Here’s a title that will be referenced frequently in the coming weeks with the start of the Blade Runner post series proper; Philip K. Dick had a lot of interesting things to say about the one film based on his material produced during his lifetime. He also had a lot to say about The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, the final book, and The Owl in Daylight, those segments of which are fascinatingly maddening.

The editors Gwen Lee and Doris Elaine Sauter were good friends of Philip K. Dick, and Lee had taped several conversations with the man between January 10 and January 15, 1982, just months before his death. This book is a collection of those interviews, and we get insight not only on the various concerns of the writer, but the way he talks, which when translated on the page is cumbersome and near-scatterbrained. It’s clear by the things he says and the ideas he tackled (and was going to tackle with The Owl in Daylight) that he’s got a hell of a lot going on up there, and so truncated thoughts, contradictions and the like can be excused.

It is afterall, a fascinating read.

The title of the book, What If Our World Is Their Heaven? represents a bit of a tragedy, as it alludes to an idea Dick was working with for his new book, The Owl in Daylight. There’s a long segment where he and Gwen Lee are actually working out the premise behind the book, and it’s a compelling if dangerous method of pre-writing. He doesn’t start with narrative, he doesn’t start with the personal philosophy he’s written many of his stories under – it’s almost indescribable, and I don’t want to spoil it, if such a thing were possible.

Easily the most intriguing bit in the book was Philip K. Dick’s discussion of the connection he often has with his fictional characters, in particular Angel Archer, who he fell in love with. He claims that The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, the one non-science-fiction novel (the only ‘literary’ one, as he says) he wrote, nearly killed him, that it was the hardest and least rewarding book he wrote. Upon inquiry, he responds with, “I don’t have very much to show for it. I mean, I could have written five science-fiction novels.” He may believe that it was perhaps a wasted effort, augmented by the fact that he did fall sick during or after writing it, but something very important happened.

After he finished the book and had to part ways with it, he felt that he was losing someone – he realized that he was parting ways with the main character Angel Archer, a dark-haired girl that he had spent so much time with. As he says, the writing of Angel was an unprecedented event, as he had actually created a character who was better, smarter, and cooler than he. He found that he was writing about things that she knew of, and he had to research later to understand.

Sounds odd, but that’s only because it is. And that’s Philip K. Dick for you. None of the stories you’ll hear about him make sense, but it doesn’t matter if you believe it or not, because he did, and that’s what translated into some awesome fiction, and an extraordinary life, the latter of which is captured briefly here in this book.

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