I just discovered Dick!

And to think – all these years I’ve called myself a science fiction fan, and I never once picked up a Philip K. Dick book until a few weeks ago when I read “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” on the recommendation of a friend. I couldn’t put it down. I Loved it. As soon as I finished, I went straight to the library and grabbed “Man in the High Castle” and “Now Wait for Last year”. I loved them both.

So now I’ve got a lot of reading to do. I feel like a junkie who just opened a dusty old cupboard in the basement and discovered a 6-month supply of crack. :eek:

Give me some recommendations. What are your favorite/least favorite Dick books? He’s written something like 40 novels, and I’m kind of wondering where I should start. Should I try to read them in any particular order, or should I just dig in at random?

Also, for when I run out of Dick books, can your recommend any other authors whose writing style is similar to his? They don’t necessarily have to be sci-fi authors.

Thanks for your help.

Hmmm… I guess you could trace Dick’s development as a writer from the early novels to the later ones (compare and contrast: Vulcan’s Hammer and VALIS), but I don’t think they demand to be read in any particular order. It’s not as if Dick is trying to set up an internally consistent future history; with most of his books, you’re lucky if reality stays the same from one chapter to the next…

I’m something of a Dick fan myself… I like Ubik, which some people (among them, notably, Stanislaw Lem) consider his best. VALIS is undoubtedly heavy going, but it’s the one that gives the best view of Dick’s personal philosophy (which I tend to describe as “loony psychedelic Gnosticism”). Couple of other favourites of mine are Galactic Pot-Healer and A Maze of Death, which are easier to get into. But these are very much my personal choices, and what speaks to me may not resonate with you.

Dick-like writers? The man was pretty much sui generis… Tim Powers and K. W. Jeter certainly learned a lot from him; if you like Dick’s humourous aspect, you might like Robert Sheckley; if you like unreliable realities… hmmm… possibly Christopher Priest? Or possibly not.

Well, like you, “Do Androids Dream” was the first PKD book I read. Then I read “Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said” and it was a blast. Then…umm…pretty much anything I could find.

His short stories are pretty good, too (Hollywood agrees - countless films sneak “Based on a story by Philip K Dick” into their title sequence.) Terry Gilliam is a big fan, unsurprisingly!

I have to mention my favourite of his short stories. “The Golden Man” is PKD inventiveness at its best. What if a mutant human developed who could foresee the future? Sounds simple, but the story follows up the implications (he’s unkillable, able to escape any prison, able to seduce at will - and hence procreate, and hence take over the existing gene pool, etc) in a really clever way.

Welcome to PKD - your world will never be the same :smiley:

When I first read the thread title I was thinking something, um, different.

I was thinking this was going to be about the recent movie on the life of Richard Nixon. :smiley:

I may be unusual but my favorite Dick is “A Scanner Darkly.”

There’s a scene involving a ten speed bicycle that still cracks me up every time I think about it.

I like to go through his short stories, but if you don’t like spoilers you might want to read his novels first. Some of his short stories (at least the themes) develop later into novels. This is especially true of “Do Androids…”

I would read “The Transmigration of Timothy Archer” before “Valis” or “The Divine Invasion” if you want to have an idea of where he’s going in those books. Just one guy’s opinion.

FWIW, when I discovered Dick a few years back, I had to rush to do some research on the guy (pre WWW) because I was sure he must have offed himself, given the themes of his later works. Turns out he didn’t, but maybe just because nature didn’t give him enough time.

I like this book as well, but I consider it one of the creepiest books that I have ever read. Especially when you look at the list of names at the end of the book. People who had their health and lives ruined, or ended, by drugs.

I alway recommend Valis to someone interested in Dick, if only for the reason that the book is partially autobiographical.

I think A Scanner Darkly is a good book, but a very, very sad one. I once recommended it to a friend who works in drug rehabilitation - it seemed to chime with his experiences. It’s definitely worth reading.

I’m just curious as to how many of you discovered Dick through “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” because of the fact that it was the inspiration for Blade Runner?

There is a 4-volume set of the Collected Short Stories of Phillip K. Dick. The first volume is called “The Happy Life of the Brown Oxford” and I am very fond of it (that short story as well as the collection). I think volume 3 in the series has “The Minority Report” as the title story.

But then I am a big fan of the short story in general.

Did you know that Kim Stanley Robinson (Red Mars trilogy, Gold Coast, etc.) wrote his doctoral dissertation about Philip K. Dick?

MisterThyristor, I don’t know about anyone else, but the first Dick book I read was The Zap Gun, several years before Blade Runner came out.

Blade Runner led me to Do Androids…, then from there I jumped around to his other books. A Scanner Darkly is probably my favorite of what I’ve read so far.

Now Wait For Last Year is another favorite, but the OP read that one already. Clans Of the Alphane Moon is okay but not nearly in the league of some of his better books already mentioned.

I liked Time Out Of Joint, again it’s not in the same league, but a good minor mind trip. I happened to be reading the “shakey reality on a bus” scene while riding on a bus and tired at the end of a long work day. That will really fuck with your head.

So you’ve been sucked into the vortex of Phillip K. Dick’s universe. Congratulations & Welcome…your mind will never be the same. Flipping open the cover of say, VALIS is strangely akin to swallowing the red pill of The Matrix.

My introduction to PKD came about in a very Dickian manner. In the summer of '92 I was an avid fan of Terence McKenna. In one of his lectures he was discussing Bishop Pike and he mentioned PKD’s fictionalized account of Pike’s ordeals–The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. Hmmm…I thought…this guy sounds interesting, I should get one of his books.

Just a couple of days later I was rereading Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger, and Wilson devoted several pages to PKD–discussing how they both had similar mystical experiences at pretty much the same time. At the time, McKenna & RAW were two of my biggest intellectual inspirations, so their endorsements really piqued my interest.

Not too long after that, I had a dream where I was in a bookstore looking for Dick’s masterpiece–VALIS.

One big aspect of my personal philosophy at the time was to pay attention to coincidences. And at the time it almost seemed like I was being “guided” towards PKD. On my drive back to university, I made a pit-stop at the Purdue campus to visit my buddy. While browsing at the bookstore, I turned down an isle & there my friend stood, with a used copy of VALIS in his hands. “I heard this is pretty good,” he said as I ripped the book out of his hands.

So, yeah…it felt like a bunch of synchronicities were pushing me to read VALIS. And the kicker? The protagonist of the novel felt as if the universe had begun communicating with him & was guiding his life through coincidences and synchronicities!

Hello Again writes:

> There is a 4-volume set of the Collected Short Stories of Phillip
> K. Dick. The first volume is called “The Happy Life of the Brown
> Oxford” and I am very fond of it (that short story as well as the
> collection). I think volume 3 in the series has “The Minority
> Report” as the title story.

The set has five volumes. The volumes have different titles in different editions, and the stories were, in a few cases, moved from one volume to another in the various editions. For what it’s worth (and I know this is being picky), it’s spelled Philip.

Mr. Frink writes:

> Flipping open the cover of say, VALIS is strangely akin to
> swallowing the red pill of The Matrix.

Which is why when I saw The Matrix I said, "Big deal, this is warmed-over Philip K. Dick.

I read a lot of his books years ago, and never was a big fan. The one that I did like was “Our Friends From Frolix 8.” JDM

And just in time, PKD shows up in the mainstream media. From today’s USA Today (27 June 2002).

Oops, meant to throw a quote out there:

Gah! I can’t believe I misspelled “Philip.” I am shamed. <hangs head>

Also look for “The Divine Invasions,” the biography of PKD by Lawrence Sutin. In addition to Dick’s fascinating life story, you get an overview of PKD’s work, with a criticial assessment by Sutin.

Also, keep an eye out for Weirdo #17, a comic book that came out in 1986. It contains “The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick” by R. Crumb. Great reading about an important part of PKD’s life.

Oh, wait, apparently,
You can read it online.

I really like Dick. I’m kind of a DickHead.
I would try UBIK. It is really good and it will probably blow your mind at how well he does the story.

VALIS is the start of a trilogy that goes to The Divine Invasion and then The Transmigration of Timothy Archer.

The first two are tough. The universe changes about every chapter towards the end of Valis. But Archer is practically ‘normal’ so I was a little let down with that one.

I just finished the short collection with Minority Report. There is some really good stuff there.