Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Maze of Daisies

I'm not giving up on Dick! Having just read UBIK, I'm now reading A Maze of Death, by Philip K. Dick, who seems like a really great guy. Though dead, and surely now really discovering what that's like.

In A Maze of Death, people go as a small group to another planet--also part of the plot in UBIK--but now they are getting picked off one by one, as in a murder thriller.

Will a detective arrive in a noser (small spaceship with only enough fuel for a one-way trip) to sort it all out?! Or is it all a metaphor for death? (That seems likely, given the title. Don't tell me, though!)

In both books, it's important to stick together. People die when they go off by themselves....

It's interesting to note the parallels and to discover Dick's obsessions. I see why people like him, and how these novels can turn out as really cool movies. I know (from Wikipedia) that a film version of UBIK is in the works! It's great that the age of special effects can handle Dick's ideas about perception and alternate versions of reality. What is reality?

Answering a comment from Kim, I tried to clarify something about my preference for realistic fiction, as it's true I have complained before about 1) easy happy endings in feel-good or genre fiction and 2) fiction that is really disguised autobiography. She is reading Widow for One Year, by John Irving, in which characters discuss writing and particularly fiction based on real people and real events...

I think science fiction writers, just like realistic fiction writers, might easily base characters on real people they've observed, or people similar to themselves or versions/aspects of self, or composite characters drawn from real life.

Write what's at hand, so to speak.

What I admire and desire, then, I guess, is the transcendence of self through art. That might sound uppity! I mean that I find it disappointing to learn that such and such a novel is a roman a clef, unless it was a really, really funny satire. If it's a personal vendetta, or an achingly sensitive self exposure, then, pfft! I still sound uppity. Well, pfft! on me then.

Meanwhile, 1) my flowerbeds are a maze of Gloriosa daisies and 2) I am still reading the baseball book (but it's hardcover and signed, so not poolside or lakeside). And soon, for book group, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, by Michael Chabon.

9 comments:

Hannah Stephenson said...

Whoa, those covers....really cool! Sci-fi books have the best covers.

Happy reading!

Sandy Longhorn said...

I, too, like the covers.

I definitely see the connection to the point I made about J H Gailey's poem. I definitely want the transcendence, although I confess to loving a feel-good pop fiction book from time to time.

Kathleen said...

Me, too, Sandy! I love all kinds of books and have since childhood.

I guess I want to 1) get out of the maze and 2) feel good without feeling overly manipulated and/or 3) feel awed instead of depressed even if there's no happy ending.

I want to say, "Wow!" instead of "Huh?" when I'm done! Is that too much to ask.

Laughing and pffting at myself again!

risaden said...

I love PKD! Certainly no happy endings there! I hadn't read his stuff until finding out that Jonathan Lethem (whose books I really like a lot) was a fan of PK Dick. I love to hear writers talk about writers they love. It's a sort of infidelity to have one writer turn me on to another. Or is it incest? Not sure.

Emily said...

Wikipedia is a reliable resource for a lot of things, but one thing it isn't is the future. Trust me. I edit Wikipedia.

(Nothing exciting--I mostly revert kids who think putting "CUPCAKE! hee hee" randomly in articles is funny.)

Kathleen said...

Emily, thank you for ridding Wikipedia of unnecessary cupcakes! I hope you scrape off the icing first!

Risa, so many people have referred to PKD that I knew I had to read him. I see the appeal and also can't shake my frustration with something about the genre...

Kim said...

The title of your posting makes me think of Daisy Mae from Li'l Abner.

Kristin said...

I loved Phillip K. Dick in high school--my all-time favorite: "The Man in the High Castle," which imagines post WWII life if the Allies had lost. I read it a few years ago, and it holds up well; I probably enjoyed reading it more as a grown up than as a 16 year old.

Kathleen said...

That one was in the box, Kristin! So it is on the shelf and will be in the suitcase!