Saturday, 2 February 2013

February 2013 Individual Reading Challenge - Focus Author

Well, I've now started my February Book choices. I've a variety of challenges; today I'm going to concentrate on my Individual Reading Challenge - Focus Author. In January, I concentrated on the mysteries of Ngaio Marsh (see the link for my BLog on her books). I use my Focus author as my bedside book. In January I managed to read 4 of the Inspector Alleyn mysteries.

In February, I'm going back to my SciFi roots and focusing on the stories of Philip K. Dick. I hope to read 3 or 4 again; these will all be re-reads, from back in the late 70's and early '80s. I was introduced to Dick's stories in one of my university courses; the Science Fiction novel. It was a great course as it introduced me to so many excellent SciFi authors. We read two books a week, so it was great. Philip Dick was one of the authors selected and with an intro to his stories, I read a few others over the course of the next few years. Recently, I've started reading his books again; The Unteleported Man (1964) and A Scanner Darkly (1973). I do still look for his books in the Used book stores, but they seem to be books/ stories that people keep.

Philip Dick was born in Dec 1928 and died Mar 1982. He was an American novelist whose published work focused mainly on SciFi. He explored alternate realities, drug-states, authoritarian states, so many varied topics. For more information about him, check out the wiki page.

Unless things change and I manage to find some other Philip Dick stories, my selections for February will include -

My favourite Philip K. Dick novel is The Man in the High Castle. I've read two or three times since I bought this copy which was an 11th printing, published in 1983. It was one of my first forays into Alternate History. I've started with this story and have once again been dragged into it immediately. The basic story line offers the premise that Japan and Germany won WWII and the United States is split in two, the East run by the Germans and the West Coast by the Japanese. There are many interesting themes in the story, the I Ching, the clash of cultures (the Japanese love of the old West and their symbols), the struggle of the US citizens to live in these worlds. My memories of the story don't go much beyond this, but as I'm reading I have had my love for the story immediately rekindled. I look forward to seeing what happens again.

The other books I don't remember at all so they will be like new reads for me. I can't wait.

Dr. Bloodmoney or How We Got Along After the Bomb was published in 1965, the date of this edition. The write up inside the dust jacket reads "Below him the world was in darkness, its night side turned his way; yet already he could see the rim of day appearing on the edge, and soon he would be passing into that once more. Lights here and there glowed like holes poked in the surface of the planet which he had left seven years ago - left for another purpose, another goal entirely. A much more noble one. His was not the sole satellite still circling Earth, but it was the sole one with life aboard. Everyone else had since perished... He was lucky: besides food and water and air he had a million miles of video and audio tape to keep him amused. And now, with it, he kept them amused. Dangerfield's satellite provided the last link binding humanity together. It was seven years after the day of disaster, the day one world died and another world began.. Dr. Bloodmoney's day."

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch was published 1964, with my edition released in 1975. I could not find a cover that I could link with, but this site does provide the various cover jackets. This is one of Dick's drug-influenced stories. "When Palmer Eldritch returned from a distant galaxy, he claimed he had brought a gift for mankind. It was a drug that would transport one into an illusory world. One could spend years in this other dimension and never lose a second of Earth time. Eldritch offered immortality, wish fulfilment.. the posers over time and space. but he exacted a terrible price: he, Palmer Eldritch, would enter, control and be a god in everyone's private universe - a universe from which there was no escape, not even death."

A Maze of Death was originally released in 1970, with this Bantam edition released in 1977. From the write-up it sounds like a SciFi Agatha Christie story.. "Fourteen earthly exiles on an island in boundless space. Fourteen victims of a murderous power. Is this nameless menace the product of their own darkest imaginings - or some richly mysterious, infinitely more terrifying other?"

So there you have it, my tentative Philip K. Dick selections for February.

One final point - if you think you are unfamiliar with Dick's writings, many of his stories have been translated into film; A Scanner Darkly, Blade Runner (based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep), Minority Report (based on the short story of the same name), etc.

Tomorrow, I'll highlight some of the other books I've tentatively selected for February. I hope it's as good a month as January.

Good reading!

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