Philip K. Dick (1928-82) was an American science fiction writer. He was born in Chicago. He had a profound influence on both science fiction and theories of postmodernism. Beginning with magazine short stories in 1952, Dick created a body of work that spanned the spectrum of science fiction, from disposable trash to parodic art. Dick mainly depicted the psychological struggles of characters trapped in environments that are actually illusions.
He published his first novel, Solar Lottery, in 1955. Then his novel Time out of Joint (1959) explores consensus reality (the thought that reality is what exists, or what we can by consensus agree seems to exist), a question which troubled Dick through the alternate history The Man in the High Castle(1962) and the Gnostic Ubik (1969) which employs extensive psychic telepathy to Valis (1981), an autobiographical novel. We Can Build You (1969), The Simulacra (1964), and especially Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) articulate ideas about authenticity later developed by the philosopher Jean Baudrillard.
Some of Dick’s story collections were A Handful of Darkness (1955), The Variable Man and Other Stories (1957), The Preserving Machine (1969), and I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon (published posthumously, 1985).
Much of his science fiction, and the non-science fiction unpublished in his lifetime, is also a sympathetic depiction of ordinary small-town people. Dick’s own marital, health, and psychological problems shaped his work. He died in 1982 of a massive stroke.
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