Brian Attebery

Philip K. Dick and the Future: How One Paranoid Writer Created the World We Live In

Popular culture—including movies, TV shows, advertisements, political rhetoric, and internet memes—is full of images that would have been called paranoid half a century ago. People are half machine. Virtual celebrities entertain us. Clones and simulacra replace our loved ones. Fabricated memories substitute for real ones. Psychoactive drugs keep everyone pacified. All of these images can be found in the work of one writer, Philip K. Dick, who might well have been paranoid but was also a genuine visionary. Movies such as Blade Runner, Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly, and Total Recall, borrow Dick’s paranoia but hardly touch on his humane vision of a posthuman world.