THE SHIFTING REALITIES OF PHILIP K. DICK by Philip K. Dick

THE SHIFTING REALITIES OF PHILIP K. DICK

Selected Literary and Philosophical Writings

KIRKUS REVIEW

A selection of previously unpublished, or obscurely published, autobiographical sketches, SF musings, philosophical essays, speeches, and journal excerpts. Though he was sadly neglected in life, Dick's (1928-82) reputation has grown significantly since his death. Sutin, author of a Dick biography (Divine Invasions, 1989), breaks this book into six sections, three of which deal directly with Dick's main preoccupation, science fiction. Particularly noteworthy are Dick's descriptions of the sense of community among SF writers: The late Robert A. Heinlein, for instance, went out of his way to assist Dick financially (though prolific, Dick was chronically broke), despite the fact that his own political ideology was diametrically opposed to that of his beneficiary. Also appearing are two chapters of a proposed sequel to Dick's successful alternate-world novel in which the Axis powers win WW II, The Man in the High Castle (1962); it was abandoned, according to Sutin, because he could no longer bear to involve himself with the repugnant Nazi mentality. The third SF section, on plot proposals (e.g., "Plot Idea for Mission: Impossible") could have been omitted. The selected essays and speeches offer insight into the two questions that haunted Dick throughout his career: What is reality? What is human? The final section comprises excerpts from the Exegesis, Dick's journal, in which he struggled to come to terms with, and make sense of, some shattering -- mystical? religious? chemical? -- experiences that beset him in March and April 1974. These are difficult, often incoherent pieces, and they should have been preserved for a separate volume. Best of all is the volume's opening autobiographical section, which highlights the questing intelligence and generous spirit of this severely troubled, sometimes inspired writer. Dick will be remembered for his flawed, often brilliant novels, but the writings collected here offer a broader picture of the artist. It's a satisfying picture, but Dick deserves more authoritative, less worshipful editing than he receives from Sutin.
Pub Date: Feb. 24th, 1995
ISBN: 0-679-42644-2
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1994




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