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The last days of Philip K. Dick

January 24, 2010 |  8:58 am

Philip K. Dick, the only science fiction writer to have his work reissued by the Library of America, "has been described, alternately, as paranoid, hilarious, childish and deeply empathetic," Scott Timberg reports in today's pages.

These days, Dick is widely considered the science-fiction novelist who most accurately foresaw our contemporary world. Several new film versions of his books are in the works, including "Radio Free Albemuth," due out this year and set in Southern California, "Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said" and "Ubik." His early novels are being reissued, most recently the Los Angeles and Ojai-set "Puttering About in a Small Land," which Tor put out last month.

And yet, Dick's time in Orange County, where he lived out his last decade, has been largely overlooked. That evening in 1976 captures the paradox of the era -- an incongruous one for a Berkeley bohemian. It was in Orange County that Dick was at his most stable marriage-wise and in regard to drugs. It was also there that he experienced some of the most disruptive and intense experiences of a disruptive and intense life.

Philip K. Dick had breakdowns, divorces, brushes with the divine and/or went crazy sometimes. Timberg talks to Dick's daugher Isa about her father and his legacy -- the wild writer died at 53 in 1982, in conservative Orange County.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo by Glenn Fleishman via Flickr