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An Author We Love: Philip K. Dick

Ros, Evergreen Library

Ever heard of Minority Report, Blade Runner, or Total Recall? These are movies based on novels by Science Fiction writer Philip K. Dick. Writing mostly in the 1960s and 1970s, this prolific author has had ten novels and short stories (so far) turned into movies. He’s received a number of Science Fiction writing awards as well. PKD’s works often deal with the idea of reality. Protagonists are faced with determining the true nature of the world in which they exist. Memory is suspect; assumptions turn out to be wrong. The author’s common man hero must work his way through a morass of obstacles to arrive at the truth.  Here are three good introductions to his work:

Selected Stories of Philip K Dick 
This book is a good introduction to the author and his works and the stories are arranged in order of when they were first written. In the third story, “Paycheck,” PKD hits his stride and keeps on going. Read “Autofac,” “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” and “Imposter” to get a sense of the author at his best.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
The question here involves what it means to be human.  If androids can pass as humans - and not just in the way they look - does that make them the same as flesh and blood people? PKD paints a world destroyed by war, where live animals are rare and precious, and most people have left Earth to colonize other planets. This is the novel on which the movie Blade Runner is based.

The Man in the High Castle
A Hugo award winner, this novel postulates an alternative world, circa 1962, in which Germany and Japan won World War II. America has been split between those two countries. Slavery is legal, the few remaining Jews are hiding, and the two former Axis allies are not too happy with each other. A complex and thought-provoking book in which the I Ching figures prominently, PKD creates a vision of America as a third world country struggling to find its way.