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On reading Dick

In a piece for the Maisonneuve website, Toronto novelist Michel Basilières considers the legacy of science fiction legend Philip K. Dick. For mainstream audiences, Dick is best known as the writer whose work inspired films like Blade Runner and Minority Report, but to sci-fi readers he’s a giant in the field.

Basilières admires some aspects of Dick’s work, noting that “as is true of all really great writers, he had an individual vision of reality that informed everything he wrote.” But he’s also quick to point out Dick’s flaws. “Real writing takes real time, and Dick wrote everything on fast-forward. Even the unpublished (in his lifetime) mainstream novels — the ones he wanted to be remembered for, that he considered his real work — were pretty much slapped out as fast as he could type.”

Basilières is skeptical, too, about Dick’s chosen genre. Science fiction, he argues, “is obviously low-grade escapism written for simpleminded adults or, at best, clever kids.” The exception? In Basilières’ opinion, it’s Stanislaw Lem, “my candidate for the one science fiction author indisputably worthy of literary canonization.”

Related links:
Michel Basilières on Philip K. Dick