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Trevor Blake: Philip K. Dick

On 2 March 1982, author Philip K. Dick died.  It was in 1982 that a friend recommended I read Valis, which I enjoyed enough to read all the rest of PKD’s books.  Eventually I collected around 70 titles by and about PKD.  This was after the film Blade Runner but before Total Recall, which started a wave of interest in his work.  Most of the PKD books I had were first editions I’d bought for next to nothing.

Among the books was Divine Invasions, a biography by Lawrence Sutin.  I read Divine Invasions around 1994.  A detail in this book (confirmed by Search for Philip K. Dick, 1928-1982 by Anne Dick) inspired me to box up all my PKD books and sell them at a loss just to get them out of my house.  PKD loved to get married but didn’t like staying married.  To get one of his wives out of the way, he drugged her then had her committed to a mental hospital.  That freed him up for the next marriage.  This fact overshadowed all the enjoyment I had taken from his books.

This fact hasn’t lost its impact for me, but in 2010 I can also remember my enjoyment of his books.  What puzzles me is something that puzzles me about author H. P. Lovecraft.  Why is PKD forgiven for acts that other authors would not be forgiven for?  It isn’t hidden that PKD did this – why are forward-thinking fans accommodating to him for this while being up in arms over much less from other authors?  Readers (especially those on the left) will rail night and day against an author that uses certain words, or was once a member of a certain group, but who harmed no one.  PKD harmed someone, but, well, he’s so cosmic!