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The Life and Work of Philip K. Dick

Updated on June 5, 2012
By Pete Welsch from Washington, DC, USA (Philip K Dick) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0) or CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Pete Welsch from Washington, DC, USA (Philip K Dick) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0) or CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

His Private (and Not-So-Private) Life


Philip Kindred Dick was born on December 16, 1928 in Chicago, IL. He had a twin sister, Jane, who died just a month later, January 26, 1929. During his life, he married five times (Jeanette, Kleo, Ann, Nancy, and Tessa) and had three children (Laura, Isolde, and Christopher). His children currently hold the rights to his works, and publish “new” items as they are found. Dick died on March 2, 1982 in Santa Ana, CA., from a stroke, brought on by amphetamine use.

He attended the University of California – Berkeley. He was Episcopalian, and had a vision in which he felt that he connected with God. Friends were never sure if he was serious about the extent of this vision, or if it was just hyperbole. He was anti-war and anti-abortion, and was active in both the Animal Protection Institute and drug rehabilitation.

As is obvious to a Dick fan, the major preoccupation of Dick in his writing was the question “What is reality?” (Contemporary Authors, 127) Commonplace in his works were mystical visions, alternate worlds, drug-induced hallucinations (sometimes without an ability to tell whose hallucination it was, or when it was starting or ending), robots, androids, and paranoid delusions. Dick hoped that there was another world because, according to him, “the world we actually have does not meet my standards” (Contemporary Authors, 128). He chose to express these ideas in science fiction because science fiction was not an accepted field, and so for him it was an act of rebellion.

As of 2005, he is still in print, read, and performed. In March of 2005, the play version of Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said began running al Los Angeles’ Evidence Room. The movie “A Scanner Darkly” has finished production and will be playing in theaters in September 2005. Dick may be gone, but he is far from forgotten. His works have left a measurable impact on the science fiction world.

His Science Fiction Works


Dick didn’t write just what is traditionally thought of as science fiction. To some, science fiction must contain a science element -- in the case of “hard” science fiction, the science element is often the main purpose of the piece -- or at it must least take place in the future. Dick wrote what some would instead consider to be speculative fiction. Speculative fiction does not necessarily need to contain science, and it will often occur at the same time as we are occupying, in the past, or even in an alternate or parallel universe.

Dick published a huge collection of science and speculative fiction. Below is a complete list of first printings, anthologies, and movies with their year and publisher taken from Contemporary Authors and Philip K. Dick. The Official Site. Subsequent printings are only mentioned if there was a significant change, such as title.

1950s


  • Solar Lottery, 1955, Ace Double (also published as World of Chance)
  • A Handful of Darkness, 1955, Rich & Cowan (Short Fiction Collection)
  • The World Jones Made, 1956, Ace Double
  • The Man Who Japed, 1956, Ace Double
  • Eye in the Sky, 1957, Ace
  • The Cosmic Puppets, 1957, Ace Double
  • The Variable Man and Other Stories, 1957, Ace Books (Short Fiction Collection)
  • Time out of Joint, 1959, Lippincott

1960s


  • Dr. Futurity, 1960, Ace Double
  • Vulcan’s Hammer, 1960, Ace Double
  • The Man in the High Castle, 1962, Putnam (Winner of the Hugo Award in 1962)
  • The Game-Players of Titan, 1963, Ace Books
  • Martian Time-Slip, 1964, Ballantine
  • The Penultimate Truth, 1964, Belmont-Tower
  • The Simulacra, 1964, Ace
  • Clans of the Alphane Moon, 1964, Ace
  • Dr. Bloodmoney; or, How We Got Along after the Bomb, 1965, Ace
  • The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, 1965, Doubleday
  • Now Wait for Last Year, 1966, Doubleday
  • The Crack in Space, 1966, Ace Books
  • The Unteleported Man, 1966, Ace Double
  • The Ganymede Takeover, 1967, Ace (Co-authored with Ray Nelson)
  • Counter-Clock World, 1967, Berkeley
  • The Zap Gun, 1967, Pyramid
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, 1968, Doubleday (Reprinted as Blade Runner in 1982 by Ballantine)
  • Ubik, 1969, Doubleday
  • Galactic Pot-Healer, 1969, Doubleday
  • The Preserving Machine and Other Stories, 1969, Ace Books

1970s


  • A Maze of Death, 1970, Doubleday
  • Our Friends from Frolix 8, 1970, Ace
  • We Can Build You, 1972, DAW
  • The Book of Philip K. Dick, 1973, DAW (Short Fiction Collection, published as The Turning Wheel and Other Stories in 1977)
  • Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, 1974, Doubleday (Winner of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 1974)
  • Deus Irae, 1976, Doubleday (Co-authored with Roger Zelazny)
  • A Scanner Darkly, 1977, Doubleday
  • The Best of Philip K. Dick, 1977, Ballantine (Short Fiction Collection)

1980s and Beyond


  • The Golden Man, 1980, Berkeley Publishing (Short Fiction Collection)
  • VALIS, 1981, Bantam
  • The Divine Invasion, 1981, Pocket
  • The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, 1982, Pocket
  • The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike, 1984, Seising
  • Robots, Android, and Mechanical Oddities: The Science Fiction of Philip K. Dick, 1984, Southern Illinois University Press
  • Lies, Inc., 1984, Gollanxcz
  • I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon, 1985, Doubleday
  • Radio Free Albemuth, 1987, Arbor House
  • The Short Happy Life of Brown Oxford, and Other Classic Stories, 1987, Citadel Press (Short Fiction Collection)
  • The Collected Stories, 1987, Underwood Miller (Short Fiction Collection, five volumes)
  • Nick and the Glimmung, 1988, Gollancz
  • The Little Black Box, 1990, Gollancz
  • The Minority Report, 2002, Pantheon
  • Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick, 2002, Pantheon (Short Fiction Collection)
  • Paycheck, and Twenty-Four Other Classic Stories, 2003, Kensington

Anthologies


  • Time To Come, 1954, Farrar, Straus
  • Star Science Fiction Stories #3, 1955, Ballantine
  • Treasury of Great Science Fiction, Volume 1, 1959, Doubleday
  • Dangerous Visions: Thirty-Three Original Stories, 1967, Doubleday
  • Final Stage, 1974, Charterhouse
  • The Academic Awakening, 1974, College English Association
  • Science Fiction at Large, 1976, Gollancz

Movies


  • Blade Runner (1982, based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)
  • Screamers (1990, based on Second Variety)
  • Total Recall (1992, based on We Can Remember It For You Wholesale)
  • Confessions d’un Barjo (1992, French, based on Confessions of a Crap Artist)
  • Impostor (2001, based on Imposter)
  • Minority Report (2002, based on The Minority Report)
  • Paycheck (2003, based on Paycheck)


There are also several properties which have been sold or are currently under option. These include Time Out of Joint, Valis, Radio Free Albermuth, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, Ubik, King of the Elves, The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford, Adjustment Team, and The Golden Man.

Critics’ Perceptions


Critics have high praise for Dick. Ursula K. LeGuin compares him to Charles Dickens, stating that “There are no heroics in Dick’s book, but there are heroes…what counts is the honestly, constancy, kindness, and patience of ordinary people” (Contemporary Authors, 128). Peter Nicholls, the editor of Science Fiction at Large, believed that Dick was “one of the greatest science fiction writers in history” (Contemporary Authors, 131).

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      Charles Hilton 5 years ago

      My son is a huge fan of his. I love the movies based on his works, but, have never read any of them.

      Excellent hub! Way up!