BREAKING NEWS: Philip K. Dick is Still Dead! (1928-1982)

Republibot 3.0's picture

I'm not going to really go in to great lengths about this one, but I thought it was deserving of mention that Philip K. Dick's deathday is today. He'd be 81, if he hadn't been dead for 27 years.

Why does this matter? Because PKD is probably my favorite SF writer, and no matter how bad a hatchet job Hollywood manages to do to his material, he's still brilliant with like a .750 average. His potboilers - and he wrote a lot of them - contained more ideas, atmosphere, characterization, and gleeful paranoia than most people's entire careers. He was also noteworthy in that he was one of the few SF authors of any generation to really explore the posibilities of Theology in the genre. I don't mean 'inventing fake religions' like Frank Herbert did in print, and that ellron guy did in practice - I mean Phil used SF as a prism with which to facilitate his search for God.

The books tended to echo what was going on in Phil's own mind/soul at the time, and he was a bit of a mistic, a bit of a traditionalist, a bit of a whack job, and entirely brilliant. It's been said one could earn a divinity degree just by reading his books, and while that's an exaggeration, it's really not that much of one. (Probably you could only get an AA Degree from his books, but still...) and this search for the truth that pervaded his life and his work invigorates his best writing, because unlike many True Seekers, Phil was willing to question everything and anything, even stuff that, frankly, he probably would have been better off to not question, just for his own state of mind.

Did I mention he was a brilliant writer, too? He was.

Phil was not at all socially nor politically conservative, though he did openly oppose legalized abortion. We've been discussing wether Christian SF is possible behind the scenes here at Republibot, and Phil is the one name that keeps coming up in anything like a non-terrible sense. Of course true to form, his wildly-shifting-and-paranoid theology is only slightly less frequently anti-Christian as it is Christian, but at the same time...at least he's talking about it, you know? He's discussing it and coming to his own conclusions, and although that's certainly not what people mean when they talk about Christian SF, it is at least on the map, and it certainly can't be argued to be propagandistic or evangelical. Even when his protagonists find salvation, it's not...not entirely...not generally the kind that most traditionally religious folk are thinking of. But it is thought provoking and raw in a way that more conventional religious fiction just isn't.

Now, if you're a Born Again Christian, I'm not going to say you should go out and read his work, (And in fact a number of his books and short stories you should go out of your way to avoid!) but, I dunno, for me, I've always found a connection to the guy.

That's all I've got. Just mentioning it.