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What If Our World Is Their Heaven?

The Final Conversations of Philip K. Dick

Foreword Review — May / June 2001

A complex man whose stories reflected distinct views of humanity, the world, the supernatural, and the universe (some of which are alarmingly close to coming true), Philip K. Dick was also a fascinating interview, as these transcriptions indicate.

More conversation than interview, the tapes resulting in this book were made by Gwen Lee, a journalist friend who spoke extensively with Dick about the then-forthcoming movie Blade Runner (based on Dick’s book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). They also discussed a book Dick planned to write, The Owl in Daylight, and some religious experiences that shaped how he viewed the human spirit.

Dick’s relationship with his writing and characters was unusual. He would think about, even talk about, a planned book perhaps for months (hence the discussion of Owl) before he would actually sit down to write the book. (Many other authors find they dissipate their creative fire by talking about a work in progress.) Then, in a furious burst of creativity, he would write an entire novel in a matter of days, barely eating or sleeping until it was finished.

Such a process was bad for his health, as was the amount of emotional and physical trauma he endured once a book was finished. At the completion of The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, Dick says, “after I sent the manuscript off I discovered that I was hemorrhaging, gastrointestinal bleeding… I mean, I was literally physically sick from the shock of saying good-bye to Angel Archer (the lead character in the book, as real to him as a living woman).”

Lee’s tapes reveal quite a lot about how Dick’s mind worked on many levels. His excitement at the way Blade Runner was crafted; the creative process that he went through in the course of figuring out a new novel; the voracious reading that he did to feed the mind that came up with so many creative ideas—all are captured in these transcriptions, with Lee’s occasional questions or responses not so much guiding the conversations as keeping them flowing.

Sadly, Dick died less than two months after the completion of these interviews. Part of the essence, however, of this man, whose work has become so important in science fiction literature, lives on in them. Those interested in knowing more about the author of so many pivotal works should find these transcriptions compelling.

Marlene Satter