Fri
Mar 2 2012 6:00pm
Philip K. Dick: Dead for 30 Years Today, But Never Gone

Today marks the 30th anniversary of Philip K. Dick’s death, so we’d like to pause for a moment at the end of the day to appreciate the work of a man who not only wrote science fiction, who not only lived fully within in it, but actively expanded it outwards.

There are a lot of reasons Philip K. Dick is one of the most popular SF authors of all time, but the most obvious one is: the stories. Not only was he highly prolific, he was also extremely creative. One could argue that there was a Philip K. Dick formula, but the range of stuff between a novel like The Man Who Japed and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? to a short story like “Faith of Our Fathers” is immense. Dick himself was the ultimate outsider and frequently wrote of how strange regular people seemed to him. In an early story called “The Preserving Machine” he wondered how art could survive if it were converted into dangerous animals.

Philip K. Dick was both one of those dangerous creatures and the inventor of the machine, too. He was the mad scientist and the mad scientist’s invention all at once. We can’t think of serious science fiction without him. The parallel universe in which he didn’t exist would be unbearable.

We still miss him. Here is a short collection of ruminances on PKD here on Tor.com:

What mental doors has PKD’s fiction kicked down for you?

9 comments
Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter
I recall reading "The Father Thing" when I was around 11 and being, lets just say, somewhat paranoid for a while.
HiphoP Lovecraft
2. HiphoP Lovecraft
Great post, Stubby! Wisconsin Public Radio's/Public Radio International's "To The Best of Our Knowledge" has a special hour dedicated to PKD.
HiphoP Lovecraft
3. Tehanu
Yes, I remember "The Father Thing" scaring the hell out of me when I was about 12. And the first time I read The Man in the High Castle, I stayed up late to finish it ... and when I woke up the next morning I was afraid to look out of the window for fear it had come true. But I don't want to leave the impression that all Dick ever did was frighten me. I wanted Valis to be true. And the greatest thing about Blade Runner (which is a really great movie) is that even though it completely reverses the point of Androids, it still works.
HiphoP Lovecraft
4. politeruin
30 years already? Crumbs.

Still have a few novels to go until i complete all of them but his short stories don't seem to get enough praise, there are some great ones like electric ant, faith of our fathers, the cookie lady, king of the elves, foster you're dead... There's one called the story to end all stories which is barely a paragraph but one of the most disturbing paragraphs you're likely to read. The pre-persons needs to be rightly condemned though. I also love his attempt at mainstream novels, particularly voices in the street, they should get more recognition. Multiplicating realities indeed.

A good source of PKD discourse when it's updated...
http://totaldickhead.blogspot.com
HiphoP Lovecraft
5. Captain Starlight
Phillip K. Dick is dead, alas,
Let's all queue up and kick God's ass!

I never saw SF quite the same way after seeing Bladerunner for the first time in 1987. The very first thing I did after seeing it was write a eulogy for a fallen android from one of the colony planets - something I thought should have been in Bladerunner - and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
HiphoP Lovecraft
6. Tony Lazarus
"Martian Timeslip" disturbed and intrigued me. The concept of the autistic kid who can see past, present and future simultaneously blew my minds.
HiphoP Lovecraft
7. David G. Hartwell
Thanks for the post. I remember the day he died. I was his editor. John Douglas and Susan Allison, who worked with me at Timescape then, spent the day with me figuring out how we could make people pay attention.
Nancy Lebovitz
8. NancyLebovitz
Nitpick: "The Preserving Machine" wasn't exactly about art being turned into dangerous animals. It was about art being turned into harmless animals, which evolved (changed) into dangerous animals, so that the art wasn't preserved.

In any case, thanks for the essay, and if tor.com does a tribute series to PKDick, I wouldn't mind a bit.
Nancy Lebovitz
9. NancyLebovitz
Damn, I should have proofread more carefully before I posted-- I meant "evolved (changed?)" because I wasn't sure whether the music beasts were under selection pressure.

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