As a Fan of Philip K. Dick, I sometimes find it hard to describe why I like him. He isn’t the “typical”, if there can be such a thing, Science Fiction writer. True, many of his writings feature artificial intelligence, and take place in the future, with strange technologies. However to me, what is most striking about Dick’s work isn’t the robots, or the strange technologies, it’s how very close to OUR world HIS worlds are. The worlds Philip K. Dick creates are not very different from our own. True they are populated by robots, and humans in “scramble suits”, but for the most part, Dick’s world is sometimes eerily mirrored in ours.
For me, what makes Philip K. Dick so intriguing is that he reminds me of Stephen King in many ways. When people think Stephen King they automatically think “Horror”. They aren’t entirely wrong. Just as when people think Philip K. Dick they aren’t entirely wrong when they think “Science Fiction”. However, both these authors are able to use these different genres “Horror” and “Science Fiction” to tell deeper, more human stories. For Dick, these stories involve “What is reality” as well as “What does it mean to be an authentic human being”. In many ways these two things are tied together. Another factor involved in Dick’s writings are the fact that the protagonist are not shining paragons of heroics. No, Dick’s characters are messy, and flawed and oh so very human. But in their humanity, they are still heroes. It is when a character is flawed and messy and in a world full of the flawed and the mess that they can stand and become better.
That’s what I try to focus on when I am writing the story I plan on posting here. Yes, the world that I will write will be very much like our own, perhaps disturbingly so. But if it disturbs you, if it makes you uncomfortable, if the reality I create (which is in a way part of my reality) makes you question your reality, then maybe I was successful. Well. To give you an idea of what I intend to aim for, here are some helpful resources that you might find interesting.
The Scriptorium – Biography of PKD – is a great article on PKD because it highlights interesting information concerning his Influence (Legacy) on other writers. It is a very well-organized Biography that has links to many other resources. A bit on the metaphysical side, the Biography does provide us with many resources as well as insight to PKD’s past as well as his vast impact on Literature, Film and Science Fiction as a whole.
“Top 10 Films Based On or Inspired by Philip K. Dick Stories” – About Entertainment – This very short list shows the influence Philip K. Dick had on the film industry. From films based on his books (such as “Bladerunner”, and “A Scanner Darkly”, to films that take Phildickian ideas and run with them (such as “The Matrix” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) Philip K. Dick in very many ways revolutionized science fiction and Hollywood. Themes such as Identity, Reality, and what it means to be “Human” are themes that are not only universal and relatable, but are also themes that lend themselves well to the silver screen.
“Philip K. Dick’s Messy, Mindbending Cinematic Legacy” – The Atlantic – Article on Adaptation of Dick’s work. It’s a fairly short article, however it brings up a few interesting points, some of his most successful adaptations grossed the best in box office, and the most faithful (“A Scanner Darkly”) grossed the least. The article suggests that Dick’s works are so popular because they tap into questions we as humans struggle with all the time: Identity, the nature of free will, and what does it mean to be human?
“How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later” – The Deoxyribonucleic Hyperdimension– Article by Philip K Dick himself. In this article PKD himself begins by discussing the rise of Science Fiction in academia; how it went from being something authors craved would be recognized to something that is discussed at conferences and universities. He also discusses what he believes are the two key components in his writing, namely “What is reality” and “What constitutes the authentic human being”. While it seems one is very subjective and malleable the other, to him, is clearly defined by him. He also discusses how Science Fiction writers seem to be able to, unconsciously or not, tap into something very real when they write.
“Prophets of Science Fiction- Philip K Dick” – ScienceFiction.com– While this is a review of an episode of a show called Prophets of Science Fiction featuring Philip K Dick, it is also an interesting article that discusses the fact that Dick’s “paranoid science fiction” might have some grounds for truth. It goes through (quickly) several of his writings, in particular “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, “We Can Remember It Wholesale”, “A Scanner Darkly”, ” Minority Report”, and “The Man in the High Castle”, and discusses how years later these novels seem to eerily parallel things in our world. Themes such as what it means to be human, what are memories, surveillance, and alternate realties are questions that many people, scientists, scholars, and laymen are still actively trying to answer.
“More Human than Human: How Philip K. Dick Can Change Your Life” – The Verge– This article discusses the effect Philip K. Dick had on his fans, affectionately, and humorous refered to as “Dickheads”. Perhaps in response to being “trapped in a universe indifferent to their suffering, if not outright hostile” like the characters in his novels, Dickheads are drawn to the fact that Philip K. Dick writes not about superheroes or agents of great change, rather he writes about everyday men and women. According to the article, Dick speaks “on a deeper level to the need for empathy and compassion if one is to become – and remain genuinely human”. It also states that another common theme in Dick’s work is the idea that we as humans willingly give up our humanity. It is here where humans and androids parallel. In willingly giving over our humanity we become programmable, like androids. But Dick’s androids themselves are often portrayed as more humane than the “real” humans.
“The Second Coming of Philip K. Dick “– Wired Magazine– Frank Rose talks about how Philip K. Dick has become so influential to Science Fiction and to Hollywood 20 years after his death due to the fact that Dick’s “Vision of the future captures the feel of our time”. This article discusses how Dick’s major themes of Reality (alternate and real), Memory and Identity (paranoia),resonates with fans and plays well into, as well as influences, Hollywood Mega hits. A smaller article, attached to this one, by Erik Davis entitled The Metaphysics of Philip K. Dick discusses Five Major Themes in Dick’s writing: False Realities, Humans vs Machines, Entropy, The Nature of God, and Social Control.
Rossi, Umberto. “Philip K. Dick’s Unconventional Dystopias: From Radio Free Albemuth to a Scanner Darkly.” Extrapolation, 55.2 (2014): 153-172.- In this Academic Essay, Umberto Rossi examines Dick’s A Scanner Darkly, and radio Free Albemuth in the context of being dystopian literature. According to Rossi, much of Dick’s work can be classified as “Dystopian”, as they describe “other societies that are worse than ours”, yet the two that come closest are the two in the title. Yet even they, according to Rossi, are not clean-cut “Dystopias”. Instead, like Dick himself, they are far more complicated. Scanner, in particular, is complicated by the fact that while the Police seem to be, on some level, totalitarian, the drugs and drug pushers are just as bad if not worse and the “dirty cops” are in fact doing good. As is true with most Dick, simply labeling his work “Dystopian” despite the fact it may fit, would be inaccurate.