Philip K. Dick. Just his name conjures excitement and imagination. There are so many books and short stories to choose from his extensive, brilliant output, but this The Galactic Pot-Healer is the one I remember with great fondness from a particularly creative period in my life when I painted, wrote, played in my first bands, and earned enough money to feed a reading habit frowned upon by my parents: Philip K. Dick, Poul Anderson, John Brunner, Ray Bradbury and so many more jostled for space on the walls, shelves and surfaces of my small apartment.
Books to Movies
Many of Dick’s stories have made a successful transition into film. With strong storytelling and powerfully focused ideas, Dick managed to slalom through politics, society and religion. His deft touch has left us with Total Recall (based on We Can Remember it for you Wholesale), A Scanner Darkly (of the same name), The Adjustment Bureau (The Adjustment Team), Minority Report (same name), and a candidate for any list of top SF, Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep). These, and other great movies, glitter so brightly it’s easy to forget his other great tales, so I’ve kept with this one, which hasn’t yet made it onto the silver screen.
Like many good sf stories The Galactic Pot-Healer starts in some mundane dystopic cityscape (reminding me at the time of Terry Gilliam’s uniquely inventive Brazil), the main character struggling in a tedious life, entertaining himself with amusing mistranslations (curiously foreshadowing Google Translator) before being tempted by an apparently infallible God. It’s a mad mission to another planet, an impossible task to raise an ancient cathedral from the beneath the seas. Who wouldn’t want to?
There’s plenty of fun to be exercised at the expense of all forms of religion, the inanity of humankind, men in particular, and the inevitable jousting with fate. Still a great read today.
- Top 100 SF & F Books. Stranger in a Strange Land.
- Virgil Finlay: Master of Dark Fantasy Illustration
- H.P. Lovecraft created some incredible monsters in space and time.
Front cover photograph by Elise Wells, 2016