7, 2010). "Ridley Scott to return to work of sci-fi icon for BBC mini-series: Blade Runner director to executive produce four-part BBC1 adaptation of Philip K Dick's The Man in the High Castle". The Observer. 
  55. ^ Jason Zinoman, "A Test for Humanity in a Post-Apocalyptic World", The New York Times, December 3, 2010
  56. ^ The Defenders at
  59. ^ The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick, 1975–1976. Novato, California : Underwood-Miller, 1993 (Trade edition) ISBN 0-88733-111-4 p. 240
  60. ^ Home Page of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)
  61. ^ O'Hagen, Sean (June 12, 2005). "What a clever Dick". The Observer (UK).,6121,1504386,00.html#article_continue. Retrieved April 15, 2008. 
  62. ^ Taylor, Charles (June 20, 2004). "Just Imagine Philip K. Dick". New York Times. Retrieved April 15, 2008. 
  63. ^ Berry, Michael (July 4, 2004). "The dead no longer lie in grave silence". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 15, 2008. 
  64. ^ William Gibson on PKD,
  65. ^ Gun With Occasional Music Review,
  66. ^ The SF Site Featured Review: The Lathe of Heaven, SF Site
  67. ^ Fredric Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions, London and New York: Verso, 2005, p. 345; p. 347.
  68. ^ a b c d e Scriptorium – Philip K. Dick, The Modern Word
  69. ^ a b c d e f g How Hollywood woke up to a dark genius, The Daily Telegraph
  70. ^ Slant Magazine DVD Review: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Slant Magazine
  71. ^ Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Guardian
  72. ^ "SDCC TRAILER: Timberlake and Seyfried on the run in IN TIME". Retrieved July 22, 2011. 
  73. ^ a b On Writers and Writing; It's Philip Dick's World, We Only Live in It, New York Times
  74. ^ "Alejandro Amenábar Fernando Cantos". Retrieved January 9, 2011. 
  75. ^ Philip K. Dick's Future Is Now, Washington Post
  76. ^ Donnie Darko,,
  77. ^ Richard Kelly’s Revelations: Defending Southland Tales., Cinema Scope
  78. ^ The Second Coming of Philip K. Dick, Wired
  79. ^ Could Inception trigger a new wave of sci-fi cinema?, Den of Geek
  80. ^ "About The Philip K. Dick Android Project: A Note from Laura and Isa" (Press release). Philip K. Dick Trust. June 24, 2005. Retrieved April 14, 2008. 
  81. ^ Waxman, Sharon (June 24, 2006). "A Strange Loss of Face, More Than Embarrassing". The New York Times. Retrieved 008-04-14. 
  82. ^ Lamar, Cyriaque (January 12, 2011). "The Lost Robotic Head of Philip K Dick Has Been Rebuilt". io9. Retrieved January 12, 2011. 
  83. ^ Arena – Philip K Dick: A day in the afterlife
  84. ^ The Gospel According to Philip K. Dick at the Internet Movie Database
  85. ^ The Penultimate Truth About Philip K. Dick at the Internet Movie Database
  86. ^ The Trouble With Dick at the Internet Movie Database
  87. ^ Timberg, Scott (January 24, 2010). "Philip K. Dick: A 'plastic' paradox". Los Angeles Times.,0,2944531.story?page=1. Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  88. ^ IMDB "Full credits"
  89. ^ Disch, Thomas M. The Word of God. San Francisco:Tachyon, 2008
  90. ^ "Core Member Profile Victoria Stewart". The Playwrights' Center. May 20, 2008. Archived from the original on May 20, 2008. Retrieved March 4, 2010. 
  91. ^ Baudrillard, Jean. "'Simulacra and Science Fiction'". Science Fiction Studies. Retrieved May 26, 2007. 
  92. ^ Killjoy, Margaret (2009). Mythmakers and Lawbreakers. Stirling: AK Press. ISBN 9781849350020. OCLC 318877243. 
  93. ^ a b "1965 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved June 26, 2009. 
  94. ^ "1968 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved June 26, 2009. 
  95. ^ "1974 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved June 26, 2009. 
  96. ^ "1982 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved June 26, 2009. 
  97. ^ "1978 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved June 26, 2009. 

External links

Bibliography and works

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