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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good biography of enigmatic often contradictory writer
Phil Dick was a difficult person. Sutin's book takes great pains to point out Dick's flaws as a human being but also his strong qualities as a person and writer. Dick was amazingly prolific because he had to be to survive. During his most prolific period he wrote novels that could be both unsatisfactory but with piercing, brilliant themes. At his best Dick tackled a...
Published on 21 May 2007 by Wayne Klein

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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much time spent in the company of two unpleasant people
The two are Dick himself, who is one of my favourite authors but no nicer as a person for all that. I can still love his books while being glad that I never knew him - a paranoid given to absurd religious and political delusions (ameliorated slightly by the fact that his political sympathies were in the right direction), drug abuse and personal neglect, who's personal...
Published on 16 May 2008 by Jezza


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good biography of enigmatic often contradictory writer, 21 May 2007
By 
Wayne Klein "If at first the idea is not absu... (My Little Blue Window, USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
Phil Dick was a difficult person. Sutin's book takes great pains to point out Dick's flaws as a human being but also his strong qualities as a person and writer. Dick was amazingly prolific because he had to be to survive. During his most prolific period he wrote novels that could be both unsatisfactory but with piercing, brilliant themes. At his best Dick tackled a number of questions that had profound personal meaning (the issue of identity, how we define human, the subjective nature of our sense of reality)but were universal enough to communicate to other artists. Dick like the best genre writers struggled to be accepted as a mainstream writer. The irony is that he is more influential than ever 25 years after his death having reached an entire generation of writers (including Jonathan Lethem, K.T. Jeter among others)and achieved financial success because of the films made from his short stories and novels (the best "Minority Report", "A Scanner Darkly", "Blade Runner" and a foreign film of "Confessions of a Crap Artist"--the worst "Paycheck", "Next" of which are at least moderately entertaining).

Sutin documents Dick's personal life interweaving the themes from his novels and how the two were related throughout his life. Dick was a surviving twin. His sister Jane died in infancy and Dick's unstable family life and his own bouts of depression with mental instability. A mercurical writer and individual when he was at the top of his game, Dick later believed that he had been visited by some essence of God and struggled to fit this visitation into some sort of rational perspective. Sutin treats Dick's statements mattter of factly without passing judgement but does relate comments both from Dick's friends and doctors in discussing how this impacted his art and personal life.

Well written, Sutin interviews family, friends, former friends (Dick and Harlan Ellison had a major falling out in the 70's as did Dick and Stanislaw Lem), Dick's therapists, former lovers, wives, enemies and uses Dick's journals to get at the heart of the author himself providing a well rounded, often disturbing picture of this talented artist. Evidently Dick was not an easy person to love but those that cared for him recognized his profound importance as a writer. Sutin also goes through Dick's novels and short story collections ranking them (from 1-10 in quality and importance)and providing fans an idea of his best and worst works.

DIVINE INVASIONS does need to be updated since Dick continues to be critically reappraised and recognized for his importance as a writer outside of the science fiction/fantasy genre. It would also allow Sutin to examine the films made from Dick's novels comparing the themes in both. Still, this is a thoughtful, comprehensive and intelligent biography. Phil Dick deserved nothing less.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Gripping as a P Novel, 15 Dec 2006
By 
T. Baxter "alt.nerd.obsessive" (Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
Phillip K Dick wrote some of the most prescient novels of the 20th century. His seemingly rather paranoid and disturbing vision of the future has seemed less paranoid and closer to the truth of our lives with every passing year.

Lawrence Sutin makes a fascinating and well researched read out of the life of PKD. His great achievement is making the inner and outer life of a prolific writer as interesting and exciting as one of PKDs novels.

He also reviews PKDs major works in a final chapter giving a fair assesment of the best and brightest which makes this a great starting point for people who are interested in Phillip K Dicks work but are not sure where to start.

I'm on to the second copy of this book, the 1st copy fell apart after being read avidly by many friends - it's that good!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful book for serious PKD readers, 10 Oct 2002
Sutin's sometimes sarcastic style might surprise the reader at first, but this is a very insightful look at the life and work of Philip K. Dick - it's also the most substantial book of its kind we have yet. Sutin does a good job of inserting his comments about the works while sharing with us their genesis at the same time; the analysis aspect of 'Divine Invasions' is fairly limited, but since it's not a scholarly book, it doesn't disappoint. It reads somewhat like PKD's own novels and short stories, with Dick himself as the central character. The extracts from the Exegesis show PKD at his speculative best and made me want to read more. One more note: in the last section, Sutin offers a 'guide' in which he rates PKD's books on a 1-10 internal scale, also providing capsule reviews of the works he didn't write about in the main narrative; it's sure to provoke arguments, as he thought it would. Serious PKD readers should definitely read this.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Biography of a Sci-Fi Great, 10 July 2010
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This review is from: Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
To my mind Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) was one of, if not the, finest Sci-Fi authors of the twentieth century (or perhaps any century). His works, ranging from volumes of short stories to award winning novels all have something of interest, dealing as they do with time travel, alternate futures, drugs, the nature of reality, what it is to be human etc.. Given the quantity of his output some of Dick's works are better than others but my mind even a mediocre Philip K Dick is well worth a read. Dick was inducted into the SF Hall of Fame in 2005.

This work details his eventful life (having a subject who lived an eventful life is always a bonus for a biography!) and looks at his literary output, providing a very useful (and no doubt controversial), summary and appraisal of each of his works. As such, to my mind, this currently stands as the best biography of Philip K. Dick.

`The most consistently brilliant SF writer in the world'
--John Brunner

`Dick quietly produced serious fiction in a popular form and there can be no greater praise'
--Michael Moorcock

`One of the most original practitioners writing any kind of fiction, Philip K. Dick made most of the European avant-guarde seem navel-gazers in a cul-de-sac'
--Sunday Times

`He was the funniest SF writer of his time, and perhaps the most terrifying'
--Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

Also of interest may be the DVD biography Philip K Dick: Penultimate Truth [DVD] [2008] [Region 1], The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick: Selected Literary and Philosophical Writings and Philip K. Dick and Philosophy (Due Nov. '11).

For those interested in reading from Dick's Exegesis, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick is available.

If you are interested in Dick's biography you are probably already familiar with his work. However, if you are new to Dick's work I would recommend the following novels (which generally seem to be regarded as among his best):

Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?
Ubik (S.F. Masterworks)
A Scanner Darkly (S.F. Masterworks)
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (S.F. Masterworks)
Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (S.F. Masterworks)
The Man In The High Castle (S.F. Masterworks)

There are also fine collections of his short stories available.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much time spent in the company of two unpleasant people, 16 May 2008
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This review is from: Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
The two are Dick himself, who is one of my favourite authors but no nicer as a person for all that. I can still love his books while being glad that I never knew him - a paranoid given to absurd religious and political delusions (ameliorated slightly by the fact that his political sympathies were in the right direction), drug abuse and personal neglect, who's personal relationships with partners, children and other relatives seem to have been an utter disaster area. And the biographer manages to be at once adulatory and over-familiar.
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Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick (GOLLANCZ S.F.) by Lawrence Sutin (Paperback - 9 Feb 2006)
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