Sunday, 15 April 2007

PKD, Ubikuitous

Και δη και το παλαι τε και νυν και αει ζητουμενον και απορουμενον, τι το ον... perhaps Horselover Fat and Kilgore Trout don’t have it in the same way as Philip K Dick and Kurt Vonnegut (or Philip Jose Farmer, or Theodore Sturgeon, if it comes to that). But then PKD hasn’t had it these 25 years, and the world is becoming more and more like what he said it would. I said yesterday that I had more books about and by him than you could shake a stick at, and this morning I get sent six very nice paperbacks. It is a cosmic reproach from Phil. He is attempting to hold the pile of kipple at bay by filling the universe with his books, in nice editions, like some well-intentioned but accident-prone Glimmung. Now we know how the world will end, not with a bang, but with a wub-skinned edition of the Exegesis.
Good choices Gollancz have made though, on the whole. Human is? is a reasonable collection of short stories for those who haven’t read him (can there be anyone left?) to begin with. Some of the essentials; Beyond Lies the Wub, The Mold of Yancy, The Father-Thing, If There Were No Benny Cemoli, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. And five of the best novels: The Three Stgmata of Palmer Eldritch, Matian Time-Slip, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Dr Bloodmoney and Flow, My Tears, The Policeman Said. No Man in the High Castle, but I think Penguin may still have the rights to it. I would like to make a case for The Game Players of Titan, which everyone seems to think slight and formulaic, but is actually a searing examination of anything you like. Hyperreality needs a game, and Bluff is that game. I’m going off now to work out the rules with my Ryan Gander cards and the three Chinese coins I use to tell the I Ching.
If none of the above made any sense, you should read Philip K Dick. He wrote good books and died 25 years ago last month. He is slowly engulfing us all.

Today I bought a box and a lamp for the chickens, until they’re big enough to go out to the coop. I’m reading Heidegger on Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics (no, I am, really, I’m not just saying it to show off, though obviously since I’m going to the trouble of reading it, I’m not wasting the showing-off potential it affords).
But today I’ve read only pages 65-80. Then I read the 300-odd page novelisation of the pilot episode of Battlestar Galactica. That took about half as long. Obviously it’s easier to get your head round intergalactic civilizations clashing, committing genocide and piloting ships the size of cities which violate our current laws of spacetime than it is to work out how we look at something.

I had roast duck and hoisin pancakes, thai green chicken curry and beef with basil and chilli for dinner.

sf: Appleseed, by John Clute
crime: Pop. 1280, Jim Thompson
if you don’t know it: Dance of the Happy Shades, Alice Munro
listening to Six Pianos, Steve Reich (it goes on a bit, doesn’t it?)

Why not go to church this morning? PKD was an Episcopalian, but he was very laid back about denominations. When his followers rule the world and you realize we’re actually in the First Century AD, you’ll be glad you did.

4 comments:

Niall said...

Am I right in thinking that Human Is? contains every Dick short story that's been made into a film except "Minority Report"? I'm sure that says something, if so, though I don't know what.

mckie said...

Ah, but Gollancz had already repackaged one of the collections as Minority Report.
And I don't think The Golden Man is in Human is? but my copy's in my other office. I check later & let you know.

mckie said...

The Golden Man isn't in it, but since the synopsis of Next makes it sound as if it bears NO RESEMBLANCE WHATSOEVER to the story (or any story any sane person might imagine - Nicholas Cage is a Las Vegas magician; I ask you) perhaps it's better all round that way.
I saw Cypher last night for the first time, which was vaguely Dickian, I thought, though with too predictable a twist, and the action sequences didn't fit well with the rest of it. Goodish until about 15 minutes from the end, though.

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