NOT Lynchian but DICKESIAN

And I don’t mean Charles Dickens.

Thimbleweed Park is like something conceived by one of the greatest minds in science fiction: Philip K. Dick.

If you’re familiar with his work you will know what I’m talking about :smiley:


Oh yes sir definitly…

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I have read only a few short stories:

  • The Minority Report
  • The Gun
  • We Can Remember it for You Wholesale
  • The Crystal Crypt
  • Beyond Lies the Wub
  • The Skull
  • Piper in the Woods
  • Beyond the Door
  • The Eyes Have It

I still have to read a lot of his works. Do you have any suggestion about which novels would help me to better understand the correlations between Dick’s works and Thimbleweed Park?

Warning: long post.

A recurring theme, especially in Dick’s later works, is the nature of reality and the world we see everyday. Let me quote the man himself.

It was always my hope, in writing novels and stories which asked the question “What is reality?”, to someday get an answer. This was the hope of most of my readers, too. Years passed. I wrote over thirty novels and over a hundred stories, and still I could not figure out what was real. One day a girl college student in Canada asked me to define reality for her, for a paper she was writing for her philosophy class. She wanted a one-sentence answer. I thought about it and finally said, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” That’s all I could come up with. That was back in 1972. Since then I haven’t been able to define reality any more lucidly.


…unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing. It is my job to create universes, as the basis of one novel after another.

Fake realities, fake worlds, conspiracies, very strange and mind-blowing ways to look at the world. That was one of Philip K. Dick’s obsessions (apparently something happened to him IRL too, very very interesting) and it’s a recurring theme in all his works. In one of his most famous works, “Do Androids dream of electric sheep?” (the basis for Blade Runner) Dick ponders on what it means to be human, and how you can tell humans apart from robots. The fake/real dichotomy is there too.

“Piper in the woods”, that you already read, deals with the same. Are the soldiers really plants? Do they just think they are plants? Have they become plants by believing they’re plants? And so and so on.


The Man in the High Castle is my favorite book of his.


Thanks, I see it now. :slight_smile: Among the stories that I have read, it seems to me that the recurring topic of the perception of reality is explored also at least in “The Minority Report” and “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale”, albeit in very different ways. In the first one some characters are able to perceive a reality that has not happened yet, which should make the reader think whether that kind of reality should be actually considered real or not and the second one discusses the topic of fake memories.

Are there other short stories in which this topic is discussed?

That reminds me of “Fatherland”, which I loved. It might be my cup of tea.

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Filmed as Total Recall

I have only read the book and not seen the show, but I´ve heard they left out all that I-Ching stuff for the show. You really have to be a lot into that stuff to fully enjoy the book.

I´ve also read A Scanner Darkly and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (Blade Runner).

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
The Eye In The Sky
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

Yes, but the version with Schwarzenegger is just inspired by the original story. All the stuff happening on Mars never happens in Dick’s version. The remake of Total Recall is a bit more faithful to the book.

Hmm… I don’t know how much I would enjoy the I-Ching related parts but my interest in alternate realities and WWII could motivate me to try the book nonetheless.

Thank you very much! :slight_smile:

The reason for that was a point of argument between the authors of the screenplay Dan O´Bannon and Ronald Shusett (who had previously worked on Ridley Scott´s Alien a decade earlier).

I´ll just quote from this interview with Dan O´Bannon from 2007 (which is a fantastic read btw, especially in the lights of the recent debate on writing fiction, here on this forum)

Ronnie really didn’t know what to do with it, and he wasn’t really comfortable with me writing the whole thing, because…well, call him and ask him yourself. He’ll tell you the deal – the only thing that’s important to him is his name above the title. He brought this over to me and said ‘Do you think this could be a full-length screenplay?’. I know that story well and I said sure I do. I sat down and immediately batted out the first thirty pages and handed it to him.

On the basis of that he said write some more, and I did. I said this is good for a first act, but for a movie you’ve got to come up with two more acts. It seemed obvious to me that the guy has to go to Mars now, because the whole thing is his obsession with being a James Bond on Mars. I said that I thought the rest of the movie should be a cross between Casablanca and a James Bond movie. He said ‘I don’t agree at all, I think it should be a western on Mars’. Y’know, Pancho Villa on Mars. I said that was a terrible idea, and I wasn’t going to write it.

So he went off and found some other schlemozzle to write it as a western on Mars. So after some months he comes back to me saying that he wrote it but that nobody likes it, and he was willing to try my approach. So I wrote another act and got him to Mars, and I continued with that light-hearted…imagine the best of the Bond movies, Goldfinger or something, I continued in that tone.

I figured out what the third act should be, and at that point Ronnie yanked it away from me again and ran off and again got some other guy to write a third act, and everybody hated it. So he came back again and I sat down and wrote the third act at his request. Ronnie took it away and years passed while he ran around town doing deal-making. He finally got the picture financed, and the others now involved completely rewrote the third act into what I consider incoherence. So the first two acts are more or less Phil Dick and me, and the last act is Ronnie Shusett.

As I watch the movie, everything it’s been building up to in the last twenty minutes or more just crumbles into chaos.

credit goes to


A Scanner Darkly is a great read. Not very Thimbly, though. I think a lot of his stuff is more on the gritty, dark side. Maybe that’s because of the different medium though (would TWP be darker if it was a book?)

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I hear this a lot, but I find Philip K. Dick writings to be barely coherent, and verging on paranoid ramblings. It’s like he’s got a brilliant concept, but cannot fully realize it on paper and resorts to pulpy plot and facile suspense devices, some of which does not follow the other as the story moves along.

As I read his stories, all along I can sense the germ of a thrilling and fantastically brilliant idea pop up in my head, which results in myself building up the world on my own almost at the expense of the prose. At that point, I feel like I can almost put the book down and imagine a better ending.

To me this is the attraction of his work: the concepts, the scenarios, the almost embryonic plot underneath the harsh prose. There’s always a very good story trying to get out from underneath all the paranoia and stilted dialog. This is, in my opinion, why a lot of work “inspired by” Philip K. Dick is almost always better than the originals themselves.


While it´s always difficult to compare vastly different media like this, I think TwP perfectly hit the tone that Maniac Mansion had. In lights of the recent discussion about the TV Adaptation and the original intention behind the game I´ve been thinking about what it would be like if it were an actual movie at that time. I think tonewise Maniac Mansion would be a movie like The Burbs or The Monster Squad. You know, funny but still a little gritty.

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