If you ever tried the Dick challenge and attempted to read all of Philip K. Dick’s science fiction works, after a while you may have felt, as I did, that all those strange worlds and characters seemed to blend together and it is hard to remember what happens in each book.
For me, as a Dick lover, I don’t mind this and think it was maybe intentional on the part of the author. He was interested in exploring ideas, not world building. Dick loved having an Everyman protagonist and wasn’t afraid to shift to new protagonists if the story made it necessary. Dick is it’s own oeuvre which explores the questions of what it is to be human, what is reality and surveillance society.
If you suffer from Dick-blindness, either from too much Dick or you’re looking for your first and they all look the same, I’ve chosen 5 Dicks that stand-out from the rest.
Man in the High Castle
You’ve got to read The Man in the High Castle. This one is really well known and won some famous award. It’s main schtick is the premise that in WW2, Germany and Japan won the war and co-occupy the USA. What more do I need to say?
The premise for this one is that cause and effect has started moving in reverse, ie as people get older their bodies get younger and going to the toilet is eating, and eating is regurgitation. Gross! But, it also means that the dead are coming back to life and the story follows this group of grave-robbers, who are actually rescuing reanimated corpses. When they come upon a reborn prophet, the fun begins.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
Yeah, you know the film, the dystopian, over-populated mega city, always raining, hunting down human like androids called replicants. The book is different. It still has the replicants but the main story is about Deckard, his wife and the post apocalyptic environmental crisis that has nearly wiped out all animal life on the planet. It’s a totally different story from them film with a completely different focus, and I find reading the book makes me like the film more and vice-versa.
This is a paranoid acid trip of a book. Apparently inspired by some of Dick’s friends who had walked too far down the path of intoxication, combined with Dick’s usual fears of the surveillance state. The main character is an undercover narcotics agent who begins video surveilling the very group he has infiltrated, and is so whacked out he can barely remember which of the suspects is him.
Valis Trilogy, (Valis The Devine Invasion. Transmigration of Timothy Archer)
This is where shit gets weird. Dick had a real life experience/hallucination where he saw some pink light that revealed the true nature of reality to him. In this trilogy people are trying to break through the false world that we all experience, either helped or hindered by a mysterious and hypothetical Vast Active Living Intelligence System, thus the name Valis.
Every year I like to celebrate Dick Day, on December 16th. Take the day off and read a Dick.
David Henley worked in Australian trade publishing for many years; for the last 10 years he has been growing Xou Creative, a successful design and publishing studio. He has written and illustrated two novellas and one gift book, and is the art director of SEIZURE, a magazine for new writing. David lives on a diet of science fiction – particularly Stanislaw Lem, Masamune Shirow, Philip K Dick, Orson Scott Card – and fantasy, including comics, manga, anime.
by David M. Henley
The Weave is left reeling after an explosion devastates the city of Busan. Who is behind it? What does it mean for the psis?
Pete Lazarus has been taken captive and Colonel Pinter is discovering the joys of rejuvenation, while the most powerful telepath ever born marches steadily towards world domination, collecting subservient Citizens in his wake.
In this second installment in the trilogy, following on from The Hunt for Pierre Jnr, David Henley immerses us into a world of ambiguity where the end does not always justify the means.
Grab a copy of Manifestations here