Friday, August 20, 2010

First-ever Philip K. Dick Festival

JUST a few days ago in Colorado, scholars, fans and various oddballs gathered in honor of Philip K. Dick, the eccentric visionary who is a major presence on The Misread City. Your humble blogger was not able to attend, but David Gill, the San Francisco-based savant behind the Total Dick-Head blog chronicled the gathering -- the first of its kind in the US -- for groovy sci-fi/futurism site i09.

Gill sets up a detailed report of the festival this way:

Phil Dick's science fiction often features characters alienated by the technology that surrounds them, overwhelmed by the immense absurdity of the Universe as well as the drudgery of their daily lives, but who are ultimately saved through genuine human connection. As our world grows to look more and more like a PKD novel, the adjective Dickian has come to describe the way reality seems frayed at the edges, too strained with irony and weird synchronicities to maintain its apparent stability for long.

Here is Gill's entire piece. His lecture on Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? can be found here.

Also, Dick's old friend, science-fiction writer and UC Irvine physics prof Gregory Benford, gave a funny, revealing speech about the author in the '60s and '70s at a small but intriguing panel at Irvine recently. I've linked here to the text, which includes moments like this:

As success came to him, he was generous to the poor. He told me in 1981 that he had made $180,000 that year and gave most of it to charities. Even though he lived pretty close to the street himself, he knew what it was like to be down, and tried to help people. The one person who would not have believed in the prominence of Philip Dick in our culture now was Philip Dick himself.

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