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Philip K. Dick (Pocket Essentials) Paperback – 22 Feb 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Essentials; 2nd Revised edition edition (22 Feb. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904048927
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904048923
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 1.1 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 109,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andrew M Butler is Senior Lecturer Media and Cultural Studies at Canterbury Christ Church University College and author of the Pocket Essentials Terry Pratchett, Philip K Dick, Cyberpunk and, with Bob Ford, Postmodernism. He was the winner of the 2004 Pioneer Award and would collect shiny trousers in his spare time if he had any.

Product Description


Who was Dick? A freaked-out junkie who took too many drugs? An explorer of madness who go too close to his subject and ended up claiming to have met God? A practical joker? The most consistently brilliant SF writer in the world? At a time when most SF was about cowboys in outer space, Dick explored the landscapes of the mind, conjured with fake realities and was able to make you believe six impossible things before breakfast. He embodied the counter-culture a decade before the 1960's. Perhaps best known for "Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?" - the novel which inspired "Blade Runner" - Dick's world is one where psychiatrists come in suitcases, and where God speaks through cat food commercials and comes in a handy aerosol can. And where you might be a figment of someone else's imagination...As well as an introductory essay, this pocket sized volume reviews and analyses each of Philip K Dick's novels, and for those who want more there is a listing of the many other books and articles which have grappled with his genius.

From the Author

What the Reviewers Said
'Deeply comprehensive, with breakdowns of all Dick's books, it's an essential guide for those wanting a quick tour of sci-fi's craziest mind. ****'

Saxon Bullock, Hot Dog (February 2001).

'it's another lucid, well-knit, little guide -- excellent value for the money.'

Interzone books received.

'Butler's love and enthusiasm for the writer shines from every page, and this is both a compelling read and a book that creates an irresistible impulse in the reader to rush out and plug those PKD gaps in their own collection.'

Barry Forshaw, Starlog (December 2000).

'This Pocket Essential is in fact one of the better entries in the series....'

Review by Tony Floyd

'An excellent introduction to the complex world of Philip K. Dick, filled with insight and synopsis galore, it gives a quick and in-depth look into each of the works of this Chicago born genius. [...] This book is a must have for any reader of Dick, novice or expert.' Justin Alan Price from Lineboro, MD United States, on

'...those nice folk at Pocket Essentials have trained their microscope on sci-fi guru and drugfiend, Philip K. Dick and produced this handy little stash of info, anecdotes and all sorts...'

Richard Shephard, Waterstone's Online --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Dec. 2000
Format: Paperback
The Pocket Essentials Literature series moves ahead to cover one of science fiction's outstanding minds in this slim guidebook by Andrew M. Butler; released back to back with his less-than-stellar Cyberpunk guide, Butler is on much stronger ground here, covering the writer whose work inspired him to pen a PhD-winning thesis. He wastes no time with preamble, first running through a potted life story of Dick before taking a moment to highlight some of his recurring themes and concepts. There's a carefully academic lack of judgement in Butler's book, allowing Dick's work to be played as it lays and keeping to a middle ground that stays informative even when describing the greater extremes of Dick's drug-fuelled, expanded-mind fiction. In keeping with the format generated by the Pocket Essentials movie directors guides, this volume applies a series of points to each of Dick's novels and makes a brave attempt to order some of his most disjointed works into a synopsis that is frequently less than a page long. Butler's book clearly fulfilled its function with me; two Dick novels I had previously dismissed are now on my 'to read' pile, my opinions softened by his descriptions of them. But the guide is not without faults; poor editing on the part of the publisher allows Butler to repeat himself, particularly in the similar entries for The Unteleported Man and Lies, Inc, which could have been combined; and in a book that will appeal to most readers because of a link to Blade Runner, Butler repeats the error he makes in his Cyberpunk guide, stating that a version of the film was aired on British television with the lost hospital sequence replaced, when in fact the scene was shown as part of a documentary program aired after the regular Director's Cut.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By MetropolitanJ on 23 July 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book in hopes that it was more biographical. I was told that Philip K Dick lead a fascinating life and I only felt compelled to read upon that. This book touches very lightly about Philip K Dick's life and focuses mostly on his literary works. It displays an overview of each work of literature which he worked on. The overview consists of the title of the book, when it was done, who published, synopsis, characters and a rating (out of 5). Ideal for finding out about his works but not good for finding out about his interesting life.

This book is handy to look up Philip K Dick literature (because you never know when you need to). The only real use for this book is possibly to quote it at a party?

You can find out what this book has to offer with a few Google searches.
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A travelers' guide to the genius who wrote proberly the strangest and most complex novels of the century,and of it's sort,I don't think there could be anything better,Compact,informed,well researched and informative,it will suit those who still know little about the subject,but still please those long drenched in his stuff.

Discussion of his novels,is arranged linearly,in crucial periods,from the early years of the 1940s and early 50s when he was still he was still learning the trade of writing,followed by the period when he wrote magazine stories and the first early novels up to the seemingly nascent early 60s,just before writing the Hugo award-winning "The Man in the High Castle",that began the period that see the maturing of his work,that the author calls "the peak",until the declining years of the 1970s,that see a diminishing in his output and a more sober outlook,until his death in the early 80s.This allows for a structured analysis of his development for a clearer understanding of how his books,and each one is given an excellent review at short length,detailing the consistent themes and motifs plus character archetypes that bind every book into a mega work of fiction.

Some fault lies with the stories section.As he states,Dick wrote too many of them for a thourough anylasis,so is limited to preferred choices.However,as he admits some were chosen because they were turned into films,and worst actually admits that the're not the cream of the crop.I think I agree with most of the choices though,and was pleased to see the manic but thoughtful "Faith of our Fathers" included,but a few others such as "Precious Artifact",a moving fable of replicants,love and empathy,could have found a place.Strange.
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By still searching TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This small volume provides plot summaries for all the novels together with interesting snippets on recurring themes, publishing details and subtexts together with an author's verdict on a 5 point scale for each one with the major works of Dick's output divided into four main periods of his life. The author then looks at selected short fiction and non-fiction and there is also a chapter dealing with collaborations that includes movies made from Dick's work.

All in all a neat but limited source of info in one place which, of necessity due to space limitations, also omits material: it is a 'pocket' essential after all!
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By Dz Emery on 17 April 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bought this to help with an essay, but not very useful for that.
I'm sure it's fine if you're into his work and want a summary of each of his works.
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