5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Philip K. Dick
As we get closer to the November 12 premiere of the first episode of the new Philip K. Dick-inspired series Electric Dreams, we’re digging into the iconic sci-fi writer’s work and examining the reasons his stories have inspired so many of our favourite films and TV shows.
We’ve got PKD to thank for Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly, and The Man in the High Castle—plus the all-new anthology series which features actors like Bryan Cranston, Steve Buscemi, Vera Farmiga, Maura Tierney, Game of Thrones’ Liam Cunningham, Terrence Howard, Anna Paquin, and The Killing’s Mireille Enos.
Dick died when he was just 53 years old but during his relatively short (and troubled) life, he produced a long list of influential work. What was his secret? Pure talent and a lot of amphetamines. Here are five more things you might not know about the legendary author:
1. The ‘K’ stands for Kindred
He and his twin sister, Jane Charlotte Dick, were born six weeks prematurely. Jane died six weeks after she was born, on their mother’s original due date. Spooky, right?
2. He was born in Chicago, spent most of his life in the US, but has a dark and tumultuous connection to Canada
Dick accepted an invitation to the 1972 Vancouver Science Fiction Convention and promptly fell in love with a Canadian woman called Janis. It didn’t go well and Dick, who was likely under the influence of one substance or another, tried to kill himself. His novel A Scanner Darkly references a fictional version of the recovery program he checked himself into in British Columbia. Dick says it was the first novel he wrote while not on speed.
3. He’s a record-setter
Dick was the first sci-fi author to make it into the prestigious Library of America series. Eat your heart out, Orson Scott Card.
4. There are a couple of stories by Philip K. Dick that aren’t (technically) by Phillip K. Dick
He wrote them, but they were published under the pen names Jack Dowland and Richard Phillipps. In ‘Orpheus With Clay Feet’, Dick/Dowland creates a character who is obsessed with becoming the muse of the author (that’s Dowland) in the story. Dowland, who is also a character in the story, writes a short fiction using the nom de plume Philip K. Dick. The title of his tale? ‘Orpheus With Clay Feet’. Dizzy yet?
5. An airline worker once lost PKD’s head
The head of an android built to resemble Dick, that is. Fans built the simulacrum as an homage to the author, whose stories feature a tonne of the humanoid robots. The head was misplaced in the mid-2000’s but a robotics company generously replaced it a few years later.
“Human Is,” the first episode of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, will air on Space on November 12, 9e 6p—right after Star Trek: Discovery. Episode two, “Crazy Diamond” will air December 25 at 10e 7p, after the Canadian premiere of Doctor Who‘s much-anticipated Christmas Special.