The Twisted Worlds of Philip K. Dick

A Reading of Twenty Ontologically Uncertain Novels


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About the Book

Philip K. Dick was one of the most popular science fiction novelists of the 20th century, but the contradictory and wily writer has troubled critics who attempt encompassing explanations of his work. This book examines Dick’s writing through the lens of ontological uncertainty, providing a comparative map of his oeuvre, tracing both the interior connections between books and his allusive intertextuality. Topics covered include time travel, alternate worlds, androids and simulacra, finite subjective realities and schizophrenia. Twenty novels are explored in detail, including titles that have received scant critical attention. Some of his most important short stories and two of his realist novels are also examined, providing a general introduction to Dick’s body of work.

About the Author(s)

Umberto Rossi is an Italian independent scholar and literary journalist. He has published essays on science fiction, postmodernist fiction, war literature and the 20th century U.S. novel.

Bibliographic Details

Umberto Rossi
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 316
Bibliographic Info: tables, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4883-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8629-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction 1
1. The Game of the Rat (and Its Players): The Cosmic Puppets and The Game­Players of Titan 25
2. “The Enemy That’s Everywhere Around Us”: Alternate Worlds in Eye in the Sky and Time Out of Joint 57
3. Obscure Admixtures: The Man in the High Castle Considered as a (Cold) War Novel 78
4. A Maze of Lives: Martian ­Time-­Slip, Dr. Bloodmoney, and Clans of the Alphane Moon 96
5. Time Travels and Historical Manipulation: The Simulacra, Now Wait for Last Year and The Penultimate Truth 118
6. The Android Cogito: We Can Build You and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? 143
7. Psychedelic Demiurges: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Ubik, A Maze of Death and Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said 173
8. Amateur Questers: VALIS and Its Quandaries 209
9. The God from Outer Space: Reconsidering the Divine Invasion 234
10. A Counterfactual Counterculture: The Transmigration of Timothy Archer 252
Notes 273
Bibliography 295
Index 303

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “offers a comprehensive, provocative, and useful exploration of Dick’s fictional oeuvre…insightful…excellent…may well become a standard reference…Twisted Worlds, due to its happy convergence of exemplary research and good writing, is that rarest of specimens: a scholarly book that meets its publisher’s hype…splendid study…is the new decade’s best academic study of Dick’s fiction, as well as one of the great critical works published about Dick’s writing…Rossi deserves our thanks, our respect, and our admiration”—Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts
  • “a clear demonstration of the effect of intensity that Dick’s novels can produce”—Science Fiction Studies