Sci-fi writer’s work fueled by ‘alternate reality’ episodes


MYSTERY WIRE — Philip K. Dick won the Hugo Award for “The Man in the High Castle,” contributing 44 novels and 121 short stories during a vibrant time for science fiction.

By the early ’70s, Dick had reported a number of paranormal experiences, and had begun to develop theories of alternate realities.

Then personal experiences brought it to the fore. It happened following years of drug abuse and more than one suicide attempt. In 1974, as detailed in this account from, he was at home after dental surgery when his doorbell rang. He opened the door to see a girl he had previously envisioned:

“It’s a common theme in my writing that a dark-haired girl shows up at the door of the protagonist and tells him that his world is delusional, that there’s something false about it. Well, this finally did happen to me. I even knew that her hair would be black. I had an actual complete sense of what she would look like and what she would say.”

He recounts it here in a 1977 appearance in France at the Metz Sci-Fi Convention:

When he left, he was “staggered by a sudden, extremely brilliant pink light that washed over everything, at the same time implanting a stream of strange images into his mind, including geometric patterns, images of places long past, odd paintings, philosophical ideas, and even what he described as blueprints for advanced machines.”

The girl had told him “that some of my fictional works were in a literal sense true,” he said.

“People claim to remember past lives. I claim to remember a different — very different — present life. I know of no one who has made this claim before, but I rather suspect that my experience is not unique.”

Dick describes “a computer programmed reality” that became a plot line underlying “The Matrix.”

Other ideas from Philip Dick drove the plots of “Blade Runner,” “Total Recall,” Minority Report,” and “The Adjustment Bureau.”

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