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Favorite science fiction authors: Philip K. Dick
``What can I say about this elixir!'' [Frank Zappa, "200 Motels"]
Alas, Phil Dick has long passed on, but despite the ancient
publishing dates (some in the 60s, for heaven's sake!) his work
still has impact like no one writing today. If you like books
that really mess with your mind, try almost any
One of the interesting plot devices he uses is one I've seen
nowhere else. In some of his work, one of the characters is
taking some sort of drug that alters the subjective reality
of others! This can make it kind of hard to follow
what's ``real.'' If you are like me and hope that there is
one ``objective'' reality out there, this might be somewhat
disheartening. But, ``living in today's complex world of
the future is like having bees living in your head,'' as
the Firesign Theatre put it. And Dick's work has much of
the funhouse quality of Firesign or Burroughs or the
``Illuminatus!'' trilogy by Shea and Wilson, but it's all
written in a conventional, matter-of-fact style.
- The three stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.
After swilling down all the Heinlein juveniles and
Norstrilia and such while I was still in high school,
I thought I could handle the strangest SF had to offer.
My unformed teenage brain ran into this book like
a knot runs into a saw. What the hell
is going on in this book? I reread it thirty years
later (in early '95) and it was still pretty intense.
- The preserving machine. If a Mozart
sonata could be transmuted into a quadruped, would it
rip your lungs out? An amazing collection of short
- Flow my tears, the policeman said and
Through a scanner darkly are very noir
tours through the disorienting world of cops and
robbers and intelligence and disinformation, yet
they were written before a lot of the ugly stuff like
Cointelpro came out. Here, it's not so much ``what
is reality?'' as ``whose reality are we talking about?''
- Valis. Do you feel like an outcast
sometimes, or like you might be going crazy? Read this
book for hope and comfort on the deepest levels.
Next: Favorite science fiction authors: Frank Herbert
See also: Shipman's reading list: ``hard'' science fiction
Previous: Favorite science fiction authors: C. J. Cherryh
John W. Shipman,
Last updated: 1996/01/21 20:13:37