Phildickian – A Definition

by Patrick Clark

Colliers Dictionary now has a definition of “Ballardian.” Surely it is now time for a definition of “phildickian.” I cribbed the first definition from the Collier’s piece and created the second definition myself.

Phildickian (adj) 1. of Philip Kindred Dick (1928-1982), the American science fiction writer and visionary, or his works. (2) resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in Dick’s novels and stories, esp. pseudo realities, simulated humans, drug-induced epiphanies, techno-surveillance paranoia and an occluded god.

Frankly, it seemed too academic. Happily, Andre Welling weighed in as well with his usual highly imaginative take on the matter. I like his better.

“Phildickian” (see –> “Dickian”): (adj) 1. of Philip Kindred Dick (1928-1982), the American science fiction writer and visionary, or his works. (2) resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in Dick’s novels and stories, esp. identity loss and re-grooving, fake realities and ‘real fakes,’ and the possibility and substrate of morality in the face of inevitable decay. (3) [zip slang] Any motion picture or story where the protagonist turns out to be someone else coming as a surprise even to himself. (4) [med. slang] Poorly balanced consumption or metabolism, like in “I was living on a phildickian diet at this time” or “I was having a (–>) phildickian breakfast.” (5) [droog slang] “Phildickian Breakfast”: coffee and amphetamines or other stimulants.

As it happens, K.W. Jeter once defined “phildickian” in an interview:

“I would define ‘phildickians’ as the descriptive modifier for all situations and events characterized by an extreme difficulty in determining what reality is. Or to put it another way, if you’re having a hard time deciding whether you’re actually talking to your best friend or a giant bug from the Proxima system wearing a mask of your best friend – you’re having a phildickians moment.”

And then there is this from pkd@jazzflavor.co

From: “Steve Wright”
Subject: Re: Phildickian
Date: 20 Apr 2002

The word “phildickian” actually appeared on a book published during PKD’s lifetime (The Zap Gun), so it is arguably canonical. It’s on the flyleaf of the first edition (Pyramid, 1967) of The Zap Gun. It says:

THE ZAP GUN
A Phildickian science-fiction extravaganza extraordinary, starring: […]

Needless to say, my jaw dropped when I discovered this. Did *anyone* say “phildickian” back in 1967? Evidently someone did.

One Response to “Phildickian – A Definition”

  1. Richard Fahey Says:

    The term was probably used colloquially by what was then a cult group of fans,and passed around.

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