In my researches of the public domain short stories, novelettes, and novellas of Philip K. Dick I’ve just discovered this wonderful, sad, and surprising self-portrait by Philip K. Dick. It appeared as the inside front cover of Imagination’s February 1953 issue (which would have been when Dick was about 24 years old).
In it he talks about his early origins as an Science Fiction reader, paints a picture of himself as a misunderstood fan of scientificition (which he abbreviates as “stf”), and as a person who dreams of one day seeing SF magazines in public libraries (and school libraries). To me that’s the really sad part. Heinlein can dream of seeing a man on the moon and see that achieved in his own lifetime. But I’ve yet to see a public library, let alone a school library, with a regular subscription to any SF magazine.
On the bright side of things we learn that his cat, at the time, was named “Magnificat” – and that’s pretty damned awesome.
Here’s the scan:
And here is the complete text:
Once, when I was very young, I came across a magazine directly below the comic books called STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES. I bought it, finally, and carried it home, reading it along the way. Here were ideas, vital and imaginative. Men moving across the universe, down into sub-atomic particles, into time: there was no limit. One society, one given environment was transcended. Stf was Faustian; it carried a person up and beyond.
I was twelve years old, then. But I saw in stf the same thing I see now: a medium in which the full play of human imagination can operate, ordered, of course, by reason and consistent development. Over the years stf has grown, matured toward greater social awareness and responsibility.
I became interested in writing stf when I saw it emerge from the ray gun stage into studies of man in various types and complexities of society.
I enjoy writing stf; it is essentially communication between myself and others as interested as I in knowing where present forces are taking us. My wife and my cat Magnificat, are a little worried about my preoccupation with stf. Like most stf readers I have files and stacks of magazines, boxes of notes and data. parts of unfinished stories, a huge desk full of related material in various stages. The neighbors say I seem to “read and write a lot”. But I think we will see our devotion pay off. We may yet live to be present when the public libraries begin to carry the stf magazines, and someday, perhaps, even the school libraries.
-Philip K. Dick
Posted by Jesse Willis