Author of more than forty novels and myriad short stories over a three-decade literary career, Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) single-handedly reshaped twentieth-century science fiction. His influence has only increased since his death with the release of numerous feature films based on his work, including Blade Runner (based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Total Recall (based on "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale"), Minority Report (based on "The Minority Report"), and Next (based on "The Golden Man"). In Understanding Philip K. Dick, Eric Carl Link introduces readers to the life, career, and work of this groundbreaking, prolific, and immeasurably influential force in American literature, media culture, and contemporary science fiction.
Dick was at times a postmodernist, a mainstream writer, a pulp fiction writer, and often all three simultaneously, but as Link illustrates, he was more than anything else a novelist of ideas. From this vantage point, Link surveys Dick's own tragicomic biography, his craft and career, and the recurrent ideas and themes that give shape and significance to his fiction. Link addresses Dick's efforts to break into the mainstream in the 1950s, his return to science fiction in the 1960s, and his move toward more theologically oriented work in his final two decades. Link finds across Dick's writing career an intellectual curiosity that transformed his science fiction novels from bizarre pulp extravaganzas into philosophically challenging explorations of the very nature of reality, and it is this depth of vision that continues to garner new audiences and fresh approaches to Dick's genre-defining tales.
Eric Carl Link is a professor of American literature at the University of Memphis, the author of The Vast and Terrible Drama: American Literary Naturalism in the Late Nineteenth Century, and the coauthor of Neutral Ground: New Traditionalism and the American Romance Controversy.