There is a Philip K. Dick role-playing game. Sometimes, I’m just astonished that things that seem so narrowly attuned to my tastes could possibly exist. This is one of those.
It doesn’t call itself a PKD RPG, per se. It says
Left Coast is a game about science fiction authors like Philip K. Dick and L. Ron
Hubbard living in California at a blurry point between the Summer of Love and
In the game, some of you will play the Authors, some of you play the friends and slackers
surrounding them, demanding their attention, … and some of you play the weird alien
forces conspiring to invade the Author’s lives. Together you’ll create a short story about
Authors who struggle to control their lives so they can focus on doing the thing they love.
Each author scrabbles for their big break, while dealing with their own financial
incompetence, the screw-ups of their friends, and with their extremely creative minds
And each author is also trapped inside a novel that’s being written by one of their friends
–who is making weird things invade their life. […]
The second half of VALIS and the first half of Radio Free Albemuth, by Philip K.
Dick are near-perfect examples of Left Coast stories.
But it’s hard for me to see it as anything else but the PKD RPG.
My gaming group played the quickstart version. It featured strange
loops with different times superimposed on each other, a hostile voice
berating the author from anything nearby with a speaker, the Author’s
obsessed stalker fan and rival academic colleague cum spurned lover
turning out to really be the same person, psychic alien invaders, and
a Russian kosmonaut from one of the Author’s stories appearing in the
Will play again.
I haven’t read any Dick or Dickiana for a long time, but I picked up What If Our World is Their Heaven? not long ago. After playing Left Coast, I promptly ordered I Am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey into the Mind of Philip K. Dick and The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick (I already had the older In Pursuit of VALIS: Selections from the Exegesis).
Unrelated PKD anecdotes:
A few years ago I read Bishop’s Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas (sadly, my copy has the much worse title, “The Secret Ascension”.) It was published in 1987 and is set in a contemporary world featuring the overturn of the 22nd Amendment, Nixon continuing to be the sitting president, and Vietnam having become the 51st U.S. state. Watchmen, which began publication in September, 1986, is set in a contemporary world featuring the overturn of the 22nd Amendment, Nixon continuing to be the sitting president, and Vietnam having become the 51st U.S. state. I find it interesting that Bishop and Moore, whom I presume were writing these works at about the same time, struck on so many common elements.
At a PKD panel at Worldcon a couple of years, an audience member asked a question about Dick’s drug use. A writer on the panel who’d been a friend of Dick’s was quick to say it had been massively exagerrated, and sought to set the story straight, saying without irony, “Well, he used snuff all the time. And he drank – there was a lot of scotch. And he’d smoke pot if someone else had it – if it was around. And there were the amphetamines, but those were by prescription. So were the anti-depressants. And he dropped acid, but only twice. But that was it!”