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Philip-K.-Dick - A quickstart guide to the father of alternate realities
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Philip Kindred Dick was an American writer born on December 16, 1928, in Chicago, Illinois. During his lifetime, he created 44 published novels and almost 121 short stories which appeared in science fiction magazines of those days. Dick’s works explored thoughtful and philosophical themes, most notably altered states of consciousness, alternate realities, identity, drug abuse, and large corporations. These themes stemmed from Dick’s fascination with ancient Greek philosophy, but they were mostly spawned by the author’s damaged mind during years of drug use and hallucinations.

He worked in radio before he started studying at the University of California. There, he became interested in the works of Plato and the nature of reality. In 1952, Dick’s first story, “Beyond the Lies of the Wub”, was published. Since then, his writing career fluctuated between periods of extraordinary productivity full of inspiration (completing a short story or a novella every two weeks) and moments of struggle to come up with new material that would appeal to the audience and ensure publishing.

“Solar Lottery”, Dick’s first novel, was published in 1955. The work laid the ground for what would become one of the writer’s trademark themes and motifs: questioning of reality. “Time out of Joint”(1959), “The Man in the High Castle” (1962), and “The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch” (1965) saw the emergence of another narrative construct that outlined Philip K. Dick’s brilliant imagination: alternate worlds. Furthermore, works such as “The Simulacra” (1964) and “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (1968) pinpointed the idea of artificial creatures and the quest for identity

Philip K. Dick experienced hallucinations attributed to drug use which he viewed as “divine” or sent from “highly intelligent beings” (“I experienced an invasion of my mind by a transcendentally rational mind as if I had been insane all my life and suddenly I had become sane”, as he once told the science fiction author Charles Platt). (Platt,154)

Dick became an influential writer among his fellow science-fiction authors, he met and befriended interesting and well-known figures, but his years of drug abuse and mental illness eventually led to his death on March 2nd, 1982 in Santa Ana, California. His literary reputation was not yet to be known outside the field of science fiction, but by the 21st century, he was regarded as a master of literature and paranoid, with some arguing that Dick shared similarities with Franz Kafka.

Philip K. Dick’s works tend to deconstruct reality as we know it. His characters are usually confronting what one might call a “surreal fantasy”, where they discover that their reality is merely an illusion projected by an external factor. Charles Platt notes that “all of his work starts with the basic assumption that there cannot be one, single, objective reality”. Platt further states that “everything is a matter of perception. The ground is liable to shift under your feet. A protagonist may find himself living out another person’s dream, or he may enter a drug-induced state that actually makes better sense than the real world, or he may cross into a different universe completely”. (Platt,146).

The author’s works became sources of inspiration for film and television adaptations, the most notable one being “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”(1968), which served as the basis for Ridley Scott’s film “Blade Runner”(1982), regarded by many critics as a “masterpiece”.


Here is the list of Philip K. Dick’s works, starting with his published novels:

  • Solar Lottery (1955)
  • The World Jones Made (1956)
  • The Man Who Japed (1956)
  • The Cosmic Puppets (1957)
  • Eye in the Sky (1957)
  • Time Out of Joint (1959)
  • Dr. Futurity (1960)
  • Vulcan’s Hammer (1960)
  • The Man in the High Castle (1962)
  • The Game Players of Titan (1963)
  • The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1964)
  • Martian Time-Slip (1964)
  • Clans of the Alphane Moon (1964)
  • The Simulacra (1964)
  • The Unteleported Man (1964)/ Lies, Inc. (1983)
  • The Penultimate Truth (1964)
  • Dr. Bloodmoney (1965)
  • Now Wait for Last Year (1966)
  • The Crack in Space (1966)
  • Counter Clock World (1967)
  • The Ganymede Takeover (1967) with Ray Nelson
  • The Zap Gun (1967)
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
  • Ubik (1969)
  • Galactic Pot Healer (1969)
  • A Maze of Death (1970)
  • Our Friends from Frolix 8 (1970)
  • We Can Build You (1972)
  • Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (1974)
  • Deus Irae (1976) with Roger Zelazny
  • A Scanner Darkly (1977)
  • VALIS (1981)
  • The Divine Invasion (1981)
  • The Transmigration of Timothy Archer (1982)
  • Radio Free Albemuth (1985)
  • Nick and the Glimmung (1988)

During his lifetime, Philip K. Dick wrote and published approximately 117 short stories, most of them appearing in pulp magazines. These stories can be found in several collections which group them and add to a continuous flow of reading:

  • A Handful of Darkness (1955)
  • The Variable Man (1957)
  • The Preserving Machine (1969)
  • The Book of Philip K. Dick (1973)
  • The Best of Philip K. Dick (1977)
  • The Golden Man (1980)
  • Robots Androids and Mechanical Oddities (1984)
  • I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon (1986)
  • The Collected Stories vol. 1 – 5 (1987)
  • The Philip K. Dick Reader (1997)
  • The Minority Report 18 Classic Stories (2000)
  • The Eye of the Sybil and Other Classic Stories (2002)
  • We Can Remember it for You Wholsesale and Other Classic Stories (2002)
  • Minority Report (2002)
  • Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick (2002)
  • The Short Happy Life of The Brown Oxford Shoe and Other Classic Stories (2002)
  • Second Variety and Other Classic Stories (2002)
  • Paycheck and Other Classic Stories (2003)
  • Paycheck (2004)
  • Vintage PKD
  • Human Is. A Philip K. Dick Reader (2007)
  • “Early Work of Philip K. Dick, vol 1-2 (2008)

Aside from science fiction, Dick’s creations also include works of non-fiction, mostly letters and philosophical essays:

Letters (by publishing date):

  • The Dark-Haired Girl (1988)
  • The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick 1973 – 1974 (1991)
  • The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick 1975 – 1976 (1992)
  • The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick 1977 – 1979 (1992)
  • The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick 1972 – 1973 (1993)
  • The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick 1938 – 1971 (1996)
  • The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick 1980 – 1982 (2008)

Philosophical texts:

  • Cosmogony and Cosmology (1987)
  • Pursuit of Valis (1991)
  • The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick (1995)
  • The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick (2011)

Sources and Suggested Readings

Platt, Charles (1980). Dream Makers: The Uncommon People Who Write Science Fiction. Berkley Publishing

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