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Phil Dick

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  • Phil Dick

    I just recently read 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' and I thought it was brilliant. Michael, did you know Phil Dick personally? I think there was a quote from you on his work on the cover of the book.

  • #2
    I corresponded with Phil and New Worlds was the first place to run long features on his work and celebrate him in the way in which he is now generally celebrated. We were instrumental in getting him published in the UK -- with non-generic publishers (Cape, for instance).

    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
    The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
    The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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    • #3
      He's a great author. I heard Bladerunner was based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. I've never seen the film but I may consider watching it now! From what I've heard of the film it seems as though its quite loosely based on the book though.

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      • #4
        I don't really see much connection between the film and the book, personally. Obviously Bladerunner is now seen as a benchmark of future-noir film-making, so there's no point me knocking it, but (as Mr M has said of Dick adaptations) "they" do tend to leave out the most interesting aspects... they certainly left out all of the jokes.... and his wife... and the hill climbing scenes... and the other police station... and the electric sheep. Personally I prefer the book, although I had to buy a copy with Harrison Ford on the cover. :(

        Still, that just my rambling opinion. The film has many fans, and might be worth watching for its own sake.

        I wonder if anyone will ever try to adapt his "straight" fiction? I'd dearly love to see a poster for Confessions of a Crap Artist on a wall at my local cinema. ;)
        "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

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        • #5
          Phil Dick is one of the few authors (Mike is another) whose work has affected me to the extent that I have tried to buy a copy of every book that they have written. Haven't quite got there yet, but it gives me something to look for in bookshops.

          I enjoyed 'Android' and I enjoyed 'Blade Runner' but they are different things - the one is very, very loosely based on the other. Rather than thinking of Blade Runner as being based on any one of this stories, I tend to regard it as an evocation of a world which is implied by quite a lot of his work. The themes of artifical life vs biological life, and which is more human, also crop up in a fair number of his stories - so to me it is more of a general visualisation of a lot of things that he has written.

          Compared to most of the Science Fiction films that were around at the time - and most that are around now - I find it excellent. It isn't just a western or a thriller or a crime film set in space. It actually does deal with problems caused by the clash between human nature and technology, problems that we might have to deal with in the near future - artifiically created sentient life IS going to want to know the answers to some extremely difficult questions, so it might be a good idea to start thinking about the answers at some point.

          Some of PKD's writing is excellent and some was done in a rush to meet a deadline or pay a billl, from what I can gather, but his ideas were like no one elses. Ideas that other people would build a trilogy around, PKD would put into a story as a bit of alternative world colour - nothing to do with the main story.

          I always remember 'The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch' as being one of his most disturbing books - and most psychedelic, in a sort of very bad acid trip kind of way.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by DeeCrowSeer
            I wonder if anyone will ever try to adapt his "straight" fiction? I'd dearly love to see a poster for Confessions of a Crap Artist on a wall at my local cinema. ;)
            Confessions of a Crap Artist has already been made into a film.

            http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104003/

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            • #7
              I have a very fond spot for PKD and never knew Mr. M had such a hand in his British publishing career. Though given the nature of the multiverse, I shouldn't be surprised!
              For an insight into the man and his driving forces, Lawrence Sutin's biography is a very good read. As are PKD's five volume short story collections, many of which have biographical notes by the author.
              I recently finished reading the above mentioned collections. They proved to be a fascinating document of a writer's evolving style, and a starting place for many of his novels.
              You see, it's... it's no good, Montag. We've all got to be alike. The only way to be happy is for everyone to be made equal.

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              • #8
                I finished reading 'The Man in the High Castle' a few weeks ago and was thrown by it. I'd expected a typical dystopian text with people trying to rebel against the regime in charge. Instead it was simply a series of viginettes of people LIVING in what we term a dystopia. But the frightening part was, they were doing much better technology wise.

                I think that the more interesting dystopian fiction comes not from people fighting the system but from living in the system. Each day is just a day and the only rebellion is the dreams of the mind...

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                • #9
                  The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldrich is one of several PKD books that really stick in my mind. People are offered a sort of immortality through the use of a new drug supplied by the space traveller, Palmer Eldrich. Unfortunately, as people relive hallucinated scenes of their past life, their remembered friends and loved ones start to take on the attributes of Eldrich, as he begins to colonise their memories.

                  Rupert Murdoch always reminds me of Palmer Eldrich, as every media asset he touches takes on Murdoch Empire attributes.

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                  • #10
                    I've read so many of his books I'm afraid to pick up one as I may have already read it (I prefer not to reread things as there's always so many new "first times" out there.) This is of course exacerbated by the fact that he tended to reuse quite a few of his own ideas, especially during his speed days. My personal favorite is actually the first one I read, Now Wait For Last Year which is the best piece of drug related fiction I've ever read.

                    As for adaptations of his books to movies, I cannot wait for Richard Linkletter's take on A Scanner Darkly! http://www.austinchronicle.com/issue...tring_all.html

                    Screamers while low budget was actually surprising true to the story from which it was based. Unfortunately, not his most amazing story, so the movie is just o.k. Blade Runner really wasn't bad, and is the only movie he saw based on his work (screening it just prior to his death.) He liked it a lot actually. I've always found it a tad overrated, but can at least appreciate the style in the direction. I don't do Schwarzaneger, so I haven't seen that one.
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                    • #11
                      I was looking forward to reviewing Stigmata for the Guardian a while back (review should still be in their archived books pages) and found myself deeply disappointed by the writing and characterisation. Not something I feel about all Dick's books (at least I hope not -- haven't reread anything for a while). The idea was okay, though had become familiar (no doubt thanks to Dick) and in the end I gave it a rather poor review (against my policy -- since I only take books for review I think I'm going to like). Hasn't the best sf begun to give us more rounded characters and interesting relationships ? I'm curious, since I don't read that much sf any more (except for the odd review).

                      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                      The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                      Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                      The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                      Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        movies

                        I think there are a few P.K.Dick 'movies' eg total recall,minority report,blade runner,paycheck,screamers and others
                        Seepage from deep,black,brittle experiments which failed and transformations too hard to find.
                        "I was overcome and turned to red"
                        Duster's dust became the sale.
                        Lucifer the light.
                        A restless motion came to move and then subside.
                        In endless knocking at the door-It is time.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
                          I was looking forward to reviewing Stigmata for the Guardian a while back (review should still be in their archived books pages) and found myself deeply disappointed by the writing and characterisation. Not something I feel about all Dick's books (at least I hope not -- haven't reread anything for a while). The idea was okay, though had become familiar (no doubt thanks to Dick) and in the end I gave it a rather poor review (against my policy -- since I only take books for review I think I'm going to like). Hasn't the best sf begun to give us more rounded characters and interesting relationships ? I'm curious, since I don't read that much sf any more (except for the odd review).
                          Yeah, I think David Brin, Kathleen Ann Goonan, and Greg Bear are three who are writing undeniable SF with stronger characters (Bear sometimes more than others,) and of course China Mieville who's on that SF/Fantasy crossover tip.

                          I agree about Dick's characters, his best ones were always the obviously autobiographical paranoid cynics with wife troubles. Now Wait for Last Year had one of those, as of course did Valis. A lot of his speed books have characters that seem like role-playing game NPCs (non-player characters, usually created by the GM as filler), Ubik coming to mind as one of the worst examples in an otherwise great book. I always found it best to read Dick on a couple different levels, if his whole book wasn't brilliant literature (and oftentimes it was) then there was at least usually a brilliant plot-line in there, though it'd likely be a variation on one of his favorites.
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                          • #14
                            Thanks for the heads up, on your 'Stigmata' review in the Guardian, Mr M. I must admit, I read the book back sometime in the late Seventies and came to the central concept quite fresh. The possibility that what we think of as Reality might not only be just an illusion, but also someone else's illusion imposed upon us, seemed a bit of a shocker at the time.

                            Since then, I've watched the onward march of Rupert Murdoch's media empire: building his very own version of Reality, through finding out what people want and expect, then feeding it back to them, warped through the distorting lens of his print, broadcast and digital media outlets. Colonising people's dreams and desires, feeding their prejudices, subtly, or not so subtly, altering perceptions of events around the Globe. It's the sinister figre of Palmer Eldritch that's come to mind as an analogy.

                            A more literal than metaphysical reading of the book, I suppose. Although, it's the metaphysical implications that seem so sinister and add edge to the paranoia.

                            Michael Moorcock's Review of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, The Guardian (March 15, 2003), link:
                            http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/...914290,00.html

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                            • #15
                              I think it is quite possible for an author to have flaws to their writing, for instance underdeveloped characters, and still be a great read with substance to their work. There was just an extensive write up in Salon about the phenomena of H.P. Lovecraft's fiction, and there's another author who had a huge impact (imagine China Mieville's books without that influence!) but who was far from perfect as both an individual and a writer.

                              http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2.../index_np.html
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