The Philip K Dick Award, His Legacy and His Surrealism

Philip K Dick Nominees

So here we have, from the left, Ann Leckie’s representative Ellen Brady Wright (Orbit), err…me, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Ben H Winters, Toh EnJoe (special citation), and EnJoe’s translator, Terry Gallagher.

What a thrill to be in this line-up. The lovely Ben H Winters won the Philip K Dick Award 2013 for Countdown City, sequel to The Last Policeman. Ben is a smart and witty writer so make a note of his two titles! This photo was taken at Norwescon in Seattle where the award ceremony takes place every year. Here’s a full list of the nominated works.

Award administrator Gordon Van Gelder (left) and T William Sadorus (right) ceremony coordinator.

Award administrator Gordon Van Gelder (left) and T William Sadorus (right) ceremony coordinator.

Each author read an extract before the award was announced and I have to admit I’m getting accustomed to reading in public, and I definitely enjoy the experience.  The award is administered by Gordon Van Gelder, award-winning editor of the New York based Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

I was delighted to join Gordon on a panel discussion on Philip K Dick’s literary legacy, together with Toh EnJoe, Nick Mamatas (EnJoe’s editor), Jack Skillingstead and Cassandra Rose Clarke. We each talked about our connections with Philip K Dick’s writing. For me, the film Blade Runner (adapted from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) was my first contact. I loved this film with its dramatic action and its handsome anti-hero Rick Deckard. But I was really haunted for years afterwards by Rachel Rosen, the replicant, and this was an early seed for A Calculated Life.

PKD Panel

During the panel discussion I mentioned that whenever I’ve read Philip K Dick’s books I’ve often been struck by the surrealist nature of his stories. Early surrealist writing involved automatic writing and stream of consciousness but the Surrealist Movement’s leader, André Breton, eventually urged fellow surrealists to stop automatic writing, to find another way forward. I suggested, rightly or wrongly, that surrealist writing found a new home in New Wave Science Fiction, which emerged in the 1950s and became a major movement in the 1960s.

Gordon Van Gelder pointed out that the Philip K Dick Award has a track record of finding new writers because the judges keep a look-out for interesting works that break new ground. Many of their nominees are debut authors. He felt that Philip K Dick would approve of their shortlists! And that, I must say, was lovely to hear.

I’ll report back later on other panel discussions including one lively debate I was involved in – Near Future Political Science Fiction.

The fab 47North team from left: head of acquisitions Jason Kirk, my editor David Pomerico, and Justin Golenbock Justin Golenbock, keeping the Norwescon audience amused with their witty repartee.


But I’ll round off today with some photos of the 47North publishing team. Head of acquisitions Jason Kirk, my editor David Pomerico and head of publicity Justin Golenbock held an event to showcase a wide range of the imprint’s existing and upcoming novels. Jason is a haiku poet and his favourite SF novel is Star Maker (1937) by Olaf Stapledon, so that gives you an idea of his tastes. And David pointed out that any writer looking for a publisher was welcome to pitch an idea to him during the convention! He highlighted a number of novels including Roberta Trahan’s The Keys to the Realms which launches today. Happy release day, Roberta!

Many thanks to everyone for all your good wishes for the Philip K Dick Award. It’s been a fabulous weekend and one of the many highlights has been to meet readers of A Calculated Life!!

And now I must return to my cave…

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