Friday, July 16, 2021

Three Introductions to Three Novels by Philip K. Dick



Look what came in the mail! Centipede Press's boxed hardcover set of Philip K. Dick's first three novels, The Cosmic Puppets, Dr. Futurity, and Vulcan's Hammer.

By now, you're not surprised to learn that I wrote introductions to all three volumes. In fact, I wrote three different introductions, each one dealing with a different aspect of Dick's life and career. Alas, I have to inform you that by the time the books reached me, they had all sold out. 

I don't think anybody here is particularly surprised about that. But if you can't buy these particular books, you can always go to their website and lust after their other creations. Centipede makes beautiful books.

To find them, click here.

Here’s the opening of the introduction to Dr. Futurity, in which I make the most outrageous statement possible about Philip K. Dick—that he was sane.


Exactly who—and what—was Philip K. Dick?

If there is one thing that all the world knows about him, it’s that he was as loopy as a box of eels. But, like so much that all the world knows, this is a myth.

I have talked with editors who worked closely with him and they tell me that Phil Dick was unfailingly professional in his dealings with them. Testimony of his friends presents him as a man who could be by turns charming or maddeningly difficult but was by no means insane. He did, in the Sixties, demonstrate erratic behavior and signs of paranoia. But that was at a time when he was taking full advantage of the many drugs, amphetamines emphatically included, available to a respectable citizen with a cooperative doctor. Stimulant psychosis is a serious matter. But it is not the same as madness.

The only authoritative evidence we have of Dick’s mental instability comes from PKD himself, and a comparison of conflicting statements from his many interviews reveals that he was, at the very least, an unreliable source of autobiographical facts.

That said, he was by no means an ordinary guy.

It was, I have to admit, lots of fun watching PKD move from short fiction to novels, learning and growing with each new volume.  He was, as somebody once said, by no means an ordinary guy.




Jeff Baker said...

I don't think Dick could have written what he did if he was "loopy as a box of eels."

Michael Swanwick said...

Neither do I.