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Topic: Philip K. Dick

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Subject: Philip K. Dick
Date Posted: 10/25/2008 11:59 AM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID, by Philip K. Dick, 1974

My paperback is Daw #146, published in April 1975. I bought it in July of that year, and read it shortly after.  I re-read this book, because a few of you mentioned you were reading it, on this forum. It's a little wierd to find that a book I bought and read as a new release has sat on my shelf for 33 years and become a yellow-paged collectable item.

The novel was awarded first prize in the John W. Campbell Awards for the best science fiction novel of the year in 1975. It was also nominated for a Nebula Award in 1974 and a Hugo Award in 1975.  For a really good plot synopsis, look it up on wikipedia.

The concept is that one day a famous TV star and singer wakes up to find himself not just an unknown, but a non-person - with no identity in the records of his futuristic police state. The reader jumps from one understanding of reality to the next, as other characters who may be lieing or deluded themselves reveal parts of the mystery. Unlike many of Philip K. Dick's novels, there is eventually an unambiguous resolution.

This book also contains a short tangential passage near the end, with biblical parallels, that Philip K. Dick later claimed as a mystically religious event in his own life. Really, I think Dick may have just taken too many drugs for his own good.

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 10/25/08 12:05 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 10/26/2008 2:49 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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Sounds interesting.  The only book by Philip K. Dick I've read so far is Deus Irae which was co-written with Roger Zelazny.  Very weird but intriguing style, so I want to read more.

Paul H. (PaulH) - ,
Date Posted: 10/26/2008 5:34 PM ET
Member Since: 6/27/2008
Posts: 146
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I've only read 3 Phillip K. Dick books - The Man in the High Castle, A Maze of Death, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  The first two never really did anything for me.  Androids I enjoyed, and of course is the book that was made into the movie Blade Runner.  I have also read the short story We'll Remember It For You Wholesale, which was made into the Ah-nold flick Total Recall, and that was also pretty good.  So I'm batting .500 on finding Dick stories I like.  I've always heard how much everyone loves his work, and I've always wanted to read more, but based on what I've already read I've always been hesitant to pick up another.  If I'm going to have a 50-50 shot at finding something I'll like, I'm more likely to pick up something else that's been on my to-read list (and there's plenty there to choose from as it is).

If I could get recommendations as to maybe which are his signature works, or which the most people seem to agree are the highlights of his career, I'd probably be more willing to give them a shot.

Subject: Sorry for the long post!!!
Date Posted: 10/27/2008 4:04 AM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2007
Posts: 2,941
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I really enjoyed Androids, but I wished very much that I could have read it prior to watching Blade Runner, as they are two rather different pieces and it would have been a more enjoyable transition moving from book to film.  We'll Remember it For You Wholesale was an interesting little story, but again, they did so much in translation to film that it's nearly unrecognizable.  Piers Anthony wrote a novelization based on both the story and the script, called Total Recall.

I've only read one of his stories that didn't really grab me, The Penultimate Truth, but I still enjoyed it.  Even the short stories I've read have all at least had some level of enjoyment.  It's gotten to where I'm afraid to try another title because I'm afraid I'm bound to run into a bad one lol.  I've put my science fiction reading on hold to get a taste of some other genres for the moment and my TBR has grown in these newer directions just as quickly as ever.  When I get back to science fiction it's straight to Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said before diving into a small pile of Dick's other works. 

As far as signature Philip K. Dick works go, Ubik is, I believe, his most widely regarded work.  It's a short read, but it was very entertaining, and contained nearly every element essential to a good PKD title.  I expected to enjoy it but was immensely surprised by how ferverently I went through it.  I couldn't even sleep, it was that good...I tried, but after dozing for a few hours I woke up and finished the book.  If I had to find a detraction I'd say Ubik is too short, or lacking in substance, but most of what PKD wrote was more along the lines of pulp. 

His greatest work was done towards the end of his career, especially on the Valis trilogy.  It's comprised of Valis, The Divine Invasion, and an unfinished work called The Owl in Daylight (The Transmigration of Timothy Archer is substituted to complete the trilogy), and is considered not only much more substantial than most of his work, but more substantial than most science fiction being written at the time, at least in terms of its psychological and philosophical aspects.  Valis stands for Vast Active Living Intelligence System which Dick believed was an god-like alien entity that had contacted him through visions he had.  The inclusion of such an intensley deep aspect of his personality separates this work from his others, the same way the inclusion of Dick's personality in all of his works separates them from other science fiction novels.

As a final recommendation:  After watching the movie A Scanner Darkly I decided to read the book on which it was based (same title) and found it to be some of the most poetically beautiful science fiction I've ever read.  To a degree it's not nearly as much a science fiction novel as it is a gripping piece on the psychological effects of drug use that happens to be set in a science fiction future.  It also speaks a great deal on topics such as paranoia, relationships, and modern existential crisis.  I found it to be a truly amazing read and re-read it twice immediately after finishing it.  If you find yourself interested in the movie I also wholeheartedly recommend it, as it's not only a fascinating film in and of itself, but it's also one of the top three translations of book to film I've ever witnessed, (the others being Fight Club and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.) 

If I had to make a brief recommendation out of all of these I'd say Ubik, because it's brief and a surefire winner, IMO, and A Scanner Darkly which was, again, just beautifully crafted (and interestingly the only book he wrote off of drugs), and is my personal favorite of all his books.

Sorry again for the long post!  I guess I really needed a topic like this lol.

Subject: PK Dick
Date Posted: 11/1/2008 12:05 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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Finished Flow my Tears and well, it was OK, parts were tedious, the ending made everthing fit.  Found it to be dated.  A lot of the old timey SF just doesn't withstand the test of time.  In my reading of Dick, I never know if I'll get a good/bad book, which is probably why I have seven books of his in my TBR pile yet to read.  If I have a Neal Asher in front of me, I'll pick Asher.  Know what I mean? 

That having been said, it is quite A M A Z I N G the amount of visual media that resulted from Philip K. Dick - his short stories and novels.  .... hmmm, I think Screamers was originally from a PK Dick novel.......

On my bookshelf: Radio Free Albemuth, Confessions of a Crap Artist (started this several years ago but choked on it), Our Friends from Frolix 8, The Cosmic Puppets, Martian Time-Slip, Solar Lottery, and The Divine Invasion.  Didn't know The Divine Invasion was part of a trilogy - hope it can stand by itself.....

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 11/1/2008 1:59 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
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I just picked up a copy of  The Divine Invasion as well, from my library's book store.  Should I read Valis first, then?

Date Posted: 11/1/2008 8:05 PM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2007
Posts: 2,941
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I haven't tackled the Valis trilogy yet, as I feel it should be considered a culmination of his works, so I have no idea how the books stand alone.  I know that Valis is sort of a rewrite of Radio Free Albemuth, which is a solo work.  According to the Wikipedia page on The Divine Invasion it was originally titled Valis Regained, so I'd suspect it's at least better as a sequel, if not necessarily a sequel. I tried starting Valis once, but it was WAY out there psychologically and I wasn't in the right mindset to handle it so I dove into a short story collection instead (The PKD Reader). 

PKD's works have made the jump to the screen quite a bit indeed,  Wikipedia's got a paragraph or three on that topic here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_K._Dick#Adaptations  Not only do his stories make it to the big screen, but they're usually fairly good (at least enjoyable) movies.  I'm a huge fan of Total Recall and Imposter.  A Scanner Darkly is one of my all-time favorites, and I suspect the film version of Ubik will be spectacular.

Date Posted: 11/28/2008 3:56 PM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2008
Posts: 550
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Two things came to mind when folks mentioned Do Androids Dream...

1- the rise of animatronic pets in many stores, along with the rising prssure on animal owners that leads many to not have animals who might otherwise.

2- I appreciate it when a movie is made off a book but they use a different title. I liked Do Androids and I liked Bladrunner. But when my daughter, who loved her book The Polar Express, wanted to see the movie, she was disgusted that it was a very different story and especially a very different mood. If they can change a movie that much, why can't they change the title?