I’m salivating on this new four-volume Philip K. Dick collection from the Folio Society


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The Folio Society has published a limited four-volume series of short stories by Philip K. Dick and I am seriously considering selling my plasma to buy a copy.

Each volume is bound in fluorescent colors, with 2,560 pages of text containing some 118 stories. There are 24 illustrations by 24 different artists, and the set itself has a theme inspired by the symbols found on Zener cards – famously used throughout the 20th century to test telepaths (mind reading being a recurring theme in Dick’s fiction).

The collection is absolutely stunning, like so many special editions of The Folio Society, but its price tag is hefty £ 495 ($ 679). There are also only 750 copies available for purchase and it looks like they are selling out quickly.

Philip K. Dick is an undisputed titan of science fiction, and I have long been a particular fan of his short stories. Not only because they contain some of the genre’s most iconic tales, but because they also offer a capsule story of Dick himself.

He was famous as a writer and lived in an era when it was possible to make a decent living by producing quick fiction hits. He published four stories in 1952, then sped up to publish 30 in 1953. (His love of amphetamines also contributed to this prolific production.) A sense of writing as the drudgery bleeds in the stories of Dick, which often exhibit resentful workers, such as the tire regroover in Our friends from Frolix 8 who takes bald, worn tires and digs new grooves in them with a hot iron.

Despite the crushing nature of the work, Dick’s fiction is infinitely imaginative. His news is still told today and is particularly appreciated by Hollywood. “We can remember it for you wholesale” became the 1990s Total recall; the 1956 short “The Minority Report” became the 2002 blockbuster Tom Cruise of the same name; while the “adjustment team” became that of 2011 The Adjustment Office, etc.

As we progressed through Dick’s career in the ’70s and’ 80s, his production slows down. In 1974, Dick experienced a series of visions in which an entity who may have been God, but which he dubbed the Vast Active Living Intelligence System or VALIS, “shot a beam of pink light directly at him, at his head, his eyes. His stories from this era, especially his novels, therefore move away from standard sci-fi tropes and turn to postmodern themes, delving into grooves of consciousness, alternate realities, and hidden and incredible truths.

Reading Dick’s short fiction chronologically offers its own story: the story of this magnificent writer and thinker. The new ensemble of the Folio Society looks like a fabulous accompaniment to this intellectual history. Now, excuse me, I have some Google searches for “foolproof get-rich-quick schemes”.

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