Tim's Reviews > Le guide Philip K. Dick

Le guide Philip K. Dick by Étienne Barillier
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bookshelves: press, français, science-fiction, own, non-fiction, reviewed

This new edition (2019) is a revised and updated version of the book that was published in 2012, but is no longer available: Le Petit guide à trimbaler de Philip K. Dick. As it goes with guides like this one, they aim to offer a general, yet clear and accessible overview of the author in question.

Each chapter is preceded by a quote from Philip K. Dick.

What do you learn about the master of Sci-Fi, Philip K. Dick? Well, first of all and obviously: the man's writing career. From early age, he was destined to write, to become an author. As a teen, he wanted to be a writer of general literature, not Sci-Fi. However, as the stories he wrote were set in Sci-Fi settings, or at least contained Sci-Fi ideas, these were the works that attracted publishers. Not his general stories, which nobody was interested in.

Several of his early writings are lost forever, yet information exists about the various premises. Mr Barillier starts with the early works of Mr PKD and advances towards contemporary times. Little by little, you see an evolution in stories, in ideas. Especially in the years 1950 and 1960, PKD was as prolific as can be, one story after another, especially influenced by a.o. the pulpy Sci-Fi in those days. With each presented work, be it a novel or short-story (or film, indeed), you get information like:

* the title
* the working title
* year of publication and publisher
* publications in French (year, publisher, media [magazine, novel, ...])
* synopsis/summary
* commentary by Mr Barillier: background information on the publication (for instance, what Dick meant to convey), information on related works (books, films, radio-shows, ...)

His personal life, in light of his author career, is also given some space. Mr Dick has had his happy moments, but from what I've read, most of his life was a very turbulent ride. Losing his sister early on, getting married a handful of times, moving a few times (from Chicago to California, to begin with), lots of drugs (amphetamines, smoking, ...), etc. The latter (drugs) also influencing his writing, of course. His outlook on life seems to have been pretty dark, which explains his dark stories. However, there were times where sunshine broke through the rain-clouds.

What I've read so far about or by PKD:
* The Penultimate Truth (my review)
* Philip K Dick Goes to Hollywood by the French author Léo Henry (my review)

Other works are on my wish-list (The Man in the High Castle, A Scanner Darkly, VALIS, Ubik, ...), but as my TBR-pile is still massively high, chances are small I'll soon read another PKD-novel. But one never knows.

Philip K. Dick had a lot of unpublished notes, ideas, visions, all known under the term 'Exegesis'. This little guide offers a bit of insight into what this stands for, what it entails. More information is of course available on Wikipedia (here) and elsewhere on the WWW. Your "friend" Google will guide you, if it wants to. Or you could look for and buy the book: The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick (to link one edition).

Adaptations of PKD's works are part of this guide, too. Films (Total Recall, Minority Report, Blade Runner, and many more; each of them also provided with background information and explanations), radio-shows, television series, video-games, and so on. There were even films and theatrical pieces that can be considered "Dickian", in that they contain or are based on the ideas and themes that PKD used in his stories. Of these sorts of art, you also get a few examples.

This guide contains two interviews in the context of films about PKD's works: one with Jérôme Boivin (French film director), and an extract of the one with John Alan Simon (available in its entirety and in English on www.dickien.fr (direct link).

No guide would be complete without lists:
* Studies on anything Philip K. Dick: biographies, his works, Dickian films, ...
* Websites (English and French) about anything Philip K. Dick
* Documentaries
* ...

For obvious reasons, as the man has written an enormous amount of stories and novels, a guide wouldn't be a guide, if it didn't point the reader into a certain direction. Here, Mr Barillier offered some suggestions of where to start with PKD's short-stories and his novels. It's one way to approach the man's legacy, as there are others for those already familiar with his stories.

Like Mr Barillier's other guide (Le Guide Steampunk; my review), which he co-wrote with Arthur Morgan, this revised version of Le guide Philip K. Dick is a very good, all-round starting point into the world of Philip K. Dick. More than a handful of titles to choose from, and continue from there.


I was sent this book by Éditions ActuSF for review. Many thanks to them for the trust.


My sole remark(s) would be:
* The quotes at the beginning of each chapter should have been printed larger, for visual reasons (current font-size: 6 or so?).
* Related, although I understand it's probably out of economic reasons: It wouldn't hurt to increase the font size overall. Now, I'm afraid it's not 12, but 9 or 10 (rough guess). Some texts end (with barely 5 lines) on the next page, leaving a massive amount of white space. Increase the font-size, fill up the white-space a bit more.


On my TBR-pile, also by Mr Barillier: Les Brigades du Steam, co-authored with Cécile Duquenne.
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Reading Progress

December 24, 2019 – Shelved
December 24, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
December 24, 2019 – Shelved as: press
December 24, 2019 – Shelved as: français
December 24, 2019 – Shelved as: science-fiction
December 24, 2019 – Shelved as: own
December 24, 2019 – Shelved as: non-fiction
January 3, 2020 – Started Reading
January 5, 2020 – Shelved as: reviewed
January 5, 2020 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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P.E. I have tremendously enjoyed Le petit guide à trimbaler; what has this one as extra content to offer more specifically?

message 2: by Tim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tim I haven't read the first edition, but I'll copy the text Mr Barillier wrote for this new edition:

L'actualité dickienne est plus que jamais foisonnante. Le nombre de projets autour de l’œuvre de l'auteur californien ne cesse de se déployer, dans de multiples et parfois de surprenantes directions. Cette deuxième éditions actualise ce qui devait l'être tout en ouvrant cette étude aux adaptations cinématographiques et télévisuelles de romans et de nouvelles.

So, if that clarifies anything, I'd say: an update on (mainly) the various adaptations of PDK's works.

P.E. Thank you for these specifics, Tim :)

message 4: by Tim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tim You're welcome. :)

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