After spending several sessions on the works of Neal Stephenson, Off World, the science
PKD loved cats, jazz, classical music, short brunettes with really nice breasts, and amphetmines
fiction discussion group sponsored by WordSpace, has decided to take the plunge into the paranoid and weirdly wonderful world of Philip K. Dick.
If you are not familiar with Dick beyond having seen Blade Runner or any of the other much less successful films of his work, here is a quick sampling of the predicaments PKD’s characters are likely to face.
1) The Allies lost WW II and Japan rules the western United States while Germany rules the Eastern seaboard. The Midwest remains a free zone. Make that, a relatively free zone.
2) The newest psychedelic drug on the market turns out to cause actual time travel, and you find yourself stuck in the past before the fuel that powers your flying taxi has been invented.
3) Perhaps dogs barking at garbage trucks are all that stand between earth and alien invasion.
4) As part of your undercover work for the Drug Enforcement Agency you have been asked to spy on yourself.
5) You must play a life-or-death game of bluffing with beings from Titan, all of whom can read your mind.
This list could go on and on. Dick wrote around 30 novels and 100 short stories. In a two year period in the mid 1960, he turned out 11 novels. Yes, drugs were a factor, and some of the novels were not very good.
OffWorld plans two sessions on PKD. On Wednesday, February 13, we will share what we know about Dick’s life and writings, and the high points and low points of each. We have filmed interviews with PKD — filmed rants would be more to the point. If you know a little or a lot or nothing at all about PKD, feel free to join in. Pizza will be served. Visit the WordSpace events calendars for location.
OffWorld sessions in March and April will involve special author readings and panel discussions. More on that later. But for the May event we do have a reading assignment. (OffWorld is, after all, a kind of book club.) The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch may not be PKD’s most famous book but it has a lot to recommend it. It is supremely weird, very funny, relatively comprehensible, and short. And available free online.
To really get you in the mood for Wednesday, Feb 13, take this fun true and false test on PKD’s life, based on Divine Invasions, A Life of Philip K. Dick by Lawrence Sutin.
Fun true and false test here.