/ Any Phillip K Dick fans?

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ThunderCat - on 15 Nov 2012
I've only read "Do androids dream of electric sheep", "counter clock world", "man in the high castle" and "a scanner darkly", Enjoyed them.

I bought a collection of his short stories last week and I've struggled to read them. Get to the end of each one and think - 'what was that about', and not in a way that leaves me with a satisfied sense of curiosity - just one of genuinely not getting what it was about. Found myself skimming over a couple of them, and last night I gave up two thirds of the way through because I simply wasn't enjoying it.

Book was "Total Recall", obviously cashing in on the movie. There's a couple of stories in there which seem to be the basis for the novels - "Your appointment will be yesterday" (counter clock wise) and "Little black box" discusses Mercerism and the empathy boxes mentioned in Electric sheep.

Just wondered what your opinions are. Is it worth sticking with them? I really really hate giving up on a book.

I also read "Beyond lies the Wub" in junior school. I think I enjoyed that one.
davidbeynon - on 15 Nov 2012
In reply to ThunderCat:

The thing to bear in mind with P.K.Dick is that his writing is extremely inconsistent. Part of this was due to schizophrenia, part due to writing vast amounts of with the assistance of amphetamines.

Some of his short stories and novels are works of genius but you have to plough through a certain amount of dross to find them. Beware of multiple editions of the same book printed with completely different titles if you buy second hand.
Wonko The Sane - on 15 Nov 2012
In reply to ThunderCat: There are plenty of book I read as a teenager which I've picked up as an adult and found them two dimensional and under developed.

All the Asimov stuff for a start. Still love the idea of altering an entire society by the use of psychohistory. But wish someone more able had written it!

Ditto The Weapon shops of Isher books.

PK Dick had some good ideas, and some bloody awful stories too.
I actually think Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is far grittier and real than Blade Runner. But it's about the only one of the stories in my opinion that's better than the film which is losely based on it.
pebbles - on 15 Nov 2012
In reply to ThunderCat: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (long novel) is great in a "does your head in" kind of way. I really like his earlier short stories, but as he got older I think they got more inconsistent.
thin bob on 15 Nov 2012
In reply to ThunderCat:
totally agree with David & Wonko: sift through the gravel to find the diamonds :-).

Writing short stories was (is) a job to pay the bills, just like Dickens, they're not all masterpieces, so don't feel guilty about skimming/skipping a few.

it's only a couple of years ago that I decided not to finish books because i just wasn't enjoying them...even 'easy to read stuff' like tom clancy and even michael crichtons climate change one.
The Ivanator - on 15 Nov 2012
In reply to ThunderCat: PKD's short stories are fairly hit and miss, but the best of them are fantastic - seek out one called "The Electric Ant". Amongst his novels I would say the best 2 are "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch" and "Ubik" but if you prefer stories with a neat ending that explains everything then they may not appeal.
davidbeynon - on 15 Nov 2012
In reply to The Ivanator:

Faith of our fathers was always one of my favourites.
pebbles - on 15 Nov 2012
In reply to davidbeynon: "The dead shall live, the living die. I kill what lives; I save what has died. And I will tell you this: there are things worse than I. But you won't meet them because by then I will have killed you."

great line!
pebbles - on 15 Nov 2012
In reply to davidbeynon: Imposter, Roog and The Mold of Yancy are excellent short stories
Punter S Thompson - on 15 Nov 2012
In reply to ThunderCat:

Great to see there are lots of Dick heads on UKC

I agree with Ivanator that Ubik is a great read.

Lies Inc. is another I'd recommend.

I'm pretty sure the loose basis for Total Recall was a short story called "We can remember it for you wholesale"

He did have great titles.

rand526 on 15 Nov 2012
In reply to ThunderCat:

I quite like his tripped out later novels - Valis, A Scanner Darkly, Radio Free Albemuth. Less sci-fi and more a weird collage of different themes surrounding his life - drug breakdowns, conspiracy, a forgetful god, different realities superimposed with one another, communication with orbiting sentient computers - that sorta thing....

In terms of the more straight forward (ish) novels - Flow My Tears the Policeman Said, Ubik and Dr Bloodmoney are all good.

However, I would say that most of these novels seem to be Dick repeating the same themes over and over. Its not like they follow traditional story forms - the protagonist is usually more confused/lost by the end of the tales and there's rarely a journey that has been undertaken or experienced.

The best description i've read of his books is "a composite picture of our times". I think that the books work on this level even if they dont provide the usual narrative payoffs of traditional stories.
Rob Davies - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to ThunderCat: The collected short stories have been published in 5 volumes by Gollancz, but there are various selections also available, like the one you mention. Conventional wisdom says that the short stories are not as good as the novels, but I find that they are mostly interesting and well worth reading. Bear in mind that many of the short stories are relatively early (pre ~1960) before Dick really got into his stride in his novels - in the early/mid '50s he was writing a lot of SF stories for magazines to pay the bills while trying unsuccessfully to get mainstream novels published. In several cases the short stories contain ideas that were worked out more fully in later novels.

Ones that I particularly like include:

- Holy Quarrel
- Not by Its Cover
- Faith of Our Fathers
- Orpheus with Clay Feet
- What'll We Do with Ragland Park?
- What the Dead Men Say
- The Eyes Have It
- Second Variety
- James P Crow
- The Preserving Machine

The short stories of any SF author are likely to seem a bit hit-and-miss according to your individual taste, so you would have to wade through a lot to find the gems that appeal to you. For my taste, the best stories of Connie Willis, J G Ballard, William Tenn and Frederick Pohl are also very good.
IainFP on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to Rob Davies:
> (In reply to ThunderCat)
>
> Ones that I particularly like include:
>
> - Holy Quarrel
> - Not by Its Cover
> - Faith of Our Fathers
> - Orpheus with Clay Feet
> - What'll We Do with Ragland Park?
> - What the Dead Men Say
> - The Eyes Have It
> - Second Variety
> - James P Crow
> - The Preserving Machine

+1 for Faith of Our Fathers, Second Variety, The Preserving Machine.

I'd add; The variable man, Autofac, Last of the masters, The defenders, The gun.
In fact there's loads.
tolly_60 - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to ThunderCat:

I've only read 'The man in the high castle' and I really liked it, the whole 'Breaking the fourth wall' concept is brilliant.

In my reality I am reading a book describing an alternate reality in which a book is written describing my reality. The characters realise that their fictional book is actually reality and they're living in an alternate reality. So what if I am like one of the characters in the book and after reading the book I realise that I am living in an alternate reality and the book I've just read describes reality.....ad infinitum!

No wonder the guy lost his mind.
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Rollo - on 20 Nov 2012

>
> No wonder the guy lost his mind.

I think that might have been the druuugs!

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