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TIME OUT OF JOINT

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In his mind he chronicled all the lights he could think of. In his house, at the store, at friends' houses. All were wall switches.

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Writing Date

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Notes

107

19  

Jan 1958

1959

NICHOLAS AND THE HIGS

IN MILT LUMKY TERRITORY

Serialized in New Worlds, 1959

FIRST EDITIONS

1959   IMAGE472.JPG TIME OUT OF JOINT Lippincott 1959 Lippincott, hb, 59-7775, 1959, 221pp, $3.95, (Arthur Hawkins) {Levack: "Bound in orange paper boards with black lettering on the spine and front cover. No date on the title page. 'First Edition' on the copyright page."}Levack has price $3.50
     
1961 IMAGE477.JPG (4103 bytes) UKSFBC, hb, 54, Oct 1961, ?, 5/6d (?)

HISTORY 

    The manuscript for TIME OUT OF JOINT arrived at the SMLA on Apr 7, 1958. It was sent off to Ace Books first where editor Don Wollheim said that they accepted it but publisher Wyn wanted a rewrite, objecting to "things like the ‘soft drink stand’ that disappears." But before Dick could respond to Ace’s suggestions, hardcover publisher Lippincott contacted Scott Meredith and said they were going to start a science-fiction line. And with the manuscript for TIME OUT OF JOINT at hand, Meredith sent it off to Lippincott and they accepted it as was, requiring no changes. Dick’s fee was $750.

    On the sale to Lippincott, PKD wrote:

    I remember how Don Wollheim, back in the Fifties, viewed the MS of TIME OUT OF JOINT; if he were to publish it, substantial revisions (on the order of those you propose for SCANNER) would have had to take place. However, while Don was stating these proposals, Lippincott was purchasing it as it stood for their hardback market. It was my first hardback sale. True, Lippincott did not pay me as much as Ace Books would have, but in my opinion, I was right to leave TIME OUT OF JOINT as it stood, which was exactly the way Lippincott wanted it (except they did want the ending beefed up, which I agreed with, and did).

    But it looks like Lippincott backed away from beginning a science-fiction line with TIME OUT OF JOINT as they published it instead as "A Novel of Menace" in 1959. Later, the story was abridged and serialized in the British science-fiction magazine New Worlds, #89, 90, 91 in Dec 1959 and Jan/Feb 1960

    Philip K. Dick wrote the story quickly. In the 1960 letter to Dimoff, an editor at Harcourt, Brace publishers at the time, Dick says

    … Under certain conditions… I can write very fast, even without notes. The Lippincott book [TIME OUT OF JOINT] was written in two weeks, proof read and then retyped in two more. But it took me years to work out the basic idea of the book…

    An episode included in TIME OUT OF JOINT was, according to Dick himself, the reason he wrote this novel. The episode is, of course, the famous one of the missing light cord. In an interview with Charles Platt PKD describes it this way

    I wrote TIME OUT OF JOINT in the 1950s, before I had even heard of LSD. In that book a guy walks up to a lemonade stand in the park, and it turns into a slip of paper marked Soft Drink Stand, and he puts the slip of paper in his pocket. Far-fucking-out, spacey, that's an 'acid experience'. If I didn't know better I'd say that this author had turned on many times, and his universe was coming unglued -- he's obviously living in a fake universe.
    What I was trying to do in that book was account for the diversity of worlds that people live in. I had not read Heraclitus then, I didn’t know his concept of idios kosmos, the private world, versus koinos kosmos, which we all share. I didn’t know that the pre-Socratics had begun to discern these things. There’s a scene in the book where the protagonist goes into the bathroom, reaches in the dark for a pull-cord, and suddenly realizes there is no cord, there’s a switch on the wall, and he can’t remember when he ever had a bathroom when there was a cord hanging down. Now, that actually happened to me, and it was what caused me to write the book. It reminded me of the idea that Van Vogt had dealt with, of artificial memory, as occurs in THE WORLD OF NULL-A where a person has false memories implanted. A lot of what I wrote, which looks like the result of taking acid, is really the result of taking Van Vogt seriously! I believed Van Vogt, I mean, he wrote it, you know, he was an authority figure. He said, people can be other than whom they remember themselves to be, and I found this fascinating. You have a massive suspension of belief on my part.

    Dick speaks further on TIME OUT OF JOINT with Gregg Rickman:

    Now that was a really perilous gamble on my part to write because there was no chance that Donald Wollheim would buy TIME OUT OF JOINT. That meant that I could not possibly sell it as a science fiction novel. It was bought by Lippincott as a "novel of menace." I only got 750 bucks for it. It was really a risky thing to do. But there again we are dealing with fake reality and I had become obsessed with the idea of fake reality. I was just fascinated with the idea. So that’s a pivotal book in terms of my career. It was my first hardcover sale, and it was the first novel in which the entire world is fake. You find yourself in it when you pick up the book and turn to page one. The world that you are reading about does not exist. And this was to be essentially the premise of my entire corpus of writing, really.

    He says more of Don Wollheim’s reaction to TIME OUT OF JOINT in a 1981 interview with Rickman:

    And Donald Wollheim read that – it got submitted to Ace by mistake – and Wollheim – I’ve never read such a long, angry letter from an editor in my life. He was incredibly threatened by that novel. He saw everything that he construed as science fiction as going down the tubes with what that novel did. If it ever got into print, which he doubted it ever would, he said the only thing salvageable was the last chapter, where there was the war on the moon. And I should build back from the last chapter. And the style was wrong, because it was essentially pedestrian, he said…

    Bruce Gillespie sees TIME OUT OF JOINT as a critical novel in Dick’s oeuvre, one in which he was first able to incorporate minimal science fiction elements into a mainstream novel and avoid the strictures of his realist novels, the very strictures that make them ‘fail.’

    What we find in TIME OUT OF JOINT is that the bits and pieces of a science fiction superstructure, which gradually invade Ragle Gumm's consciousness, are actually more autobiographical, more real to the author, than the accurately drawn worlds he presents in the non-sf novels. It is for this reason that the non-sf novels fail, not because of any intrinsic demerits. In TIME OUT OF JOINT Dick finds metaphors for the very real paranoia which afflicted him from time to time. The miracle is that he finds coherent metaphors that he can use to construct an exciting story... The non-sf novels have to take the ordinary world as a given. In the end, Dick felt this was untrue, and he was untrue to himself by portraying the world thus.

    This failure of the mainstream novels has bothered lots of fans and critics over the years. Gillespie, here, puts his finger on it: The non-sf novels have to take the ordinary world as given. Dick has to deal with ‘reality’ as it has been dealt with by generations of traditional realist writers; in a sense Dick has to deal with Literary History itself in his straight novels. Fantasy elements such as disappearing soft-drink stands cannot be snuck into, say, MADAME BOVARY because it just isn’t done. It’s ironic that Don Wollheim, a traditionalist of the science fiction sort, was so upset at the injection of fantasy into TIME OUT OF JOINT when science fiction itself is so anti-realist.

    To my mind the published straight novels lack the very thing that distinguishes PKD’s science fiction writing, that is, imagination. But not just ordinary imagination along conventional realist lines – he had that aplenty, but science fiction imagination. The unexpected, the unknown, the artifact from left field and the collapse of reality so common to Dick’s science fiction writing are just missing in his mainstream novels. As the frustrated hints of the agents at the SMLA and the editors at the publishing houses reveal, the straight novels are boring because nothing ever happens. People go through their little lives fornicating, fighting and fixing things but it all has a certain inevitability to it that makes the effort of reading it unfulfilling. Like Chinese food or something, you know the minute you finish the meal you’re going to want to go out and get something that leaves a warmer glow in your belly. But, instead, Dick’s mainstream novels, with a couple of exceptions, leave you feeling empty.

    To Philip K. Dick reality wasn’t solid, wasn’t accepted as, in some way, Real, as Gillespie notes above. But something, perhaps the rewrite of "A Glass Of Darkness" into THE COSMIC PUPPETS in 1957, prompted PKD to look at reality a bit differently in 1958.

    THE COSMIC PUPPETS is a novel very similar to TIME OUT OF JOINT. They both take place in a false town, the heroes cannot escape, reality breaks down in similar ways, etc. They are both fantasies, really, not science fiction despite the ending of TIME OUT OF JOINT. Throughout his life and, especially early on in his career, PKD was possessed of a strong tilt towards fantasy. This had been squashed by the early editors he dealt with when he first started writing tales of "sad little people." The public, the editors and Don Wollheim at Ace Books wanted science fiction, not fantasy. But, flattened as it was, PKD’s fantastic yen returned in 1958 with TIME OUT OF JOINT.

    In this novel one can almost see a light bulb go off in Dick’s head as he sees the possibilities of incorporating fantasy ideas – not science fiction ideas – into his rapidly going nowhere straight novels. TIME OUT OF JOINT is the first of these to be fully realised.

    P. Schuyler Miller reviewed TIME OUT OF JOINT in the Jan 1960 issue of Astounding:

    I shouldn’t have to tell any "faithful reader" of today’s science fiction that Philip K. Dick is developing into one of the most original talents in our field. He may not be in it long: this first hard-cover book is jacketed as "a novel of menace" – which it is. It also happens to be good, hard-shell science fiction, handled with consummate skill, so that an unsuspecting mystery reader may just find himself trapped before he realizes he is reading "that stuff."

    You are introduced to Ragle Gumm, living with his sister and brother-in-law in a smallish town, and living off his winnings in an interminable newspaper contest, in which he is the invariable winner. This odd pattern of life grows a little odder; the reader begins to spot small contradictions and discrepancies that the characters seem to miss; and finally Ragle develops the growing conviction that he is somehow the center and raison d'tre of a colossal piece of play-acting – as though the entire cast of De Mille’s "Ten Commandments" has been rehearsed to convince one insignificant extra that he is an Egyptian laborer.

    Now Ragle Gumm tries to break out of his barless cage, only to be deftly turned back again and again. Of course he does get out, and he does find out what is happening, but not until the beginning of the last chapter, when he sits down to read his own biography in Time. It’s a grand job of writing.

    And with that TIME OUT OF JOINT rates

     For an interesting essay on TIME OUT OF JOINT see: Soft-Drink Stand by Patrick Clark


OTHER EDITIONS                                       For Cover Pix Click Here aaaPKDickBooks.jpg (3234 bytes)

IMAGE473.JPG (5513 bytes)   IMAGE474.JPG (4560 bytes) IMAGE475.JPG (5019 bytes) New Worlds #89, 90, 91, Dec 1959, Jan/Feb 1960 {Abridged}

FOREIGN EDITIONS:


NOTES

PKDS-1 4:

Five PKD titles have been purchased by Bluejay ... TIME OUT OF JOINT is to be published in 1984.

PKDS-3 6:

Bluejay's TIME OUT OF JOINT is due out in July '84, with an Afterword by Lou Stathis.

PKDS-11 12:

{MISSING}

PKDS-12 10:

Edhasa in Spain will publish TIME OUT OF JOINT

PKDS-22 6:

Something is going on with TIME OUT OF JOINT. The property has been under option at Warner Bros. for a few years: now the Daily Variety reports that screenwriter Sam Hamm -- who wrote most of the best parts of Batman and has agreed to write the sequel -- has placed a screenplay for TIME OUT OF JOINT with Guber-Peters, producers of Batman. They were at Warner Bros. in August when this story came out: since then they've been hired by Sony to run Columbia Picture, and the lawsuits and countersuits that resulted have been big news. Where this leaves the TOOJ project is anyone's guess, but it seems unlikely that a Sam Hamm screenplay is just going to get tossed on the junnkpile. An intriguing footnote is that Hamm is now working on the script for Watchman, based on the comic art novel, for director Terry Gilliam. Gilliam, also a name to conjure with these days, was quoted within the past year as saying that he wants to do a movie from a Philip K. Dick novel as one of his future projects.

PKDS-24 9:

Many films are optioned, of course, and few are made. Nothing is known of the progress (or lack thereof) of TIME OUT OF JOINT, in development at Warner, except that we've learned that Sam Hamm's collaborator on the script is Mike Duncan.

PKDS-26 11:

The Carroll & Graf paperbacks are in print, including TIME OUT OF JOINT. The Bluejay has been remaindered.

PKDS-26 12:

In the UK Penguin has TOOJ out in trade paper.

PKDS 26-17:

Bruce Gillespie, editor of PHILIP K. DICK: ELECTRIC SHEPHERD, an important early book on PKD, recently published a privately circulated fanzine consisting of a major essay (also delivered as a talk to a Melbourne SF club) entitled "The Non-Science Fiction Novels Of Philip K. Dick". Gillespie sets out to refute Kim Stanley Robinson's dissmissal of the non-sf novels. ... "What we find in TIME OUT OF JOINT is that the bits and pieces of a science fiction superstructure, which gradually invade Ragle Gumm's consciousness, are actually more autobiographical, more real to the author, than the accurately drawn worlds he presents in the non-sf novels. It is for this reason that the non-sf novels fail, not because of any intrinsic demerits. In TIME OUT OF JOINT Dick finds metaphors for the very real paranoia which afflicted him from time to time. The miracle is that he finds coherent metaphors that he can use to construct and exciting story... The non-sf novels have to take the ordinary world as a given. In the end, Dick felt this was untrue, and he was untrue to himself by portraying the world thus." {Bruce Gillespie "The Non-Science Fiction Novels Of Philip K. Dick". Delivered as a speech to the Melbourne (Australia) Science Fiction Club}

PKDS pamphlet #1 3:

PKD>Eleanor Dimoff, 01 Feb 1960.

See TTHC 302: Don Wollheim in communication with critic Greg Rickman.

TDM 150:

    I ask how much of his thinking was influenced by LSD experiences, and which of his books, if any, are derived from acid trips.
    "I wrote TIME OUT OF JOINT in the 1950s, before I had even heard of LSD. In that book a guy walks up to a lemonade stand in the park, and it turns into a slip of paper marked Soft Drink Stand, and he puts the slip of paper in his pocket. Far-fucking-out, spacey, that's an 'acid experience'. If I didn't know better I'd say that this author had turned on many times, and his universe was coming unglued -- he's obviously living in a fake universe.
    "What I was trying to do in that book was account for the diversity of worlds that people live in. I had not read Heraclitus then, I didn't know his concept of idios kosmos, the private world, versus koinos kosmos, which we all share. I didn't know that the pre-Socratics had begun to discern these things.
    "There's a scene in the book where the protagonist goes into the bathroom, reaches in the dark for a pull-cord, and suddenly realises there is no cord, there's a switch on the wall, and he can't remember when he ever had a bathroom where there was a cord hanging down. Now, that actually happened to me, and it was what caused me to write the book. It reminded me of the idea that Van Vogt had dealt with, of artificial memory, as occurs in THE WORLD OF NULL-A where a person has false memories implanted. A lot of what I wrote, which looks like the result of taking acid, is really the result of taking Van Vogt seriously! I believed Van Vogt, I mean, he wrote it, you know, he was an authority figure. He said, people can be other than whom they remember themselves to be, and I found this fascinating. You have a massive suspension of belief on my part." {PKD}

Vertex

Vertex Interviews with Philip K. Dick" By Arthur Byron Cover. In VERTEX, vol. 1, no. 6 February 1974), p. 34-37 & 96-98. {Thanks to Eric A. Johnson}: "My first hard-cover novel, TIME OUT OF JOINT sold for $750. And my agent was so excited that he sent me a telegram to announce this joyous news."

Sim Melt

Simulacrum Meltdown #3, ed. Patrick Clark, Oct 2001, p.4-5. ‘Joints Out Of Time: PKD Comments on his novel TIME OUT OF JOINT – in chronological order…’ Compiled by Frank C. Bertrand.

See: Astounding, Jan 1960, p174. or PKD OTAKU #3, Nov 2002, p14. For P. Schuyler Miller's review of TIME OUT OF JOINT.

See IHOW


COLLECTOR'S NOTES

    For collectors of Philip K. Dick editions, the first edition Lippincott hard-cover of TIME OUT OF JOINT is a prize indeed. Copies in near fine condition with dust-jacket intact command up to $1000. Even a good specimen of the first UK Science Fiction Book Club edition of 1961 can go for two or three hundred dollars. Even ex-library copies are hard to find and somewhat valuable.

Phildickian: TIME OUT OF JOINT, Lippincott, hb, 1959. VG+ $1,000

Phildickian: TIME OUT OF JOINT, Carrol & Graf, pb, 1990. VG+ $10

Phildickian: TIME OUT OF JOINT, Dell, pb, 1979. VG+ $10

Phildickian: TIME OUT OF JOINT, Belmont, pb, 1965. VG+ $30

Phildickian: TIME OUT OF JOINT, Belmont, pb, 1965. VG $17.50

Phildickian: TIME OUT OF JOINT, Belmont Tower, pb, 1977. VG+ $20

Rudy's Books: TIME OUT OF JOINT, Belmont Tower, pb, 51143, FINE $25


Word doesn't represent reality. Word is  reality. For us, anyhow. Maybe God gets to objects. Not us, though.

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