Home > Book Reviews, Philip K. Dick > Book Review – Pink Beam: A Philip K Dick Companion by Lord Running Clam (Dave Hyde)

Book Review – Pink Beam: A Philip K Dick Companion by Lord Running Clam (Dave Hyde)



















Pink Beam: A Philip K Dick Companion is a labour of love regarding a writer who died nearly thirty years ago: Philip K Dick. Its author, “Lord Running Clam” (Dave Hyde) has produced an amazingly detailed resource that will henceforth be required reading for any serious PKD scholar. But we might as well get any misconception about the audience of this book out of the way first up: this is for PKD diehards. I doubt it will have much appeal to the casual reader. But I am a PKD diehard and there are thousands like me worldwide.

Let’s say you’ve read most if not all of PKD’s around forty published novels. Let’s say you own the original story collections (as I do) or the Collected Stories. Let’s also say that you’ve read Lawrence Sutin’s biography Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K Dick, as well as The Shifting Realities of Philip K Dick and maybe even In Pursuit of VALIS: Selections from the Exegesis. This would make you pretty knowledgeable about PKD. If this is you, what further information can Pink Beam provide? The answer: plenty.

Pink Beam is essentially a ‘gap-filler’ in the sense that it includes information not covered in these other texts. Most of this information relates to specific details concerning the composition and publication of every work in PKD’s opus. Arranged chronologically, Pink Beam includes excerpts from interviews and letters that cast light on particular texts. These letter excerpts I found particularly useful, given that many of them have not been published before (except perhaps in the pages of the six volume Selected Letters of Philip K Dick, which I’ve never read). Hyde also provides a synopsis, whether his own or a quote from someone else’s, as well as a score out of five stars, for each story and novel. Pink Beam also offers a fascinating insight into the composition of PKD’s works, given that it contains much material relating to the process PKD undertook in producing these books. This was especially notable and useful for later novels such as Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said and A Scanner Darkly.

Hyde himself notes that there is as yet no single, definitive source on PKD. Probably there never will be. Divine Invasions is excellent, but much too short for a writer of PKD’s stature. To The High Castle is apparently better (I’ve never read it) but it only concerns the first half of PKD’s life and might not be without problems of its own. Then there’s the author’s third wife Anne Dick’s recently republished Search for Philip K Dick, which illuminates a certain period of PKD’s life in tremendous detail. In the spaces between these works lies Pink Beam: A Philip K Dick Companion. If you are serious about PKD, off you go to order this book immediately.

  1. Miggy
    February 5, 2011 at 6:56 am

    Have you seen _The Search for Philip K. Dick_ by Dick’s third wife wife, Anne R. Dick? It was recently written up in the New York Times and The International Herald Tribune. It’s a riveting portrait of Dick’s most creative years when he published The Man in the High Castle, Martian Time-Slip, etc..

  2. guysalvidge
    February 5, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Miggy, yes I have seen and read Search for Philip K DIck. It is an excellent book and I’m glad that it’s finally widely available after having first been published many years ago. I wrote a review of it a while back which can be found by clicking on the Philip K Dick category on the bottom right side of the page somewhere. Cheers.

  3. Don Lee
    March 29, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    I just wanted to mention that around 1989 or so I talked to Anne Dick and as a result was allowed to read in manuscript her great book on Dick. I passed the manuscript along to Dick’s old friend and collaborator Ray Nelson, who I understand had some hand in its original publication. I’d sorta forgotten that all happened till I read this.

    Don Lee

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