Friday, August 12, 2011

Thank You, Philip K. Dick

I’m one of those folks that need some personal time. I don’t mean to be rude to others; it’s more like time for me to hit reset and power down for a brief time. So last night I needed a little bit of downtime. After I whined to my wife for a while, she told me to get out. No, not for good. But she can tell when I need to reset, and it was obvious to her last night. Reluctantly I hopped into the car and headed down the road.

I’m very much a creature of habit, so when my journey ended, I found myself where I usually find myself when I go out to reset: the used-book store. Normally I just walk around the store, browsing the shelves for anything that tickles my fancy. But last night I realized I was on a mission; I was looking for a specific author: Dick.

See, last week I watched The Adjustment Bureau despite my reservations of seeing it. I had absolutely no desire to watch that movie, yet my wife wanted to see it. Being the good husband that I am, I agreed to watch it. In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and immediately wanted to read the story on which it was based.

After a couple of minutes, I had the original story, “The Adjustment Team” by Philip K. Dick, downloaded and opened on my Kindle. Over the following few nights, I read the short story and was impressed (the story is very different than the movie, but I enjoyed both). I was a bit surprised that I enjoyed the story so much because I’ve never considered myself a sci-fi person.

When I found myself standing among the aisles of used books last night, I knew there was only one reason why I was there. It only took me a couple of minutes to locate the sci-fi section, and it took even less time to spot Philip K. Dick’s books sitting on the shelf. I selected a couple of his short-story collections, paid for them, and found a place to read. In a matter of minutes, I was lost in the City of Lightness, learning about the Roogs, and watching little toy soldiers attempt to take over the world.

As I settled down for bed last night, I realized that I had experienced the magical moment that all serious readers strive for: I lost myself in the story. I forgot about all the stress, all the demands, everything that needs to be done. For a few precious minutes, I was able to reset. As I turned off the light and crawled into bed, all I could think was Thank you, Philip K. Dick.


Douglas Dorow said...

That's a great feeling, isn't it? Transported somewhere else, to another time, like time travel without leaving.

Let somebody else's words trigger your imagination on a fantastic journey. You lose track of time and the world around you.

Brenda said...

That's really cool, Neal. There's nothing better than getting lost in a story.

Analee said...

for me it is hemingway. i don't have to read a whole story, just a couple of pages. i don't even really like to read but his words just mesmerize me.

uh, and next time you can drop off your wife and kids at our house on your way to the bookstore! :)

Analee said...

i should qualify that. also, thurber. i love his short stories or his question and answer with image thingys (not sure what to call them...). they make me laugh!

Ryan Schneider said...

I recently lost myself in COUNTERCLOCK WORLD. A great idea with brilliant execution. It's a shame that Phil was so unappreciated while he was alive and was broke most of his life. He's right there with Bradbury and Clarke and Asimov imo.

PS As I was putting in the captcha code to post my comment, the captcha word was daisii; I immediately thought of HAL singing as he slowly winds down. Interesting.

Neal Hock said...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone!

@Doug: Yes, it's truly like no other feeling.

@Brenda: Indeed!

@Analee: It's amazing how certain authors can speak to us. I love how it's different for everyone. And next time, I'll drop off the wife and kids. :-P

@Ryan: It's sad that so many of the greats throughout history struggled to make ends meet in life and had success only after they were dead and gone.


Kippoe said...

Great post I still need to see the movie it looks good. I snagged the short story as soon as i seen the coming attraction trailer for the movie, and fell deep into the rest of his works.

Neal Hock said...

I just finished reading "The Skull" last night, and I absolutely loved it. It's been a while since I've fallen in love with a writer's work like I have with Dick's.