Home > Book Reviews > Missing from my PKD Bookshelf

Missing from my PKD Bookshelf

The obsession with all things PKD led me to obtain around 50 books by or about the great man. This includes around 40 novels, 6 story collections and a couple of miscellaneous items: a biography, a book of interviews, a book of essays, and a book containing selections from PKD’s ‘Exegesis.’ Anyway, there are around 5 items with Philip K Dick’s name on them that are absent from my PKD bookshelf. Most of these are rather obscure, and not particularly interesting or important, but there is one exception. I will get to this in a minute.

5. The Book of Philip K Dick, published by DAW Books. This early story collection is reported to be PKD’s worst. It is long out of print.

4. Nick and the Glimmung. This is a children’s SF novel, of all things. I have read this, as Murdoch University had a copy (incidentally, they have an outstanding collection of SF). This book is short, weird, and only barely interesting enough to keep reading.

3. Gather Yourselves Together. This is actually PKD’s earliest extant novel. It’s about a love triangle which takes place in the early years of Mao’s China. The book itself is reputed to be overly long and not very interesting. It was published by the obscure WCS books, which makes it expensive and difficult to obtain. If you’ve read this, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

2. Voices from the Street. PKD’s other long lost and then found novel is at least more widely available. In fact, I saw it on the shelf yesterday at Planet Books in Mt Lawley (which is surely Perth’s best bookstore, certainly the best for SF). Another overly long and meandering tale, reviews have generally been unkind. I will probably end up buying this sometime though.

1. Ubik: The Screenplay. This is the only important book by PKD I don’t own, and that’s because it’s currently nearly impossible to obtain. Originally published by Corroborree Press, it’s very expensive to buy second-hand these days. Luckily, Murdoch University again came to the rescue (several years ago now). They have or at least had a copy on the shelf. And Ubik: The Screenplay is well worth hunting down. What’s so good about it? Well, PKD fans will recognise Ubik as one of PKD’s most interesting novels. The French were once besotted with this book, and I’m inclined to agree with them. The only problem is that Ubik, as published, is a mess. Sloppy doesn’t even begin to describe the first third…anyway, PKD was contracted to write a screenplay for his novel in the 70s, and the results are quite spectacular. I don’t remember all the details, as it was many years ago that I read this now, but the screenplay is well worth having.

And there’s some good news! Ubik: The Screenplay is actually due to be re-issued by Subterranean Press in Aug 08. It’s not cheap at all, US $35 for a hardcover (or $150 for a lettered, signed edition) but it’s a must have for any PKD-phile. Anyway, the exchange rate of the Australian Dollar versus the American means that it isn’t so expensive for me after all. I’m definitely getting this…

UPDATE: Well, I just investigated how much it would actually end up costing including shipping. If you buy direct from Subterranean and want it shipped outside the U.S., it would cost $35 for the book and $17 shipping. But if you get it from Amazon.com instead, the book itself is discounted to around $23 and shipping to Australia is $10. So it’s costing me around $35-40 Australian Dollars to buy this, which is definitely a bargain. Attention all PKD-philes! Hurry up and pre-order Ubik: The Screenplay before they all sell out again! To give you an idea, the original Corroboree edition costs upwards of US $100 on abebooks now. This edition will become an instant collector’s item.

  1. February 25, 2008 at 8:02 am

    Did you see Philip K Dick’s VALIS being shown on LOST? I discuss it on my podcast at http://www.whpodcast.com

  2. guysalvidge
    February 25, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    I haven’t watched LOST (I know what it is, of course) but I did just listen to your podcast. In fact I think you’ve inspired me to start reading VALIS for maybe the fifth time.

  3. March 1, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    I guess you’re not that keen, but I have a soft spot for it: Nick and the Glimmung is also going to be reprinted soon, as well:

    The original printing of Ubik: The Screenplay is not just a damned fine piece of adaptation by Dick (and you prolly know the story there already), it’s a beautiful printing in and of itself. I don’t know if the colour plates will be reproduced in this new edition, but that won’t stop me getting it as well.

    I think there’s a specialty SFF Bookshop in Perth? They’ll almost certainly get it in, stick your nose in and ask how much they’ll be charging. Might surprise you.

    …then again, might not ;}P>

  4. guysalvidge
    March 1, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Thanks, Dr Jon. There used to be a SF shop in Perth called Supernova – I should know, I worked there for 2 years – but the owner died and it closed down. There are other places to buy SF in Perth, of course. But with the way the US dollar is going, it’s probably cheaper for me to get stuff on Amazon.
    I can’t really remember those color plates in the Ubik Screenplay, but I do know that if I saw it second hand I would buy it for sure. But I will be satisfied with the Subterranean Edition.
    In terms of ‘Nick and the Glimmung’ there are several books higher on my ‘to get’ list: namely, the Ubik Screenplay, Voices from the Street, and Lord Running Clam’s Pink Beam.
    Thanks for the advice anyway.

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