< Return to Adherents.com/lit

Philip K. Dick in Science Fiction


This annotated bibliography list, a subset derived from the Adherents.com Religion in Literature database, is intended as a resource for literary research. It lists mainstream science fiction novels or short stories which contain references to Philip K. Dick. It is not necessarily a comprehensive list of such literature, but all Hugo-, Campbell-, Nebula- and Locus-winning novels have been indexed, as have many other major works.

Philip K. Dick is one of the most enigmatic and distinctive writers in the history of science fiction. His personal life was in many ways as unusual as his fiction. Fans and other writers have enjoyed PKD's numerous novels and short stories, which were always unique but at the same time hit upon a number of "Dickian" themes. PKD frequently wrote about the very nature of reality, and about how we know what we know. Spiritual, religious and philosophical themes were prominent. He considered advances in technology not in the optimistic or pessimistic modes typical of other genre writers, but as commonplace components of a shockingly commonplace existence. Dick's worlds managed to be more bizarre than those of other writers, while at the same time exuding a greasy, lived-in, almost mundane reality.

Even years after his death in 1982, Philip K. Dick remains one of the world's best known science fiction writers, due in part to the success of a number of movies based on his stories and books. Adaptation of PKD's fiction include "Blade Runner" (1982, directed by Ridley Scott, directed by Paul Verhoeven, starring Harrison Ford), "Total Recall" (1990, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger), "Minority Report" (2002, starring Tom Cruse, directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by Jerry Molen) and "Paycheck" (2003, directed by John Woo, starring Ben Affleck and Aaron Eckhart).

PKD was a "science fiction writer's writer." Many of the genre's pros have cited him as an important influence. Some have even referred to him within the their own fiction. Such references are listed on this page.

Michael Bishop even wrote an entire novel inspired by and dedicated to PKD (The Secret Ascension; or, Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas), a sort of Dickian pastiche that includes PKD in the title and as a character. Kingsley Amis' award-winning novel The Alteration is an alternate history which contains a lengthy passage in which characters discuss PKD's novel The Man in the High Castle, which is itself an award-winning alternative history. (The Alteration won the Campbell and Castle won the Hugo.) Douglas A. Mackey's novel Weird Scenes: Inside the Godmind (2001, Qubik Books) features a prominent character named Clarence Clapper who, according to the author, is a thinly disguised version of Philip K. Dick.

Philip K. Dick also wrote recursive science fiction, that is science fiction about the science fiction genre and its writers. Some of his recursive science fiction includes references to himself. His novel Valis is probably his most autobiographical work. Both Valis and Radio Free Albemuth features himself (a science fiction writer named Phil Dick) as a major character.

   "Oh, another novel channeled by Philip K. Dick... It's about an alternative universe in which everything is more ordinary than it looks."
   "Well," Nelly chirped, grinning, "if anyone has the energy to write sci-fi novels after he's dead, it's Philip K. Dick. How many does that make it so far?"
   "Channeled? Forty-two."
   "That's more than he wrote in real life."
   "What can I say? He's prolific."


- from Mir: A Novel of Virtual Reality
by Alexander Besher

Current number of novels, movies and stories in list: 14.



Author Title Approx.
year
Sample Quote and/or Description
Kingsley Amis The Alteration. New York: Viking Press (1976) 1963 In a rather Dickian moment, the characters in this alternative history novel discuss an actual alternative history novel from our reality, an alternative history novel which is, in fact, about an author of an alternative history novel. Got all that? Pg. 21-22:
In the same theatrical spirit as Decuman, Thomas looked warily over at the door, then produced from his bedding a small, battered, coverless book, which he held in the air like a trophy.

"How did you come by it?"

"Ned, the brewer's boy. Of course he can't read, so he must act as a go-between, but he refuses to say where his goods come from."

..."So. How much did you pay?"

"Sixpence."

"By Saint George's sacred balls! We expect something hot for that."

"We have it--this is as hot as sh--."

"Read us some," said Hubert.

"Think what you do," said Mark.

"Decumen slowly clenched his fist at Mark. "You may remain as you are and listen, or may lie and pretend to sleep and listen, but listen you will. Read, Tom."

"I think it would be best if I told you the first part in short. It's not very easy and I had to go slow."

"Very well," said Decuman. "First let us know what it's called."

"The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick."

"A strange name. It is TR [Time Romance, i.e., science fiction], I suppose?"

"If you count CW [Counterfeit World, i.e., alternative history] as TR."

"CW, is it? Yes, indeed I do. Say, then."

"The story starts in this year, nineteen seventy-six, but a great many things are different."

"Are they so? We all know what CW is. Get on. What things?"

"I'll tell you if you stop interrupting. Invention has been set free a long time before. Sickness is almost conquered: nobody dies of consumption or the plague. The deserts have been made fertile. The inventors are actually called scientists, and they use electricity."

"Such profaneness," said Mark, listening with close attention.

"They send messages all over the Earth with it [electricity]. They use it to light whole cities and even to keep folk warm. There are electric flying-machines that move at two hundred miles an hour."

"Flying-machines always appear--this is no more than ordinary TR [s.f.]," growled Decuman. "You said it was CW [alt. history]."

TR, or Time Romance, was a type of fiction that appealed to a type of mind. It had readers among schoolboys, colegiates, mechanics, inventors, scribes, merchantmen, members of Convocatio and even, it was whispered, those in holy orders. Though it was formally illegal, the authorities were wise enough to know that to suppress it altogether a disproportionate effort would be necessary, and contended themselves with occasional raids and confiscations.

[More.]
Gregory BenfordTimescape. New York: Simon & Schuster (1980) 1963Pg. 213:
She produced a book from her handbag and pressed it on him. "It's the new Phil Dick."

he glanced at the lurid cover. The Man in the High Castle. "Haven't got time."

"Make time. It's really good. You've read his other stuff, haven't you?"

Alexander BesherMir: A Novel of Virtual Reality. New York: Simon & Schuster (1998) 2036Pg. 97:
As usual, Trevor had a stack of paperbacks on his lap. He was a crustacean as a reader, moving sideways from book to book like a crab.

"Oh, another novel channeled by Philip K. Dick. This one's entitled Mere Alibis. It's about an alternative universe in which everything is more ordinary than it looks."

"Well," Nelly chirped, grinning, "if anyone has the energy to write sci-fi novels after he's dead, it's Philip K. Dick. How many does that make it so far?"

"Channeled? Forty-two."

"That's more than he wrote in real life."

"What can I say? He's prolific. What are you reading?"

"Something very French. A translation of Pierre Flambay's The Demise of Desire."

...Trevor kept reading Mere Alibis. Nelly dozed...

Michael BishopThe Secret Ascension; or, Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas. New York: Tor (1987) 1982As one might surmise from the title, this entire novel is about Philip K. Dick, although it takes place after PKD's death, so in a way it is really about his spirit, and fictional characters affected by him. It is also intended as a sort of pastiche of PKD, written by Bishop in Dickian manner. It includes a lengthy obituary of PKD.

Pg. 1:

The alien pink Moon peers into Philip K. Dick's apartment in Santa Ana, California. The year is 1982...
Jack L. ChalkerRewind. New York: Avon Books (1997) 2008Pg. 154:
To eyes not used to digital sophistication, the scenes around him were remarkable, obviously influenced by the old movie Blade Runner. Rising around him was an odd intermingling of futuristic and medieval architecture.
Philip K. Dick"Orpheus with Clay Feet" in The Minority Report and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick. New York: Kensington (2002; c. 1963) 1956This story mentions itself, under the guise that "Philip K. Dick" was only a pen name used by an actual person describing real events. Pg. 299:
"All right... there exists one science fiction work by Jack Dowland. Tiny, mediocre and totally unknown... One short story called ORPHEUS WITH CLAY FEET, under the pen name Philip K. Dick. Nobody read it then, nobody reads it now -- it was an account of a visit to Dowland by-- By a well-intentioned idiot from the future with deranged visions of inspiring him to write a mythological history o the world to come. Well, Slade? What do you say?"
[This story is also mentioned twice on page 300.]
Philip K. DickDick, Philip K. "Waterspider" in The Minority Report and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick. New York: Kensington (2002; c. 1964) 1954Pg. 241:
No article by Poul Anderson was listed. Instead, on page 78, he saw Philip K. Dick's The Mold of Yancy listed instead.
Philip K. DickValis. New York: Bantam (1981) 1977[The main character of this novel, which is written almost entirely in the third person, is 'Horselover Fat', which is a transparent surrogate for the Philip K. Dick himself. Although Valis is a work of fiction, it is probably PKD's most autobiographical novel.] Pg. 3-4:
I am Horselover Fat, and I am writing this in the third person to gain much-needed objectivity... I am, by profession, a science fiction writer. I deal in fantasies. My life is a fantasy. Nonetheless, Gloria Knudson lies in a box in Modesto, California.
Pg. 96:
In my [Philip K. Dick's] novel A Scanner Darkly, published in 1977, I ripped off Fat's account of his eight hours of lurid phosphene activity.
[3 paragraphs quoted from the novel. More, pg. 97-98.]

Pg. 138:

"Phil will contact Jamison. You can meet Goose... Phil's a famous writer--he can arrange it." To me, Kevin said, "You have any books currently optioned to any movie producer?"

"Yes," I said. "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and also Three Stigmata."

"Fine," Kevin said. "Then Phil can say maybe there's a film in it." Turning to me, he said, "Who's that producer friend of yours? The one at MGM?"

"Stan Jaffy," I said.

"Are you still in touch with him?"

"Only on a personal basis. They let their option on Man in the High Castle lapse. He writes to me sometimes..."

[Much more about this character, a science fiction writer named Phil Dick.]
Philip K. DickRadio Free Albemuth. New York: Arbor House (1985) 1963From book jacket:
"Nicholas tells his friend Phil Dick, the SF writer (and a major character in the book), who makes a running commentary. And Nicholas is in a lot of trouble...
Philip K. Dick narrates here, page 46:
"My real trouble concerning drugs came when Harlan Ellison in his anthology Dangerous Visions said in an introduction to a story of mine that it was 'written under the influence of LSD,' which of course was not correct. After that I had a really dreadful reputation as a doper, thanks to Harlan's desire for publicity. Later on I was able to add a paragraph to the afterword of the story stating that Harlan had not told the truth, but the harm was done. The police began to become interested in my and in the people who visited me...
Terry EnglandThe Cybernetic Walrus (Book One of The Wonderland Gambit). New York: Ballantine (1995) 1995Dedication, page v:
To the late Philip K. Dick, two of whose early works inspired this madness, but didn't, to my mind, face all the implications of the concept in any of them.
Stephen FryMaking History. New York: Random House (1996) 1996Pg. 201:
"Sure," said Steve, "that's just the way to look at it."

"It's like a scene from that movie Total Recall."

"Total Recall?" I never caught that one."

"No? Arnie, Sharon Stone . . . from the Philip K. Dick novel?"

He shook his head. "Passed me by..."

Douglas A. MackeyWeird Scenes: Inside the Godmind. Qubik Books (2001) ?One of the prominent characters in this novel is a mysterious science fiction writer named Clarence Clapper who is, according to the author, a thinly disguised version of Philip K. Dick. Web page
Scott Lobdell & Elliot S. MagginGeneration X. New York: Berkley (1997) 1988Pg. 106:
"First thing I figured out about you guys is that you're all big movie fans, aren't you?" No response, but Walter went on as if there had been a positive one. "Remember the end of Blade Runner? Batty, the big bad replicant, is dying, see? Like I am. We had that in common."
Pg. 107:
"And he gives Deckard, the Harrison Ford character, this speech about all the things he's done and all the stuff he's seen and how unfair it all is. I memorized it. Thought I might use it at my funeral." That was a joke. No one noticed except Chamber...

Walter closed his eyes and quoted: " 'I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain... Time to die.' " And Walter grabbed his throat and fell on the floor in a heap. Then he started convulsing.

George R. R. Martin & John J. MillerWild Cards VII: Dead Man's Hand. New York: Bantam Books (1990) 1988A narcotic is referred to in passing which is named after Philip K. Dick (PKD), page 166:
"What kind of drugs?"

"You name it, she's bought it. H, crack, coke, speed, ludes, pot, PKD, dust, designer stuff like rapture..."

We have a report of a story titled "Dr Adder," written by K.W. Jeter, which features a post-apocalyptic pirate radio station named "KCID" operated by a character who is an homage to Philip K. Dick. We will post more information and confirmation after we track down this story and check it out.


Page created 17 January 2002. Last modified 22 September 2004.
Copyright © 2004 by Adherents.com
Please send comments, questions, corrections, etc. to webmaster@adherents.com