Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's Philip K. Dick's Birthday

In the middle '50s I read a P. K. Dick short story that's really nothing at all like the ones he's most famous for. But that one stuck with me for 50 years or so before I found the magazine it was in and was able to read it again.

The Writer's Almanac from American Public Media: "It's the birthday of Philip K. Dick, born in Chicago (1928), who began to suffer from visions and hallucinations in the 1950s. He once thought he saw a face in the sky, which he described as 'a vast visage of evil with empty slots for eyes, metal and cruel, and worst of all, it was God.' He wasn't sure if his visions were authentic or if they were symptoms of mental illness, and he was fascinated that he could no longer tell what was real and what wasn't. He started writing a series of increasingly strange novels about the nature of reality that have since become science fiction classics, including The Man in the High Castle (1962), Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968), and A Scanner Darkly (1977).

Philip K. Dick said, 'Insanity is sometimes an appropriate response to reality.'"


Ed Gorman said...

I wish somebody would reprint Dick's introduction to the Berkley edition of The Golden Man. He really gives a sense of what his life was like in the 50s and 60s and 70s Berkley. It's a mordant piece--one friend dying of cancer, another forced to buy horse meat to survive--but not without the courage and honesty he brought to virtually all his fiction. I know the lit types knock his early short stories. But I've been reading and rereading them since my early teens and they hold up well for me. This is a good collection of old and recent.

Unknown said...

I'll have to check and see if I have that collection.

Anonymous said...

So, what was the story you mentioned in your intro here?

Anonymous said...

I'm not a big fan of Dick's early short stories, and I think there are a lot better line by line writers in the field, but, like Philip Jose Farmer, the guy was a genius. He had ideas that no one else had and insights into them that no one else had. Novels were his best, and my favorite is THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE. SCANNER DARKLY is a brilliant book, TRANSMIGRAION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER is great, and certainly some of the short stories are aces. STIGMATA a good book. I was also fond of THE MARTIAN TIME SLIP.

Unknown said...

Took me a while to locate the magazine in the accumulation. The story is "Out in the Garden," from the August 1953 issue of Fantasy Fiction. I was into mythology as a kid, so the story seemed very cool to me.