Philip K. Dick Talks about S.F. and the Mainstream

Philip K. Dick talks with Mike Hodel of the “legendary SF radio show” Hour 25 (apparently still around today). A unique slice of the science fiction literary world of P.K.D.s time:

Topics include “mainstream” literary fiction versus “ghetto” science fiction, Samuel Delany’s Dhalgren (he and Harlan Ellison thought it was a “trashy book”), the proper pronunciation of “Ubik,” the I Ching, Dick’s first novel (a modern sequel to Gulliver’s Travels) and making a living as a genre writer, including film sales. He also talks about the SoCal drug culture and its influence on Scanner, from which he reads an excerpt. It’s a remarkable interview, and it’s amazing to see how much (and how little) has changed in forty years — at times you might forget that you aren’t listening to a contemporary podcast. (One wonders what PKD would have made of that word.)

Dick talks about how science fiction has become a parody of itself, and goes on to claim that “science fiction is stuff like 1984, to me, dystopias.”

Well, science fiction has changed a lot in the last few years. It’s coming out of the ghetto. But all that’s done is make it worse. I mean, the writing is worse, now that it is coming out of the ghetto. Instead of getting better it’s getting worse because it’s losing its identity, it’s losing its shape. It’s becoming like silly putty. I mean, you can now call anything you want science fiction or you can decide not to call it science fiction.

…And yet, decades later Blade Runner and other P.K.D. based films (Scanner Darkly, Total Recall and more recently, Radio Free Albemuth) have become 1980s Hollywood classics. But that’s film. What about literature?

Read the transcript here via Observation Deck on io9.

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