The first book in Philip K. Dick's final trilogy (followed by The Divine Invasion and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer), VALIS encapsulates many of the themes that Dick was obsessed with over the course of his career. A disorienting and bleakly funny novel, VALIS (which stands for Vast Active Living Intelligence System) is about a schizophrenic man named Horselover Fat (who just might also be known as Philip Dick); the hidden mysteries of Gnostic Christianity; and reality as revealed through a pink laser. VALIS is a theological detective story, in which God is both a missing person and the perpetrator of the ultimate crime.Taking place in the same universe as Dick's soon-to-be-published Exegesis, VALIS is a dense novel, but one that is absolutely essential to understanding the author's off-kilter worldview. Much like Dick himself, the reader is left wondering what is real, what is fiction, and what the price is for divine inspiration.
About the Author
Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) was an American science-fiction novelist, short-story writer and essayist. A contemporary of Ursula K. Le Guin, Dick's first short story, "Beyond Lies the Wub," was published shortly after his high-school graduation. Many of Dick's works drew upon his personal experiences with drug abuse, addressing topics such as paranoia and schizophrenia, transcendental experiences and alternate reality, and the childhood death of his twin sister is reflected through the recurring theme of the "phantom twin" in many of his novels. Despite ongoing financial troubles and issues with the IRS, Dick had a prolific writing career, winning both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award multiple times. Some of his most famous novels and stories--A Scanner Darkly, "The Minority Report," "Paycheck," and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (adapted into the film Blade Runner)--have been adapted for film. Dick died in 1982.