If you’ve not read him then you’ve at least seen a film adapted from one of his stories. From classics of cinema like Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) to big budget summer blockbusters like Minority Report and schlocky B-movies like Screamers (Second Variety), there’s shelf-loads of sci fi films based on the work of Philip K Dick.
Dick is a giant of the genre, sitting alongside the Clarkes and the Asimovs (the creators of sci-fi horror video game Dead Space named their central character Isaac Clarke in homage – I think Isaac K Clarke would have been more suitable) and his influence not just on sci-fi but on popular culture is immeasurable.
He fuses sci-fi and noir to create compelling speculative futures where even the most outlandish cutting-edge technology can’t fix the basic flaws of being human. Not to say that his stories don’t contain the ‘Big Ideas’ famous for the genre – look to the Future Crimes department of Minority Report or the ability to fabricate real memories in We Can Remember It.
In my short story, On Ice, in my latest book, Fresh Blood Orange, we see a future Glasgow where criminals are punished by punitive stasis and drugs like heroin are legally bought from vending machines. Violence, drugs, surgery, Demolition Man… the kind of story that wouldn’t exist without Philip K Dick.
Buy Fresh Blood Orange here
The light hurt, like needles in her eyes. She closed them but it pierced her eyelids turning the sterile white beam into a blinding shroud of sparkling red. She tried to lift a hand to cover her face but nothing happened. The signals shot out of her brain and didn’t return. Where was the rest of her? She could hear rushing water, some kind of white noise, and someone moaning.
“You’re okay, Layla. Try to relax.”
The voice belonged to nobody. It floated somewhere out beyond the light. Somebody hit the dimmer switch. The waves receded. She was left floating in darkness again.
The next time her eyes opened they nipped and stung but Layla knew she wasn’t blind. It was the room that was dark. This time she could feel the weight of her body somewhere below her chin, a tangle of nerve ends and wasted muscle crackling weakly like old Christmas tree lights. Still nothing moved.
The third time she awoke a person was looking down at her. Was it a man or a woman? “Welcome back to life, Layla,” the person said. The voice came from under water.