I have this t-shirt because I am a Philip K. Dick fan. I first learned of Philip K. Dick from Madhu, a friend of mine long, long ago in the early 90s who wondered what was wrong with me that I hadn’t read PKD. Madhu is/was Indian and brilliant and a chain smoker and I had a good time once writing a short story about him, but Madhu said it wasn’t a short story; it was a transcription of our conversation and then, “Inside that gargantuan brain is there an imagination at all?” A point I took seriously and forever and no longer make the mistake of thinking my life is art. It’s not. It’s my life. Art is something else…
So I read The Man in the High Castle and I loved it and then I read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Which is the basis for Bladerunner which, of course, I loved… I became hooked on Philip K. Dick, though after a while I began to see a certain hole in his fiction. Confessions of a Crap Artist was, to me, awful. It seemed to eschew PKD’s usual disorientation and paranoia and fall into a miasma filled abyss in which I didn’t want to spend much time. One of the most inspiring novels I’ve ever read is Galactic Pot Healer and for pure entertainment I think it’s difficult to outreach Ubik.
So yesterday I was in a local Starbucks and the bespectacled young Baristo looked at my shirt and said, “I like your shirt.”
“You’ll dream of it later,” I said, wondering if he knew what he was looking at.
“I liked that book but I haven’t read any other books by Dick.”
(“Yikes,” I thought, “watch me NOT go there.”) And I didn’t.
“What do you recommend?” he asked. “I’m geeky but not so much science fiction geeky.”
“You need to explore your geekitude potential,” I said. “Read The Man in the High Castle.” As for me, I just rebought Galactic Pot Healer to read on a flight I’ll be taking soon. Nothing like Philip K. Dick to provide good company in life’s moments of rapid transformation when everything familiar suddenly looks as if you’ve never seen it before, those moments when the rules show up never to have been those printed on the page or engraved upon your heart.