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A SCANNER DARKLY
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"If you saw me on the street," he said into the microphone, after the applause had died out, "you'd say, 'There goes a weirdo freak doper.' And you'd feel aversion and walk away."

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Notes

163

49  

1972-73

1977

THE BOOK OF PHILIP K. DICK (Col.)

UBIK: The Screenplay

 

FIRST EDITIONS

  wpe11.jpg (4119 bytes)   Doubleday, hb, 01613-1, 1977, 220pp, $6.95, (The Quay Brothers) {Levack: "Bound in beige paper boards with black lettering on the spine. Date code 'G51' [51st week of 1976] appears on the lower right margin of page 216. '1977' on the title page. States 'First Edition' on the copyright page."}
  A SCAN4.jpg (4330 bytes)   Gollancz, hb, 02381-3, Nov 1977, 220pp, L3.50 (?) {Levack: "Bound in blue paper boards with gold lettering on the spine. '1977' on the title page."}

HISTORY

    Won the 1979 Graouilly d'Or Award for Best novel presented at the Festival de Metz in France.

    The idea for A SCANNER DARKLY occurred to PKD in 1972 and, like FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID, this novel took him a long time to write. In the Apel & Briggs interview he explains:

    working all those years on FLOW MY TEARS, doing all those drafts, changed my work habits. I'd never done more than a rough draft and a final on a novel before. And there was eleven drafts. God, I was reshaping it word-by-word. Once in, never out; I couldn't go back to doing a rough draft and a final draft, just like that. So the next novel was A SCANNER DARKLY and it took years to write SCANNER; it just took years. The idea came to me in the early part of 1972, and it wasn't until 1976 that I sent the manuscript off to Doubleday. And I wasn't trying to say what was real; I was just no longer able to dash off the stuff at the rate that I had before...

    Perhaps the idea for A SCANNER DARKLY occurred to PKD in 1972 but it was in 1973 that he really formed the novel in his mind and actually wrote the first draft. He describes this period in a letter to his former wife Nancy and daughter Isa in April:

    After sending the novel [FLOW] to my agent […] I started another one [SCANNER] […] (a) a 62-page outline; (b) 82 final pages to mail to accompany the outline for submissions; (c) 240 pages more in rough. Add that up, for a period from February 20 to April 2, and how many pages of writing do you get? A fatal stoke, that’s what.

    And in an open letter to fellow science fiction writer John Sladek, also in April, Dick again covers this:

    The reason why I’ve failed until now to answer your good letter of March 1 is that after writing nothing at all during 1971 and 1972 (except my Vancouver speech) I finished up a novel I began in 1970 and sent it off to Doubleday, and while I was waiting to hear from Doubleday I got a really good idea for a new novel and wrote that, too. So now Doubleday has bought two novels from me.

    So these two letters indicate that Doubleday had accepted, if not a draft, at least a 62-page outline and 82 final pages of A SCANNER DARKLY sometime around April 1973. In another letter in May 1973 PKD again refers to this Doubleday sale:

    For me the big news (besides me and Tessa getting married) is that I have sold two new novels to Doubleday, the first of which is FLOW MY TEARS…

    But with SCANNER -- it is all bite, all grit; it is a great tragic anti-dope novel, an autobiographical account, set as science fiction, of what I saw in the dope world, the counterculture, during the two years after my wife and daughter left me. I believe nothing in fiction matches it in the hell it portrays...

    As we’ve seen and as Phil has said, A SCANNER DARKLY came out of PKD’s collapsed marriage to Nancy and the aftermath where to retain his sanity he surrounded himself with street people. As he notes:

    But on the drug thing, what happened was that after my wife Nancy left me in 1970, I was in a state of complete desolation and despair, and suicidally depressed because I really loved her. She took my little girl with her, who I really loved, and I didn't see my little girl for - I saw her only once in a whole year, just for a few minutes. I got mixed up with a lot of street people, just to have somebody to fill the house. She left me with a four bedroom, two-bathroom house and nobody living in it but me. So I just filled it with street people and I got mixed up with a lot of people who were into drugs. But that was for a period of just about a year. And then I just took amphetamines. I have never ever taken hard drugs. But I was in a position to see what hard drugs did to people, what drugs did to my friends…

    Everything in A SCANNER DARKLY I actually saw. I mean I saw even worse things than I put in A SCANNER DARKLY. I saw people who were reduced to a point where they couldn't complete a sentence, they really couldn't state a sentence. And this was permanent, this was for the rest of their lives. Young people. These were people maybe 18 and 19, and I just saw, you know, it was like a vision of Hell. And I vowed to write a novel about it sometime, and I was just…I'm just…it's just…well, I was in love with a girl who was an addict and I didn't know she was an addict and it was just pathetic. So I wrote A SCANNER DARKLY.

    In the April letter to Sladek already mentioned PKD refers more to SCANNER’s genesis:

    In my second-sale-to-Doubleday-this-month novel, A SCANNER DARKLY, I have gone into new depths of What is reality? That no one ever before imagined could be posed as a question, let alone answered. It is a furiously anti-dope novel, and I spent all of 1971 doing first-hand research for it… although I did not know this at the time. I just thought I was turning on with all my friends. But toward the start of 1972 I woke up one day and noticed that all my friends either were dead, had burned-out brains, were psychotic, or all of the above. Then I fled to Canada, then later on here to Fullerton, which is close to Disneyland. You won’t believe how screwed-up reality is actually, John, until you read SCANNER; I had no idea myself. Anyhow, writing the novel almost killed me, and reading it almost killed little Tessa, my wife; it is a very sad novel and very sad things happen to very good people.

    But the manuscript path of A SCANNER DARKLY is not as simple as that. Paul Williams includes in his description of a package of SCANNER-related documents he was offering for auction a:

    Xerox copy of the original rough draft of A SCANNER DARKLY written in 1973 and never submitted to Doubleday. This Xerox circulated to other publishers when Phil was trying to get out of the Doubleday contract. "This rough draft differs enormously from later versions".

    This rough draft may be the 240 pages PKD wrote between Feb and April and which he mentions in his letter to Nancy and daughter Isa quoted above.

    In regards to PKD’s disaffection with Doubleday perhaps we can refer to his remarks following their publication of A SCANNER DARKLY:

    …it started to bother me, finally, when I wrote my anti-dope book, A SCANNER DARKLY. And I realized I had written a really great novel. Actually I had finally written a true masterpiece, after 25 years of writing, and my agent wrote back when he read the first part, and he said, "You're absolutely right, this is exceptional material." And then he went out and sold it to Doubleday for the same old goddamn two thou -- by that time they were up to $2500 -- still Mickey Mouse money. "Here is this masterpiece, and we are going to pay you $2500 for it." And I fired my agent, and I prepared to buy the manuscript back from Doubleday, and I could never raise the money to buy it back from Doubleday. I couldn't get enough cash to buy it back. And Simon & Schuster offered to buy it from Doubleday for $4000, so I would get a little more money (Larry Ashmead having then gone to Simon & Schuster). But Doubleday refused to relinquish it. They said $3000 was their limit for science fiction, and then they admitted $4000 was their limit, and then they turned around with A SCANNER DARKLY, and turned it over to their trade department, to sell it as a trade book, and there is no limit in the advance to a trade book. So they weren't limited to $3000. And they've got a masterpiece, and they put out almost no money at all.

    So the next book then, I sold to Bantam for $12,000, and Doubleday was just out of luck. Doubleday said on the phone, very bitterly, "You're mercenary." And I said, "No, I have to eat. I have to live. That's what we have here. I owe the IRS $4,700. I can't afford to sell you a novel for $3000." And, of course, I especially couldn't if I could sell it to Bantam for $12,000.

    I never really got angry until this book, A SCANNER DARKLY. I knew the book was worth a great deal of money. I knew that it was really a fine book, and I worked five years on it. And I knew that I was being gypped. It was the first time in 22 or 23 years that I really realised I was being terribly gypped -- just gang-banged is what it was. And Doubleday was crowing about this great book, and they were going to go to town. They were going to do this and do that with it, and I kept saying, "Well, why don't you give me a little more money? I mean, if you recognise the quality of the work, and you have such plans for it" and that's when they said, "You're mercenary." And so they didn't get a shot at the next book. And they know it.

    This money situation was a sore point for Dick and he refers to Doubleday and A SCANNER DARKLY again:

    Doubleday went up to three thousand dollars advance for my new book, A SCANNER DARKLY. They said that that was the most they could go for a "science fiction" novel. So after they had acquired it for three thousand dollars, they turned it over to the trade department, which has no limit on what it can offer, and then they told me that the real limit was four thousand dollars. But I was too dumb to know the difference. They acquired it for three thousand dollars, which is just chicken feed, let's face it--three thousand bucks, and it took me like three years to write the book. Now that's a thousand dollars a year. Somebody sits down to write science fiction, and then the publisher markets it as a mainstream novel and gets to sit on both stools. They get to eat the porridge out of one pot, and then they get to eat the porridge out of the other pot, and I got no porridge in mine at all. They're going to make a bundle on it, but Ballantine deserves to make a bundle on it because Judy-Lynn Del Rey at Ballantine went over the manuscript page by page with me and told me what it needed in order to be a truly competent book. This is the first time that any editor has ever done that with me since THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE.

    This argument with Doubleday, then, occurring after April 1973, resulted in the rough draft manuscript being sent to Ballantine Books where Judy-Lyn Del Rey looked it over and made suggestions.

    At this point it is worth the time to look at the SCANNER-documents that Paul Williams offered for auction in 1986. In his description we find a thorough history for A SCANNER DARKLY and as PKD himself said therein, "the only written evidence in existence of all the stages through which A SCANNER DARKLY went.":

AUCTION: A SCANNER DARKLY manuscript and correspondence package. Minimum bid $750. Paul Williams.

Description:

  1. Doubleday 1st .ed. A SCANNER DARKLY, signed and dated by PKD, book in mint condition, dw torn on spine.
  2. Original letter from PKD dated 3-7-77 describing all materials in this package except items 1 and 2. Typed; signed in pen. Letter concludes: "This collection of MSS is the only written evidence in existence of all the stages through which A SCANNER DARKLY went."
  3. Xerox of a letter from Judy-Lynn Del Rey at Ballantine, 2pp. detailing revisions she would like to see in ASD; PKD has made notes in pen on the Xerox, indicating his initial reactions.
  4. PKD's carbon of his 4-page letter replying to Del Rey, responding in detail on every point. "Well maybe I've found my Maxwell Perkins at last." Signed in pen.
  5. Original letter from Del Rey, with copies of ms pages.
  6. 29 carbons of ms pages, described by PKD as the new pages written at Judy Lynn's request.
  7. PKD's handwritten list of pages of ASD on which German words appear.
  8. PKD's personal carbon-copy of MS of SCANNER as submitted to Doubleday (prior to the 1976 correspondence with Del Rey). Very good condition. 297pp. Signed in pen on title page.

    Xerox copy of the original rough draft of ASD written in 1973 and never submitted to Doubleday. This Xerox circulated to other publishers when Phil was trying to get out of the Doubleday contract. "This rough draft differs enormously from later versions" -- PKD. 298pp plus 6pp insertions. First page very ragged, others in good condition... The total package allows one to follow the path of the novel, from first completed draft to the fully revised draft submitted for publication, and then to the third state after Del Rey's editorial input.

    For Del Rey’s input, Dick was grateful, saying

    The person who came along and saved the book was Judy-Lynn Del Rey... she had me completely revise the book. She showed me how to develop the characters, and when she got through working with me on that book... I'd written a great novel.

    And again,

    I remember when Ballantine acquired the manuscript. Judy-Lynn Del Rey wanted me to revise it. She said, "Well, it's set in the future, and they're talking slang from the 60s. I want you to abolish" -- as if by a wave of the hand -- "all of the slang, throughout the entire book, and manufacture, from your own brain, an entirely new slang. I decree that you will do this.
    And I wrote back and I says, "Judy, you know damn well the book is about the 60s. it says so in the author's Afterword." ({…}) "First of all, I'm not able to make up a whole new slang." And she says, "Well, they did it in Clockwork Orange. And if he can do it, why can't you do it?" And I says, "The book is not about the future. The book is about the past, as a matter of fact. You know it because it says so." Not that I'm lazy... It's just that I'm trying to capture a milieu which is already perishing, and I'm setting it ahead, since this is a convention of my writing.

    But on reflection Dick got over his first reaction to this criticism:

    Pete Israel, who was the editor for Putnam then, went over THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE page by page, and now Judy-Lynn has done that with A SCANNER DARKLY. So now I've got two good novels under my belt because I've had two good editors. Judy-Lynn Del Rey is probably the greatest editor since Maxwell Perkins: she showed me how to create a character. I've been selling novels for twenty-two years, and she showed me how to develop a character. My first reaction was, "Dear Judy-Lynn, how would you like to take a one-way walk off the Long Beach Pier?" But then I started thinking about what she was saying, and soon as my fuse had burned out--being very short, it didn't take long--I realized that she was teaching me how to write. It's too bad that nobody did that twenty-five years ago, because then maybe my books would have made more sense. But A SCANNER DARKLY? A master craftsman came into that book--Judy-Lynn Del Rey. Now I know what to do when I write a book. You don't just write whatever comes into your head while you're sitting there in front of the typewriter.

    So then, despite the contractual squabble with Doubleday and the editorial work by Ballantine, the first edition of A SCANNER DARKLY was published by Doubleday in January 1977 and they followed it with their SFBC edition six weeks later. The Ballantine paperback edition didn’t see publication until Dec 1977 – after the first UK edition from Gollancz in November.

    In the pages of The Philip K. Dick Society Newsletter a reader from Czechoslovakia notes an edition of SCANNER published in that country in 1986 with a printing of 50,000 copies.

    And K.W. Jeter, PKD’s friend and science fiction writer, speaks of the fidelity of the French translation:

    Apparently the French editions are very faithful, to the point where the French edition of A SCANNER DARKLY is so faithful that it has to have footnotes explaining some Americanisms. Like, what are M&Ms. {…} And product or brand names that wouldn't be familiar to a French person. Instead of translating it into some kind of French equivalent to some kind of candy, they actually kept it. The footnotes are on just about every other page.

    The French edition from Denoel in 1978 enabled Dick to win the 1979 Graouilly d'Or Award for Best Novel presented at the Festival de Metz in France.

    Some of the editions of A SCANNER DARKLY are quite valuable. The first Doubleday edition commands prices of $150 and up depending on condition. The Gollancz edition from England is worth $50 or more while the most common, the SFBC edition from Doubleday, can be had for about $30. The Ballantine paperback is fairly cheap at about $15. But perhaps the ultimate SCANNER package, besides the one offered for auction by Paul Williams, is that put up for sale by bookseller Ken Lopez in 1997:

    A SCANNER DARKLY. (Published by Doubleday, 1977). Two complete manuscripts. The original ribbon copy typescript, with pages numbered 1-128 and 3 pages that appeared in the book as the "Author's Note." The text has been extensively reworked in ink by the author, with revisions on a majority of pages and at least two scenes that do not appear in the final book. Together with a second copy, this a complete re-typing consisting of 300 ribbon copy pages, with a few small ink notes and changes by the author, and a number of pencil copy editor's marks. $16,500.

    Inevitably with A SCANNER DARKLY the subject of drugs comes up – and above we’ve noted a few of Dick’s comments on this -- but as to suggestions, once again, that Dick wrote the novel while ‘on drugs’ we find a quick dismissal:

    It's about an undercover agent who must take dope to conceal his cover and the dope damages his brain progressively, as well as making him an addict. The book follows him along to the end until his brain is damaged to such an extent that he can no longer wash pots and pans in the kitchen of a rehabilitation center. I hope the reader won't say, "Boy! I bet he did that!" This is the verisimilitude the author is trying to create, the sense that the novel actually is real. Now I was at a heroin rehab center in Canada, and I did draw from it, and I've had friends who dropped acid and became permanently psychotic. And a number who killed themselves too. But I wouldn't say that if affected my writing directly, that the acid wrote the book.

    As to whether drugs had actually affected PKD’s brain around the time of the SCANNER writing, his friend and collaborator, Roger Zelazny, recalls a funny incident:

    Then Phil, in a profound moment afterwards, said, "Roger, a strange thing happened to me." Which is not really unusual, because strange things always happen to Phil. I nodded. "I have this book, A SCANNER DARKLY. I have these characters who have been on hard drugs for a long time, and they're burnt-out cases. I wanted to choose a scene which exemplified the extent of their mental deterioration. I had them attempting to figure out the functioning of the gear-shift on a ten-speed bicycle." (Phil always chooses good examples for things)
    So he had written this up and indicated that they were wrong, because this is how the gear-shift on a ten-speed bicycle really works. His editor called him: "Phil... A funny thing in this manuscript of yours. I happen to own a ten-speed bicycle. I went out and looked at the gear-shift, and -- um -- you've got it wrong yourself."
    Phil said, "My God, you know what that means? Roger, how do you know when you're a burnt-out case?"

    But burnt-out or not, for Philip K. Dick A SCANNER DARKLY was an important book:

    There more than any other book I was recording what actual people did and said which would have vanished into the ether otherwise. I was in a position that no one else was in. I was in a position to remember it and recapture it. These were, for the most part, illiterate people, so they'll never know. The one thing that really means something to me is little braveries, little displays of strength and courage, and something more than competence.

    And, while complaining again about Doubleday’s advance payment rates, Dick calls SCANNER a masterpiece:

    I felt I had written a novel equal to ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. I felt that what ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT was to war -- that anybody that read it would never pick up a rifle as long as they lived -- that anybody who ever read A SCANNER DARKLY would never drop dope as long as they lived. In it I had all my friends who are now dead or crazy from dope, sitting around laughing and talking, you know, and then they all go crazy and die. It broke my heart to read it, it broke my heart to do the galleys. I did the galleys two weeks ago, and I cried for two days after I did the galleys. Every time I read it I cry. And I believe that it is a masterpiece. I believe it is the only masterpiece I will ever write. Not that it's the only masterpiece I have ever written, but the only one I will ever write, because it is a book that is unique. And when I got $2500 for all this work, I knew I was being burned. Because there were human beings in that book who have never been put down on paper before.

    {…} They're all taking dope, and they're all happy, and they're all wonderful people. Then the terrible destruction of their brains begins, and they begin to lose contact with reality, and they begin to gyrate around, and they no longer can function. And by the time the book ends, the protagonist is lucky if he can clean out a bathroom -- clean out a toilet. Every time I read it, it has the same effect on me. The funny parts are the funniest parts ever written, and the sad parts are the saddest parts ever written, and they're both in the same book.

    Many fans, too, consider A SCANNER DARKLY to be a masterpiece. David Keller selects the novel as his favorite in the FDO Fan Poll:

    A SCANNER DARKLY. His best… the local settings add to my interest but SCANNER is simply his best novel in my opinion. Needs at least four readings to pick up on a lot of connections and symbols and whatnot. Much more complex than it first appears to be and is unusually coherent without sacrificing deep questioning/ambiguity about the nature of reality.

    The critics, too, were favorable and PKD took the opportunity to respond to a scholarly article on A SCANNER DARKLY to further explain his novel:

    SCANNER deals not with schizophrenia and not with neurosis but with organic brain damage producing split-brain dysfunction and a tragic parody of bilateral hemispheric parity, inasmuch as damage to the normally dominant left hemisphere (Bob Arctor) allows a secondary personality to form in the right hemisphere (Fred), but the two brain hemispheres simply war on each other until at last they collapse into the deteriorated third personality Bruce. See, I said it all in a few sentences; there is no more to say. Here is an instance where that which we are as a species striving for -- bilateral hemispheric parity -- misfires; when at last a unitary self is formed it is not a metaself, but, and this is so terribly evident toward the conclusion of the novel, a mere reflex thing that only repeats back what it has heard; biological life continues, but the soul is dead.

    Which pretty much sums up the main plot of the novel. But to read of Bob Arctor’s spying on himself, his deterioration, and that of his friends, is both hilarious and horrifying. For one who has lived through the times that Dick wrote about in A SCANNER DARKLY, the novel strikes a numbing chord. In the FDO Fan Poll I chose this as my second favorite PKD novel with the response:

    Such an intense book. So funny and sad and bitterly truthful. I didn’t see it as an anti-drug novel, as has sometimes been mentioned. It really had nothing to do with drugs except as an example. Dick could have written the same novel using any of commodity-capitalism’s snares. An indictment of the System so biting that it’s no wonder PKD’s safe was blown open … In my opinion there has not been a better novel than A SCANNER DARKLY written in English since George Orwell’s 1984.

    And with that said I can only rate the novel .


fan fave: A SCANNER DARKLY. For me, probably the best example of Dick’s black humour, and concepts with the reality/unreality of different "humans." As a pediatrician I have recommended/given my copy of this book to several teenagers who are interested in sf. They appear to be deeply moved by it, and relate to it from their own (i.e. drug difficulties in modern society perspective) -- ?


OTHER ENGLISH EDITIONS                 For Cover Pix click here: aaaPKDickBooks.jpg (3234 bytes)

FOREIGN EDITIONS


Fan fave: "Second, I guess, is A SCANNER DARKLY, which I love primarily for its hilarious portrayal of the ‘stoner’s’ lifestyle. The passages about the Mylar Microdot Corp., and the attempt to smuggle hash across the border as a mechanised dummy, never fail to get a laugh out of me. In addition, its anti-drug message is very important and moving, and the book also feeds my normal paranoia regarding police and surveillance. – Geoff Notkin


NOTES

{ Capsule: Writing begun in 1972-73 after completing FLOW MY TEARS. Rev. and pub. 1977 BY Doubleday. Three states: 1st draft in 1973; rev. for circulation to other publishers than Doubleday; revised state for Judy-Lyn Del Rey of Ballantine Books in 1976}

PKDS 12

SCANNER... was written circa 1973-74.

PKDS-2 7

After completing FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID, which he had begun before his previous wife had left him, he wrote A SCANNER DARKLY. This work had been several years in the making, but he typed it from page one to the end in less than three weeks... SCANNER kept coming back for more changes, and the work went on for two years before it was ready to be published. Phil then began a work called ZEBRA which became VALISSYSTEM A. {Letter to PKDS from Tessa Dick}

PKDS-4 8:

SCANNER film forthcoming? The Estate of PKD is in serious negotiation with a major French production company, Accent Films, that wants to make a feature film based on A SCANNER DARKLY... PKD's reputation and book sales in France are very impressive -- he is one of the most popular American science fiction writers, and considered a visionary for his insights into popular culture...

PKDS-5 7:

My books don't turn me on all that much. [Laughter] The only book I've ever written that I really like, that I think is any good, is A SCANNER DARKLY. Maybe that's just because its my most recent book. {PKD-A & B 1977}

PKDS-5 11:

(K.W.Jeter:) Apparantly the French editions are very faithful, to the point where the French edition of A SCANNER DARKLY is so faithful that it has to have footnotes explaining some Americanisms. Like, what are M&Ms.

(A. Watson:) Idioms.

(KWJ:) And product or brand names that wouldn't be familiar to a French person. Instead of translating it into some kind of French equivalent to some kind of candy, they actually kept it. The footnotes are on just about every other page.
... The old WPA period post office was just a couple blocks away. So was the Trader Joe store on Main Street, which is referred to in SCANNER, where the character buys a bottle of wine before he's going to kill himself. Trader Joe's actually exists. It's a small chain of stores down in Southern California, which I really miss...

PKDS-5 13:

I think there were about three different periods. There was the period where he wrote very fast without revision, simply because of economic pressure, when he was up in the Bay area. That accounted for that period. Then there was a later period in the 70s which would include FLOW MY TEARS and A SCANNER DARKLY, books like that, where he was no longer under the economic pressure, and he did go through drafts and drafts of his books. {K.W.JETER}

PKDS-6 12:

I finally decided that I liked the last part of FLOW MY TEARS, but as a whole, I don't like it. I don't think it's totally satisfactory. My appreciation is directed now at A SCANNER DARKLY... {PKD}

PKDS-6 14:

This is why SCANNER is so important to me, I think. There more than any other book I was recording what actual people did and said which would have vanished into the ether otherwise. I was in a position that no one else was in. I was in a position to remember it and recapture it. These were, for the most part, iliterate people, so they'll never know. The one thing that really means something to me is litle braveries, little displays of strength and courage, and something more than competence. {PKD 1977}

PKDS-11 6:

"The person who came along and saved the book was Judy-Lynn Del Rey... she had me completely revise the book. She showed me how to develop the characters, and when she got through working with me on that book... I'd written a great novel." {PKD}

PKDS-13 5:

(JBR) What were his writing habits like at that time?

(TD:) He would shut himself up in the spare room and type, 24 hours a day. He'd stop and rest for anywhere from ten minutes to a half hour, and then he'd be back typing again. He would not go near the kitchen, so I really think he would not have eaten if I had not have taken food in there for him. And that's where the "dogshit scene" in SCANNER comes from.

(JBR) Really?

(TD:)Mm-hmm. We used to eat these cookies called "fiddlesticks". They looked like "Flakey Flicks", er... chocolate covered wafers, rolled in cornflakes?

(JB:)Sure.

(TD:) While Phil was writing SCANNER I put a plate of the fiddlesticks in there with a glass of milk and, you now, he had his back to the table I set it on, so he just kept on typing. When he got up to see what I'd brought him, and he looked at the plate, it looked like a pile of dogshit. [laughter]
With SCANNER you know I wasn't married to him yet. And aside from every five minutes with him yelling, "How do you spell such and such?" I also did a lot of proofreading. He would type a few pages and then bring them out for me to proofread, and it got to where he was typing them faster than I could read them. Of course, he worked 24 hours a day and I didn't. I had to keep the apartment and cook dinner and stuff. And sleep. {Tessa Dick & J.B.Reynolds 1986}

PKDS-13 5:

(TD:) Even then I wanted to get a job, and Phil said, "No way." So he started more writing. While he was somewhere in between finishing FLOW MY TEARS for Doubleday and beginning SCANNER, Ed Ferman wrote from F&SF and said they were doing an anniversary issue and they would like a story. So Phil wrote the story of the Tempunauts." {Tessa Dick & J.B.Reynolds 1986}

PKDS-13 16:

Vaclav Kriz sent two items from Czechoslovakia... a copy of the 1986 hardcover Temny Obraz (A SCANNER DARKLY), translated by Jan Kamenisty and published by Smena Publishing in a first edition of 50,000 copies!

PKDS-16 4:

Then Phil, in a profound moment afterwards, said, "Roger, a strange thing happened to me." Which is not really unusual, because strange things always happen to Phil. I nodded. "I have this book, A SCANNER DARKLY. I have these characters who have been on hard drugs for a long time, and they're burnt-out cases. I wanted to choose a scene which exemplified the extent of their mental deterioration. I had then attempting to figure out the functioning of the gear-shift on a ten-speed bicycle." (Phil always chooses good examples for things)
So he had written this up and indicated that they were wrong, because this is how the gear-shift on a ten-speed bicycle really works. His editor called him: "Phil... A funny thing in this manuscript of yours. I happen to own a ten-speed bicycle. I went out and looked at the gear-shift, and -- um -- you've got it wrong yourself."
Phil said, "My God, you know what that means? Roger, how do you know when you're a burnt-out case?" {Roger Zelazny 1978}


"I plan to write a best-seller eventually," Barris said. "A text for the average person about how to manufacture safe dope in the kitchen without breaking the law."


DI 205

    {…} After sending the novel [FLOW] to my agent […] I started another one [SCANNER] […] (a) a 62-page outline; (b) 82 final pages to mail to accompany the outline for submissions; (c) 240 pages more in rough. Add that up, for a period from February 20 to April 2, and how many pages of writing do you get? A fatal stoke, that’s what.

PKD to Nancy and Isa, Apr 8, 1973.

Philip K. Dick: Breakthroughs & Breakins, SF Commentary, July-‘Sep 1973

    The reason why I’ve failed until now to answer your good letter of March 1 is that after writing nothing at all during 1971 and 1972 (except my Vancouver speech) I finished up a novel I began in 1970 and sent it off to Doubleday, and while I was waiting to hear from Doubleday I got a really good idea for a new novel and wrote that, too. So now Doubleday has bought two novels from me.

    {…}

    In my second-sale-to-Doubleday-this-month novel, A SCANNER DARKLY, I have gone into new depths of What is reality? That no one ever before imagined could be posed as a question, let alone answered. It is a furiously anti-dope novel, and I spent all of 1971 doing first-hand research for it… although I id not know this at the time. I just thought I was turning on with all my friends. But toward the start of 1972 I woke up one day and noticed that all my friends either were dead, had burned-out brains, were psychotic, or all of the above. Then I fled to Canada, then later on here to Fullerton, which is close to Disneyland. You won’t believe how screwed-up reality is actually, John, until you read SCANNER; I had no idea myself. Anyhow, writing the novel almost killed me, and reading it almost killed little Tessa, my wife; it is a very sad novel and very sad things happen to very good people. {An open letter from Philip K. Dick to John Sladek, Apr 23, 1973. {See "A Little Something For Us Tempunauts" for more from this letter}

SF EYE

    But on the drug thing, what happened was that after my wife Nancy left me in 1970, I was in a state of complete desolation and despair, and suicidally depressed because I really loved her. She took my little girl with her, who I really loved, and I didn't see my little girl for - I saw her only once in a whole year, just for a few minutes. I got mixed up with a lot of street people, just to have somebody to fill the house. She left me with a four bedroom, two-bathroom house and nobody living in it but me. So I just filled it with street people and I got mixed up with a lot of people who were into drugs. But that was for a period of just about a year. And then I just took amphetamines. I have never ever taken hard drugs. But I was in a position to see what hard drugs did to people, what drugs did to my friends.

    There is terrible damage done.

    Just incredible. I just couldn't believe it. I saw things that if I hadn't seen them with my own eyes I simply wouldn't have believed them. I know you've read A Scanner Darkly. Everything in A Scanner Darkly I actually saw. I mean I saw even worse things than I put in A Scanner Darkly. I saw people who were reduced to a point where they couldn't complete a sentence, they really couldn't state a sentence. And this was permanent, this was for the rest of their lives. Young people. These were people maybe 18 and 19, and I just saw, you know, it was like a vision of Hell. And I vowed to write a novel about it sometime, and I was just…I'm just…it's just…well, I was in love with a girl who was an addict and I didn't know she was an addict and it was just pathetic. So I wrote A Scanner Darkly.
    But, I did take amphetamines for years in order to be able to - I was able to produce 68 final pages of copy a day. But I write very slowly now and I take my time, because I don't have any economic pressures. I was supporting, at one time, four children and a wife with very expensive tastes. Like she bought a Jaguar and so forth. I just had to write and that is the only way I could do it. And, you know, I'd like to be able to say I could have done it without the amphetamines, but I'm not sure I could have done it without the amphetamines, turn out that volume of writing. So I can't really say that for me amphetamines were a total, negative thing. {SF EYE, #14, Spring 1996, pp. 37-46. Conducted by Uwe Anton & Werner Fuchs. Transcribed by Frank C. Bertrand }

Vertex

VERTEX: Doesn't your latest novel, A Scanner Darkly, also deal with drugs?

DICK: It's about an undercover agent who must take dope to conceal his cover and the dope damages his brain progressively, as well as making him an addict. The book follows him along to the end until his brain is damaged to such an extent that he can no longer wash pots and pans in the kitchen of a rehabilitation center. I hope the reader won't say, "Boy! I bet he did that!" This is the verisimilitude the author is trying to create, the sense that the novel actually is real. Now I was at a heroin rehab center in Canada, and I did draw from it, and I've had friends who dropped acid and became permanently psychotic. And a number who killed themselves too. But I wouldn't say that if affected my writing directly, that the acid wrote the book. {Vertex, Vol. 1, no. 6, February 1974. Interviewer: Arthur Byron Cover}

Hour 25: A Talk With Philip K. Dick

hosted by Mike Hodel

KPFK-FM, North Hollywood, California. June 26, 1976. Click here for the Hour 25 Web Site

Transcribed and edited by Frank C. Bertrand

Well, science fiction has changed a lot in the last few years. It's coming out of the ghetto. But all that's done is make it worse. I mean, the writing is worse, now that it is coming out of the ghetto. Instead of getting better it's getting worse because it's losing it's identity, it's losing it's shape. It's becoming like silly putty. I mean, you can now call anything you want science fiction or you can decide not to call it science fiction. I have a book coming out. The hardcover edition of it will be called mainstream and the paperback is going to be sold as science fiction. If you buy the hardcover you're reading a mainstream novel. If you buy the Ballantine paperback you're reading a science fiction novel. But the text is identical in the two. And they were bought simultaneously by Doubleday and Ballantine working in tandem. So if I were to talk to you about my novel, I'd have to ask you whether you'd read the Doubleday edition or the Ballantine paperback edition. Now, if you'd read the Ballantine paperback edition I'd say, yes, that was a great science fiction novel. And if you'd read the Doubleday edition I'd say, well, that was a great mainstream novel, wasn't it Mike? You'd be hard put to figure out how to respond when it's strictly a way of packaging it. We're not talking about packaging and marketing. We're not talking about content at all. Like Sharon Jarvis at Doubleday read its first eighty pages. She says, well, there's no rocket ships in this book. It's not science fiction. I'm going to throw it down the hall to the other editors, the trade editors and let them market it. And Ballantine looked at the manuscript and said, hot dog, this is wonderful science fiction. We're going to make millions. And then I said, you guys better get together. So I really don't know. I mean, it came out of the ghetto in the hardcover edition and it went right back into the ghetto in the paperback edition.

Mike: Which do you hope sells more, the softcover with the SF tag or Doubleday mainstream?

Phil: I hope, oh boy, now you've really put me against the wall. That's a very evil question to ask.

Mike: That's right.

Phil: Because I can't answer without offending somebody. That is, I have to sit on two stools at once. And I have to hype the science fiction one and then I have to turn around and hype the mainstream one. I can't fault either one without immediately becoming victim of my own trap.

Mike: Okay. Well, let's see if we can rephrase it so it may not offend quite as many people.

Phil: I don't want to offend anybody. It's an inoffensive novel. It will not offend any reader anywhere. No bad words. Now that's another thing. It could not be published as science fiction by Doubleday because it had four letter words in it. And their science fiction list does not allow four letter words in a book. There were too many of them to remove them. If there only had been a few, like in Deus Irae, which they bought from me and Roger Zelazny. There were only a few four letter words so they inked them out and then marketed it as science fiction. And I had never known this before. I didn't know the distinction between science fiction and mainstream was the number of four letter words. But on this new one of mine, Larry Ashmead, the editor-in-chief at Doubleday says, you can't take them out. They're necessary to the book. Therefore we can't market it as science fiction. So we're down to basics now. If you want it marketed as a mainstream novel you say bleep bleep all the way through the book. And if you get enough bleep bleeps in the book they can't market it as science fiction because they figure most of the science fiction market is kids. This is their theory. This is not my theory. But their envisioning this audience with the hick glasses and the acne, parting the hair in the middle, and the overcoat the guy bought at the Salvation Army and the suitcase of old magazines. And he has a felt pen that he wants you to sign every copy of every Astounding that he's got. That's their idea of the science fiction market. That's theirs, that's not my idea.

Mike: This is Doubleday, the premier hardcover --

Phil: I'm not saying I mean Doubleday. I just mean them.

Mike: Oh, them. Oh yeah, the well known --

Phil: The well known them. The people who run things.

Mike: So that's the distinction. If it's got enough four letter words it's not science fiction.

Phil: That's right. I was told this by an editor-in-chief who is not with Doubleday. He went over to Simon and Schuster.

{…} Mike: Alright. You do writing which is excellent. And it is labeled science fiction and therefore it don't sell nothing. It winds up --

Phil: Wrong. Wrong. Doubleday gets to market it through their el cheapo book club. Oh boy, will they love to hear this. But that's true. They get to sell it for a dollar. And the author makes a penny, then, or something trivial like that. His royalties of the entire, Robert Heinlein explained this to me one time. He said, you sell a book to a hardcover publisher and the Doubleday Book Club snatches it right up and markets it for a dollar, no matter how many pages it's got. I mean, we're speaking in hyperbole here, but never the less, then your royalties immediately descend down to the miniscule level again. The more copies it sells the less money you make. Heinlein says that he was financially ruined when they picked up like Stranger In A Strange Land, I believe it was, one of his recent ones, because they immediately market a giant thing for a dollar and his royalties, he says, it destroyed the trade edition. He says, the worst thing that could happen to you. I always thought it was good when I had a book picked up by the Doubleday Book Club, but I found out I make no money. I looked at my royalty sheets. I made no money. That's where the money is, though, is marketing it through like a book club thing. And the publisher makes the money but the author doesn't. He makes his ten percent of the flat price on the trade edition only. And what they do is this. They print up about two thousand copies of the trade edition. They sell five hundred of them and they pulp the rest the next day. I didn't know that. That is almost enough to make me leave the field of writing entirely. An editor, two editors told me that this is actually what happens. A hardcover publisher puts out a science fiction novel and pulps his trade edition immediately and turns it over to the book club. So the author looks at his royalty sheet, he says, that's really strange, he says, no matter how good my novel is, it will only sell two thousand copies. It always stops at two thousand copies. Because that's at the point that the publisher decided to pulp the edition. I was told this and one of my recent hardcover novels, I won't name the publisher, because this is secondary data, I've just this editor's word for it. After they sold five hundred copies, they pulped the entire edition. For no reason at all. Except it made it available immediately for subsidiary rights. {...}

Phil: No, that isn't the issue at hand. Well, I know he's dead. That wasn't even his name. No, A Scanner Darkly is from Paul's sees through a glass darkly.

Mike: Ah.

Phil: It's the story about a guy who becomes a narcotics agent and then begins to narc on himself. He rigs up a scanner, an infra-red scanner, in his own home. And while he's in the home he feels he's being watched. And then when he goes to the safe house he watches reels and reels of tape, video hologram tape - it's set in the future - of what he was doing in the house and he's so spaced out by the dope he's been taking as an undercover agent that he doesn't know he's narcing on himself. He thinks he's two different guys. And when his superiors point out to him that he's really the same guy that he's been reporting on, he just slides into a terrible rage and they fire him. And then he's got to come off the dope because he can't afford to buy it anymore because he didn't have any more money. And his brain is all burned out. And Judy-Lyn del Rey helped me put this book back together so that it made more sense. And one of the things that I wrote was this funny suicide scene. I really think there should be more funny suicide things. I think that it's a topic of great humor. And this is it. It's very short and it's in the book and it's self explanatory, I hope. I hope the whole book makes sense. Judy says it makes sense now. So we'll have the first Phil Dick novel that makes sense. The scene goes as follows: "Charles Freck, becoming progressively more and more depressed by what was happening to everybody he knew, decided finally to off himself. There was no problem, in the circles where he hung out, in putting an end to yourself: you just bought into a large quantity of reds and took them with some cheap wine, late at night, with the phone off the hook so no one would interrupt you. The planning part had to do with the artifacts you wanted found on you by later archeologists. So they'd know from which stratum you came. And also could piece together where your head had been at at the time you did it. He spent several days deciding on the artifacts. Much longer than he had spent deciding to kill himself, and approximately the same time required to get that many reds. He would be found lying on his back, on his bed, with a copy of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead (which would prove he had been a misunderstood superman rejected by the masses and so, in a sense, murdered by their scorn) and an unfinished letter to Exxon protesting the cancellation of his gas credit card. That way he would indict the system and achieve something by his death, over and above what the death itself achieved. Actually, he was not as sure in his mind what the death achieved as what the two artifacts achieved; but anyhow it all added up, and he began to make ready, like an animal sensing its time has come and acting out its instinctive programming, laid down by nature, when its inevitable end was near. At the last moment (as end-time closed in on him) he changed his mind on a decisive Issue and decided to drink the reds down with a connoisseur wine instead of Ripple or Thunderbird, so he set off on one last drive, over to Trader Joe's, which specialized in fine wines, and bought a bottle of 1971 Modavi Cabernet Sauvignon, which set him back almost thirty dollars -- all he had. Back home again, he uncorked the wine, let it breathe, drank a few glasses of it, spent a few minutes contemplating his favorite page of The Illustrated Picture Book of Sex, which showed the girl on top, then placed the plastic bag of reds beside his bed, lay down with the Any Rand book and unfinished protest letter to Exxon, tried to think of something meaningful but could not, although he kept remembering the girl being on top, and then, with a glass of the Cabernet Sauvignon, gulped down all the reds at once. After that, the deed being one, he lay back, the Ayn Rand book And the letter on his chest, and waited. However, he had been burned. The capsules were not barbiturates, as represented. They were some kind of kinky psychedelics, of a type he had never dropped before, probably a mixture, and new on the market. Instead of quietly suffocating, Charles Freck began to hallucinate. Well, he thought philosophically, this is the story of my life. Always ripped off. He had to face the fact - considering how many of the capsules he had swallowed - that he was in for some trip. The next thing he knew, a creature from between dimensions was standing beside his bed looking down at him disapprovingly. The creature had many eyes, all over it, ultra-modern expensive-looking clothing, and rose up eight feet high. Also, it carried an enormous scroll. "You're going to read me my sins," Charles Freck said. The creature nodded and unsealed the scroll. Freck said, lying helpless on his bed, "and it's going to take a hundred thousand hours." Fixing its many compound eyes on him, the creature from between dimensions said, "We are no longer in the mundane universe. Lower-plane categories of material existence such as 'space' and 'time' no longer apply to you. You have been elevated to the transcendent realm. Your sins will be read to you ceaselessly, in shifts, throughout eternity. The list will never end." Know your dealer, Charles Freck thought, and wished he could take back the last half-hour of his life. A thousand years later he was still lying there on his bed with the Ayn Rand book and the letter to Exxon on his chest, listening to them read his sins to him. They had gotten up to the first grade, when he was six years old. Ten thousand years later they had reached the sixth grade. The year he had discovered masturbation. He shut his eyes, but he could still see the multi-eyed, eight-foot-high being with its endless scroll reading on and on. "And next --" it was saying. Charles Freck thought, at least I got a good wine."

Mike: Oh, that's marvelous.

Phil: So, I just stuck that in. She didn't ask for that. This thing that I read, a guy told me that happened to him.

Mike: Really?

Phil: Yeah. That he had bought barbituates, what he thought were barbituates and everything there is exactly what happened to the guy, except the particular artifacts that he had. I forgot what he had, a can opener or something. He was going to do it for the archeologists, you know. He expected them to find him thousands - I don't know what made him think that. Well, I guess I do, because it was 800 pounds of psychedelics that he took. He still didn't know where he was. But that's what happened to him, he hallucinated. The cops found him under a bush. He was very fortunate. He was outdoors. And a police car drove by. And he's lying under a bush, with a hundred pounds of psychedelics in his tum-tum and his bloodstream, seeing creatures from between the dimensions. And the police car saw him and they leaped right out and grabbed him and took him to the hospital, just drove him right to the hospital. So, if like he had done it inside, like my character did - this character is never seen again in the book, I just realized. We assume he's still going to be there hallucinating. This guy told me if he'd done it in his bedroom instead of under a bush - that was the one thing that saved him was the cops came. I mean like I'm anti-cop all the time but I think to myself there is an example of where you really could use a cop car coming by. The guy couldn't get up or talk or anything. He couldn't tell them what he had taken or anything. The worst aspect to suicide is where you get into it and you can't get back out and you change your mind. Like people who do it with automobile exhausts, they turn into a vegetable. Somebody drags them out of the car and saves them but they've burned out all their brain cells from the carbon monoxide.

Mike: Didn't you tell me when you were on the show before, didn't you tell me you had worked in counseling in a situation like that where you were dealing with drug cases, OD's and so forth for a long time?

Phil: Yeah.

Mike: That has really got to be one of the grimmest parts of dealing with humanity. When you see them in that condition, in that state -

Phil: Well, A Scanner Darkly is about this, Mike. It's, you know, I tried to find the ultimate ironies in the drug world. And the ultimate irony would be, like I remember in the old days when you were underage in a bar with a fake I.D. drinking, being real grown up, that a guy would come in the bar and he'd order milk and he'd be a cop because he couldn't drink on duty. Even if he's a plain clothes cop, he was not allowed to order whiskey. So all the underaged people get up and leave the bar right away as soon as somebody came in and ordered ginger-ale. They just - we all leave the bar. But undercover narcotics agents, they have to take dope to be undercover narcotics agents, I guess. I mean, I figured that if they blow their cover they're going to get offed, you see. So I presumed that, like if everybody lights up a joint and there's a narc sitting there he's going to have to light up a joint. He can't say, no, I'm only allowed to drink ginger-ale. Because in those circles they're going to run over, back over him with their car. So, that's an ultimate irony and then the dope that the guy takes burns his brain out and I just tried to pile - see how far you could push the terrible tragedies of the dope world. And it would be where this guy is reporting on himself and he's too burned out to know the difference any more. And even when they tell him, I mean, I saw - I remember one thing I saw when I use to hang around with dopers. This guy took me to meet this dude who had a lot of money. And there was this dude all he could do was juggle three balls in the air, you know, toss it up and catch them. And I thought, gee, what a hebephrenic type. The guy's about 30 years old and all he can do is stand around all day juggling these three balls and kind of smile a lot. And I thought, I guess, I mean that's really too bad, probably moron level. And then I pulled a book off of, out of the bookshelf and it was Spinoza. And the guy had his bookplate thing on the colophon page and he had underlined parts. At one time in other words he'd had a brilliant mind. And I could look at the guy standing juggling three balls. I said. this guy burned his brain on dope, right. And my friend says, yes he did. He use to be - in fact he's got 3 million dollars. He's got everything in the world. And there's nothing left of him, nothing left. You can't even ask him what he took. He doesn't even know what he took. He couldn't even tell you what he took. And if you held up the book of Spinoza to him he wouldn't even recognize it. It's worse than Flowers For Algernon, you know, in a way. I couldn't, I just, I said, I want to get out of here man. I want to get out of here. I don't want to see this. Like, look at the Spinoza. It was very difficult to read Spinoza. That's probably - Spinoza is the hardest philosopher to read, really. And the guy had underlined parts that meant a lot to him. And there he is juggling his three balls. He can't even do that. And I says, holy goodness and a lot of other things I said when it began to come to my attention. And I talked to Avram Davidson's ex-wife, Grania Davidson, about that. She did a short story about that and beat me to it in a short story. I hope we don't overlap too much. But her husband, Steve Davis, is a doctor. And he came up with this idea, which I was toying around with, that would be lead poisoning in the air from car exhausts. That a whole city of people could burn out their brains on the lead toxins in the atmosphere and nobody would know it. Like even the doctors wouldn't know it because they were inhaling the stuff. And he said this really could happen. He said, like it would start out with the doctor finds a hypodermic, you never leave it around. And he would think to himself there's something wrong. And Steve Davis wasn't a writer and Grania wrote a short story which I never read. But she and I talked over this idea and I was in the hospital after that. Forget what I had. Oh, a girlfriend of mine was in the hospital and I went to visit her and by god there was a hypodermic lying on the television set beside her. And I thought, you know this is exactly what Steve Davis was talking about. I mean, maybe everybody, this is in Marin County - maybe everybody in Marin County from the car exhaust and dope has now got to the point where they're all walking around sideways and nobody knows the difference. And in Scanner they're all turning on. They're all, nobody knows anything anymore. And it's a terrible thing. Like Tom Disch wrote Camp Concentration which I think we discussed when we were on the air before which I've always felt was one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written where everybody gets very brilliant from getting syphilis. I always meant to ask Tom Disch where he got the idea to get syphilis made you brilliant although he told me peripherally that Thomas Mann had syphilis, in fact tertiary syphilis, and that the more his brain burned out the more brilliant he got. And I was going to say the next time I saw Tom Disch, well you're wrong about that, you know, because Camp Concentration posits that syphilis will speed up your mentational process. It doesn't at all. You can check the opening of Breakfast Of Champions where Vonnegut describes seeing peritics walking around and the guy can't even step off the curb. He doesn't even know when they get to the curb. Their foot comes up and they fall down. That's really what tertiary syphilis - I don't know where Disch got, I mean where Mann/Disch got that idea. But I think my book is sadder than Camp Concentration, in a way.

TDC ?

    But another thing happened then -- because your question had to do with working habits -- working all those years on FLOW MY TEARS, doing all those drafts, changed my work habits. I'd never done more than a rough draft and a final on a novel before. And there was eleven drafts. God, I was reshaping it word-by-word. Once in, never out; I couldn't go back to doing a rough draft and a final draft, just like that. So the next novel was A SCANNER DARKLY and it took years to write SCANNER; it just took years. The idea came to me in the early part of 1972, and it wasn't until 1976 that I sent the manuscript off to Doubleday. And I wasn't trying to say what was real; I was just no longer able to dash off the stuff at the rate that I had before... {PKD 1977}

TDC 77

    I remember when Ballantine acquired the manuscript. Judy-Lynn Del Rey wanted me to revise it. She said, "Well, it's set in the future, and they're talking slang from the 60s. I want you to abolish" -- as if by a wave of the hand -- "all of the slang, throughout the entire book, and manufacture, from your own brain, an entirely new slang. I decree that you will do this.
And I wrote back and I says, "Judy, you know damn well the book is about the 60s. it says so in the author's Afterword." (laughter) "First of all, I'm not able to make up a whole new slang." And she says, "Well, they did it in Clockwork Orange. And if he can do it, why can't you do it.?" And I says, "The book is not about the future. The book is about the past, as a matter of fact. You know it because it says so." Not that I'm lazy... It's just that I'm trying to capture a milieu which is already perishing, and I'm setting it ahead, since this is a convention of my writing.

TDC :

    (PKD:) This happened with SCANNER; it was so funny. I sent off an outline of the first four chapters, and then I didn't come up with the final book for several years. Even my agent was saying to people privately, he doubted if there really was a complete manuscript.

    (Apel:) The Maltese SCANNER.

    (PKD:) But of course, I did have one. So my work habits now are: I work very slowly and I do a lot of research -- and then proceed at a snail's pace. {PKD-Apel & Briggs 1977}

SF EYE #14 Spring, 1996 p46.

    ... worse things that I put in A SCANNER DARKLY. I saw people who were reduced to a point where they couldn't complete a sentence, they really couldn't state a sentence. And this was permanant, this was for the rest of their lives. Young people. These were people maybe 18 or 19, and I just saw, you know, it was like a vision of Hell. And I vowed to write a novel about it sometime, and I was just... I'm just... it's just... well, I was in love with a girl who was an addict and I didn't know she was an addict and it was just pathetic. So I wrote A SCANNER DARKLY.

{Uwe Anton and Werner Fuchs, interview at Metz, 1977. Tr. Frank C. Bertrand}

UNKNOWN

    Doubleday went up to three thousand dollars advance for my new book, A SCANNER DARKLY. They said that that was the most they could go for a "science fiction" novel. So after they had acquired it for three thousand dollars, they turned it over to the trade department, which has no limit on what it can offer, and then they told me that the real limit was four thousand dollars. But I was too dumb to know the difference. They acquired it for three thousand dollars, which is just chicken feed, let's face it--three thousand bucks, and it took me like three years to write the book. Now that's a thousand dollars a year. Somebody sits down to write science fiction, and then the publisher markets it as a mainstream novel and gets to sit on both stools. They get to eat the porridge out of one pot, and then they get to eat the porridge out of the other pot, and I got no porridge in mine at all. They're going to make a bundle on it, but Ballantine deserves to make a bundle on it because Judy-Lynn Del Rey at Ballantine went over the manuscript page by page with me and told me what it needed in order to be a truly competent book. This is the first time that any editor has ever done that with me since THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE.

    {...}

    Pete Israel, who was the editor for Putnam then, went over THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE page by page, and now Judy-Lynn has done that with A SCANNER DARKLY. So now I've got two good novels under my belt because I've had two good editors. Judy-Lynn Del Rey is probably the greatest editor since Maxwell Perkins: she showed me how to create a character. I've been selling novels for twenty-two years, and she showed me how to develop a character. My first reaction was, "Dear Judy-Lynn, how would you like to take a one-way walk off the Long Beach Pier?" But then I started thinking about what she was saying, and soon as my fuse had burned out--being very short, it didn't take long--I realized that she was teaching me how to write. It's too bad that nobody did that twenty-five years ago, because then maybe my books would have made more sense. But A SCANNER DARKLY? A master craftsman came into that book--Judy-Lynn Del Rey. Now I know what to do when I write a book. You don't just write whatever comes into your head while you're sitting there in front of the typewriter.

{...}

(Interviewer:) Does A SCANNER DARKLY have anything to do with Cordwainer Smith's Scanners?

(Dick:) I didn't know anybody used that title.

(Interviewer:) Cordwainer Smith's first sf story--Scanners Live in Vain.

(Dick:) Suffering succotash. Does that mean I have to change my title?

(Interviewer:) I don't think so. He's dead.

(Dick:) Well, I know he's dead. That wasn't even his real name. No, A SCANNER DARKLY is from Paul's "through a glass, darkly."

{for continuation see:The Mainstream That Through The Ghetto Flows}

IPOV 183:

    It's odd that it's mainly in the three Bantam books* that the truth (enough of it, anyhow) is told. Plus SCANNER & stories in the Ballantine collection** -- all well distributed. {FOOTNOTES: *THE 3 STIGMATA, UBIK, A MAZE OF DEATH were all reissued in 1977 by Bantam Books. **THE BEST OF PHILIP K. DICK 1977.}

THE NON-SCIENCE FICTION NOVELS OF PKD

    Other novels of the 1970s and 1980s are so much based on Phil Dick's day-to-day experience that they might also be counted as non-sf novels. A Scanner Darkly is the most obvious example. Set slightly in the future of the year in which Dick was writing it, and containing only one sf device, it tells in an almost documentary way the story of the young drug addicts who shared Phil's house during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

{A talk written by Bruce Gillespie for the October 1990 meeting of the Nova Mob first published in brg, No. 1, October 1990, for ANZAPA (Australia and New Zealand Amateur Publishing Association)

GSM xerox collection:

Dear Mr. Bush:

    As to the article "Kant's 'Noumenal Self' and Doppleganger in P.K.Dick's A SCANNER DARKLY," in all honesty I couldn't get through it. This is really a terrible thing to say, but the article is so pretentious and pompous -- and, worse, so far off the mark -- that it bears no relationship to my novel. SCANNER deals not with schizophrenia and not with neurosis but with organic brain damage producing split-brain dysfunction and a tragic parody of bilateral hemispheric parity, inasmuch as damage to the normally dominant left hemisphere (Bob Arctor) allows a secondary personality to form in the right hemisphere (Fred), but the two brain hemispheres simply war on each other until at last they collapse into the deteriorated third personality Bruce. See, I said it all in a few sentences; there is no more to say. Here is an instance where that which we are as a species striving for -- bilateral hemispheric parity -- misfires; when at last a unitary self is formed it is not a metaself, but, and this is so terribly evident toward the conclusion of the novel, a mere reflex thing that only repeats back what it has heard; biological life continues, but the soul is dead.

    Criticism, to be valuable, must make sense and must relate in some way to that which it analyzes. This article does neither. I hate writing a negative letter like this, but everything bad about academic literary criticism is found in this article; it is dull; it is pointless, and its only purpose -- if indeed it has a purpose -- is to exhibit the education of its author, who, I feel, really should read fewer books and, instead, play frisbee in a park somewhere with some little kids (and I might take that advice myself, in view of my recent writing). Perhaps we are all spending too much time thinking and reading and writing when we should be out in the sun. Sorry, but this is how I feel.

Cordially

Philip K. Dick

{PKD>Erwin Bush, Burning Bush Publications, 16 Sep 1981}

SFR 2

Phil Dick's A SCANNER DARKLY, issued by Doubleday at $6.95, made more interesting because of what Phil had to say about the book in the SFR #19 interview. It's a well-written novel about drug addiction and the dealer/user/narc underground.

And, it isn't science fiction, in a true sense; it's a translation. The 1986 time-frame, the Substance D drug, the advanced spy devices employed... these are not essential to the plot.

But it is a terrifying novel, Geis, in the subtle destructiveness of the drugs, in the self-destruction, and the horrible ends-justifies-the-means plot of the Federal narcs.

Better believe it. Phil Dick was a "hero" of sorts to the sf fans who were into drugs, but this book will cool that ardor; he has seen too many friends turn into mental basket cases, and this book is his warning. It has elements of Kafka and Orwell. Recommended.

{Science Fiction Review 2 #20 , Feb 1977. Reviewed by R.E.Geis}

 fan unfave: I found SCANNER unreadable -- Cat Imril Ishikawa in FDO 6

GSM xerox Collection (PKDS)

"The book came out looking wonderful -- in my opinion by far the get so far. I wanted to tell you, too that the cuts which Diane suggested, and which I made, greatly improve the novel, as she thought they would. Also, I want to thank and commend your copy editors who built the missing bridge across one of the cuts; they did a superb job. I could only have done worse.{PKD>Lawrence Ashmead, editor-in-chief, Doubleday Books, 23 Jan 1974}this letter refers to FLOW MY TEARS!

{Paul Williams then goes on to discuss the effectiveness of the cuts and PKD's possible loss of interest in FLOW MY TEARS in 1973 -- he'd written it first in 1970 and was in 1973 working on A SCANNER DARKLY. A final letter follows:}

"For me the big news (besides me and Tessa getting married) is that I have sold two new novels to Doubleday, the first of which is FLOW MY TEARS. I have said to you that I considered it perfect and finished; it was neither -- I had to do a total rewrite before sending it off at last. Ten rewrites, the last of which was monumental! Anyhow now it is bought and will be coming out. But for me the later one, A SCANNER DARKLY, which is only finished in rough, is the one now. TEARS, when I reread it early this year before typing it up, turned out to be sentimental; so much for what I called 'the perfect' novel.. Only in the final draft did I get any bite into it, any grit. But with SCANNER -- it is all bite, all grit; it is a great tragic anti-dope novel, an autobiographical account, set as science fiction, of what I saw in the dope world, the counterculture, during the two years after my wife and daughter left me. I believe nothing in fiction matches it in the hell it portrays..."{PKD>Goran Bengston, his Swedish translator}4 May 1973}{See also: "The Different Stages Of Love"}


Fan fave: A SCANNER DARKLY. His best… the local settings add to my interest but SCANNER is simply his best novel in my opinion. Needs at least four readings to pick up on a lot of connections and symbols and whatnot. Much more complex than it first appears to be and is unusually coherent without sacrificing deep questioning/ambiguity about the nature of reality. – David Keller


COLLECTOR'S NOTES

PKDS-8 13:

AUCTION: A SCANNER DARKLY manuscript and correspondence package. Minimum bid $750. Paul Williams.

Description:

  1. Doubleday 1st .ed. A SCANNER DARKLY, signed and dated by PKD, book in mint condition, dw torn on spine.
  2. Original letter from PKD dated 3-7-77 describing all materials in this package except items 1 and 2. Typed; signed in pen. Letter concludes: "This collection of MSS is the only written evidence in existence of all the stages through which A SCANNER DARKLY went."
  3. Xerox of a letter from Judy-Lynn Del Rey at Ballantine, 2pp. detailing revisions she would like to see in ASD; PKD has made notes in pen on the xerox, indicating his initial reactions.
  4. PKD's carbon of his 4-page letter replying to Del Rey, responding in detail on every point. "Well maybe I've found my Maxwell Perkins at last." Signed in pen.
  5. Original letter from Del Rey, with copies of ms pages.
  6. 29 carbons of ms pages, described by PKD as the new pages writen at Judy Lynn's request.
  7. PKD's handwriten list of pages of ASD on which German words appear.
  8. PKD's personal carbon-copy of MS of SCANNER as submitted to Doubleday (prior to the 1976 correspondence with Del Rey). Very good condition. 297pp. Signed in pen on title page.
  9. Xerox copy of the original rough draft of ASD written in 1973 and never submitted to Doubleday. This xerox circulated to other publishers when Phil was trying to get out of the Doubleday contract. "This rough draft differs enormously from later versions" -- PKD. 298pp plus 6pp insertions. First page very ragged, others in good condition... The total package allows one to follow the path of the novel, from first completed draft to the fully revised draft submitted for publication, and then to the third state after Del Rey's editorial input.

{The following is from Ken Lopez, Bookseller, Online catalog May 1997. As far as I know this manuscript package is still for sale}

     A Scanner Darkly. (Published by Doubleday, 1977). Two complete manuscripts. The original ribbon copy typescript, with pages numbered 1-128 and 3 pages that appeared in the book as the "Author's Note." The text has been extensively reworked in ink by the author, with revisions on a majority of pages and at least two scenes that do not appear in the final book. Together with a second copy, this a complete re-typing consisting of 300 ribbon copy pages, with a few small ink notes and changes by the author, and a number of pencil copy editor's marks.

A Scanner Darkly is widely considered one of Dick's masterpieces. It is a haunting, chilling novel of the extremes of drug abuse, which won the grand prize at an annual science fiction festival held in Metz, France. The novel is based on Dick's own experience in the early '70s, and the people who drifted into and out of his life during that time. His experience clearly frightened him, and he wrote a frightening book, which he at one point offered to use to help the Department of Justice in its fight against drug abuse. While there are science fiction elements to the book, for the most part it is a mainstream, if extravagant, drug novel, akin to William S. Burroughs's The Soft Machine. Dick reportedly begged his publisher to market it as a mainstream novel, rather than SF, an appeal that fell on deaf ears. Still, it is one of the best novels to convey the dark side of the late-Sixties drug experience, infused with pervasive paranoia and relentlessly unflinching in its chronicling of "near total brain death" of the main character. $16,500

Barry Levin: A SCANNER DARKLY, Doubleday, hb, 1977 (1st). NF. . Signed. Presentation copy to another well-known author's wife. Small damp stain in corner of front paste-down endpapers, otherwise fine in dust jacket. $1500

Ken Lopez: A SCANNER DARKLY, Doubleday, hb, 1977 (1st). NF. Signed. Inscribed by author: "To Tim: A great writer & friend." $450 - 1999

Barry Levin: A SCANNER DARKLY, Doubleday, hb, 1977 (1st). FINE/FINE. $225

Phildickian: A SCANNER DARKLY, Doubleday, hb, 613-1, 1977 (1st). NF/NF. Moderate wear. Remaindered. $150

John W. Knott, Jr.: A SCANNER DARKLY, Doubleday, hb, 1977 (1st). FINE/FINE. slight fading to spine panel. $100

John W. Knott, Jr.: A SCANNER DARKLY, Doubleday, hb, 1977 (1st). FINE/FINE. with a tiny closed tear at base of spine panel. $150

John W. Knott, Jr.: A SCANNER DARKLY, Doubleday, hb, 1977 (?). FINE/VG. closed tear and shelf wear to upper spine panel, d/j also showing fading to tan color. $45

Phildickian: A SCANNER DARKLY, Doubleday, hb, SFBC, 1977. NF/VG+. Moderate rubbing to dust jacket. $20

Phildickian: A SCANNER DARKLY, Doubleday, hb, SFBC, 1977. VG/VG. Has code H05 on pg 216. The book is tight with moderate edgewear and bumping at the spine ends. The dust jacket is creased with a few closed tears. The dj is still intact and complete, covered in a brodart. $15

Phildickian: A SCANNER DARKLY, Gollancz, hb, 1977 (1st UK). NF/FINE. Light wear, and the pages show a hint of browning due possibly to type of stock used. $45(2000) $75(2003)

Phildickian: A SCANNER DARKLY, Del Rey, pb, 26064, 1977. VG. moderate reading stress. $20

Phildickian: A SCANNER DARKLY, Del Rey, pb, 26064, 1977. VG. rubbing and creasing. The binding is still tight and internally very clean. $10

Phildickian: A SCANNER DARKLY, DAW, pb, #575, 1984. VG. moderate reading stress. $20

Phildickian: A SCANNER DARKLY, DAW, pb, #575, 1984. VG. light rubbing to the edges and faint creasing at the spine. The binding is still tight and internally very clean. $20

Monroe Bethea Books: A SCANNER DARKLY, DAW, pb, 1984. VG+. a light hinge crease, a few chips on the front cover edges and is very tight and square. $8.99

Ken Lopez: A SCANNER DARKLY, vintage, tp, 1991. FINE. An uncorrected proof copy of the reissue. Fine in wrappers. $35

Ken Lopez: A SCANNER DARKLY, vintage, tp, 1991. VG. An uncorrected proof copy of the reissue. Very good in wrappers. $30

Phildickian: A SCANNER DARKLY, Vintage, tp, 1991. NEW. $10

Phildickian: A SCANNER DARKLY, Vintage, tp, 1991. NF. $8

Biblion: A SCANNER DARKLY, Millenium SF Masterworks, tp, 1999. FINE. $7.08


Fan fave: A SCANNER DARKLY. Such an intense book. So funny and sad and bitterly truthful. I didn’t see it as an anti-drug novel, as has sometimes been thought. It really had nothing to do with drugs except as an example. Dick could have written the same novel using any of commodity-capitalism’s snares. An indictment of the System so biting that it’s no wonder PKD’s safe was blown open … In my opinion there has not been a better novel than A SCANNER DARKLY written in English since George Orwell’s 1984. – Lord RC


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