Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick was an American science fiction writer born on December 16, 1928, in Chicago, Illinois. He is one of the most celebrated and influential authors in the genre, best known for his philosophical and often mind-bending narratives that grapple with themes like reality, identity, authoritarianism, and human consciousness. Dick passed away on March 2, 1982, but his work continues to have a lasting impact on both literature and popular culture.

Philip K. Dick attended Berkeley High School in Berkeley, California. He briefly attended the University of California, Berkeley, but dropped out due to financial difficulties and personal issues. Despite his limited formal education, Dick was a voracious reader and self-educator, drawing on a wide range of sources from classical literature to philosophy to inform his work.

Before gaining recognition as a writer, Dick worked a variety of jobs, including a stint in a record store and as a radio repairman. He started publishing stories in science fiction magazines in the early 1950s, which became his primary source of income for much of his life.

Philip K. Dick had a complicated relationship with the topics of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) and Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs). In the early ’70s, particularly around February and March 1974, he experienced a series of mystical or altered-state experiences that he sometimes referred to as “2-3-74.” These experiences included visions and what he described as a sort of “download” of information. However, it’s important to clarify that Dick did not specifically claim these phenomena were related to UAP or UFOs but more to a metaphysical or spiritual realm.

  1. Pink Light Experience: One of Dick’s mystical experiences involved being struck by a “pink light” that transmitted information to him. He wrote extensively about these experiences in his “Exegesis,” a journal that remained unpublished during his lifetime but was later edited and released. (Source: “The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick”)
  2. Prescient Vision: Dick claimed that during his altered states in 1974, he received information that his son had a life-threatening condition, which was later confirmed and treated. (Source: “Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick” by Lawrence Sutin)
  3. VALIS Trilogy: Although Dick wrote about many altered states and realities, he specifically turned his 1974 experiences into a semi-autobiographical series known as the VALIS Trilogy. (Source: “VALIS” by Philip K. Dick)

Philip K. Dick authored 44 novels and approximately 121 short stories. Some of his most notable works include “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, “A Scanner Darkly,” and “The Man in the High Castle.”

“The Man in the High Castle” is a novel by Philip K. Dick, published in 1962. The book is an alternate history work that explores a world in which the Axis Powers—Germany, Italy, and Japan—won World War II. In this dystopian reality, the United States is divided into different zones controlled by Germany and Japan, with a neutral buffer zone in between. The book looks into the lives of various characters navigating this world, each facing existential, moral, and often dangerous dilemmas.

One of the central elements in the book is the “I Ching,” an ancient Chinese divination text that many characters use to make decisions. The use of the “I Ching” by characters (and reportedly by Dick himself in plotting the novel) serves as a vehicle for exploring the nature of reality and destiny, a theme that pervades much of Dick’s work.

The concept of parallel universes comes into play through a novel within the novel, called “The Grasshopper Lies Heavy.” This book, banned by the ruling powers but read in secret by many characters, describes a world in which the Allies won the war, a reality that contrasts starkly with the grim world they inhabit. This metafictional device serves to question the nature of reality, history, and truth.

“The Grasshopper Lies Heavy” becomes a focal point for characters to contemplate the possibility of alternate realities or parallel universes, where different outcomes unfolded. The very existence of such a book in a world where it contradicts the “official” history leads characters (and readers) to ponder questions about the fluidity and relativity of truth and reality. The notion of parallel universes in “The Man in the High Castle” is not explored through scientific or speculative frameworks like quantum mechanics; instead, it’s approached through literary and philosophical devices that challenge our understanding of how history is made and remembered.

In this way, “The Man in the High Castle” addresses the concept of parallel universes more as a metaphysical or philosophical inquiry than a scientific one. It’s less about the physics of how such universes could exist and more about the implications of such universes on our understanding of reality, history, and human agency. The book serves as an unsettling but compelling exploration of how mutable our sense of reality can be, a theme that resonates throughout Dick’s oeuvre.

“Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said” is a novel by Philip K. Dick, published in 1974. Although it is viewed as science fiction, the author viewed it as residual memory. The story follows Jason Taverner, a genetically-engineered television star and singer, who wakes up in a world where no one recognizes him—a world where he seemingly never existed. The title of the novel is an allusion to the lute song “Flow, My Tears” by John Dowland, a 16th-century English composer. This serves as an artistic motif throughout the book, echoing its themes of sorrow and existential questioning.

Jason Taverner’s inexplicable plight serves as a starting point to explore many of the themes that Dick often revisited: identity, reality, authority, and the human psyche. In the altered world Taverner finds himself in, he is a nobody, without identification or social status, making him subject to the authoritarian regime that governs this reality. The “policeman” in the title refers to a character named Felix Buckman, who embodies the power structure of the police state. He becomes a complex figure who interacts with Taverner in ways that challenge both of their perceptions of the world and themselves.

One of the striking features of “Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said” is its social and political landscape, which portrays a dystopian United States. In this alternate reality, society is heavily stratified and controlled by a police state, drawing probable inspiration from the political climate of the time when it was written—the early 1970s being a period marked by social upheaval, the Civil Rights Movement, and increasing skepticism towards government institutions in America.

Like many of Dick’s works, “Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said” grapples with the fluidity of existence and the elusiveness of identity. The story challenges the characters and the readers to confront the instability of the world as it shifts around them. Is Taverner dreaming or has he actually shifted into an alternate reality? The book doesn’t offer easy answers but instead invites the reader to contemplate these profound questions.

The novel received critical acclaim and won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 1975. It remains a highly regarded piece in Dick’s bibliography and is often cited for its complex characters, intricate plot, and deep philosophical undertones.

Both “VALIS” and the “Exegesis” are essential works in understanding Philip K. Dick’s complex ideas about reality, spirituality, and human experience.


“VALIS” is a novel published in 1981 and is part of what is often referred to as the VALIS Trilogy, which also includes “The Divine Invasion” and “The Transmigration of Timothy Archer.” “VALIS” is an acronym for “Vast Active Living Intelligence System,” a concept that Dick uses to describe an ancient, cosmic, and possibly divine intelligence.

The novel blends autobiography and fiction, featuring a protagonist named Horselover Fat (a play on Philip K. Dick’s own name, as “Philip” means “horse lover” in Greek, and “Dick” is a diminutive of “Richard,” which means “hard ruler” but is also slang for ‘fat’ in some circles). Horselover Fat undergoes experiences similar to Dick’s own mystical events in 1974. The novel is an exploration of these events, along with a meditation on various religious and philosophical ideas. It’s a dense and complicated work, layered with Gnostic Christian thought, Eastern philosophy, and speculative musings on the nature of reality.


The “Exegesis” is not a published novel but rather a journal that Dick maintained for many years, particularly after his mystical experiences in 1974. It is an 8,000-page, handwritten attempt to make sense of the visions and “download” of information he claimed to have received. Dick drew from a wide variety of sources, including religious texts, philosophy, and his own imagination, to understand these experiences. The “Exegesis” was not published during his lifetime but selections have been edited and released in various forms, most comprehensively in “The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick,” edited by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem.

In the “Exegesis,” Dick discusses his concepts of VALIS, the nature of God, alternate realities, and many other topics. He uses it as a space to wrestle with big questions about the nature of existence, weaving together various theories and ideas in an attempt to arrive at some kind of understanding or revelation.

Both “VALIS” and the “Exegesis” are central to understanding Dick’s more speculative and philosophical ideas. They showcase his willingness to question the very foundations of reality and human perception, and they offer readers a glimpse into the depth and complexity of his thought. These works aren’t easy reads, but they’re crucial for anyone wanting to explore Dick’s more metaphysical leanings.

Philip K. Dick was a self-educated, prolific writer whose work has left a lasting legacy. He ventured into areas that questioned the very nature of reality, and while not directly linked to UAP or UFO phenomena in the conventional sense, his experiences did involve altered states that he spent a lifetime trying to understand. His work continues to be studied and appreciated for its depth and complexity.