Thursday, August 09, 2007

You don't know Dick

My intention in 2007 was to eliminate almost entirely the personal journal entries from Blog-Sothoth, and migrate to a book/film/music blurb model. Of course bloggers are capricious creatures, and I'm not merely capricious but restless and unfocused as well. For months here book/film/music blurbs have been few and far between, while the personal journal entries abound. Sigh.

Dick's writing is often a pastiche of the language found in hard-boiled detective fiction. Many of his characters of course are cops or druggies or thugs, so this makes a kind of sense. It's often charming to find stories set centuries in the future wherein the characters spout Bogie and Bacall talk. You don't read Dick for literary style. Clipped, terse, tough sentences. No bullshit.

You read Dick for his marvelously inventive paranoia. There are layers of time, with precognitive mutants who can see bits of the future, of folks who journey to the past and fuck things up, but not in the cliched and expected sci-fi manner. There are characters who read minds, who communicate from beyond the grave, who exist simultaneously in the past, present, and future. Nothing is ever as it seems. I recall turning on the news once while blasted on 'shrooms. I was disturbed to note that I knew in advance the sequence of stories, and even knew what commercials were coming up. That's what reading Dick is like. You feel slipped out of time or reality and into something larger and more mysterious, something beyond reckoning. A Lovecraftian void of mysterious damnable geometries and mindless deities. Kind of like the set on the Teletubbies.

What surprised me most is the humor in a few of these stories. I'd never thought of Phil Dick as a funny guy. He did, after all, go back in time and live for a few years as a persecuted Christian under Roman rule. And then his robotic head was stolen. But Dick has some fun at the expense of fellow sci-fi writers here.

There are a few duds in this collection, but overall The Minority Report is a solid volume of inventive sci-fi. Worth a look for a few mind-fucks.


casey said...

I swear to Palmer Eldritch I'm not stalking your blog; I just came off a rather massive PKD bender myself. Synchronicity or demographic typicality?

geoff said...

'Round these parts we call it the Smalltimore phenomenon. Everyone you meet knows someone you know, every book you are reading currently has recently been read by everyone you meet, and empty red cap and blue cap vials somehow appear in your mail slot every day.

I picked these stories up after reading A Scanner Darkly and then watching the movie. A mini-PKD bender, or a mini-PKD Evil Bender.

March said...

I wont be reading Dick, because someone I despise once recommended him to me, so he is forever tainted goods.

But I do tune in to read your personal journal entries, because your life is usually more interesting than please continue to post them.

I'm in baltimore this weekend...but alas scheduled for various family obligations. SOME day I will get to visit with you folks.