A Philip K Dick Anthology – ‘Entering the Uncanny Worlds of PK Dick’ (call for contributors)

Philip K Dick (PKD) is arguably the most critiqued, celebrated, imitated, commodified science fiction writer of all time. He is certainly one of the most enigmatic literary figures of the 20th Century.  No matter how one positions PKD, his stories continue to inspire new interpretations, and elaborations across a broad range of genres and media. In hundreds of stories, long and short, he wove philosophy, psychoanalysis, religion and spirituality, communication theory and medium theory, genetic and social engineering, and post-humanism, among other things.  PKD certainly had a philosophical bent, but he was also a consummate prankster – a kind of post-modern speculative absurdist. Like any good writer he played with words, ideas, metaphors and images. However, the worlds he envisioned – his alternate, counter-factual histories and hyper-technological futures seem to quickly settle into the psyche as these vaguely familiar, almost mundane places splitting at the seams with all manner of techno-human monstrosity. What often appear at first pass to be the most outlandish and impossible futures soon become strangely (and often uncomfortably) familiar to the contemporary reader.

A lesser-known aspect of PKD’s prolific output concerns his habit of playing with the ontological possibilities bound up in human interactions with sophisticated technology, drugs, and communication media of various kinds that seem always on the cusp of reality. Sometimes both figure and ground, these technological objects and artifacts constitute PKD’s mise en scene and push his plot lines. Hiding in plain sight they form his ambient surround – the causal mechanisms, underpinning and backgrounding the dystopian worlds he envisioned. Aside from a handful of works, his oeuvre draws out the contours of a recurring and darkly playful theme that considers what it means to be human, including the fate of the individual (and the fate of human civilization) in a world of ubiquitous surveillance, paranoia, and hyper-commodification.  Indeed, more than ever, our contemporary world is replete with ‘Dickian’ characters, tropes and themes.

With 12 to 14 chapters planned, some of the general topics, themes driving this call include: memory, identity, totalitarianism, authoritarianism, simulations and simulacra, autonomy, panopticism, surveillance and control, augmented brains, minds and bodies, urban, institutional and environmental destruction and decay, alternate realities, alternate worlds, counterfactuals and alternative facts.  For more specific ideas and prompts, the remainder of this call includes a list of working titles, section headings and other signposts that may become part of the anthology.  Settled or in-flux, part or whole, all are open to negotiation, elaboration, etc.

IM/MATERIAL ONTOLOGIES, ENVIRONMENTS, SYSTEMS AND CULTURES

Flat ontologies. OOO, inverted, reversed, and otherwise twisted and turned ontologies and epistemologies.  Environments and/as Anti-environments.

Maps and Mappings: map=/= territory, etc. Universes, alternate Universes.  Multiverses.

Fixity and Fluidity across territories, borders, boundaries and interfaces.

Tendrils and tensions between materiality and virtuality.

ON REPLICANTS, REPLICANS, PRE-PERSONS, PRE-COGS

Proto-humans, trans-humans, post-humans.  Im/migrants, ‘illegals,’ undocumented, blacklisted, banned, ‘invalids,' etc.

Linear and non-linear lives/narratives, Fluid lives, Liminal lives, and After-lives.

Inscribed, ascribed, achieved identities. Descriptions and Prescriptions. Feminism/Anti-feminism.

Demi-Gods and Goddesses, Spirituality, Simulacra and the Sublime.

Existential Vertigo, Existential Dread, Existential Crises, etc..

Fakes, Fakers, ersatz people, spaces and places, simulacra (police/men, women, animals, leaders, organizations, environments etc).

I thou / I it: humanization, dehumanization, rehumanization ('more human than human,' etc)

MEDIATED MEMORY/MEMORY AS MEDIATION, MEDICATED MEMORY: NOSTALGIA, HALLUCINATION, COUNTERFACTUALS AND FUTURE HISTORIES

Mind readers, Dream readers, Life Readers (reality genres, blogging, vlogging, life-logging, consumption, monetization and commodification of human experience, ubiquitous consumption, hyper-commerce, etc).

Enabling and debilitating Drugs and Media (c.f. the daily dose, ‘Chew-Z,’ Penfield Mood Organs and other such things)

Big Data, meta-data, analytics, Voight-Kampff Empathy Tests, ….

Spirituality in/as Materiality. Totems, tokens and taboos. Ghost in the Machine. Affective machines.

IDIOS KOSMOS - KOINOS KOSMOS 

Consciousness, dual and multi-consciousness, false-consciousness and meta-consciousness.

Propagating, expanding, shrinking subjectivities and epistemologies (c.f. ‘Now Wait for Last Year’ and other such stories).  Objectified subjectivity.

In/tolerance of Mystery.  Closure and dis-closure.  Suspension of belief and dis-belief.

Notations and Denotations.  Signifiers, floating signifiers, etc.

Post-fact (counter-fact, alternative fact, etc).

AUTONOMY AND CONTROL:

Puppets, Puppet Masters, Masters and Slaves

Parts, pieces and wholes.

Privacy, freewill (technological, ontological, epistemological affordances and constraints).

Planned-Spontaneity and de-control (c.f. 'controlled decontrol of the emotions').

AI AVERSION AND ATTRACTION

Resistances, Rebellions, Acquiescence, Acceptance, ‘the Urge to Merge,’ or, how to stop worrying and learn to love the algorithm.

PROPOSALS

For full consideration send working titles and 200-250 word chapter abstracts, including author/s name/s and affiliation/s to robert_macdougall@curry.edu before March 1st 2018.