American Writers (One Hundred Pages at a Time)

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Future Plans

The Philip K. Dick Book Club will be on hiatus for a while, but here are my future plans. Let me know if you have any additional ideas.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 150: When the Rough Draft is Better than the Final Product: Radio Free Albemuth

In this "finale" of the Philip K. Dick Book Club, I look at RADIO FREE ALBEMUTH. This novel is far superior to the re-write (VALIS). I love the look at a slowly creeping dystopia and the necessity of futile but inevitably victorious resistance.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 149: The Transmigration of Timothy Archer

The best of Philip K. Dick's later novels is THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER. It explores the religious culture of California during Dick's own life. We get some Bishop Pike, some John Allegro and the Dead Sea Scrolls, and some Alan Watts.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 148: God Help Me!: The Divine Invasion

We have come all this way in order to read Philip K. Dick's most disappointing book. It is an opaque novel that betrays much of what Dick established in his earlier career on what it means to be human and how to respond to power. But share your thoughts.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 147: VALIS

Philip K. Dick's "VALIS Trilogy" begins with a little novel called VALIS. A fan favorite, but not one I care for very much. Let me know what you think.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 145: I Will Just Never Understand You (Rautavaara’s Case)

"Rautavaara's Case" by Philip K. Dick is one of his last stories. It uses an interstellar dispute over a man's remains to explore the limits of understanding between cultures and what a truly religious system could look like. This story also asks some nice bio-medical ethics questions.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 144: Memories if Nothing Else (I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon)

In "I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon" (published in PLAYBOY) Philip K. Dick wrote a nice story about change, how we do not trust memories, and how memories may fill in for what we have lost. One of his last stories.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 142: The Exit Door Leads In

What did Philip K. Dick think of Watergate and state secrets and the military-industrial complex? I think we know, but if you have any doubt read "The Exit Door Leads In" which was published in ROLLING STONES COLLEGE PAPERS. It is a very nice story Dick published in 1979

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 141: The Day Mr. Computer Fell Out of Its Tree

Now we get to some of the strange late Philip K. Dick stories. The first of these is "The Day Mr. Computer Fell Out of Its Tree", in which Dick takes on once again the dangers of automation. One of his first themes was also one of his last.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 140.5: The Cycle of Death (A Scanner Darkly, Part 5)

In the finale of my review of A SCANNER DARKLY by Philip K. Dick we see the ultimate fate of Bob Arctor and his friends, as well as possibly the fate of all of us in the eternal struggle between the individual and the institution. And this conclusion is set in Dick's greatest depiction of an asylum.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 140.4: This Is Your Brain on Death (A Scanner Darkly Part 4)

Bob Arctor learns that working undercover is not all it is cracked up to be as he hits rock bottom, loses his sense of identity, and ends up being put through the consuming machine of the state. All of this and more in part 4 (of 5) of my review of Philip K. Dick's A SCANNER DARKLY.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 140.3: I’ll Be Watching You….I Mean Me (A Scanner Darkly Part 3)

In part 3 of my review of Philip K. Dick's A SCANNER DARKLY we follow Bob Arctor as he descends into the ultimate of paranoia and addiction by investigating himself. Is this is metaphor for the ultimate fate of the surveillance state? Of course.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 140.2: Paranoia and the Police State (A Scanner Darkly, Part 2)

As we get deeper into Philip K. Dick's A SCANNER DARKLY we see just how deeply paranoia runs in a world governed by the police state. But just how much of the paranoia is justified? And how paranoid is the state compared to the people it tries to control?

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 140.1: California Dreaming of Death (A Scanner Darkly, Part 1)

The first of five episodes covering Philip K. Dick's A SCANNER DARKLY. This novel has some of his most bleak and powerful images of life in late capitalist California and his prescience on failed war on drugs is astounding. One of his best novels.

Philip K. Dick Club: Episode 139: Science Fiction Writer or an Oracle? (The Eye of the Sibyl)

In the 1975 short story (unpublished in his life) "The Eye of the Sibyl", Philip K. Dick writes about himself and his fiction and the Roman oracle. A good preview of the type of thinking that dominated the later part of his life.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 138.2: A Pilgrimage at the End of Days (Deus Irae, Part 2)

I complete my look at the odd novel DEUS IRAE by Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny in this episode. The core idea of a religious pilgrimage in a shattered world is pretty interesting, if not very well executed here. The secret identity subplot does create some tension toward the end.

Philip K Dick Book Club: Episode 138.1: Post-Apocalyptic Gnostics (Deus Irae, Part 1)

In this episode, I take on the first half of DEUS IRAE by Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelanzy. It is an odd novel that has a host of narrative and tone issues, but as with all of Dick's novels is always interesting. There are some important previews of the VALIS trilogy themes in this book.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 137.4: Better a Crap Artist Conspiracy Theorist than Married (Confessions of a Crap Artist, Part 4)

Is is better to be married or a "crap artist" a bit off his rocker? Dick tries to answer this question in his splendid mainstream novel CONFESSIONS OF A CRAP ARTIST. In this episode I finish off my analysis of this book.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 137.3: The Family is Dead, Long Live the Family (Confessions of a Crap Artist, Part 3)

In part 3 of my review of CONFESSIONS OF A CRAP ARTIST, we watch was one family collapses and another emerges in its wake. The horror of the eternal return of married life is the theme of this splendid novel. 

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 137.2: Not a Crappy Novel: Confessions of a Crap Artist (2)

This novel (CONFESSIONS OF A CRAP ARTIST) is so good. Prove me wrong. Philip K. Dick is at his best when he is writing about marriage and the strangers who sleep next to us.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 136: Abortion and Malthus (The Pre-Persons)

Philip K. Dick has been writing obliquely about Malthus since some of his earliest stories. In the "Pre-Persons" Dick takes on these issues again, and along the way angered the feminists. Is this story just his response to Roe v. Wade or does it have a more significant place in his argument against gerontocracy?

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 135: The Ennui of Space Travel (A Little Something For Us Tempunauts)

In this wonderful little story ("A Little Something for Us Tempunauts") Philip K. Dick explores the tedious repeatability of space exploration, both for us and for the explorers. Maybe we can do better if we had a real frontier?

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 134: Gated Communities and Police States (Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said)

In this lengthy episode, I take a detailed look at FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID by Philip K. Dick. It presents a detailed police state, examines class dynamics in authoritarian societies, and has some of Dick's most touching looks at relationships and the futility of liquid relationships.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 133.4: We Are All Mentally Ill (We Can Build You, Part 4)

In the conclusion of WE CAN BUILD YOU by Philip K. Dick, we find ourselves in a very different novel. After a mental breakdown Louis Rosen is institutionalized and we see one of Dick's best descriptions of the asylum.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 133.3: An Android Company Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand (We Can Build You, Part 3)

Well, they got an Abe Lincoln bot and all was going well, but they lost their designer and engineer. How can our little startup survive against the big corporations without its greatest minds? Find out in part 3 of my review of WE CAN BUILD YOU.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 133.2: What To Do With Civil War Bots? (We Can Build You, Part 2)

So they built a Edwin Stanton android, but what can they do with it. And what happens when you fall for your crazy underage co-worker? Find out in part 2 of my review of WE CAN BUILD YOU, by Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 133.1: Just Your Small Town Android Dealer (We Can Build You, Part 1)

In this episode I begin my look at WE CAN BUILD YOU. This novel by Philip K. Dick was written in the early 1960s and feels like one of his conventional novels, but it has a sci-fi twist by giving us a small android building business.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 132: Yeah. Marriage Still Sucks (Cadbury, The Beaver Who Lacked)

Back to a Philip K. Dick short story with the posthumously published "Cadbury, the Beaver Who Lacked". Is it his final word on marriage? Not quite, but it seems to serve as such.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 131.4: Equality or the End of Human Progress? (Our Friends from Frolix 8, Part 4)

In the final part of my review of OUR FRIENDS FROM FROLIX 8 we see the brutal way that equality can be restored in a world where the elite are superior post-humans.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 131.3: Change from Within or From Without (Our Friends from Frolix 8, Part 3)

In part 3 of my review of "Our Friends from Frolix 8" we see the nature of the friendship offered by aliens and need to wonder what is the best path to institutional change: reform from within, movements from the outside, or help from foreign powers.

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App