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THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER
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183

58  

Apr-May 1981

Apr 1982

THE DIVINE INVASION

THE OWL IN DAYLIGHT

PKD's last novel
FIRST EDITIONS

HISTORY

    In April and May of 1981 PKD wrote THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER. The novel was complete by May 13th. Dick’s editor, David Hartwell at Timescape Books published the novel in April 1982.

    The UK edition from Gollancz followed in Oct 1982.

    With THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER Philip K. Dick returned to writing a mainstream novel. Although Dick had considered THE DIVINE INVASION a mainstream novel; or, at least, he tried to convince his editor David Hartwell at Timescape to publish it as such, it was not until THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER that he had a successful mainstream novel published. Unhappily, he didn’t live to see it.

    But THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER could well have ended up as a science-fiction novel. Norman Spinrad explains:

    Phil had come to know Pike {...} and wanted to write a novel about Pike’s spiritual odyssey. Somehow, perhaps because he felt he was irrevocably typed as an SF writer, Phil had gotten it into his head that the only way he could get such a novel published was to tart it up with a lot of thriller-cum-SF paraphernalia involving CIA plots, alien invasions, and the usual razzmatazz.

    "Jeez, Phil," I told him, "you’ve got a great story here, you don’t need all that crap. Why don’t you just tell it straight?"

    "You think I could get it published?"

    I told him I thought he could, and he decided to discuss the matter with Russell Galen, his agent and friend, whom he really trusted. Galen concurred, encouraged Phil to go ahead, and the result was THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER, which I believe is one of Phil’s three or four best novels, and a return to the level of THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITHC, and UBIK, after too many years of floundering around with lesser works. Certainly it is far superior to VALIS or THE DIVINE INVASION, utterly coherent, totally controlled, spiritually lucid, and filled with loving clarity.

    Above we’ve seen how PKD refused to do a ‘cheapo novelization’ of BLADE RUNNER and chose instead to write TIMOTHY ARCHER. By doing this he stood to lose a lot of money. PKD comments on this:

    Now, the payment on that novel is very small. It's only $7,500, which is just about minimum these days. It's because in the mainstream field I am essentially a novice writer. I'm not known. And I'm being paid on the scale that a new writer coming into the field would be paid on. The contract is a two-book contract, and there's a science fiction novel in it. And it pays exactly three times for the science fiction what is being paid for TIMOTHY ARCHER.

    {…} Simon and Schuster wanted ARCHER first, and I wanted to do it first. Of course, I may find that I made a very great error, because it may not turn out to be a successful book. It may be that I've lost the ability to write a literary novel, if indeed I ever had the ability to do so. It's been over twenty years since I've written a non-science-fiction novel, and it's very problematical whether I can write mainstream, literary-quality-type fiction. This is definitely an unproven thing, an X factor. I may find that I've turned down $400,000 and wound up with nothing.

    The science fiction novel PKD refers to in this contract was for THE OWL IN DAYLIGHT which he never wrote.

    In June 1981 PKD was waiting to hear from his agent on acceptance of TIMOTHY ARCHER. Russ Galen had read the novel and commented:

    You know, in your science fiction they drive things called flobbles and quibbles, and in this one they drive Hondas -- but it's still essentially a science fiction novel. Although I can't explain exactly how.

    To this PKD responds in the Twilight Zone interview:

    TIMOTHY ARCHER is in no way science fiction; it starts out the day John Lennon is shot and then goes into flashbacks. And yet the three do form a trilogy constellating around a basic theme. This is something that is extremely important to me in terms of the organic development of my ideas and preoccupations in my writing. So for me to derail myself and do that cheapo novelization of BLADE RUNNER -- a completely commercialized thing aimed at twelve-year-olds -- would have probably been disastrous to me artistically.

    The trilogy PKD talks about is the ‘Valis trilogy’: VALIS, THE DIVINE INVASION and THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER. He speaks about this trilogy again with John Boonstra, and at the same time gets another dig in at the BLADE RUNNER people:

    TIMOTHY ARCHER is essentially the third novel in a trilogy of which VALIS is the first and THE DIVINE INVASION is the second; which is sort of interesting because each book is unique. It really was necessary for me to do the novel, as a projection of thematic material going back years and years and years in my writing, in stuff even as early as EYE IN THE SKY and TIME OUT OF JOINT. Those themes are constant preoccupations with me, they unfold by their own inner, organic drive, and I don't really have the option of aborting that process and just suddenly going into a completely commercialized thing aimed at twelve-year-olds.

    Of his characters in TIMOTHY ARCHER Dick sez:

    I've managed to put into TIMOTHY ARCHER two very good characters, the Bishop himself and the protagonist, a young woman, a lot more educated than I am, a lot smarter than I am, a lot more rational than I am. I was very much into a post-partum depression after I finished writing it, because I was so happy enjoying her company, listening to her dialogues. I really fell in love with her. She's entirely fictional, as far as I know. An ad-hoc creation, like Pallas Athena from the brow of Zeus. Out of nothing.

        To present the Bishop, I needed a protagonist who was smart enough to understand him, and loving enough to forgive him. That's a tall order, because the Bishop is a very mercurial, complex person, who does many things which are dubious, ethically. She intellectually understands what he's doing, and she's able to love him; in a sense she is more profoundly a wise person than the Bishop himself.

        The climax of the book is the effect on her of his death. She says that it turned her into a machine; when she heard that he was dead in Israel, she devolved to the level of a machine and lost her own human nature, in a period where she is just tragically reified, and knows it. But at the end of the book, a Sufi scholar who is giving seminars in Sausalito is able to restore her to the state of a human being. So it is not a bummer ending; it is a very positive ending.

    The character of Angel Archer has been hailed by those who would defend PKD’s female characterizations in his earlier novels. Accusations of misogynism in PKD’s early portrayals of women run like a sullen thread through the pages of PKD commentary. Both of Dick’s main biographers remark on this. Ursula Le Guin, for one, took Dick to task for this. In a letter from science fiction writer Michael Bishop to PKD in Feb 1981 which PKD himself quotes from in a letter he in turn wrote to Science Fiction Review, we find one expression of this reaction to Dick’s female characters:

    I’m looking at a recent letter to me from Michael Bishop. Michael likes my new novel VALIS, but learned that Ursula Le Guin had been tremendously upset by it, "not only for its examination of perhaps unresolvable metaphysical matters (into which she seems to fear you are plunging at the risk of never emerging again) but for its treatment of female characters – every one of which, she argued, was at bottom (I cannot remember her exact phrase) a hateful and not to be trusted death figure […] she had the utmost admiration for the work of Philip K. Dick, who had been shamefully ignored in this country and who appeared to be spiraling into himself and going slowly crazy in Santa Ana, California." Her dismay, Michael says, "Results solely from a genuine human concern about you intellectual and emotional well-being."

    Well, someone had to say it in the post-publication time of VALIS and Ursula stepped in… Later she would send a letter of apology to Science Fiction Review, this being published in the same issue as PKD’s first letter. In a talk with Lawrence Sutin in 1986 Le Guin stood by her stance re the females in PKD’s stories:

    The women were symbols – whether goddess, bitch, hag, witch – but there weren’t any women left, and there used to be women in his books.

    Dick himself grudgingly acquiesced to this evaluation. After offering the weak explanation that the women in VALIS were, like the men, picaresque rogues, he wrote to his agent, Russ Galen, and admitted that prior to THE DIVINE INVASION:

    My depiction of females has been inadequate and even somewhat vicious.

    As the original contretemps with Le Guin began in January or February 1981 and PKD didn’t begin writing THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER until April and May, perhaps he kept Ursula Le Guin’s remarks in mind when he created the character of Angel Archer. When he had completed the novel in May one of the first things he did was write to Le Guin:

    This is the happiest moment of my life, Ursula, to meet face-to-face this bright, scrappy, witty, educated, tender woman, […] and had it not been for your analysis of my writing I probably never would have discovered her.

    As for editions of THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER of interest to the PKD collector, the first edition hardcover from Timescape (Simon & Schuster) varies in price and quality, a Fine edition you can buy for around $50. The 1982 edition from Gollancz goes for $40 on up.

    Ken Lopez, again, has a fine offering of TIMOTHY ARCHER related items for sale:

    THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER. (Published by Simon & Schuster, 1982). Carbon copy typescript, 286 pages, with corrections and changes by the author on 39 pages, plus author notes on two other pages. Together with the one-page (21 line) ribbon copy typescript for the "Author's Note," with several minor changes in Dick's hand. Together with ten discarded manuscript pages: pages 1-4 ribbon copy with the title handwritten by Dick: "Bishop Timothy Archer" and more than 50 words added or changed by Dick; pages 5-10 carbon copy with one handwritten correction. And also together with four pieces of correspondence: a carbon copy of a letter from Dick to his editor, with a copy of the text used to epigraph the novel; a carbon copy of a letter from Dick to his agent, 2 pages, reflecting on and analyzing his own novel after rereading the first third of it; a 5 page letter from Dick's agent to Dick, along with one leaf with a six-line poem in Dick's handwriting; and a carbon copy, two pages, of Dick's response to the above. All fine.

For the set of manuscripts: $9500.

    As has been noted by his biographers, THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER is a sort of roman a clef with Bishop Archer himself based on PKD’s friend and former Bishop of California, James A. Pike. The character of Edgar Barefoot is supposedly Alan Watts, the British mystic who brought Zen to the hippie masses of California in the 60s and 70s, and Kirsten Lundborg is a loose portrait of Maren Hackett, his ex-wife Nancy’s mother.

    THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER is the story of Angel Archer and how she copes with death in her life. The death of her husband, Jeff, by suicide, the death of her friend Kirsten by suicide, and the death of Bishop Pike himself from stupidity.

    Unlike VALIS and THE DIVINE INVASION, it is not full of EXEGESIS-like speculation but religion and philosophy figure heavily into it. Underlying the plot is the premise that ancient pre-Christian documents have been discovered in a Zadokite temple in the Middle-East. These documents, pre-dating Jesus by two hundred years, are full of the very ideas even down to the language used that have been ascribed to Jesus himself. This causes a massive doubt in the mind of Bishop Archer about whether Jesus was the Saviour or not; was the actual Son of God manifesting on Earth.. Bishop Archer’s quandary is succinctly described:

    "My point," Tim said, "is that if the Logia predate Jesus by two hundred years, then the Gospels are suspect, we have no evidence that Jesus was God, very God, God incarnate, and therefore the basis of our religion is gone. Jesus simply becomes a teacher representing a particular Jewish sect that ate and drank some kind of – well, whatever it was, the anokhi, and it made them immortal."

    What makes matters worse for the good Bishop is that even the mystery of transubstantiation is brought into doubt when he finds out that the anokhi is a psychedelic mushroom out of which the Zadokites made a broth and a bread: they drank the broth and ate the bread. An actual authority on the Qumran scrolls (the Dead Sea scrolls), John Allegro, is referred to as having written a book about this in which he discovered that the early Christians were a secret mushroom cult. In his bibliography at the end of the novel PKD neglects, however, to mention which book of Allegro’s he is talking about. Perhaps, as I think is much of PKD’s religious speculation in this novel, his source is his Encyclopedia Britannica.

    Of course, given this about the anokhi mushroom, Jesus in the novel becomes a dope dealer and the Disciples nothing more than smugglers who get busted at the border while trying to run a supply of anokhi into a Roman city.

    With his foundations falling apart, then, Bishop Archer and his girlfriend claim to experience ghostly visits from his dead son, Jeff. Both he and Kirsten believe that Jeff is trying to contact them from the ‘other side.’ The Bishop is going to write a book about it. This doesn’t sit happily with Kirsten who sees his career as a powerful Bishop going down the tubes and her reflected status along with it. {Perhaps this refers to Bishop Pike's book THE OTHER SIDE: My Experiences With Psychic Phenomena published in 1968}

    Eventually, Bishop Archer, Kirsten and Angel Archer visit a medium who, despite Angel’s skepticism (she sees the whole thing with the incorporeal Jeff as a folie a deux between the Bishop and Kirsten by which they assuage their guilty feelings) seems to be genuine in some respects. She predicts Kirsten’s death and later Bishop Archer’s death.

    And Kirsten does kill herself after believing that her cancer had returned. Bishop Archer, in his quest for the anochi mushroom, visits the Judean desert and searches for the Zadokite wadi in a Datsun with a gas-station map and two bottles of Coca Cola. Without a guide or any aid he dies in the desert.

    These deaths of her friends cause Angel to become numb, a machine without feelings. But in the end we flash backward to the day John Lennon was shot and Angel’s visit to the mystic Edgar Barefoot.

    Barefoot singles her out and tries to give her something to live by and, somewhat comforted, she goes on with her life.

THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER earns ġġġġġ.


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


FOREIGN EDITIONS:


NOTES

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

PKD OTAKU #11, Sep 2003, p11. (Source: Norman Spinrad, "The Transmogrification of Philip K. Dick" in Science Fiction in the Real World; Southern Illinois University Press, 1990, p200)

Twilight Zone, Vol. 2, No. 3, June 1982, John Boonstra, interviewer.

The Patchin Review, No. 5, Oct/Dec 1982, pp. 2-6. Interview by John Boonstra

DI 275-76. (DI 341: PKD on Le Guin comments: Letter, PKD to editor, Feb 20, 1981, published in Science Fiction Review, Summer 1981).

DI 277.(DI 341: Inadequate depiction of women: Letter, PKD to Russell Galen, June 29 1981).

DI 277. PKD to Ursula Le Guin, May 13, 1981.

Ken Lopez Bookseller, Online catalog May 1997. Lopez also had the following item: THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER, Timescape, hb, 066-7, 1982 (1st). FINE. The uncorrected proof copy of the final book in the Valis trilogy. Fine in wrappers. $300.

The Patchin Review, No. 5, Oct/Dec 1982, pp. 2-6. Interview by John Boonstra

TDM 150 PKD interview with Charles Platt.

In His Own Words, by Gregg Rickman, 9-30-81

See DI 279.

See THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS: A New Translation, by Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr., & Edward Cook, Harper Collins, hb, 0-06-069200-6, 1996, the bibliography lists the following of Allegro’s books:

Allegro, J. M. The Treasure of the Copper Scroll, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1960.

Of these the most likely to cross PKD’s path is the Doubleday book of 1964. No doubt PKD also read Bishop Pike's book THE OTHER SIDE in which John Allegro figures)

See DI 283, 286-7

See: THE OTHER SIDE: My Experiences With Psychic Phenomena, by Bishop James A. Pike, Dell, pb, 6739, Oct 1969, 336pp, $0.95 (?) {In his 'Foreword' Pike mentions PKD: "... but I am nonetheless grateful to all who have thus shared of themselves -- especially my good friends Mr. and Mrs. Phil Dick..." and in the body of the book he writes about the suicide of his son, Jim. In many ways Bishop Pike's book is a companion to THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER}


Collector's Notes

    {The following is taken from Ken Lopez, Bookseller, online catalog, May 1997. As far as I know this ms is still for sale}:

7. The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. (Published by Simon & Schuster, 1982). Carbon copy typescript, 286 pages, with corrections and changes by the author on 39 pages, plus author notes on two other pages. Together with the one-page (21 line) ribbon copy typescript for the "Author's Note," with several minor changes in Dick's hand. Together with ten discarded manuscript pages: pages 1-4 ribbon copy with the title handritten by Dick: "Bishop Timothy Archer" and more than 50 words added or changed by Dick; pages 5-10 carbon copy with one handwritten correction. And also together with four pieces of correspondence: a carbon copy of a letter from Dick to his editor, with a copy of the text used to epigraph the novel; a carbon copy of a letter from Dick to his agent, 2 pages, reflecting on and analyzing his own novel after rereading the first third of it; a 5 page letter from Dick's agent to Dick, along with one leaf with a six-line poem in Dick's handwriting; and a carbon copy, two pages, of Dick's response to the above. All fine.

In 1981, after enjoying for the first time in his career several years of relative commercial success, and having just published Valis and The Divine Invasion (Valis Regained), Dick signed a three- book contract with his hardcover publisher, Simon & Schuster, which included a small advance for his first mainstream novel to be accepted for publication by a major publisher, Bishop Timothy Archer. Dick had long struggled for and dreamed of mainstream success, or even mainstream acceptance, and Timothy Archer was a breakthrough for him. It came at the same time that Blade Runner was being filmed from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and seemed to represent the accomplishment of a degree of literary and commercial success that his supporters, and he himself, had long felt he deserved and which had been deprived him strictly on the basis of the marginalization of the genre within which he wrote.
As such, this manuscript represents some of the last writing Dick ever did for one of his own novels (as opposed to his journals and Exegesis). For the set of manuscripts: $9500

Phildickian: THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER, Timescape, hb, 1981. VG+/VG+ $35

Phildickian: THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER, Pocket, pb, 1983. VG $8

Phildickian: THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER, Gollancz, hb, 1982. VF/VF $45

Phildickian: THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER, Vintage, tp, 1991. F $10


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