Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Philip K. Dick in New Yorker


New Yorker article on Philip K. Dick, "Blows Against the Empire" by Adam Gopnik:

Of all American writers, none have got the genre-hack-to-hidden-genius treatment quite so fully as Philip K. Dick, the California-raised and based science-fiction writer who, beginning in the nineteen-fifties, wrote thirty-six speed-fuelled novels, went crazy in the early seventies, and died in 1982, only fifty-three. His reputation has risen through the two parallel operations that genre writers get when they get big. First, he has become a prime inspiration for the movies, becoming for contemporary science-fiction and fantasy movies what Raymond Chandler was for film noir: at least eight feature films, including “Total Recall,” “Minority Report,” “A Scanner Darkly,” and, most memorably, Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner,” have been adapted from Dick’s books, and even more—from Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil” to the “Matrix” series—owe a defining debt to his mixture of mordant comedy and wild metaphysics.


...While he served a fairly long apprenticeship—a series of almost unreadable realist working-class novels that he wrote in the fifties are now back in print—and struggled to make money, from the time “The Man in the High Castle” won a Hugo Award, in 1963, he was famous, admired, and read. He wasn’t reviewed on the front page of the Times Book Review, but so what? Reading his life—either in the reflective French version, by Emmanuel Carrère, or in the thorough and intelligent American one, by Lawrence Sutin—one has a sense not of a man of thwarted ambition but, rather, of a man burning up with ideas and observations who found in a pop form the perfect vehicle for expressing them.

Dick’s allegiance was not to literature but to writing and to the possibilities of writing as a form of protest and instant social satire.


It's several online pages. Check it out.

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