Archives for posts with tag: Science Fiction

Author Philip K Dick in 1982
by Gary Glauber

Money would have been great
but they required suppression.
We felt that the original was good
so we stuck to our guns.
Finally we came to an agreement:
the payment is very small.
In the mainstream I am essentially a novice,
not known.

It may be that I’ve lost the ability to write.
It’s been over twenty years
and it’s very problematical.
This is definitely an unproven thing, an X factor.
I may find that I’ve wound up with nothing.
I don’t think my agent figures I’m going
to live much longer.

I’m more or less apathetic to the megabucks.
I live a rather ascetic life.
I don’t have material wants; I have no debts.
My condominium my car my stereo is paid off.
A person must always take his best shot at everything,
whether he repairs shoes, drives a bus,
writes novels, or sells fruit.
You do the best you can.
If you fail, well, blame it on your mother.

SOURCE: Phillip K. Dick’s Final Interview with John Boonstra, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine (Vol. 2, No. 3, June 1982, pp. 47-52).

IMAGE: Author Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) by Philippe Hupp, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This found poem is from an interview with celebrated science fiction writer Phillip K. Dick. This was his final interview actually, and in it he discussed issues with rewriting his work for movies or novelizations of movies. Many of his works were made into successful films, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, The Minority Report, The Adjustment Bureau, A Scanner Darkly, and more. Unfortunately, he did not live to see many of these things happen. His work is amazing, and I’ve always been influenced by his works and ideas.

Gary by barn

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gary Glauber is a poet, fiction writer, and teacher. His works have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, as well as “Best of the Net.” Recent poems are published or forthcoming in Fjords Review, JMWW, Stone Voices, Ginger Piglet, The Citron Review, 3 Elements Review, The Blue Hour, Stoneboat Journal, Stone Path Review, Fredericksburg Literary Review, and Think Journal. He is a champion of the underdog who often composes to an obscure power pop soundtrack. His first collection, Small Consolations, is due out in 2015 from The Aldrich Press.



by Philip K. Dick

“But let me tell you my cat joke. It’s very short and simple. A hostess is giving a dinner party and she’s got a lovely five-pound T-bone steak sitting on the sideboard in the kitchen waiting to be cooked while she chats with the guests in the living room — has a few drinks and whatnot. But then she excuses herself to go into the kitchen to cook the steak-and it’s gone. And there’s the family cat, in the corner, sedately washing its face.”

“The cat got the steak,” Barney said.

“Did it? The guests are called in; they argue about it. The steak is gone, all five pounds of it; there sits the cat, looking well-fed and cheerful. ‘Weigh the cat,’ someone says. They’ve had a few drinks; it looks like a good idea. So they go into the bathroom and weigh the cat on the scales. It reads exactly five pounds. They all perceive this reading and a guest says, ‘okay, that’s it. There’s the steak.’

They’re satisfied that they know what happened, now; they’ve got empirical proof. Then a qualm comes to one of them and he says, puzzled, ‘But where’s the cat?”’

SOURCE: Excerpted from The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldrich by Philip K. Dick.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and lived most of his life in California. In 1952, he began writing professionally and proceeded to write numerous novels and short story collections. He won the Hugo Award for the best novel in 1962 for The Man in the High Castle and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year in 1974 for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. He is most well known for his short story “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep,” made into the film Blade Runner. He died in 1982, shortly before the film was released. Dick was a prolific writer with forty-four novels and over one hundred short stories to his credit. Other film adaptations of his work include Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, and The Adjustment Bureau.

PHOTO: Philip K. Dick and feline friend.


In this mid-1960s photo, Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970) is engrossed in Penguin Science Fiction (#1638), edited by Brian Aldiss. The anthology (originally published in 1961 and reissued in 1965) included stories by Isaac Asimov, J.G. Ballard, and an author most people wouldn’t associate with sci-fi — John Steinbeck, who won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature.


Steinbeck’s contribution to PENGUIN SCIENCE FICTION #1638 was entitled “The Short-Short Story of Mankind: A Fable.” An excerpt is included below.

The Short-Short Story of Mankind: A Fable (Excerpt)
by John Steinbeck

It was pretty draughty in the cave in the middle of the afternoon. There wasn’t any fire, the last spark had gone out six months ago and the family wouldn’t have any more fire until lightning struck another tree.

Joe came into the cave all scratched up and some hunks of hair torn out and he flopped down on the wet ground and bled . Old William was arguing away with Old Bert… 

“Where’s Al?” one of them asked and the other said, “You forgot to roll the rock in front of the door.”

Joe didn’t even look up and the two old men agreed that kids were going to the devil. “I tell you it was different in my day,” Old William said. “They had some respect for their elders or they got what for.”

After a while Joe stopped bleeding and he caked some mud on his cuts. “Al’s gone,” he said.

Old Bert asked brightly, “Sabre tooth?”

“No, it’s that new bunch that moved into the copse down the draw. They ate Al.”

“Savages,” said Old William. “Still live in trees. They aren’t civilized. We don’t hardly ever eat people.”

Joe said, “We got hardly anybody to eat except relatives and we’re getting low on relatives.”

…Read the rest of the story here.

Book cover: “Memory of the Future” by Oscar Dominguez (1938)


In 1968,  Ursula Le Guin‘s agent received the following letter from an editor regarding Le Guin’s novel The Left Hand of Darkness:

Dear Miss Kidd,

Ursula K. Le Guin writes extremely well, but I’m sorry to have to say that on the basis of that one highly distinguishing quality alone I cannot make you an offer for the novel. The book is so endlessly complicated by details of reference and information, the interim legends become so much of a nuisance despite their relevance, that the very action of the story seems to be to become hopelessly bogged down and the book, eventually, unreadable. The whole is so dry and airless, so lacking in pace, that whatever drama and excitement the novel might have had is entirely dissipated by what does seem, a great deal of the time, to be extraneous material. My thanks nonetheless for having thought of us. The manuscript of  The Left Hand of Darkness is returned herewith.

Yours sincerely,

The Editor
21 June, 1968

The following year (1969), Walker and Company published The Left Hand of Darkness to overwhelming critical acclaim. The novel also won the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards. Here are some of the reviews Le Guin  has received for the book:

“[A] science fiction masterpiece.”Newsweek

“A jewel of a story.”Frank Herbert

“As profuse and original in invention as The Lord of the Rings.”Michael Moorcock

“An instant classic.”Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Like all great writers of fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin creates imaginary worlds that restore us, hearts eased, to our own.”The Boston Globe

“Stellar…Le Guin is a superb stylist with a knack for creating characters who are both wise and deeply humane. A major event in fantasy literature.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Find The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin at

Trivia Tidbit: Ursula K. Le Guin and Philip K. Dick were in the same high school graduating class — Berkeley (California) High School Class of 1947


In 1949, Kurt Vonnegut sent three writing samples to Atlantic Monthly — hoping for publication or a writing assignment. Instead, he received the following letter:

Dear Mr. Vonnegut,

We have been carrying out our usual summer house-cleaning of the manuscripts on our anxious bench and in the file, and among them I find the three papers which you have shown me as samples of your work. I am sincerely sorry that no one of them seems to us well adapted for our purpose. Both the account of the bombing of Dresden and your article, “What’s a Fair Price for Golden Eggs?” have drawn commendation although neither one is quite compelling enough for final acceptance.

Our staff continues fully manned so I cannot hold out the hope of an editorial assignment, but I shall be glad to know that you have found a promising opening elsewhere.

Faithfully yours,
Edward Weeks

From one of the rejected writing samples (‘account of the bombing in Dresden”), Vonnegut developed his masterwork Slaughterhouse-Five. Toiling away at a variety of jobs (newspaper bureau, General Electric public relations department, Saab dealership) to support his large (and extended) family (six children), 20 years transpired between the Atlantic Monthly rejection and the publication of Slaughterhouse-Five (Delacorte, 1969). Modern Library has ranked the book as the18th greatest novel of the 20th century.

Photo: A first edition of Slaughterhouse-Five issued in 1969, when Vonnegut was still using “Jr.” Signed first editions of the novel currently sell for around $8,000. See this link.


“That country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.”

RAY BRADBURYThe October Country



(from Snoopy’s Guide to the Writing Life)

…starting when I was fifteen I began to send short stories to magazines like Esquire, and they, very promptly, sent them back two days before they got them! I have several walls in several rooms of my house covered with the snowstorm of rejections, but they didn’t realize what a strong person I was; I persevered and wrote a thousand more dreadful short stories, which were rejected in turn.

Then, during the late forties, I actually began to sell short stories and accomplished some sort of deliverance from snowstorms [of rejection slips] in my fourth decade. But even today, my latest books of short stories contain at least seven stories that were rejected by every magazine in the United States and also in Sweden! …The blizzard doesn’t last forever; it just seems so.

Photo: Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)  at home in Los Angeles


“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”

“I never consciously place symbolism in my writing…The best symbolism is always unsuspected and natural. During a lifetime, one saves up information which collects itself around centers in the mind; these automatically become symbols on a subliminal level and need only be summoned in the heat of writing.”

“I believe that eventually quantity will make for quality. How so? Quantity gives experience. From experience alone can quality come. All arts, big and small, are the elimination of waste motion in favor of the concise declaration. The artist learns what to leave out…”

“Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations. Plot is observed after the fact rather than before. It cannot precede action. It is the chart that remains when an action is through. That is all Plot ever should be. It is human desire let run, running, and reaching a goal. It cannot be mechanical. It can only be dynamic.”

The only good writing is intuitive writing. It would be a big bore if you knew where it was going. It has to be exciting, instantaneous and it has to be a surprise. Then it all comes blurting out and it’s beautiful. I’ve had a sign by my typewriter for 25 years now which reads, ‘DON’T THINK!’”

“I absolutely demand of you and everyone I know that they be widely read in every damn field there is; in every religion and every art form and don’t tell me you haven’t got time! There’s plenty of time. You need all of these cross-references. You never know when your head is going to use this fuel, this food for its purposes.”

“I always say to students, give me four pages a day, every day. That’s three or four hundred thousand words a year. Most of that will be bilge, but the rest …? It will save your life!”

Photo: Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) in his 20s.



When the New Yorker published its first-ever science fiction issue — a double issue dated June 4 & 11, 2012 — no one predicted that the magazine would include Ray Bradbury‘s last published writing. (Bradbury passed away on June 5, 2012 a few month short of his 92nd birthday.)

Entitled “Take Me Home,” Bradbury’s contribution to the New Yorker‘s science fiction issue discusses the author’s favorite books as a child and includes a poignant reminiscence about a 4th of July spent with his grandfather. Read “Take Me Home” at

Cover illustration: Daniel Clowes, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED



When I visited Glendale, California, a few weeks ago for a meeting, I parked in front of the Mystery & Imagination Bookshop at 238 N. Brand Blvd. I was intrigued by the poster in the window for a book called Searching for Ray Bradbury by Steven Paul Leiva — and finally took the time today to check out the bookstore and Leiva’s Book. 

The first thing I ran across was an article in the Huffington Post (5/16/2013), where Steven Paul Leiva writes about the Mystery & Imagination Bookshop — and explains that Ray Bradbury called it, “one of the best bookstores ever.” (Read the article at

The Mystery & Imagination Bookshop also operates an online bookstore that offers rare and used books in the detective, science fiction, and fantasy genres. For more information, visit


Searching for Ray Bradbury includes eight essays written by Steven Paul Leiva about his friend and inspiration, Ray Bradbury. In the book, Leiva also writes about his work to honor Bradbury on his 90th birthday with RAY BRADBURY WEEK in Los Angeles, a weeklong series of events in 2010 that were the great author’s last public appearances. Searching for Ray Bradbury also details Leiva’s successful effort to name the major Los Angeles downtown intersection of Fifth & Flower, adjacent to the Los Angeles Central Library, RAY BRADBURY SQUARE. Find Searching for Ray Bradbury at . Visit Steven Paul Leiva at his blog for more information about the author and his work.

Book Cover illustration: Lou Romano, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED