American science fiction novelist, short story writer and essayist Philip K Dick was born December 16, 1928. Most, but not all, of his published work is in the science fiction genre. In his novels Dick explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes his books were dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments, and altered states. In his later works Dick’s thematic focus strongly reflected his personal interest in metaphysics and theology. He often drew upon his own life experiences in addressing the nature of drug abuse, paranoia, schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences in novels such as A Scanner Darkly and VALIS.
His novel The Man in the High Castle postulates what the world would have been like had Nazi Germany and Japan won World War II and features two gentlemen named Frank Frink and Robert Childan who learn of a banned book and decide to seek out it’s mysterious author. This novel bridged the genres of alternate history and science fiction, earning Dick a Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1963 . His next novel Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, is about a celebrity who awakens in a parallel universe where he is unknown. This won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel in 1975.
Philip K.Dick also wrote the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep which was adapted into the film Blade Runner. This takes place in a post apocalyptic dystopian Future San Francisco where Earth’s life has been greatly damaged by nuclear global war. Most animal species are endangered or extinct from extreme radiation poisoning. So the United Nations encourages mass emigrations to off-world colonies to preserve humanity’s genetic integrity. This comes with the incentive of free personal androids: robot servants identical to humans. On Earth, owning real live animals has become a fashionable status symbol, because of mass extinctions and the accompanying cultural push for greater empathy, which has coincidentally motivated a new technology-based religion called Mercerism. Mercerism uses “empathy boxes” to link users simultaneously to a virtual reality of collective suffering, centered on a martyr-like character, Wilbur Mercer, who eternally climbs up a hill while being hit with crashing stones.
The novel features a Detective named Rick Deckard who finds himself drawn into a dangerous world when he is tasked with “retiring” (i.e. killing) six escaped Nexus-6 model androids, that went rogue after their creation by the Rosen Association and fled Mars for Earth. So Deckard visits the Rosen headquarters in Seattle for more answers and meets Rachael Rosen. Then he encounters a Soviet police contact who turns out to be one of the Nexus-6 renegades in disguise, then flies off to retire his next target: an opera singer android. However, he is suddenly arrested and detained by a police officer and Deckard himself is accused of being an android. He then meets Phil Resch, the station’s resident bounty hunter and they find the opera singer replicant. Meanwhile One of the Nexus-6 android fugitives Pris Stratton, moves into an apartment building whose only other inhabitant is John R. Isidore, a lonely radioactively damaged, intellectually below-average human Who attempts to befriend her. Pris meets up with Roy and Irmgard Batty, the final two rogue androids, and they then plan thier escape.
In addition to forty four published novels, Dick wrote around one hundred and twenty one short stories, most of which appeared in science fiction magazines during his lifetime. In 2005, Time magazine named Ubik one of the one hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923. In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series. Sadly he passed away on March 2, 1982, but he has left a rich legacy of Science Fiction novels, Many of which have been adapted into a number of popular films including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, and The Adjustment Bureau. A television series called Electric Dreams has also been made featuring many of his science fiction short stories. His science fiction novel The Man in the the High Castle has also been adapted for television by Amazon Prime.