Philip K. Dick

(1928-1982), American

Philip K. Dick was an American science fiction writer who is considered to be one of the most influential and innovative authors of the 20th century. He is best known for his novels, short stories, and essays, which often explore themes of reality, identity, and the nature of existence.

Throughout his career, Dick wrote 44 novels and over 120 short stories, making him one of the most prolific writers of his time. Among his impressive body of work, some of his best books stand out as timeless classics.

Life Facts

  • Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and grew up in the San Francisco area of California.
  • He suffered from a variety of health problems throughout his life, including bouts of depression and what he believed to be supernatural experiences.
  • Dick was married five times and had three children.
  • He struggled financially for much of his life and frequently had to rely on public assistance programs to make ends meet.
  • Dick died in 1982 at the age of 53 from a stroke, just a few months before the release of the film adaptation of his novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?‘ (which was retitled “Blade Runner” for the film).

Interesting Facts

  • Dick’s writing has had a significant impact on popular culture, with many of his works being adapted into films, TV shows, and video games.
  • He was a prolific writer, producing dozens of novels and hundreds of short stories over the course of his career.
  • Dick was a frequent user of amphetamines, which he believed helped him to write more quickly and prolifically.
  • He had a deep interest in theology and philosophy, and his writing often explores these topics in creative and imaginative ways.
  • Dick was known for his paranoid and often surreal storytelling style, which has influenced a generation of science fiction and fantasy writers.

Famous Books by Philip K. Dick

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) – This is the book that inspired the movie “Blade Runner.” It’s set in a post-apocalyptic future where people who own androids are considered to be more successful and superior to those who don’t. The story follows a bounty hunter named Rick Deckard, who is tasked with retiring rogue androids.

Ubik (1969) – This novel is often regarded as one of Dick’s best works. It’s a mind-bending science fiction story about a group of people who are trapped in a reality-bending scenario where they can’t tell what’s real and what’s not.

The Man in the High Castle (1962) – This novel explores an alternate history where the Axis powers won World War II, and Japan, and Germany divided the United States between them. The book is set in 1962 and follows a group of characters as they navigate this alternate world.

A Scanner Darkly (1977) – This semi-autobiographical novel deals with Dick’s own experiences with drug addiction. It’s set in a dystopian future where the government is monitoring everyone’s every move. The story follows an undercover narcotics agent named Bob Arctor as he investigates a dangerous new drug called Substance D.

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974) – This novel is about America after the Second American Civil War. Specifically, it follows Jason Taverner, who wakes up and realizes that no one remembers who he is

Early Life

Philip Kindred Dick was born on December 16, 1928, in Chicago, Illinois. He was the son of Dorothy and Joseph Edgar Dick, who worked as a federal employee. Philip had a difficult childhood, as his father was an alcoholic and often abusive towards his family. The family moved to California in 1938, where Philip attended Berkeley High School.
After graduating from high school in 1947, Philip attended the University of California, Berkeley, but received an honorable dismissal one year later. He dropped out because of his anxiety issues.

Literary Career

Philip K. Dick began writing professionally in the 1950s, and his early stories were published in various science fiction magazines. His first novel, ‘Solar Lottery,’ was published in 1955, and he went on to write over 40 novels and over 100 short stories throughout his career.
Dick’s work often explored philosophical and psychological themes, including the nature of reality, identity, and the human condition. He was particularly interested in exploring the relationship between humans and machines, and many of his works feature androids or other artificial beings.
Some of Dick’s most famous works include ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?‘ (1968), which was later adapted into the film “Blade Runner,” ‘The Man in the High Castle‘ (1962), ‘Ubik‘ (1969), and ‘A Scanner Darkly‘ (1977). His writing has had a significant impact on the science fiction genre, and his ideas have influenced numerous other writers and filmmakers.

Personal Life and Death

Philip K. Dick had a difficult personal life, and he struggled with mental illness throughout his career. He had a number of marriages and relationships and was known to abuse drugs and alcohol. He also suffered from paranoid delusions, which he believed were a result of being contacted by divine or extraterrestrial entities.

Despite his struggles, Dick continued to write prolifically throughout his life. He passed away on March 2, 1982, at the age of 53, due to heart failure. His legacy continues to be felt in the science fiction community, and his works remain popular among fans of the genre.

Literature by Philip K. Dick

Explore literature by Philip K. Dick below, created by the team at Book Analysis.