Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick, Volume Three: Upon the Dull Earth [1953-1954]
by Philip K. Dick
Review by Steve Sawicki
Subterranean Press Deluxe Hardcover / Limite ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596065123
Date: 31 August 2012
By now Philip K. Dick is an icon of science fiction and movies for those who are aware of how many of his short stories, novellas and novels have been turned into feature films. When he was writing, Dick was seen as a drug filled, paranoid, addled individual who turned out occasionally brilliant but almost always good, fiction. He's been dead for more than 30 years and the haze of passing years have left somewhat of a halo around him. This is certainly easy to do since he's not around to point to or to refute anything anyone may say about his writing or the reasons behind his writing.
There are certainly a number of different ways to look at Dick's legacy. One can just look at the words, the hundreds of thousands of words, that he left behind and then judge based on quality and the value of that work. Or, one can contextualize the work, place it historically and literally in the time stream and consider its value categorically and comparatively. Or one can understand something of the man and look at the work through the lens of his own thought processes and what we know of him as a human being. None of these will ever get you into the thought processes of the writer at the time of the writing but in our never ending quest to figure this stuff out it's important to consider the options before us. Certainly if one considers Dick as paranoid much of his writing falls into contextual framework. But not all of it. Human beings are complex and writers perhaps more so than most.
This is the third volume of collected stories of Phil Dick and it covers the time period of 1953 to 1954, a time when Dick was writing a lot of short fiction and struggling to find publishers due to the way he often treated his protagonists. the volume is illuminating in that it shows us Dick as the improving writer, working themes that he would later flesh out more fully.
An intriguing book as are the rest in the series. Certainly anyone who is interested in Dick can not do without it. for the casual fan the material is a bit dated and may seem old and not worth the effort. For fans of Dick it's pure treasure.