Tag Archives: Philip K. Dick

Dear Philip K. Dick

13 Nov

Dear Philip K. Dick,

We know you died in 1982, but we’re contacting you in the hope that the metaphysical state you’re in now might be like ‘half-life’ in your novel  Ubik – a condition that allows the departed and the living to communicate, at least for a time. Here’s hoping.

Many of your plots deal with the question of reality. We recall your short story, Faith of Our Fathers, for example, and your novels The Man in the High Castle and “Flow My Tears”, the Policeman Said. We could name others, but you know your oeuvre a lot better than we do.  We’re living in the US in the year 2016 (or at least, we were), and we think we’ve ended up in an alternate reality, cut off from our fellow citizens back in ‘normal’ (for want of a better word) reality.


Is it just us, or are you in a parallel universe, too?

The parallel universe into which we’ve  just  been thrust features an orange-hued alien who apparently has the power to bend people’s perceptions on a mass scale. This entity has just been elected president of the U.S. We know something in our neck of the multiverse is out of whack, Philip, because things just don’t add up. For example, during the campaign:

  • Said candidate (the aforementioned orange-hued one) came into the race with a complete lack of qualifications, never having held office, even at the local level.
  • He insulted women and minorities, and even encouraged violence at his political rallies.
  • Candidate exhibited insensitivity to the grieving parents of a slain soldier.
  • He bragged about his business success, yet went bankrupt several times, with a string of business failures in his past.
  • He ran a dubious operation that he called a University. Defunct university currently under litigation.
  • In videotaped footage, he bragged about his ability to grope women’s genitalia and get away with it.
  • He paid no taxes for twenty years. Further, he failed to release his tax returns as many who sought the Presidency have done.
  • Candidate said he was blameless for not paying taxes, suggesting that his opponent was responsible for the tax code. In general,  he exhibited an inability to take responsibility for anything – it was always someone else’s fault.
  • He had a server that communicated inexplicably with a bank in Russia.

The thing is, Philip, any one of these things would likely have torpedoed the candidacy of anyone else, but what the hell, he won! He WON! That’s why we think we’re in Bizarro world with an alien who has the power of mass hypnosis, because we can’t believe the American people could elect such a total loser. We desperately want to get back to the universe we came from, where facts mattered at least a little and things made at least some sense.  At this time, we’re not sure if we’re the only ones trapped in La La Land, or whether our fellow citizens are in the same boat.  If you’re in half-life, we’d appreciate any observations you may have.


Harry Calnan


We Can Change It For You Wholesale

23 Jan

The have now been two films with the title “Total Recall”, the original in 1990 and its remake in 2012. Both are supposedly based on Philip K. Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”, but the 2012 version fails to capture the spirit of the short story. (We suspect that the original 1990 version fails as well, but we didn’t see that one, so we don’t know for sure.)

We remember finding Dick’s story in a dog-eared, secondhand paperback (“Nebula Award Stories Number Two” published by Pocket Books, second printing December 1969, if you must know) and thinking that it was an interesting idea with an amusing ending. The word “cute” crossed our minds.

So what happens when Hollywood gets hold of this material? Well, they amp up the violence for one thing, they toss in a whole bunch of material that’s not in the original story, and they jettison the original story’s ending (which for us was the heart of the thing) in favor of a cliché ending.

We’re not saying we didn’t find things to like in the 2012 version (we rather enjoyed Kate Beckinsale’s over-the-top portrayal of a relentless, malevolent agent determined to take out the main character played by Colin Farrell.) However, the film is essentially one long extended chase scene from a video game; “The Super Mario Brothers Go To the Future” would have made an excellent alternative title.

A version that is faithful to Dick’s intention would be much shorter and would call for a somewhat lighter touch. It’s possible that someone will make that version someday. We’re just not holding our breath.

Philip K. Dick

They changed your story, Phil