Throughout his career, science fiction author Philip K. Dick, born December 16, 1928 in Chicago, Illinois, has confronted soulless societies, authoritarian governments, and divine entities in his novels and short stories. . His work has since inspired generations of science fiction writers and provided the setting for more than a dozen television and film adaptations. Learn about the fascinating mind behind blade runner, Minority reportand so many other stars of the genre.
Dick started reading science fiction when he was around 12, but it wasn’t something he deliberately set out to do: when he went to a store to get the latest copy of popular science, he found the shelf empty. A journal titled Moving sci-fi caught his eye, and he thought “Well, shit, the title is similar”, and decided to take it. From there, he was hooked.
He said the writing, on reflection, was terrible, but he was able to suspend his disbelief and enjoy the offbeat stories. Dick began reading every science fiction writer he could and followed the genre throughout his life. In a 1974 interview, he said his favorite writers at the time were John Sladek, Chip Delaney, and Ursula LeGuin.
Dick claimed on numerous occasions that a disembodied voice would arise from time to time to guide him through crucial moments in his life. He called her Ruah, i.e. the spirit of God, and he started talking to her in high school when he was stuck on a physics exam, which he says he passed with the help of voice. The voice would then reappear for short intervals and offer only brief advice before disappearing again. “I have to be very receptive to hear it. It looks like it’s coming from a million miles,” Dick once said.
During one such “conversation” (which was accompanied by a blinding pink light), the author claimed the voice alerted him that his son was at risk of dying from an undiagnosed right inguinal hernia. . Although Dick’s story differs from his wife’s, they eventually brought the baby to a specialist, where he was officially diagnosed and eventually operated on to save his life.
Many details surrounding the voice eventually made it into the book SUITCASE , where a fictionalized version of Dick (named Horselover Fat) is guided by a similar omniscient pink light. He later said the voice in his head went completely silent after writing divine interventionthe follow-up of SUITCASE.
Despite being one of the most acclaimed science fiction writers of all time, Dick didn’t always make a lot of money from his work. In a 1976 interview, he said his first novel, 1955’s Solar lottery, only earned him about $1,500 (about $7,705 today) in the first 20 years after release – there was an initial payout of $1,000 followed by a payout of $500 10 years later for a reprint. Few years later solar lottery, his first hardcover novel, 1959 Out of seal timeearned him only $750 (about $7,500 today).
The Man in the High Castle shows a terrifying alternate reality in which Nazi Germany and Japan prevailed in World War II and divided the world between them. While researching the novel, Dick spent seven years sifting through documents to determine what choices the Nazis could have made to realistically win the war. This included reading real Gestapo diaries to get inside the Nazi regime’s head.
Although the material gave him the insight needed to craft a more believable book, the experience was too off-putting for Dick to consider writing a sequel. “I started several times to write a sequel and I wanted [have had] go back and read about the Nazis again,” Dick said in an interview. “And I’d just like to eliminate every single one of them – that’s what I’d like to do. And so I could never do a sequel.”
Blade Runner—based on the novel Do androids dream of electric sheep?—is one of Philip K. Dick’s best-known adaptations, but the author was not at all enamored with the original screenplay written by Hampton Fancher.
“They had cleaned my book of all subtleties and meaning […] It had become a fight between androids and a bounty hunter,” Dick said in his last interview. But the studio quickly brought in David Peoples to revise the script, which Dick described as “simply sensational”.
However blade runner is an adaptation of Dick’s novel, it is also quite far from the original text. To make things more consistent for audiences, the movie studio offered Dick a handsome sum to write a faithful on-screen adaptation of the blade runner script that would land on the shelves for the movie’s release, but there was a catch.
“The amount of money involved would have been very large, and the movie people offered to cut us the merchandising rights. But they demanded a removal of the original novel, Do androids dream of electric sheep?, in favor of commercialized novelization based on the script,” Dick said. “My agency calculated that I would, conservatively, rack up $400,000 if I did the novelization. On the other hand, if we chose to republish the original novel, I would earn about $12,500.”
Instead, Dick and his agency “sticked to our guns” and reissued the original book, despite threats from the studio that they would forbid them to mention it. blade runner on the cover.
Although Philip K. Dick’s work has spawned many television shows and movies—Minority report, A dark scannerand Total recall (twice!), to name a few – only one was published during the author’s lifetime. He came in an episode of the 1962 British television series out of this world, which loosely adapted the author’s 1953 short story “Imposter”. Sadly, all but one of the show’s episodes (“Little Lost Robot”) were deleted after it aired, so there’s no way to watch it now.
Tail has been living for most of blade runner, but died on March 2, 1982, just months before the film was released. Fortunately, he saw some special effects shots of the film during its production and was impressed with what the team came up with, saying effects wizard Douglas Trumbull captured his version of futuristic Los Angeles perfectly.
His views on the film had become more positive by the end of his life, and in his last interview he even expressed his excitement about attending its premiere, saying, “I heard that the movie was going to have an old-fashioned gala premiere. That means I have to buy – or rent – a black tuxedo, which I’m not looking forward to. Its not my style. I’m happier in a T-shirt.
In 2005, Hanson Robotics debuted a Dick-inspired android at Wired NextFest. The project was the brainchild of David Hanson and was as faithful to the authentic article as a mid-2000s android could get. He wore clothes donated by Dick’s children, had a hauntingly realistic synthetic face, and spoke in the author’s real voice. To get the right speaking piece, thousands of pages of Dick’s diary entries, interviews and books were loaded into the robot’s software. This allowed people to ask the android a question and get an answer in Dick’s voice in return. If you asked a question that was not uploaded to the android, there was a built-in language decryption system that would attempt to answer it.
In a bizarre twist, Dick’s robot head was lost after Hanson forgot it in a gym bag while changing planes to San Francisco. A new one was built in 2011 for $50,000 and features improved facial expressions and vision technology.