As the Library of America release of four PKD novels from the 1960s looms on the horizon, another spate of Dick-has-finally-made-it articles are hitting the circuit. Charles McGrath writes an article for today's New York Times titled "A Prince of Pulp, Legit at Last." The article includes all of the standard facts (quantity of drugs ingested - check, number of ex-wives - check, comment on Dick's weak prose - check, Hollywood has made a lot of movies out of his books - check) without adding much of anything. McGrath writes:
"...it’s hard to know what Mr. Dick, who died in 1982 at the age of 53, would have made of the fact that this month he has arrived at the pinnacle of literary respectability."
Perhaps Dick would be amazed that the pinnacle of literary respectability in someone's eyes is a hard cover edition issued by a particular publisher. Imagine, it's not a aerosol spray that fights entropy, it's a fancy book binding that magically elevates the status of the author, making him - once and for all - a legitimate genius.
"Mr. Dick was relatively uninterested in the futuristic, predictive side of science fiction and embraced the genre simply because it gave him liberty to turn his imagination loose. Except for the odd hovercar or rocket ship, there aren’t many gizmos in his fiction, and many of his details are satiric, like the household appliances in “Ubik” that demand to be fed with coins all the time, or put-ons, like the bizarre clownwear that is apparently standard office garb in the same book (which is set in 1992, by the way; so much for Dick the prophet): “natty birch-bark pantaloons, hemp-rope belt, peekaboo see-through top, and train engineer’s tall hat.”"
Duly noted: Dick eschewed gizmos in his science fiction but he loved to have crazy gadgets, outfits, hover cars and rocket ships... Oh and Dick's SF never successfully predicted the future and the fact that "Ubik" was set in 1992 proves he never will.
What I hate the most in these articles on the Library of America release is the idea that Dick's canonization is newsworthy because he was always considered a hack writer writing juvenile, escapist literature by the very same people who have now decided he is worthy of canonization...