Philip Kindred Dick was an American novelist, short story writer and essayist whose published work is almost entirely in the science fiction genre. Dick explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments and altered states.
In his later works Dick’s thematic focus strongly reflected his personal interest in metaphysics and theology. He often drew upon his own life experiences in addressing the nature of drug abuse, paranoia and schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences in novels such as A Scanner Darkly and VALIS.
“I want to write about people I love, and put them into a fictional world spun out of my own mind, not the world we actually have, because the world we actually have does not meet my standards,” Dick wrote of these stories. Dick referred to himself as a “fictionalizing philosopher.”
After reading the works of Plato and pondering the possibilities of metaphysical realms, Dick came to the final conclusion that, in a certain sense, the world is not entirely real and there is no way to confirm whether or not it is truly there. This question from his early studies persisted as a theme in many of his novels. Dick dropped out, according to his third wife Anne in her memoir, because of his ongoing anxiety problems. Anne states that he did not like the mandatory ROTC training.
In addition to 44 published novels, Dick wrote approximately 121 short stories, most of which appeared in science fiction magazines during his lifetime. Although Dick spent most of his career as a writer in near-poverty, ten of his stories have been adapted into popular films since his death, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, and The Adjustment Bureau.