Monday, March 2, 2009

27 Years Ago Today: Philip K. Dick Dies in Santa Ana, CA

Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American science fiction novelist, short story writer, and essayist. Dick explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments, and altered states. In his later works, Dick's thematic focus strongly reflected his personal interest in mysticism and theology. He often drew upon his own life experiences and addressed the nature of drug use, paranoia and schizophrenia, and mystical experiences in novels such as 'A Scanner Darkly' and 'VALIS'.

The novel 'The Man in the High Castle' bridged the genres of alternate history and science fiction, earning Dick a Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1963. 'Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said', a novel about a celebrity who awakens in a parallel universe where he is unknown, won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel in 1975. "I want to write about people I love, and put them into a fictional world spun out of my own mind, not the world we actually have, because the world we actually have does not meet my standards," Dick wrote of these stories. "In my writing I even question the universe; I wonder out loud if it is real, and I wonder out loud if all of us are real."

In addition to thirty-six novels, Dick wrote approximately 121 short stories, many of which appeared in science fiction magazines. Although Dick spent most of his career as a writer in near-poverty, nine of his stories have been adapted into popular films since his death, including 'Blade Runner', 'Total Recall', 'A Scanner Darkly' and 'Minority Report'. In 2005, Time Magazine named 'Ubik' one of the one hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923. In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.

Philip K. Dick died in Santa Ana, California, on March 2, 1982. He had suffered a stroke five days earlier, and was disconnected from life support after his EEG had been consistently isoelectric since losing consciousness. After his death, his father Edgar took his son's ashes to Fort Morgan, Colorado. When his twin sister Jane died, her tombstone had both their names carved on it, with an empty space for Dick's death date. Brother and sister were eventually buried next to each other.

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tuffy777 said...

Thank you so much for remembering!
~~ Tessa Dick

grantfacekillah said...

The Man in the High Castle has been a favorite of mine since reading it for a Modern American Lit. course in 2004. Mr. Dick's capacity to suppose other realms of or reality struck me as nothing short of brave and ingenious.

I must agree with my instructor, Mr. Kevin Floyd who said that science fiction is much too underrated in literature, and that authors such as PKD will someday will enter the American literary canon seamlessly.