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YMMV / Philip K. Dick

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  • Adaptation Displacement: Chances are people watch most of the movies based on his books without knowing the source material.
    • Somewhat Averted with Androids, which in sci-fi literature circles is one of the most famous examples of the genre out there. Good luck finding someone who's read all the short stories that got adapted, though.
  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: Some of his works can be hard to figure out the real meaning of, with Androids being the most notable example.
  • Anvilicious: Usually averted except in the case of governmental exploitation and drug rehab centres, which tend to be a rather painful subject. Also he seems to have a few issues with abortions, as the short story concerning "Pre-persons" makes fairly clear.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: In VALIS, Everyone is really Jesus In Purgatory.
    • In the sequel to VALIS, The Divine Intervention it goes one step further and actually has the physical manifestation of Jesus in purgatory. Of course, he has brain damage...
    • Odds are, in a PKD book, that you can interpret the point of view of every protagonist that isn't an outright Jerkass to come to this conclusion. Take Ubik for example. Or Flow My Tears, or Do Androids Dream or Galactic Pot Healer...
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: In "The Hanging Stranger" if someone sees a dead body lying in plain sight and no one else around them is reacting to it, they might be better off keeping their mouth shut and moving on. It serves better as practical advice to take heed of your surroundings and not let on that you notice anything different if you suspect you are in danger. This option would not conflict with Values Dissonance in this case, as the stranger is already dead and beyond help.
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  • Harsher in Hindsight: Clans of the Alphane Moon has the "Heebs", mentally inferior humans who aren't fit to do anything more than sweep the floors. note 
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The protagonist of his 1960 novel Dr. Futurity is Dr. Jim Parsons.
    • Dick wrote a book in 1963 with a working title of A Terran Odyssey. It was eventually published with the name Dr. Bloodmoney, or: How We Got Along After the Bomb, as a reference to the Stanley Kubrick movie Dr. Strangelove. Kubrick's next project, three years after the release of Dr. Bloodmoney, would be 2001: A SPACE Odyssey.
  • Narm: For all Dick's strengths as a storyteller, his actual prose tended to be workmanlike rather than brilliant (as he was pumping out sixty pages a day while flying high on amphetamines just to scrape a meager living together), and there are times when you can see him relying on the same turns of phrase over and over again.
    • This lessened somewhat in his later career, though, or at least it can vary somewhat depending upon the novel. In The Man in the High Castle, his prose still comes off as somewhat awkward, but it turns out to be entirely deliberate; characters' diction is carefully crafted and often provides major insights into their worldviews. However, he seems to have spent much longer writing this book than most of his other '60s novels. He seems to have been able to devote more time to composing his later works, starting around Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (mostly written in 1970, published in 1974) and A Scanner Darkly (written in 1973, published in 1977), and this is reflected in their prose.
  • Paranoia Fuel: And lots of it.
    • Lives on it. If you're off your meds and you read one of PKD's stories be ready to barricade yourself in an air-tight room with a shot-gun and a bottle of painkillers.
    • There's one where an unmanned drone assassinates a man, plants perfect, undeniable evidence of a scapegoat, and disguises itself as a working television as part of a corporate usurpation. Sleep tight.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Pretty much every philosophically literate sci-fi writer nowadays owes it to Dick, and even deep thinkers outside the genre greatly admire what he did, but his prose generally hasn't aged as well as his ideas. He didn't have the time nor the resources to refine his style over multiple drafts, so by today's standards Dick's writing can come off as too blunt and unpolished for its own good.
  • Values Dissonance: Many of his intended messages, like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?'s anti-A.I. sentiments or Pre-persons presentation of abortion, haven't been received very well and even outrightly inverted in adaptations.
    • Though the interpretation of Androids is susceptible to Alternate Aesop Interpretation. It's not entirely clear which message Dick intended, but Batty's response to Isidore's freakout over the dead spider suggests that human society in the novel is wrong and that androids are capable of empathy.
  • Values Resonance: Many of Dick's stories discuss issues which are still relevant today, at a time when science fiction was considered childish, and quite of a few of his messages from 40+ years ago still ring true in the modern age.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: He wrote entire books that resemble extended, fictional meditations on Judeo-Christian and Gnostic semiotics. The Divine Invasion comes to mind especially.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: He was known for finishing many of his novels in maybe three weeks, a feat he usually achieved by taking amphetamines and writing non-stop. A Scanner Darkly, however, which is about drug addicts, was written after he became sober, and as a result it's a good deal less rushed and more moving than some of his other works.
    • Fictional drugs play significant roles in several other stories, such as Can-D (which transfers your mind into a Barbie-like doll named Perky Pat) and Chew-Z (an afterlife-simulating hallucinogen that allows the title character to control your perception) from The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.


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