Philip Kindred Dick (PKD) (1928-1982) was an American science fiction writer who had a rather profound effect on the genre. He was hailed by and was friends with a number of prominent science fiction authors such as Robert Heinlein, yet he received little recognition from the general public during his lifetime. By the 1990s his works have become some of the most popular of all of science fiction, with Dick gaining both popular acclaim and critical acceptance. Like other more famous science fiction authors, several of Dick's stories have been made into movies. His novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was made into the movie Blade Runner. The movie Total Recall was based on one of his short stories (We can remember it for you wholesale), as was the movie Screamers (based on Second Variety). Some scenes in The Terminator, of the future war landscape with killer androids trying to sneak into the shelters disguised as humans, are very reminiscent of Second Variety, though no mention was made in that movie's credits.
Discarding the optimistic and simple worldview of Golden Age science fiction, Dick consistently explored the themes of the nature of reality and humanity in his novels. An influential precursor of the cyberpunk subgenre, Dick brought the anomic world of Southern California to many of his works. He is also one of the first great exponents of the subgenre known as alternative history, which he brought to new highs with his novel /The Man in the High Castle. He also produced a tremendous number of short stories and minor works which were published in pulp magazines.
Dick was a heavy drug user and rather paranoid, exhibiting various psychotic symptoms such as hearing voices by the time of his death. His later works, especially the Valis trilogy, were heavily autobiographical. Dick was also a voracious reader of works on religion, philosophy, metaphysics, and Gnosticism, and these ideas found their way into many of his stories.
Notable short stories:
- /Time out of Joint
- /Radio Free Albemuth
- /Flow My Tears The Policeman Said
- /The Man in the High Castle (1963 Hugo award for best novel.)
- /The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
- /A Scanner Darkly
- /The Galactic Pot Healer
- /Now Wait for Last Year
- /A Maze of Death
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Dick's works may be compared with those of William S. Burroughs. (Dick is arguably less obviously twisted and more obviously philosophical.)