I’m reading a lot of Philip K. Dick at the moment — so far A Scanner Darkly made me a real fan; Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said made me a devotee; and Ubik…well…it’s just amazing.
But if you’re not a fan yet, a potent gateway drug into the world of Philip K. Dick are his collections of short stories. My best guess is that there are four million Philip K. Dick short stories, but this is only a rough estimate based on the number of additional shelves I’ve had to buy to hold my books.
One of these collections, entitled I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon, starts with an introductory essay (originally intended to be a speech) entitled How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later, and it’s almost the best thing in the collection.
How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later is a brief analysis by the author of his writing process and a meandering overview of Dick’s personal philosophy which influenced his prolific creative output.
The essay weaves in and out of reality, starting with a visit to Disneyland before jumping to a series of fantasies which provide a touchstone for many of Dick’s more trippy novels. Along the
I’ve read a lot of the well known Dick classics — Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, The Man in the High Castle, the usuals — but it wasn’t until I start reading some of the more obscure PKD novels and shorts that I really started to “get” Dick’s writing. And it wasn’t until I read the introduction to I Hope I will Arrive Soon that I started to understand more about the author himself.
You can read How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later as the introduction to the collection I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon, but Uncle Google can also sort you out if you know where to look.
I’m about to read Dick’s biography “Divine Invasions,” so I’ll report back more as I uncover it.