Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Secret Ascension

Next on my list of things to do to try to determine what the hell was going on was to see if Kent library had any works by Philip Dick or any works about him. The only two books I could find were neither written by him, however one was a biography by Douglas Mckey? and the other was a piece by Michael Bishop in which Phil was portrayed as one of the protagonists.
I checked out both of these, reading the biography first and then delving into the fictional piece by Michael Bishop. It goes by two names, one of which is "Alas, Philip K. Dick is dead" and the other is "The Secret Ascension". The hardcover I had read was titled "The Secret Ascension", which to me especially at this time, seemed more appropriate.

In the beginning of the book, we have a sort of a prologue I say sort of because this scene is integral to the entire book, from that point on. What we have is basically the science fiction writer, Philip K. Dick, somehow through nanotechnology (or so it seems) being regenerated in his old apartment. Michael Bishop, to the best of my memory refers to this copy of Phil as a ghost, or the "other". This copy of Phil is somehow strengthened by coffee, of all things, and doesn't remember who he is at the beginning. So he happens to stumble into a psychologist's office, to try to determine who he is.

The psychologist's husband, Cal, happens to be a Philip K. Dick fan, and upon learning about his wife's secret, unknown visitor, is instantly intrigued.

The major antagonist in the book is of course, Richard Nixon, although it should be noted that this is an alternate universe story. The end of the book has Phil, somewhere engaging in creating new worlds. This book is an homage to Phil, and very close to his style. This is not just my opinion.

Soon after reading the first couple of chapters, it became apparent to me that I had read this book before. When, I wasn't sure, but I know it was true. It had happened. Although, I could not prove it. The further I got into the book, the more familiar it became to me. By the time I had finished it, I knew where I had read it. The summer of 1986. I had flown out to California to stay with my biological father and his new family. I was only twelve years old at the time. I had read that novel, The Secret Ascension, that summer somewhere in Tulare, California. Exactly when and where, I had no earthly clue, But I know I had done so. The memory was more vague than anything I had memory of before. It is really difficult to explain. It was like I knew I had done that but not quite sure of the details. However, deja voe at this point had not figured to prominently in my mind. No, I hadn't thought I read it just like I read it now, but that I actually had read it in the summer of '86.

What is the big deal? The big deal is that the book was not ever published until the following year, 1987. I had confirmed this by looking at all the available editions, and even going to the author's website, and emailing him or his staff. So, what the fuck? Was I just crazy or had I really read it before? How could I explain this? I was not sure at that time, but that certainly instigated my decision to buy works from the man himself, Philip Kindred Dick. If he was trying to say something to me, I was determined to find out what. I mean, that man left his calling card on June 23, 2002.

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