Authors: Philip K. Dick

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

American novelist and short-story writer

Author Works

Long Fiction:

Solar Lottery, 1955 (pb. in England as World of Chance, 1956)

The World Jones Made, 1956

The Man Who Japed, 1956

Eye in the Sky, 1957

The Cosmic Puppets, 1957

Time out of Joint, 1959

Dr. Futurity, 1960

Vulcan’s Hammer, 1960

The Man in the High Castle, 1962

The Game-Players of Titan, 1963

Clans of the Alphane Moon, 1964

Martian Time-Slip, 1964

The Penultimate Truth, 1964

The Simulacra, 1964

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, 1964

Dr. Bloodmoney: Or, How We Got Along After the Bomb, 1965

The Crack in Space (Cantata 140), 1966

Now Wait for Last Year, 1966

The Unteleported Man, 1966 (pb. in England as Lies, Inc., 1984)

Counter-Clock World, 1967

The Zap Gun, 1967

The Ganymede Takeover, 1967 (with Ray Nelson)

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, 1968 (reissued as Blade Runner, 1982)

Ubik, 1969

Galactic Pot-Healer, 1969

The Philip K. Dick Omnibus, 1970

A Maze of Death, 1970

Our Friends from Frolix 8, 1970

We Can Build You, 1972

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, 1974

Confessions of a Crap Artist, 1975

Deus Irae, 1976 (with Roger Zelazny)

A Scanner Darkly, 1977

The Divine Invasion, 1981

Valis, 1981

The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, 1982

The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike, 1984

Radio Free Albemuth, 1985

In Milton Lumky Territory, 1985

Puttering About in a Small Land, 1985

Humpty Dumpty in Oakland, 1986

Mary and the Giant, 1987

The Broken Bubble, 1988

Short Fiction:

A Handful of Darkness, 1955

The Variable Man, and Other Stories, 1957

The Preserving Machine, and Other Stories, 1969

The Book of Philip K. Dick, 1973 (pb. in England as The Turning Wheel, and Other Stories, 1977)

The Best of Philip K. Dick, 1977

The Golden Man, 1980

I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon, 1985

Robots, Androids, and Mechanical Oddities: The Science Fiction of Philip K. Dick, 1985

The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick, 1987

Nonfiction:

Philip K. Dick: In His Own Words, 1984

In Pursuit of Valis: Selections from the Exegesis, 1991 (Lawrence Sutin, editor)

The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick, 1991-1993 (Don Herron, editor)

The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick: Selected Literary and Philosophical Writings, 1995 (Lawrence Sutin, editor)

What If Our World Is Their Heaven: The Final Conversations of Philip K. Dick, 2000 (Gwen Lee and Elaine Sauter, editors)

Miscellaneous:

The Dark Haired Girl, 1988

Biography

Philip Kindred Dick was born in Chicago, Illinois, on December 16, 1928, the son of Edgar and Dorothy Kindred Dick. He and his twin sister Jane were six weeks premature; Jane, the smaller and more frail of the two, died on January 26, 1929. When Dick was still a small boy, his mother told him about his sister’s death. As a surviving twin, he felt a mixture of guilt and anger; in later years, he sometimes attributed Jane’s death to his mother’s negligence, probably unfairly so.{$I[AN]9810001889}{$I[A]Dick, Philip K.}{$I[geo]UNITED STATES;Dick, Philip K.}{$I[tim]1928;Dick, Philip K.}

Philip K. Dick

(Courtesy of the Philip K. Dick Society)

Some months after Jane’s death, the Dick family moved to California, where Edgar took a job in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s San Francisco office. In 1933, however, when Edgar was transferred to Reno, Nevada, Dorothy refused to go. A strongly independent woman (she was a feminist and a pacifist at a time when those convictions placed her in a distinct minority), she chose to remain in Berkeley with Philip. A custody battle ensued, as a result of which, in 1935, Dorothy and Philip moved to Washington, D.C., where she wrote pamphlets on child care for the Federal Children’s Bureau. In 1938, they returned to Berkeley, where Philip attended high school and, very briefly, the University of California. Except for a period of a few weeks in 1972 spent in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, he lived in California for the rest of his life.

In Dick’s own account, he began his career as a writer at the age of twelve. That was when he learned to type–a skill at which he had to become extremely proficient in order to keep up with the pell-mell flow of his imagination. It was at age twelve that he discovered hist first science-fiction magazine, inaugurating a lifelong attachment. By that time, too, he suffered from a variety of phobias and other emotional problems, connected, in part at least, to childhood traumas. As an adult, he seemed to move from one emotional crisis to another–he was married five times, attempted suicide several times, and experienced several breakdowns–but through it all he remained an immensely productive writer.

Anthony Boucher (the pen name of William Anthony Parker White), critic and writer of mysteries and science fiction and cofounding editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1949, played an important role in the development of Dick’s career. Though unimpressed by Dick’s attempts at mainstream fiction, Boucher saw great promise in the young writer’s more speculative fiction and encouraged him to develop his talent in that direction. In October, 1951, Boucher accepted Dick’s story “Roog” for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction; it was Dick’s first sale. In 1952, Dick sold four more stories. Soon, he had established himself as one of the most prolific writers in the genre; in 1953 and 1954, he sold more than fifty stories.

In the early 1950’s, there were many outlets for science-fiction short stories, as new magazines were appearing in abundance. By the mid-1950’s, however, the boom was over; only a few magazines in the science-fiction field survived. At this time, Dick began to shift primarily to writing novels, though he continued to produce stories throughout his career; commercial considerations aside, the novel form offered much greater scope. Solar Lottery, Dick’s first science-fiction novel, was published in 1955. By the end of the decade, he had published five more. (During the 1950’s, Dick also completed a dozen mainstream novels, but publishers were not interested in his mainstream work. One of these novels, Confessions of a Crap Artist, written in 1959, was published in 1975, and several of the others were published posthumously.)

Dick continued to write at a feverish pace through the 1960’s. His novel The Man in the High Castle, published in 1962, received the Hugo Award, science fiction’s most prestigious accolade. In the next two years, 1963 and 1964, he wrote eleven novels, all of them readable, several outstanding. He was acknowledged as one of the leading figures in science fiction. Most of these books, however, earned only small advances and minimal royalties.

Dick’s sustained productivity came at a high cost. By the early 1960’s, he had become a heavy user of amphetamines and a whole pharmacopoeia of medications; his dependence on amphetamines increased as the decade passed. While Dick also experimented occasionally with other drugs, he was never the LSD-inspired writer of legend; later, he described the destructive impact of drugs on many of his friends and on his own life.

By the end of the 1960’s, Dick was in poor health both physically and mentally, and his output of fiction decreased considerably. In February and March, 1974, he had a series of mystical experiences that preoccupied him for the remainder of his life. He devoted some two million words to a running commentary which he called “An Exegesis,” a philosophical/autobiographical journal in which he reflected on his life and works, on problems such as the nature of good and evil, and particularly on his firsthand encounter with the divine (which, according to his mood, he was inclined to interpret in various, often contradictory, ways, sometimes debunking it altogether). He also published several novels influenced by the experiences of 1974, including Valis, The Divine Invasion, and the posthumous Radio Free Albemuth.

Only in his last years did Dick begin to enjoy financial security. (An impulsively generous man, he gave without ostentation to charitable organizations and to individuals in need.) Foreign rights–his books were particularly popular in France, Great Britain, and Japan–and reprints brought significant income, as did the 1982 film Blade Runner, an adaptation of his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The film also attracted new readers to his work, but Dick did not live to see its premiere; he died in Santa Ana, California, on March 2, 1982, after a series of strokes.

BibliographyAldiss, Brian W., and David Wingrove. Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction. London: Victor Gollancz, 1986. Aldiss’s work is useful as an overall survey of themes and writers of science fiction, and he allots several pages to Dick’s work. His focus is on Dick’s novels, but his comments are useful for looking at the short stories as well.Dick, Anne R. Search for Philip K. Dick, 1928-1982: A Memoir and Biography of the Science Fiction Writer. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1995. An important documentation of Dick’s life, told in candid detail by his wife.DiTommaso, Lorenzo. “Redemption in Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle.” Science-Fiction Studies 26 (March, 1999): 91-119. Discusses the role of Christian theology in Dick’s fiction, particularly gnostic Christian dualism and fundamental Pauline theology. Discusses The Man in the High Castle as an important stage in the development of Dick’s thought.Gillespie, Bruce, ed. Philip K. Dick: Electric Shepherd. Melbourne: Norstrilia Press, 1975. This collection of essays on Dick’s work includes an article by Dick himself called “The Android and the Human.”Golumbia, David. “Resisting ‘The World’: Philip K. Dick, Cultural Studies, and Metaphysical Realism.” Science-Fiction Studies 23 (March, 1996): 83-102. A discussion of reality and appearance and metaphysics and politics in Dick’s work and thought; comments on the relationship of his thought to culture studies.Greenberg, Martin Henry, and Joseph D. Olander, eds. Philip K. Dick. New York: Taplinger, 1983. Contains excellent essays, one by Dick himself, supplemented by notes on the essays, a biographical note, a comprehensive bibliography of primary sources, a selected bibliography of criticism, notes on the contributors, and an index.Lee Zoreda, Margaret. “Bakhtin, Blobels and Philip Dick.” Journal of Popular Culture 28 (Winter, 1994): 55-61. A discussion of the story “Oh, to Be a Blobel” from a Bakhtinian perspective; argues the story demonstrates the complexities in the presence/absence of dialogism. Discusses how the story demonstrates the misery, suffering, and irreversible injury created by the military-capitalist complex.Levack, Daniel J. H., comp. PKD: A Philip K. Dick Bibliography. Rev. ed. Westport, Conn.: Meckler, 1988. A useful research tool.Mackey, Douglas A. Philip K. Dick. Boston: Twayne, 1988. A book-length study of Dick. After a sketch of Dick’s life, Mackey provides a comprehensive survey of his fiction from the 1950’s through the 1980’s. Supplemented by a chronology, notes, an extensive bibliography of primary sources, an annotated list of selected secondary sources, and an index.Robinson, Kim Stanley. The Novels of Philip K. Dick. Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI Research Press, 1984. A survey of Dick’s narrative structures and fictional techniques by a highly respected science-fiction writer.Science-Fiction Studies 2, no. 1 (March, 1975). This issue of the journal is devoted to the work of Dick and contains essays by writers eminent in the field of science-fiction criticism.Sutin, Lawrence. Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick. New York: Harmony Books, 1989. Sutin has written a well-researched biography that includes some discussion of Dick’s work.Suvin, Darko. “Philip K. Dick’s Opus: Artifice as Refuge and World View.” In Positions and Presuppositions in Science Fiction. London: Macmillan, 1988. Suvin’s essay focuses mainly on Dick’s novel The Man in the High Castle, but many of his observations are useful in examining the short stories.Umland, Samuel J., ed. Philip K. Dick: Contemporary Critical Interpretations. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1995. An indispensable collection of essays on Dick’s varied body of work. Umland has compiled extremely valuable primary and second bibliographies. Like Umland’s introduction, the essays take careful note of the body of critical literature already published on Dick.Warrick, Patricia S. Mind in Motion: The Fiction of Philip K. Dick. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1987. Contains excellent studies of eight of Dick’s major novels.
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