Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American writer known for his work in science fiction. His work explored philosophical, social, and political themes, with stories dominated by monopolistic corporations, alternative universes, authoritarian governments, and altered states of consciousness. His writing also reflected his interest in metaphysics and theology, and often drew upon his life experiences in addressing the nature of reality, identity, drug abuse, schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences.
Born in Illinois, he eventually moved to California and began publishing science fiction stories in the 1950s. His stories initially found little commercial success. His 1962 alternative history novel The Man in the High Castle earned Dick early acclaim, including a Hugo Award for Best Novel. He followed with science fiction novels such as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) and Ubik (1969). His 1974 novel Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel. Following a series of religious experiences in February 1974, Dick's work engaged more explicitly with issues of theology, philosophy, and the nature of reality, as in such novels as A Scanner Darkly (1977) and VALIS (1981). A collection of his non-fiction writing on these themes was published posthumously as The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick (2011). He died in 1982, at age 53, due to complications from a stroke.
A variety of popular films based on Dick's works have been produced, including Blade Runner (1982), Total Recall (adapted twice: in 1990 and in 2012), Minority Report (2002), A Scanner Darkly (2006), The Adjustment Bureau (2011), and Blade Runner 2049 (2017).
In 2005, Time named Ubik one of the hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923. In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.
Philip K. Dick
|Born||Philip Kindred Dick|
December 16, 1928
Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Died||March 2, 1982 (aged 53)|
Santa Ana, California, United States
|Occupation||Novelist, short story writer, essayist|
|Genre||Science fiction, paranoid fiction, philosophical fiction|
Philip Kindred Dick and his twin sister, Jane Charlotte Dick, were born six weeks prematurely on December 16, 1928, in Chicago, Illinois, to Dorothy (née Kindred; 1900–1978) and Joseph Edgar Dick (1899–1985), who worked for the United States Department of Agriculture. His paternal grandparents were Irish. The death of Jane six weeks later, on January 26, 1929, profoundly affected Philip's life, leading to the recurrent motif of the "phantom twin" in his books.
His family later moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. When Philip was five, his father was transferred to Reno, Nevada; when Dorothy refused to move, she and Joseph divorced. Both parents fought for custody of Philip, which 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 (1936–1938), completing the second through fourth grades. His lowest grade was a "C" in Written Composition, although a teacher remarked that he "shows interest and ability in story telling". He was educated in Quaker schools. In June 1938, Dorothy and Philip returned to California, and it was around this time that he became interested in science fiction. Dick stated that he read his first science fiction magazine, Stirring Science Stories in 1940 at the age of 12.
Dick attended Berkeley High School in Berkeley, California. He and fellow science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin were members of the same graduating class (1947) but did not know each other at the time. After graduation, he briefly attended the University of California, Berkeley, (September 1949 to November 11, 1949) with an honorable dismissal granted January 1, 1950. Dick did not declare a major and took classes in history, psychology, philosophy, and zoology. Through his studies in philosophy, he believed that existence is based on internal human perception, which does not necessarily correspond to external reality; he described himself as "an acosmic panentheist," believing in the universe only as an extension of God. After reading the works of Plato and pondering the possibilities of metaphysical realms, Dick came to the conclusion that, in a certain sense, the world is not entirely real and there is no way to confirm whether it is truly there. This question from his early studies persisted as a theme in many of his novels. Dick dropped out because of ongoing anxiety problems, according to his third wife Anne's memoir. She also says he disliked 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 hosted a classical music program on KSMO Radio in 1947. From 1948 to 1952, Dick worked at Art Music Company, a record store on Telegraph Avenue.
Dick sold his first story in 1951, and from then on wrote full-time. During 1952, his first speculative fiction publications appeared in July and September numbers of Planet Stories, edited by Jack O'Sullivan, and in If and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction that year. His debut novel was Solar Lottery, published in 1955 as half of Ace Double #D-103 alongside The Big Jump by Leigh Brackett. The 1950s were a difficult and impoverished time for Dick, who once lamented, "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 mainstream fiction. 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.
In 1963, Dick won the Hugo Award for The Man in the High Castle. 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 1971, Dick's marriage to Nancy Hackett broke down, and she moved out of their house in Santa Venetia, California. Having struggled with amphetamine abuse for much of the past decade (stemming in part from his need to maintain a prolific writing regimen due to the financial exigencies of the science fiction field), he allowed other drug users to move into the house. Following the release of 21 novels between 1960 and 1970, these developments were exacerbated by unprecedented periods of writer's block, with Dick ultimately failing to publish new fiction until 1974.
One day in November, Dick returned to his home to discover that it had been burglarized, with his safe blown open and personal papers missing. The police were unable to determine the culprit, and even suspected Dick of having done it himself. Shortly afterwards, he was invited to be guest of honor at the Vancouver Science Fiction Convention in February 1972. Within a day of arriving at the conference and giving his speech The Android and the Human, he informed people that he had fallen in love with a woman named Janis whom he had met there and announced that he would be remaining in Vancouver. An attendee of the conference, Michael Walsh, movie critic for local newspaper The Province, invited Dick to stay in his home, but asked him to leave two weeks later due to his erratic behavior. This was followed by Janis ending her and Dick's relationship and moving away. On March 23, 1972, Dick attempted suicide by taking an overdose of the sedative potassium bromide. Subsequently, after deciding to seek help, Dick became a participant in X-Kalay (a Canadian Synanon-type recovery program), and was well enough by April to return to California.
Upon relocating to Orange County, California at the behest of California State University, Fullerton professor Willis McNelly (who initiated a correspondence with Dick during his X-Kalay stint), he donated manuscripts, papers and other materials to the University's Special Collections Library, where they are archived in the Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Collection in the Pollak Library. During this period, Dick befriended a circle of Fullerton State students that encompassed several aspiring science fiction writers, including K. W. Jeter, James Blaylock and Tim Powers.
Dick returned to the events of these months while writing his 1977 novel A Scanner Darkly, which contains fictionalized depictions of the burglary of his home, his time using amphetamines and living with addicts, and his experiences of X-Kalay (portrayed in the novel as "New-Path"). A factual account of Dick's recovery program participation was portrayed in his posthumously released book The Dark Haired Girl, a collection of letters and journals from the period.
On February 20, 1974, while recovering from the effects of sodium pentothal administered for the extraction of an impacted wisdom tooth, Dick received a home delivery of Darvon from a young woman. When he opened the door, he was struck by the beauty of the dark-haired girl and was especially drawn to her golden necklace. He asked her about its curious fish-shaped design. "This is a sign used by the early Christians," she said, and then left. 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" of light that mesmerized him. He came to believe the beam imparted wisdom and clairvoyance, and also believed it to be intelligent. On one occasion, Dick was startled by a separate recurrence of the pink beam. It imparted the information to him that his infant son was ill. The Dicks rushed the child to the hospital, where his suspicion was confirmed by professional diagnosis.
After the woman's departure, Dick began experiencing strange hallucinations. Although initially attributing them to side effects from medication, he considered this explanation implausible after weeks of continued hallucinations. "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.
Throughout February and March 1974, Dick experienced a series of hallucinations, which he referred to as "2-3-74", shorthand for February–March 1974. Aside from the "pink beam", Dick described the initial hallucinations as geometric patterns, and, occasionally, brief pictures of Jesus and ancient Rome. As the hallucinations increased in length and frequency, Dick claimed he began to live two parallel lives, one as himself, "Philip K. Dick", and one as "Thomas", a Christian persecuted by Romans in the first century AD. 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 unfinished The Owl in Daylight (the VALIS trilogy).
In 1974, Dick wrote a letter to the FBI, accusing various people, including University of California, San Diego professor Frederic Jameson, of being foreign agents of Warsaw Pact powers. He also wrote that Stanisław Lem was probably a false name used by a composite committee operating on orders of the Communist party to gain control over public opinion.
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 biblical story from the Book of Acts, which he had never read. Dick documented and discussed his experiences and faith in a private journal he called his "exegesis", portions of which were later published as The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick. The last novel Dick wrote was The Transmigration of Timothy Archer; it was published shortly after his death in 1982.
Dick was married five times:
Dick had three children, Laura Archer Dick (born February 25, 1960 to Dick and his third wife, Anne Williams Rubenstein), Isolde Freya Dick (now Isa Dick Hackett) (born March 15, 1967 to Dick and his fourth wife, Nancy Hackett), and Christopher Kenneth Dick (born July 25, 1973 to Dick and his fifth wife, Leslie "Tessa" Busby).
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.
He was physically abusive with his third wife, Anne Williams Rubinstein; after one argument in 1963, he attempted to push her off a cliff in a car, then later claimed she was trying to kill him, and convinced a psychiatrist to commit her involuntarily. After filing for divorce in 1964, he moved to Oakland to live with a fan, Grania Davis. Shortly after, he attempted suicide by driving off the road while she was a passenger.
Dick tried to stay out of the political scene because of high societal turmoil from the Vietnam War; however, he did show some anti-Vietnam War and anti-governmental sentiments. In 1968, he joined the "Writers and Editors War Tax Protest", an anti-war pledge to pay no U.S. federal income tax, which resulted in the confiscation of his car by the IRS.
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 following day, he was found unconscious on the floor of his Santa Ana, California home, having suffered a stroke. On February 25, 1982, Dick suffered another stroke in the hospital, which led to brain death. 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 Riverside Cemetery in Fort Morgan, Colorado, (section K, block 1, lot 56), where they were buried next to his twin sister Jane, who died in infancy. Her tombstone had been inscribed with both of their names at the time of her death, 53 years earlier.
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 assembled by powerful external entities, such as the suspended animation in Ubik, vast political conspiracies or 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."
Alternate universes and simulacra are 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." Dick made no secret that much of his thinking and work was heavily influenced by the writings of Carl Jung. 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.). Dick's self-named Exegesis also contained many notes on Jung in relation to theology and mysticism.
Dick identified one major theme of his work as the question, "What constitutes the authentic human being?" 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 their human peers.
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".
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 himself was a drug user for much of his life. According to a 1975 interview in Rolling Stone, 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 told him the amphetamines never actually affected him, that his liver had processed them before they reached his brain.
Summing up all these themes in Understanding Philip K. Dick, Eric Carl Link discussed eight themes or 'ideas and motifs': Epistemology and the Nature of Reality, Know Thyself, The Android and the Human, Entropy and Pot Healing, The Theodicy Problem, Warfare and Power Politics, The Evolved Human, and 'Technology, Media, Drugs and Madness'.
Dick had two professional stories published under the pen names Richard Phillipps and Jack Dowland. "Some Kinds of Life" was published in October 1953 in Fantastic Universe under byline Richard Phillipps, apparently because the magazine had a policy against publishing multiple stories by the same author in the same issue; "Planet for Transients" was published in the same issue under his own name.
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 character Linda Fox, created specifically with Linda Ronstadt in mind, is an intergalactically famous singer whose entire body of work consists of recordings of John Dowland compositions.
The Man in the High Castle (1962) is set in an alternate history in which the United States is ruled by the victorious Axis powers. It is the only Dick novel to win a Hugo Award. In 2015 this was adapted into a television series by Amazon Studios.
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 21st 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 almost all animals and all "successful" humans; the only remaining inhabitants of the planet are people with no prospects off-world. The 1968 novel 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? What crucial factor defines humanity as distinctly "alive", versus those merely alive only in their outward appearance?
Ubik (1969) employs extensive psychic telepathy and a suspended state after death in creating a state of eroding reality. A group of psychics is sent to investigate a rival organisation, but several of them are apparently killed by a saboteur's bomb. Much of the following novel flicks between different equally plausible realities and 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.
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 charm and social graces to help him as he tries to find out what happened to his past while avoiding 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. It is the only Philip K. Dick novel nominated for both a Hugo and a Nebula Award.
In an essay written two years before his death, Dick described how he learned from his Episcopal priest that an important scene in Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said – involving its other main character, the eponymous Police General Felix Buckman, was very similar to a scene in Acts of the Apostles, a book of the New Testament. 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. 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, Dick 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 many nights writing in this journal. A recurring theme in Exegesis is Dick's hypothesis that history had been stopped in the first century AD, 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 anonymously 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. 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".
In the 1973 science fiction short story The pre-persons he criticizes american pro-abortion law.
Several 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." Films based on Dick's writing had accumulated a total revenue of over US $1 billion by 2009.
Future films based on Dick's writing include an animated adaptation of The King of the Elves from Walt Disney Animation Studios, which was set to be released in the spring of 2016 but is currently still in preproduction; and a film adaptation of Ubik which, according to Dick's daughter, Isa Dick Hackett, is in advanced negotiation. Ubik was set to be made into a film by Michel Gondry. In 2014, however, Gondry told French outlet Telerama (via Jeux Actu), that he was no longer working on the project.
The Terminator series prominently features the theme of humanoid assassination machines first portrayed in Second Variety. 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.
It was reported in 2010 that Ridley Scott would produce an adaptation of The Man in the High Castle for the BBC, in the form of a mini-series. A pilot episode was released on Amazon Prime in January 2015 and Season 1 was fully released in ten episodes of about 60 minutes each on November 20, 2015. Premiering in January 2015, the pilot was Amazon's "most-watched since the original series development program began." The next month Amazon ordered episodes to fill out a ten-episode season, which was released in November, to positive reviews. A second season of ten episodes premiered in December 2016, with a third season announced a few weeks later to be released in 2018. In July 2018, it was announced that the series had been renewed for a fourth season.
In late 2015, Fox aired Minority Report, a television series sequel adaptation to the 2002 film of the same name based on Dick's 1956 short story "The Minority Report". The show was cancelled after one 10 episode season.
In May 2016, it was announced that a 10-part anthology series was in the works. Titled Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, the series will be distributed by Sony Pictures Television and premiered on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom and Amazon Video in the United States. It was written by executive producers Ronald D. Moore and Michael Dinner, with executive input from Dick's daughter Isa Dick Hackett, and stars Bryan Cranston, also an executive producer.
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. Productions of Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said were also staged by the Evidence Room  in Los Angeles in 1999 and by the Fifth Column Theatre Company at the Oval House Theatre in London in the same year.
A play based on Radio Free Albemuth also had a brief run in the 1980s.
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 were aired by NBC in 1956 as part of the series X Minus One.
In January 2006, a The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (English for Trzy stygmaty Palmera Eldritcha) theatre adaptation premiered in Stary Teatr in Cracov, with an extensive use of lights and laser choreography.
In June 2014 the BBC broadcast a two part adaptation of 'Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?' on Radio 4, starring James Purefoy as Rick Deckard.
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. "The Electric Ant" had earlier been loosely adapted by Frank Miller and Geof Darrow in their 3-issue mini-series Hard Boiled published by Dark Horse Comics in 1990-1992.
In 2009, BOOM! Studios started publishing a 24-issue miniseries comic book adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? 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.
In 2011, Dynamite Entertainment published a 4-issue miniseries "Total Recall," a sequel to the 1990 film Total Recall, inspired by Philip K. Dick's short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale". In 1990, DC Comics published the official adaptation of the original film as a DC Movie Special: Total Recall.
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." Some of his books and stories are available in braille and other specialized formats through the NLS.
As of December 2012, thirteen of Philip K. Dick's early works in the public domain in the United States are available in ebook form from Project Gutenberg. As of April 4, 2012, Wikisource has one of Philip K. Dick's early works in the public domain in the United States available in ebook form which is not from Project Gutenberg.
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.
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." It can be considered a non-fiction novel about his life.
Dick has influenced many writers, including Jonathan Lethem and Ursula K. Le Guin. 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". The author Roberto Bolaño also praised Dick, describing him as "Thoreau plus the death of the American dream". Dick has also influenced filmmakers, his work being compared to films such as the Wachowskis' The Matrix, David Cronenberg's Videodrome, eXistenZ, and Spider, Spike Jonze's Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Alex Proyas's Dark City, Peter Weir's The Truman Show, Andrew Niccol's Gattaca, In Time, Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys, Alejandro Amenábar's Open Your Eyes, David Fincher's Fight Club, Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky, Darren Aronofsky's Pi, Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko and Southland Tales, Rian Johnson's Looper, Duncan Jones' Source Code, and Christopher Nolan's Memento and Inception.
The Philip K. Dick Society was an organization dedicated to promoting the literary works of Dick and was led by Dick's longtime friend and 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 Philip K. Dick estate owns and operates the production company Electric Shepherd Productions, which has produced the films Adjustment Bureau (2011) and the upcoming Walt Disney Company film King of the Elves, the TV series The Man in the High Castle and also a Marvel Comics 5-issue adaptation of Electric Ant.
Dick was recreated by his fans in the form of a simulacrum or remote-controlled android designed in his likeness. Such simulacra had been themes of many of Dick's works. The Philip K. Dick simulacrum 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. In January 2011, it was announced that Hanson Robotics had built a replacement.
Postmodernists such as Jean Baudrillard, Fredric Jameson, Laurence Rickels and Slavoj Žižek have commented on Dick's writing's foreshadowing of postmodernity. 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.
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.
During his lifetime he received numerous annual literary awards and nominations for particular works.
The Philip K. Dick Award is a science fiction award that annually recognizes the previous year's best SF paperback original published in the U.S. It is conferred at Norwescon, sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, and since 2005 supported by the Philip K. Dick Trust. Winning works are identified on their covers as Best Original SF Paperback. It is currently administered by David G. Hartwell and Gordon Van Gelder.
The award was inaugurated in 1983, the year after Dick's death. It was founded by Thomas Disch with assistance from David G. Hartwell, Paul S. Williams, and Charles N. Brown. Past administrators include Algis J. Budrys and David Alexander Smith.
A Scanner Darkly is a science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick, published in 1977. The semi-autobiographical story is set in a dystopian Orange County, California, in the then-future of June 1994, and includes an extensive portrayal of drug culture and drug use (both recreational and abusive). The novel is one of Dick's best-known works and served as the basis for a 2006 film of the same name, directed by Richard Linklater.Adjustment Team
"Adjustment Team" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was first published in Orbit Science Fiction (September–October 1954, No. 4) with illustration by Faragasso. It was later reprinted in The Sands of Mars and Other Stories (Australian) in 1958, The Book of Philip K. Dick in 1973, The Turning Wheel and Other Stories (United Kingdom) in 1977, The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick in 1987 (Underwood–Miller), 1988 (Gollancz, United Kingdom), 1990 (Citadel Twilight, United States), Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick in 2002 and in The Early Work of Philip K. Dick, Volume One: The Variable Man & Other Stories in 2009.
"Adjustment Team" served as the basis for the 2011 film The Adjustment Bureau.Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (retitled Blade Runner: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? in some later printings) is a science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in 1968. The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic San Francisco, where Earth's life has been greatly damaged by nuclear global war. Most animal species are endangered or extinct from extreme radiation poisoning, so that owning an animal is now a sign of status and empathy, an attitude encouraged towards animals. The book served as the primary basis for the 1982 film Blade Runner, and many elements and themes from it were used in its 2017 sequel Blade Runner 2049.
The main plot follows Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter who is tasked with "retiring" (i.e. killing) six escaped Nexus-6 model androids, while a secondary plot follows John Isidore, a man of sub-par IQ who aids the fugitive androids. In connection with Deckard's mission, the novel explores the issue of what it is to be human and whether empathy is a purely human ability.Electric Dreams (2017 TV series)
Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, or simply Electric Dreams, is a science fiction television anthology series based on the works of Philip K. Dick. The series consists of ten standalone episodes based on Dick's work, written by British and American writers. It premiered on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom on 17 September 2017, and in the United States on Amazon Video on 12 January 2018.Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said is a 1974 science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. The story follows a genetically enhanced pop singer and television star who wakes up in a world where he has never existed. The novel is set in a futuristic dystopia, where the United States has become a police state in the aftermath of a Second Civil War. It was nominated for a Nebula Award in 1974 and a Hugo Award in 1975, and was awarded the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 1975.List of adaptations of works by Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick was an American author known for his science fiction works, often with dystopian and drug related themes. Some of his works have gone on to be adapted to films and series garnering much acclaim, such as the 1982 Ridley Scott film Blade Runner, which was an adaptation of Dick's 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, released three months posthumously to Dick's passing. The only adaptation released in his lifetime was a 1962 episode of the UK TV series Out of This World, based on Dick's 1953 short story Impostor. Other works such as the films Total Recall, Minority Report and A Scanner Darkly have also gone on to critical or commercial success, while television adaptations such as The Man in the High Castle has gone on to long-form television adaptation successfully. In 2017, following the success of Netflix's science fiction short story series Black Mirror, and its own success with The Man in the High Castle, streaming service Amazon Prime Video paired up with Channel 4 to produce a series of short stories originally released between 1953 to 1955 under the series title Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, the only adaptation bearing the author's own name. The following is a list of film and television adaptations of his writings.Philip K. Dick Award
The Philip K. Dick Award is a science fiction award given annually at Norwescon and sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and (since 2005) the Philip K. Dick Trust. Named after science fiction and fantasy writer Philip K. Dick, it has been awarded since 1983, the year after his death. It is awarded to the best original paperback published each year in the US.The award was founded by Thomas Disch with assistance from David G. Hartwell, Paul S. Williams, and Charles N. Brown. As of 2016, it is administered by Gordon Van Gelder. Past administrators include Algis Budrys, David G. Hartwell, and David Alexander Smith.Philip K. Dick bibliography
The bibliography of Philip K. Dick includes 44 novels, 121 short stories, and 14 short story collections published by American science fiction author Philip K. Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) during his lifetime.
At the time of his death, Dick's work was generally known to only science fiction readers, and many of his novels and short stories were out of print. To date, a total of 44 novels have been published and translations have appeared in 25 languages. Six volumes of selected correspondence, written by Dick from 1938 through 1982, were published between 1991 and 2009.
The Library of America has issued three collections of Dick's novels. The first, published in June 2007, contained The Man in the High Castle, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Ubik, and was the first time science fiction was included in the LOA canon. The second collection was issued in July 2008 and included Martian Time Slip, Dr. Bloodmoney, Now Wait for Last Year, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, and A Scanner Darkly. The third collection was published in July 2009 and included A Maze of Death and the VALIS trilogy (VALIS, The Divine Invasion, and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer).
At least nine films have been adapted from Dick's work, with Blade Runner (1982) widely considered a "masterpiece".Five recurring philosophical themes in Dick's work have been classified by Philip K. Dick scholar Erik Davis: false realities, human vs. machine, entropy, the nature of God, and social control. In Understanding Philip K. Dick, Eric Carl Link discussed eight themes or 'ideas and motifs': Epistemology and the Nature of Reality, Know Thyself, The Android and the Human, Entropy and Pot Healing, The Theodicy Problem, Warfare and Power Politics, The Evolved Human, and 'Technology, Media, Drugs and Madness'.Radio Free Albemuth
Radio Free Albemuth is a dystopian novel by Philip K. Dick, written in 1976 and published posthumously in 1985. Originally titled VALISystem A, it was his first attempt to deal in fiction with his experiences of early 1974. When his publishers at Bantam requested extensive rewrites he canned the project and reworked it into the VALIS trilogy. Arbor House acquired the rights to Radio Free Albemuth in 1985. They then published an edition under the current title (the original was too close to VALIS), prepared from the corrected typescript given by Dick to his friend Tim Powers.Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick
Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick is a collection of science fiction stories by Philip K. Dick. It was first published by Random House in 2002. Many of the stories had originally appeared in the magazines Planet Stories, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Imagination, Space Science Fiction, Astounding, Beyond Fantasy Fiction, Orbit, Galaxy Science Fiction, Fantastic Universe, Amazing Stories, Rolling Stone College Papers, Omni and Playboy.The Best of Philip K. Dick
The Best of Philip K. Dick is a collection of science fiction stories by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was first published by Del Rey Books in 1977. Many of the stories had originally appeared in the magazines Planet Stories, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Space Science Fiction, Imagination, Astounding Stories, Galaxy Science Fiction, Amazing Stories, Science Fiction Stories and Startling Stories, as well as the anthologies Dangerous Visions and Star Science Fiction Stories No.3.The Book of Philip K. Dick
The Book of Philip K. Dick is a collection of science fiction stories by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was first published by DAW Books in 1973. The book was subsequently published in the United Kingdom by Coronet in 1977 under the title The Turning Wheel and Other Stories. The stories had originally appeared in the magazines Startling Stories, Science Fiction Stories, Galaxy Science Fiction, Orbit Science Fiction, Imaginative Tales and Amazing Stories.The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick
The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick is a collection of 118 science fiction stories by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was first published by Underwood-Miller in 1987 as a five volume set. See Philip K. Dick bibliography for information about the mass market reprints.
Many of the stories had originally appeared in the magazines Fantasy and Science Fiction, Planet Stories, If, Galaxy Science Fiction, Imagination, Space Science Fiction, Fantastic Story Magazine, Amazing Stories, Future Science Fiction, Cosmos, Fantasy Fiction, Beyond Fantasy Fiction, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Startling Stories, Fantastic Universe, Science Fiction Quarterly, Astounding, Science Fiction Adventures, Science Fiction Stories, Orbit, Satellite Science Fiction, Imaginative Tales, Fantastic, Worlds of Tomorrow, Escapade, Famous Science Fiction, Niekas, Rolling Stone College Papers, Interzone, Playboy, Omni and The Yuba City High Times.The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick is a non-fiction book containing the published selections of a journal kept by the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, in which he documented and explored his religious and visionary experiences. Dick's wealth of knowledge on the subjects of philosophy, religion, and science inform the work throughout.The Man in the High Castle
The Man in the High Castle (1962) is an alternate history novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. Set in 1962, fifteen years after an alternative ending to World War II, the novel concerns intrigues between the victorious Axis Powers—primarily, Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany—as they rule over the former United States, as well as daily life under the resulting totalitarian rule. The Man in the High Castle won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1963. Beginning in 2015, the book was adapted as a multi-season TV series, with Dick's daughter, Isa Dick Hackett, serving as one of the show's producers.
Reported inspirations include Ward Moore's alternate Civil War history, Bring the Jubilee (1953), various classic World War II histories, and the I Ching (referred to in the novel). The novel features a "novel within the novel" comprising an alternate history within this alternate history wherein the Allies defeat the Axis (though in a manner distinct from the actual historical outcome).The Philip K. Dick Reader
The Philip K. Dick Reader is a collection of science fiction stories by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was first published by Citadel Twilight in 1997. Many of the stories had originally appeared in the magazines If, Science Fiction Adventures, Science Fiction Stories, Orbit, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Imagination, Future, Galaxy Science Fiction, Beyond Fantasy Fiction, Satellite, Imaginative Tales, Fantastic Universe and Space Science Fiction. It is identical in content and order to the edition of volume 3 of the Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick produced by the same publisher apart from the substitution of three stories in positions 21-23 of 24 and the omission of the end notes in the Collected Stories edition. At press time, stories 21 and 24 had already been made into successful movie adaptations and stories 22 and 23 had been optioned.The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is a 1965 science fiction novel by US writer Philip K. Dick. It was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1965.The novel takes place some time in the 21st century. Under United Nations authority, humankind has colonized every habitable planet and moon in the solar system. Like many of Dick's novels, it utilizes an array of science fiction concepts, features several layers of reality and unreality and philosophical ideas. It is one of Dick's first works to explore religious themes. As the book explains, the 'three stigmata' are a mechanical arm, slotted eyes and metallic teeth, which represent alienation, blurred reality, and despair.Ubik
Ubik ( YOO-bik) is a 1969 science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. It is one of Dick's most acclaimed novels. In 2009, it was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 greatest novels since 1923. In his review for Time, critic Lev Grossman described it as "a deeply unsettling existential horror story, a nightmare you'll never be sure you've woken up from".We Can Remember It for You Wholesale
"We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" is a short story by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in April 1966. It features a melding of reality, false memory, and real memory. The story was adapted into the 1990 film Total Recall with Arnold Schwarzenegger as the story's protagonist. That film was remade in 2012 with Colin Farrell as the protagonist. It also inspired Buichi Terasawa's manga Space Adventure Cobra.