Potlatch 14 Program Notes


Edited/Compiled by:

Lenny Bailes


Ian Carruthers, Lenny Bailes, Howard Hendrix, Jeanne Gomoll



A Scanner Darkly (BoH panel)

Participants: Bruce Gillespie (ringleader), Howard Hendrix, Grania Davis, Lenny Bailes

Notes by Ian Carruthers and Lenny Bailes


A Scanner Darkly, written by PKD in 1971 to 1972, was actually published in 1977 by Doubleday (hardcover) and Ballentine (paperback).

(Bruce Gillespie): In 30 years, PKD has become one of the most respected SF writers. His best books portray people holding onto their courage in the face of overwhelming odds and despair. A Scanner Darkly has very few sci-fi elements. It's a realistic novel, those elements notwithstanding.

There is major invention in book. Wow! Very cool. Who is watching who? Who is betraying who? Trying to build a universal metaphor for the end of the twentieth century. Palmer points out: all the drugs or people are manufactured, branded products. It's an inescapable world. Very dark. [The characters] can't understand the world they're in, and they can't escape it -- because they have been robbed of what makes them human. Arctor has been stripped of even the concepts of sadness and despair. Is this a post-modern novel? Was PKD being totally honest in the book? Does it apply as well now, in 2005?

At the same time as Dick shows a consensual reality, there are other realities right next door -- often treacherous and scary and dangerous.

(Full text of Bruce Gillespie's introduction to the panel)

(Lenny Bailes): A Scanner Darkly extends the tropes that PKD wrote in the '50s around alienated nonconformists: the working men and middle-class managers who don't fit into the gestalt of The Man in The Gray Flannel Suit, or The Organization Man. Dick extends his exploration into what is now our near future. (The date is nominally 2010.)  In Dick's earlier novels, the protagonists are often able to rebel against the forces of society that alienate and threaten.them. The protagonists of A Scanner Darkly are hopelessly crippled by the drug culture they embrace (which is an extrapolation of the drug culture in the U.S. that became prominent in the 1960s and 1970s) .

The Panel:

Bruce Gillespie: is the editor/publisher of SF Commentary. He has been publishing fanzines since 1968. He claims that his appearance at this year's Corflu and Potlach s-f conventions can all be blamed on Philip K. Dick, for starting him on his fanzine publishing career. Bruce is well-known for his interest in PKD's science fiction as well as PKD's mainstream novels.

Howard Hendrix: is an English professor and science fiction writer.

Grania Davis: is a science fiction writer and editor. She was a close friend of PKD in the 1960s.

Lenny Bailes: is a longtime fan of PKD's writing and occasional s-f book reviewer/critic.

Bruce Gillespie: In 1972, PKD had little money and kept open house for many drop outs and drug users. The point of the novel is a big theme - didactic - don't do hard drugs! Bob Arctor [[the protagonist]] can't react to the world as human. He reacts to it as a robot - a mere camera that observes. Arctor finds the origin of Substance D, but can't do anything about it.

Chris Palmer (an Australian academic) wrote: "The world of Scanner is not the ordinary California. The action in the novel excludes folks outside drug world. It's a completely enclosed world that begins where most other's finish. It's a world where its difficult to survive. The novel has fabulous dialogue and circular discussions, as folks can't actually do anything sensible --like fix machines. There are harbingers of this dark world in earlier PKD stories such as Imposter, Much of this aspect of his work has filtered into the movies. In Fight Club we learn the identity of the main character at the end of the movie. The storyteller is, himself, a character. Or is it Arctor?"

[[Bruce wrote 3 essays on PKD 20-30 years ago - - and met a whole bunch of folks - George Turner, Rob Durant, and someone else, now dead. In 1969, he started a fanzine called SF Commentary. He's done a few more fanzines since. He sent a copy to PKD - and received letter back. SFC became informal fan magazine for PKD. Bruce started a small press - put out "PKD - An Electric Shepherd," which came out of a special PKD issue of SF Studies. Bruce declined to publish the last letters he received from PKD, because they were too intense. This made PKD regard him as an enemy - which happened tog many people who were PKD friends. PKD tried to kill himself several times, then came back to writing.]]

Bruce confesses that he hadn't read "A Scanner Darkly," since 1977. He rereads hardly any of PKD's books.

Grania Davis: Bruce covered most of the [important] points about book. Grania prefers to talk about Phil, himself, during the 1970's. She has just re-read A Scanner Darkly for the first time in nearly 30 years.

It's not his best book. The language dated. But we're immediately drawn in. It's a world of gloom and despair - and dark humor. There are no outside characters beyond the immediate scene. The book is PKD working on himself - on his drug issues, and on the two sides his personality. There were at least two PKDs. Maybe more." At this time, he was starting to reintegrate himself:

In 1971, Phil gathered misfits & ne'er-do-wells. Grania was one. In a visit to PKD's house (in Santa Benicia) in 1971, he says the following: "Let me show you around my garden. This is my dead lemon tree. This is my dead rose bush; this is my dead lawn, and the unwelcome wagon is coming next week to take me away." Nancy and Esa (Phil's wife and child) had already left. After the garden tour, he told folks about the problems he was dealing with. He was very concerned about [his house] being broken into. So he gave Grania a complete set of his books for safekeeping. Scanner brings back that period very vividly.

Grania can answer any questions about PKD personally.

[Audience member]: Was Chester Anderson one of the characters in Scanner?

Grania Davis: Chester was too much of his own person. The folks that are in the novel are more the kids that were around Phil a lot after his wife and kid left - PKD took in strays.

Lenny Bailes: Chester Anderson and Mike Kurland used to hang out in my living room after LASFS meetings. Chester was a science fiction writer and hippie, probably not the basis for any character in A Scanner Darkly. He founded the Communication Company on Haight Street and published one of the first H-A newsletter/fanzines, in 1966, along with Greg Shaw.

Chester's best-known, now, as the author of The Butterfly Kid, a surrealistic s-f novel set in the street culture of Greenwich Village. He shared a big love of the I-Ching with PKD. (Chester had a set of I-Ching hexagram flash cards that he would lay out around himself like an L. Sprague DeCamp "syllogismobile" as he attempted to chant himself into other dimensions.) Chester was actually more flamboyant than the folks in Scanner. In the 1970s, he moved to Los Angeles and published another alternative newspaper.

.... Returning to the book. The first thing I thought about for this panel is why talk about it now -- thirty years after it was published? It might be helpful to place Scanner in context with PKD's other novels: a number of his books are about fake realities, and the characters' investment in it. But PKD also wrote twenty mainstream novels. Scanner continues the themes of his '50s novels -- about non-conformists who are trying to survive in the bigger society.

"The characters in this book have the same skeptical, rebellious attitude as some of Dick's earlier protagonists. But in this book, the drug experience deadens and destroys them. The Scanner characters are incapable of rebelling like Ragle Gump [the protagonist of Time Out of Joint, who saw through the "Life of Riley façade of his 1950s life. Or like Jack Bohlen of Martian Time Slip, who successfully battles his own schizophrenia. Or Louis Rosen and Pris Frauenzimmer, the protagonists of We Can Build You who similarly struggle with their own mental illnesses.

Walter Dombrosio, the protagonist of the mainstream Man Whose Teeth Were Exactly Alike, rebels by concocting a scientific hoax after being fired from his job and estranged from his wife. Books before Scanner are full of characters like this - the protagonists can win. But because of their drug habits, the folks in Scanner don't fight back. They all lose.

I think PKD's purpose in writing Scanner is actually the beginning of his philosophical exegesis -- to conduct a self-examination of his inner conflicts and contradictions.

Howard Hendrix: I am an English Professor!

I read it as text. It's been quite a few years. There's an upbeat look at the end: "No one should have to suffer that much to create that beauty"

Howard characterizes Scanner as a "narco-novel of social commentary." The only obvious sci-fi element in the book is the scramble suit. But the book contains another characteristic PKD element:. he describes the world of the protagonists and then suddenly the trapdoor opens -- and there's another world. Usually in PKD the trapdoor is vertical. But in this one it's horizontal - a "slide across the corpus callosum" - from Fred to Bob to Bruce.

Some wonderful social commentary for post-modernists. Fabulous brand names. The description of Anaheim - sell the McBurger back and forth from our living rooms - "welcome to the Internet, by the way." Different parts of the personality spying on itself. Idea of the surveillance state. The doper talk and paranoia is great - they're wonderful - they really catch it. Wonderful example of some kind of terrorism: the description in the text of slow, over time, deliberate sabotage. The sabotagee never knows s/he's being sabotaged. Wonderful thing about the book - it loves dopers. It can portray both them and their situations - and is profoundly compassionate towards all the characters. Novel where philosophical conundrum meets metaphysical reality. Follow the path of the mad detective in his search for the true source of Substance D. Natural, as death always is, living inside life. "Not wanting to live is identical to not wanting to die." He will bring back information in his own weird way. He's looking for the font of the death of the spirit., Despite all the suffering - he manages to smuggle out to us his part of the truth.

Grania Davis: In re the non-SF novels, she read them in manuscript form before they were published. How did they fit in with Scanner? What struck her: Scanner seems to be a very personal novel. The non-SF novels are very personal novels compared to some of the other books: Palmer Eldridge, Martian Timeslip, Man in The High Castle. He doesn't bare himself as strongly. Why is he getting more and more and more impressive and important? He had folks talking to computers in the novels. Now it's real.

[Audience question]: How did someone whose grip on reality seems so tenuous produce so well?

Grania Davis: He wasn't more and more out of touch. He was episodically in and out. He loved domestic life - cooking, kids, puttering, etc. Sometime he was a mad mystic - other times just mad. Severe episodes of paranoia - [she wishes, at this point, someone might know what he would be diagnosed as.

Lenny Bailes: It's not so much that PKD got progressively further out of touch with reality. He had so much more inner reality in his own brain that he had to contain and contend with. When he became susceptible to his problems he looked inward instead of looking outward, attempting to use his intellect to explain what he was hearing in his own head. He retained his ability for clarity of communication to explain what was happening to him.

Howard Hendrix: [commenting on scramble-suit technology]: Blur faced people. We don't have that - only we do - the T.V. censors.

[Audience question]: What was function of the German poetry in book?

Grania Davis:- one of PKD's obsessions was German cultural poetry, German composers to highlight mood - Mozart when cheerful, Schubert, Leider when he was feeling down. He quoted Faust in the German. Free association, to a certain degree.

Lenny Bailes: He used German poetry to express things that struck him as profound, fundamental truths.

[Audience Question]: Can you tell us what the pink beam experience was all about?

Lenny Bailes: The pink beam experience. In 1974, in one account he wrote, a woman knocked on his door and [in one account I remember reading] handed him a paper that contained an iconic symbol. He wrote that, at that moment, he felt the incredible of experience of being struck by a pink beam of light reflected out of the sky from a necklace the woman wore. [Robert Crumb has actually drawn a comic strip that illustrates the experience, using some of Phil's own writing about it. In this version, the woman's necklace contains a portrait of a fish, and Phil is dazzled by the reflection of sunlight on it.] PKD felt the experience was incredibly important - that God was talking to him and sending him revelations.

In 1976, I had the opportunity to chat with Phil for several hours, at an Octacon s-f convention. He outlined the plot for the novel that was later published as Radio Free Albumuth. He described the source of the "pink beam" to me, at that time, as an element in his story, generated by the VALIS (Vast Active Living Intelligence System) satellite. At that time, it seemed to me that he was describing the science fiction story he was writing rather than claiming the personal experience of being struck by the beam.

Howard Hendrix: In context of the larger discussion - the Palm Garden vs. the Iron Prison - wonderful stuff. The reason PKD seems so prescient is that we are, now, where PKD already went. He tapped into something. What does "imperator" mean? The Ford "Imperator" - encapsulated American imperialism in such a throwaway way. Awesome! Phil is very much a social being and all his books are social. [Howard doesn't know how much PKD trusted society, but bows in his direction in terms of paranoia.

[Audience comment]: Substance D is actually coming from the treatment center [that is supposed to be curing Substance D addicts]. The same paranoia. Howard - this sounds like the reality we live in.

[Audience question]: At the point where they get to installing scanning devices in household - the layers of observation - the sense of Dick understanding reality T.V., the watcher watching the watched. The boundaries blurring and the madness that results from tha - is it art that I'm watching someone else perform - or what?

Howard Hendrix: This blurring of lines occurs in much of PKD's work - living and non-living things keep exchanging properties - PKD is a mirror of mirror.

Lenny Bailes: I think that when he was writing this novel, PKD was able to step back from his own paranoia enough to portray it lucidly. He still exhibits a strong ability to distinguish between the thought-patterns of an "abnormally disturbed" individual and the thought patterns of what we (and he) would refer to as a "normal individual."

In his alter-ego as Fred the narcotics agent, Arctor records his own conversations and reports upon them to his superiors. He contemplates bugging his own house and planting narcotics, but has not yet done so. He believes himself to be the master of his situation.

Then, Arctor and Paul Barris discover a hot roach stub in Arctor's living room. Barris decides this is evidence the house has been invaded by narcotics agents who've planted dope for a subsequent bust. He tells Arctor, hysterically, that the only way for them to save themselves is to immediately call the police, report the roach and disclaim all knowledge of planted narcotics. ((Of course, they must also flush their personal stashes, that they do know about.))

Just as Barris has convinced Arctor that this is the reality of the situation, Donna Hawthorne (Arctor's girlfriend/dope connection) walks into the room. She tells Arctor that she came in because the front door was open, smoked a joint and decided to take a nap. Arctor snaps back to "reality" and considers what he was about to do:

"My God, Bob Arctor thought. I was into that trip as much as they were. We all got into it together that deep. He shook himself, shuddered, and blinked. Knowing what I know, I still stepped into that freaked-out paranoid space with them, viewed it as they viewed it -- muddled, he thought. Murky again; the same murk that covers them covers me; the murk of this dreary dream world we float around in."

PKD uses the gradually-building schizophrenia of Arctor/Fred to examine his own mental state.

Arctor/Fred pondering the dual nature of his role as a narcotics agent:

"You put on a bishop's robe and miter," he pondered, "and walk around in that, and people bow and genuflect and like that, and try to kiss your ring, if not your ass, and pretty soon you're a bishop. So to speak. What is identity, he asked himself. Where does the act end? Nobody knows."

This is Dick writing (in 1972 and 1973) before his "pink beam" experience, when he retains a powerful lucidity -- and wry "objective" insight into the personality tics of the addicted mindstate.

Grania Davis: Incorporating the madness of the book. That was very much the experience of being around PKD himself - he was very 'schizophrenogenic.' Everything became very dangerous and suspect. Over period of time - you can see why he went through so many wives - no one could sit it out for long. Maybe a whole weekend exploring the mind of PKD is not the best idea. Distressing and disturbing to do. True horror, in that sense.

Lenny Bailes: The other side of PKD is the power of his art to expose what's false. He's constantly trying to find the kernel of what's true under the illusion.

One of the central themes is Arctor/Fred's gradual realization of his own neural impairment -- the fallout of his schizophrenic dual life as a drug addict and a narcotics agent. PKD uses a trope that was becoming popular at the time of writing, about the independence of the left and right hemispheres of the brain -- that they represent independent thought systems, fused in a "normal" person by constant synchronization and acknowledgment.

To his superiors at the narcotics bureau, who are trying to explain the effects that substance D has had on him:

"How come, Fred grated, "that even if both hemispheres of my brain are dominant, they don't receive the same stimuli? Why can't the two whatevers be synchronized, like stereo sound is?"

"Maybe it's you fuckers, Fred said, "who're seeing the universe backward, like in a mirror. Maybe I see it right."

The reply they give him:

"You see it both ways."

When Barris eventually decides to inform on Robert Arctor to the police, he [correctly] perceives that the distribution of Substance D is the result of a large, secret conspiracy. Barris believes that it's a conspiracy by the Soviet Union to overthrow the United States. PKD's larger point, as Arctor discovers at the end of the novel, is that the U.S. is a willing co-conspirator. The production of Substance D is actually a conspiracy to cripple the capabilities of people like PKD's protagonists - any, and all of them, who rebel against the mechanized, corporate culture of the System.

Bruce Gillespie: We can push it into the rest of the weekend.

PKD's afterward to A Scanner Darkly:

"There is no moral in this novel; it is not bourgeois. It does not say they were wrong to play when they should have toiled; it just tells what the consequences were." …. "If there was any sin, it was that these people wanted to keep on having a good time forever and were punished for that." But, as I say, I feel that, if so, the punishment was far too great."


 The Future of Law Enforcement

Participants: Alan Beatts, Suzy McKee Charnas, Matt Austern

Notes by Ian Carruthers


Where will law enforcement go in the future? Will we have the scramble suits of A Scanner Darkly, the prisons of Jonathan Lethem's Hardened Criminals, the violent copyright enforcement of K.W.Jeter's Noir, or something altogether more peculiar? What will our rights be (if any) in the future?

The Panel:

Alan Beatts:- law enforcement in the future - civil liberties will be lost. [Alan has worked in law enforcement].

Law enforcement will become progressively easier. It will be easier to collect information and unquestioned evidence that is submissible in court. DNA, for instance can prove that you were in the place where a crime occurred. Intellectual property and copyright will extend more and more, (longer time periods). Property rights will be harder to pull from other things that are already recorded and copyrighted.

Spider Robinson says: at some point, you can't record a particular baseline, because it's already been recorded and copyrighted.

Suzy McKee Charnas: How are we going to shift from [the concept] that "the expression of an idea is copyrightable, but not the idea" - to the concept of the idea being copyrightable?

Matt Austern: It doesn't make sense - but much doesn't. How you could police it: technology is making policing easier and possible in areas where policing was not previously possible. In PKD, Scanner, the main theme is surveillance. PKD's feeling at the time was that such policing was a paranoid vision - not possible. The police can't track all that. But with computers - and data collection and monitoring - it really is possible for all aspects of our lives to be under observation.

It's possible to enforce an extreme vision of intellectual property. Charlie Strauss' blog described an extremist intellectual property idea, "Gallubosianism," which is a real theory. By the nature of the theory ideas are copyrightable, copyright never expires, and you have to pay to use the idea. [This concept] is also called "Needle Drop." You can capture sound, then manipulate it slightly on computer. You can manipulate the idea into something that is no longer copyrighted. Informatics - tough. [It has] many DBs, and they don't talk to each other. But the capability for this type of IP policing is coming.

Alan Beatts: Solving those problems is worth a lot of money, so it's being worked on very hard.

[Audience comment]: The idea disturbing - homeland security thing. Cameras - a combination of AI and pattern recognition intended to spot suspicious action - can tell a person's intent by the way they are behaving. This [tells police officers] "you should pay attention."

[Audience comment]: Collecting information is increasingly pervasive. [This leads to] the question of what to do with information that's been collected. Someone has to decide. A lot of s-f has been written where "the computer" is in charge of collecting data and enforcing law. It could happen by 'creep' that we turn over enforcement to computers.

Alan Beatts: This isn't strictly true.

Matt Austern: What about photos of a car running light?

Alan Beatts: [You can] send back a message that says "not my car." You don't have to submit evidence against yourself.

As information is gathered, someone has to decide that there's a problem and do something. The problem with that is: at any time you can arrest anybody - but you don't - unless they go above the radar for some reason. There are laws on the books that are only enforced when it's convenient. This is unjust - many people get away with [violating these laws], but for some other reason someone is arrested for violating the law -- despite the fact that 200 others who broke it haven't been arrested.

Matt Austern: Law enforcement is a broader term than just enforcement. It's not just punishment, but preventing illegal action in the first place. There's no decision to punish - this would just make enforcement impossible.

[Audience comment]: An example of how American we are: this discussion is focusing on technology. The purpose of tech is to achieve the result of law enforcement cheaply, without people. Also, we can look at society, itself, and where it's going. Lots of law enforcement is due to [the pressure of] society. Richard Carlucci books: society has become more unfair, more polarized and dysfunctional than it was.

Alan Beatts: [This is a] chicken and egg [case]. Methods of law enforcement may further [the phenomena of unfairness and polarization], and vice versa.

[Audience comment]: What are the reasons why someone is worth arresting? In Scanner: it's the ability of law enforcement to confiscate assets. "Get Arctor's house." They prosecute someone who they can get goodies from. [New] asset forfeiture laws: 1987, 1989 - something like that. That was part of the issue with witchcraft laws. [Suspects] do not need to be charged or convicted. The only way to get back is to sue, if they'll let you.

Alan Beatts: The oldest example in the West was the suppression of Knights Templar by the Catholic Church. Their property went to France, where the Papacy was.

[Audience comment]: In David Brin's book: since suppression is going to happen, he suggests to turn it around and say that no one should have any secrets, including the government.

Alan Beatts: This is one of the, only quasi-optimistic, looks at the idea of ubiquitous surveillance. If [the technology] is tremendously cheap and available, the government will be under scrutiny by private citizens. Rodney King is an example of that. [Alan has done a lot of work in that area.Counter-surveillance is 10 to 100 times more common than surveillance. The government can afford it.]

[Audience comment:] Government , the Military, and criminals - in that order - are the biggest buyers of technology. Then come the private folks. People exclude so much from the discussion about who's watching the watchers. We could possibly have surveillance that is so ubiquitous - using micro or nano-tech - that this will allow us, the people, to use this information. We can already know more about Bush than we knew about Nixon. -- Unless DRM gets into everything, and all government documents are copyrighted.

Matt Austern: What is a crime? [The definition] is not stable. It's what society decides that it is. 200 years ago, the wrong sex with the wrong person was punishable by death.

Alan Beatts: An attorney friend says: no one gets elected because they are going to repeal laws. They get elected because of the laws they are going to pass.

Matt Austern: Reagan got elected partly on the platform of bringing down regulations.

[Audience comment]: Congress passes a law. It has ingredients. Law enforcement needs instructions on how to put this thing in place. How to do it. Some times [Congress] passes a law and it won't come up for 10 to 20 years. [The police] won't know how to enforce it. You can't take a case to court if it's just a law.

[Audience comment]: A balance between government and "people's" surveillance is possible. The government pays a lot more than a citizen can pay to get things done. This balances things a little.

[Audience comment]: [There is a ] law enforcement punishment trend. We're moving toward a more incarcerated society in the United States. What is the future of punishment?

Matt Austern: There are short term trends continuing here. [I] don't see the votes to shorten prison sentences. Prison will be the major punishment. Long term, we can't lock up that large a percentage of our population. I don't think the U.S. can be a [western problem?].

Suzy McKee Charnas: It's a function of population pressures. The more of us there are, the more government is scared of not being able to control us. Also, we have very porous borders - as many other countries don't have. What would take the pressure off? Projections say birthrate is going to drop off by the middle of the century here in the U.S. Now, there are just "too many rats in the cage." Some of the insanity of it will drop off.

Alan Beatts: A sci-fi scenario on the short term of incarceration: a private company is being given contracts to run prisons. They provide jailors and food service. They sell the company to a foreign company when[the current] CEO retires. Now [the private prison service] is owned by a Swiss company. This really happened! The greatest profits were in the Corrections Division. You can't afford to incarcerate that many folks, unless it's making a lot of money. Law Enforcement: "follow the money."

[Audience comment]: We've seen three data points in last couple of months:
1. The Patriot Act. It's definition of terrorism: any act that violates any state or federal law, endangers any life in any way, influences a government body. The definition]needs all three .
2. The State Dept and the Military: what to do with the folks at Guantanemo. There is a permanent prison facility there, which propagates the detention of prisoners who can't be brought forward to military tribunal -- because there's no evidence.
3. The plan to kill a number of deer. An animal rights activist said: the abuse of animals is the root of terrorism.

Alan Beatts: I'm going to decline to go down that road. This is off-topic in terms of law enforcement.

[Audience comment]: In re: ubiquitous surveillance. There is cherry picking, selective enforcement, by the government. There has been a sharp increase in what [constitutes] a felony. Alabama passed a statute: it's a felony to sell sex toys. But white collar crime gets a slap on the wrist.

Matt Austern: Gross injustices are only possible because of selective enforcement. Lots of people who voted for those laws believe they won't apply to them. If we move to ubiquitous surveillance - and laws that are passed are actually enforced -law enforcement will become harder. A significant part of our society is based on lots of laws not being enforced.

Suzy McKee Charnas: I don't see us moving, anytime soon, into a more flexible situation. [There are ] more and more of us who don't have money. This will continue as long as we operate on the idea of social Darwinism, instead of social responsibility. [This trend] came in after the Depression. We can find ways out if we think of world society as an organism that needs stuff.

Alan Beatts: There is a specific matter of criminality: a felony was originally a crime punishable by death - arson, treason, murder, rape, and one other crime. In the U.S. legal system, felony comes from British common law. It became legal to kill a felon, rather than allowing one to escape. "Felony" no longer represents that level of criminality. We may see a new class of crime that is more serious than felony. Now in some states, there are classes of felonies - a, b, c.

[Audience comment]: A comment about the Patriot Act: [He's not a lawyer, but -] for most crimes to [have a conviction] 1) a law must be broken, 2) criminal intent must be shown -- a person must have intended to break the law.

[Audience comment]: The system works around this, for instance drunk driving.

Alan Beatts: In the crime of burglary: the criminal must be shown to have entered the premises and must be intending to commit an act of theft. If both elements aren't present, you've only trespassed.

[Audience comment]: The point is that how the Patriot Act is actually used will depend on court cases that establish precedent. Also, how much value they put on the intent of the person.

[Audience comment]: The issue of intent is messy. It's hard to prove intent; but there are sci-fi ideas that can prove intent.

Matt Austern: If we get better idea of brain chemistry, that may obviate the whole idea of intent. In court, now, you can't assume intent. You can't read minds. Intent must be provable by actions.

[Audience comment]: In super felonies, intent is one of the tests that's used in current death penalty evaluation. [He is opposed to the death penalty, and astonished at leaders in society who support the death penalty.] There seems to be universal acceptance that there must be very high standards of proof before the system can kill somebody. This is different than it used to be.

[Audience comment]: There is theory and practice. [He's done practice.] When someone's embezzling, we don't have to ask about intent - it's clear. It's very hard to put people in jail. Here in the Bay area, if it's less $200,000, the system won't even take the case. In LA, it's $500K. When they do [prosecute] a criminal case, they don't want a trial. San Francisco has only about 90 FBI agents. We don't have enough people.

Suzy McKee Charnas: Society's already staggering under the burden of too much information - too much input. When people talk about total surveillance, it would have to mean that we must have the machines filtering data. Who gets the abstract of that data? Who designs the filters?

Matt Austern: Automatic filters that could be set up would check out stuff for [...?]

Alan Beatts: When he was working in Intelligence, the NSA running joke was: give them a [telephone] number, they can patch you through. And that was 15 years ago. It is very possible to track telephone calls. It's been done for a long time. Many calls get recorded right now. They get tagged by computers with voice recognition software that can search for information. But none of the NSA data is admissible in court, yet.

[Audience comment]: Currently in China, all of their firewalls for network[s] are routed through the government. [If users] google for certain data, that gets flagged. When enough of those searches happen, the military shows up and arrests you. The firewall technology and special software is written by Cisco. It's not a difficult thing to do. It's just programming.

Alan Beatts: It's a matter of processing time.

Matt Austern: They can just buy more computers. What level of law enforcement are we willing to have - and acknowledge as a daily part of our live? This can be done a lot more thoroughly in China than here.

[Audience comment]: It all comes down to money. Surveillance and data collecting is funded when there's money to be made. These techniques are being used most sophisticatedly by companies that mine data -- to sell more efficiently. [He is impressed by Scanners: the idea that government and corporations are making use of slave labor.] Our companies, now, are looking at how they can make prisons profitable. Corporations need labor. Slave labor, in one form or name or another, has always driven capitalist societies. Being spied on: if there's no advantage or money to be made, it's not going to impact [us] much. But with money to made, that's where research is going.

[Audience comment]: On the future of laws: [there is an] overarching structure of what's enforceable and what can be done -- and of what is not enforceable. What kinds of changes will there be, and what will be expected from law enforcement in the future: more rigidity, more legal structure, and surveillance.

Matt Austern: One balance that has not remained stable in history is: in what way is law enforcement designed to protect my safety and [in what way is it] about carrying out the interests of the state to punish crime? That balance could change. In the U.S., to what extent is law enforcement a matter of preventing or punishing? To what extent is law enforcement the gathering of evidence - filtered by laws to achieve a desired outcome?

Alan Beatts: Most changes are leading toward something that would be a less-just system of law enforcement. Law enforcement officers are a product of society. The less just the system, the more corrupt the officers will become. People like law when the system is seen as just. Officers [wish to] feel the work they're doing [is just].

[It will become] less just: more officers will leave, unable to tolerate the injustice. The ones who stay are the ones who are more comfortable with less justice. Dirty cops.

[Audience comment]: You're presenting a grim picture. But is it possible that if we head toward universal surveillance we will end up [with] something closer to the Alfred Bester world in The Demolished Man? Do you think that kind of universal surveillance could drastically reduce classical felonies?

Matt Austern: I can certainly imagine it. It might be a trade off worth making. The problem is: if it's transparent only for some, it's probably not going to be a flat society for all.

Alan Beatts: [thinks this is possible, but doesn't have enough faith in human nature.] People who like to run things generally like to run them because they like power.

{Audience comment]: In re law enforcement in government: there is a second layer of that. If you live in a planned community, there's more government there. Employers, schools, etc.

Matt Austern: There are historical examples. Scenario: the government can't protect you, so you give a local guy your allegiance - because he can protect you. "Employer Feudalism" -- the same sort of relationship of fealty to organization. That can become more formalized.

There are more optimistic ideas [in science fiction]: Ian Banks' Culture, Eric Frank Russell's And Then There Were None.

Alan Beatts: After being "the big rain cloud," he wants to mention one optimistic thing. We have the "solutionary" rule: if someone performs an illegal search, it can't be used in trial. That came into being because the Constitution asked for due process. In France, for 10 to 12 years, entire downtown areas have been blanketed by monitors. But cameras can't be used as evidence. We don't want surveillance - we don't want Big Brother watching us.



Better Fiction Through Chemistry

Participants: Debbie Notkin (ringleader), Nick Mamatas, Eileen Gunn

Notes by Jeanne Gomoll


A Scanner Darkly is, among other things, one of the finest cautionary tales of drug use ever written -- and, of course, it was written by an accomplished and experienced user of many drugs, long before the obsessive anti-drug culture took its full place in the American spotlight. Drugs, in our time, have functioned as cures, panaceas, placebos, performance enhancers, mind openers, recreation, body modifiers, and dire warnings. Let's look at some of the ways contemporary fiction, including science fiction, explores these issues. Possible books and authors to discuss include Dune, Geek Love, Norman Spinrad, Robert Silverberg, William S. Burroughs, Jim Carroll, William Gibson, Pat Cadigan, and more.

The Panel:

[Audience Question]: What drugs are you on?

Debbie Notkin: I'm high on life.

Question. - who has done illegal drugs - lots!

Most have done drugs of some kind (after audience response).

Eileen Gunn: Says she is a slow writer, needs to increase output. Sugar is a drug, too. Writers are always trying to find the right drug to turn voices down or output up. Writers block and prolific writing are two sides of the sane coin.

Nick Mamatas: A Scanner Darkly is a cautionary tale - the worst ever. The world is shown as ominous and dreary, but that is not how you experience life. After [PKD experienced] a "sting from the police," he got paranoid. When you are [immersed] in the drug culture, you hae no idea what is going on outside.

These cautionary tales never really work. To make it a good, interesting book, you have to make it more interesting than the drugs really are.

Debbie Notkin: Let's nod, here, to the memory of Hunter S. Thompson.

I'd like to open up the conversation toi legal drugs - drugs vs. meds.

Eileen Gunn: The laws are not random, at all. Legal drugs are legal for a reason. People (the government) profit from illegal, hardcore drugs.

Nick Mamatas: Also, there are some physical elements, legal ones: legal drugs are easier to mass produce.

Desperate housewives using Valium are not fun to hang around with.

Audience [Art Widner]: Was Doonesbury's depiction of Hunter Thompson as Uncle Duke accurate? Thompson loathed it, after the initial portrayal. He was baffled and pissed off. There's really not much similarity.

Audience [Neil Rest]: Several years ago, research on alcohol addiction showed the highest correlation with winners of the Nobel Prize. The issues with legal vs. illegal drugs are control and profit. Many jobs are dependent upon the war on drugs. [Neil estimates about one million jobs in the U.S.]

Audience comment: Tobacco kills 400,000 people per years. Prescription and illegal drugs kill 20,000 people per year. [Another audience member asks where the statistics come from -- no reply.] Robert Anton Wilson said: a species achieves sentience when it takes control of its own evolution.

Audience [Janet Lafler]: I don't know if you were joking about sugar being a drug. What is a drug?

Audience [Howard Hendrix]: Fugu fish. If you eat it the wrong way, you die.

Eileen Gunn: There's no hard and fast legal definition. In the biochemical definition, sugar works on more than blood pressure. If my brain is slowing down, sugar speeds it up.

Nick Mametas: Some peop;le can take enormous amounts of drugs and not feel it.

A question about writers who use drugs: what's the cost/benefit ratio. One memorable book, or one every 15 months?

Debbie Notkin: Geek Love by Catherine Dunn was about carnival freaks -- whbo thought there was nothing worse for their children than being normal. The characters took drugs to prevent this. Some people thought this was disgusting and horrific.

Eileen Gunn: There is a willing isolation of people in the drug culture.

Debbie Notkin: Geek Love could be applicable in a more general way, as in going toi college. Do you want to be better than youjr parents?

Audience [Jane Hawkins]: We think of ourselves as being the only species that uses drugs. But chimps will seek out rotting fruit. The reason why a writer might want to use drugs: getting a story out -- versus wanting to tell it well. For some people, geting stoned will shut down critical faculties. The result may be 90% crap, but you still have the good 10%.

Debbie Notkin: Animals use drugs in Botany of Desire.

Audience [David Levine]: What do we have today that has the effect of [taking] drugs? TV.

Audience [Alan Bostick]: The Matrix movie -- the red and blue pill.

Debbie Notkin: Altered states.

Eileen Gunn: They all have to do with the neurochemistry of the brain. Different drugs fit into different receivers in the brain. This affects how neujrotransmitters work. Effects can be chemically induced or induced by manipulation of what's already there.

Nick Mamatas: Everything affects your consciousness on some level, even what I'm saying now. Junkie by Burroughs is a linear book. It's hard to measure the efficacy of writing on drugs, due to not really knowing the process.

Audience comment: [on what's equivalent to taking drugs] attention deficit disorder, psychiatric meds -- which can also be misused.

Audience [Lynn]: It sounds like a boy's club -writing about the drug experience. Donna Tart wrote The Secret History. The Valley of the Dolls. These describe ways of managing emotion.

Chocolate and shopping are like drug experiences for women.

Audience question: Coleridge's Kubla Khan poem [Xanadu] induces a drug-like experience. How do writers evoke that sort of thing in an audience without taking drugs?

Audience [Madeleine Robbins]: People come by their drugs in different ways. [One day she came back to her dorm, was hungry, and there was nothing else to eat but some adulterated gingerbread cookies. She ate them and flawlessly edited a paper for a friend.

Audience [Jill?]: Do Nobel prize winners drink when they write? Is there a correlation between depression and being a writer?

Eileen Gunn: Research indicates that writers can use the depressed state to aid them in writing -- after they come out of it. "The Midnight Disease" -- working for 48 [consecutive] hours can be exhillerating. [Eileen did this when she worked for Microsoft.]

Nick Mamatas: I play games with my writing. How long can I make a paragraph. someone who doesn't know, would think that I was on drugs when I wrote it.

There are two components to writing -- writing and publishing. Which component is making you depressed.

No one ever tells the truth about drugs. There's no middle road. Nobody knows the real truth - what do drugs really do?

Debbie Notkin: [She is appalled by people lying to their children about their own drug experiences.]

Audience [Lenny Bailes]: One example of a fantasy novel that draws well on the experience of an Acid trip is The Limbreth Gate, by Megan Lindholm. She writes about passing through a portal to another dimension. The protagonist's experience of her own bodily functions and thought processes in the altered dimension are suggestive of non-fiction descriptions of the LSD experience. As Robin Hobb, she writes about the effects of telepathy (in the Farseer Trilogy) in a way that evokes the Acid experience. The use of telepathy and magic has spiritual and physical consequences for the user.

Audience [Paul]: There are various scientific and legal definitions for psychiatric medications. Tobacco and alcohol are not legally referred to as drugs. These are the most common ones outside of [a] social control [matrix].

Audience [Jack]: [Taking a] small amount of marijuana makes people creative. Small amounts are [generally] better than large amounts of any drug.

Nick Mamatas: It can be difficult to get drugs -- like a fulltime job. [Nick worked for High Times magazine. He found them hard to work for - paranoid. Everything was late. Checks were late.]

When getting drugs is your job, you don't have time for anything else.

Eileen Gunn: There is a human cost for the illegal drug trade. People kill each other. One can kill oneself. This is caused by the illegality, not by the drug. The Contras were funded by drug money. A Scanner Darkly is the best depiction of the dark side of the '60s. It portrayed very effectively the way things in the '60s became darker as people started dying.

Audience [Karen Summerly]: How many people use the Internet as a drug (vs. books)? [Some hands in the audience were raised for both] Both are ways of making life less painful.

Audience question: How does writing make you feel? Is writing a drug?

Debbie Notkin: Says she has a writer friend who drank or smoked pot to shut up the characters in her head.

Audience [Hal OI'Brien]: [U.S.] society experimented with prohibition. Repeal did not produce a nation of drunks. [He's not convincd that agriculture arose to get the grain to make alcohol.

Audience [Lori]: Book recommendation: How to Stop Time: Heroin from A to Z. The protagoniist in the book keeps her job, gets some and eventually decides to stop using it. It doesn't destroy her life.

Nick Mamatas: "Tragically cut short by drugs" is a mandatory phrase. Book recommendation: The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll. Young adult stuff.

Eileen Gunn: [recommends reading Pat Cdadigan and Sadie Plant.

Debbie Notkin: This is the end of another panel tragically cut short by drugs.



Transrealism and the Ghost of Philip K. Dick

Participants: Rudy Rucker (ringleader), Loren Means, Richard Kadrey, Terry Bisson, Michael Blumlein, John Shirley, Charlie Anders

Notes by Ian Carruthers and Howard Hendrix


One of the blurbs on Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly referred to the books as "transcendental autobiography." Inspired by this, Rucker coined the name "transrealism" for the practice of writing about one's immediate perceptions in a fantastic or science fictional way. Paraphrasing a remark by Robert Sheckley:

"-A writer's first problem is how to write. The second problem is how to write a story. And the third is how to write about himself or herself.-"

Questions to be discussed by the panel may include:

"What are someinteresting examples of transrealism?"
"How do I use transrealist methods in my own writing practice?"
"Is transrealism a liberation or a limitation?"
"Where does transrealism lie vis-a-vis the borders bedtween mainstream literature and Fantasy/SF?"
"Does transrealism have an inherent political agenda?"

The Panel:

Rudy Rucker: When he read A Scanner Darkly, it spoke to him as no other book spoke to him before. PKD writing directly about his real life was a technique that appealed to him. PKD led him to call himself a Transrealist, and write a little manifesto about it.

(Rudy loves Asimov, but Asimov never really wrote about his own life. )

Transrealism is an attempt to write science fiction that's also realistic. PKD is at one extreme [on his scale] and Asimov at the other.

Loren Means: He was affected by seeing [the movie] Ripley's Game by Highsmith. He felt the movie distorted the character of Ripley and had the character do things he wouldn't do [in the book?} Ripley is very real person - and Loren gets pissed off if anyone takes him down - perhaps more so than with distorted portrayals of people he knows in his own life.

The reason we write fiction -- it allows more control than we have over people in our own lives. (Working on a novel, the computer starts manifesting people out of his past. And now, the main character in the story has power and control over these people.)

Richard Kadrey: (He uses transrealism in his writing - has denied how autobiographical his writing is, but now admits it.)

It's kind of a fascinating process - there are way too many autobiographies in the world, as it is, to make them interesting. You can write autobiography, but only if you lie. Transrealism is a path to more interesting life and literature.

Terry Bisson: (He used transrealism in Voyage to the Red Planet. And in The Pick Up Artist. The second book sunk because he was using "Transrealism version 3.0.

Michael Blauliime(?) - Why is theory of Transrealism important? All his writing is expression of himself. Coming to panel was opportunity to read Scanner for first time. He loves the book - got him thinking of Arctor. 2 personalities. Majored in psychology. Experiments in cats, primates, monkeys. In 60's, docs split brains of epileptics - cut the corpus callosum. did sophisticated tests - each hemisphere can develop different memories, ideas, etc. Possibly different modules in the brain more than the hemispheres. Do we have to go outside ourselves to learn about characters? All those characters can exist in one's own brain. Many multiple personalities in one brain.

John Shirley - Movies that don't have much to do with the book. Feeling of dread about upcoming Scanner movie. Quote Rudy extensively. The full dimensionality of Transrealism - quotes Rucker. Char. have their own lives. What point of view, other than one's own, is possible? Author can't predict end - grows organically.

Charlie Anders - in denial about the autobiographical nature of his/her own work. Scanner is all about mind altering drugs. Lots of his/her work is about fear of body altering - if you're your body, and your body changes, what are you? Charlie’s book is all about body changing drugs. We lose our mind on a regular basis. But idea of body falling apart - frightening and sometimes exciting.

Rucker - transrealist novel is not plotted beforehand. He used to never plot beforehand. Anxious that he wouldn't be able to finish it - the more he thought about it, the less likely it would be he would finish it. Now, he makes more of an effort to plot it in advance. Standard story patterns that folks like to see. Even in that context, you can draw on transrealism. Gibson said (paraphrase): "When I go out, I’m like a ball of scotch tape rolling along. When I get back, I pull all the stuff off that’s stuck to me.”
Rucker brings in what strikes him, like Gibson’s scotch tape ball. Kerouac too. Want to be writing not fan fiction, but real fiction with real people doing real things.

Question from panelist 2 - is it a commercial decision to plan more? Rucker - it's about less pain. Wanting to avoid the "black point," when he doesn’t know where things are going.

Michael - threw out three books of 300 pages.

Terry - Planning out or don't - kind of false idea. We might not plan out, but we do rewrite - whether on the spot or no. Spontaneous production of literature is a myth. Transrealism - is it commercial or artistic decision? He's a short story writer. Can sell a story with a ‘wonky’ part, can sell it because he's sci-fi. Does have a commercial edge to mainstream fiction that he doesn't like to write. What made PDK transrealist, is that it had ‘wonky’ elements in it.

Aud - 1. Twilight zone - 50's - two people who found out they were character's in the story, so they set out to get the author because they didn’t like what was happening with them.
2. Story - nightmare - he says to the monster - if you eat me, it's my dream, what will happen to you? I gotcha on a technicality!

Loren - main character is that it's the author. Raymond Chandler didn't like the late character because he was a naive character - thought it was a cop out. Chandler wrote about characters who weren't who he was. He was projecting alter-ego that was what he wanted to see himself as. You can build yourself up into an idealism of yourself. Also can build up character into complexity.

Film like the latter - story within story - don't know who's telling the story after a while. Audience becomes protagonist of film. In story, have 1st, third person perspective. How much control does the writer have? That’s what we look for - something outside ourselves that takes story where we didn't expect it to go.

Richard - whether planning out or let it go - When he started out - he planned everything - the details were interesting. Very consciously cobbled together from a bunch of Chandleresque plot tricks. Then filling in the bits. Must trust that you're not a complete idiot, and that you have some storytelling instincts. But his favorite stories are the ones that just happen by themselves.

Charlie - Idea of having protagonist that is based on idealized version of self - would bore hir to tears. Got very bored with them. Already spend too much time with self - so wanted different characters. Takes most neurotic, difficult aspects of self and blows them up as much as possible. S/he believes PKD did it as much as possible and exposed the horribleness as much as possible.

Terry - stories different - fits into the arc. Easier.

John - quotes from Rudy again - Rudy was making sci-fi as metaphor for psychological stuff inside himself?

Rudy - Arctor - sometimes writer's aren't very dynamic, action type people. Dangerous to have the hero be like that. As one gets older - life becomes somewhat less interesting. John Updike Sci-Fi.

Rudy starting another book - about crazy mathematician. Wants to make him be less of a guy who just have things happen while he's sitting around. After a while, wants to shake PKD's characters. Do something!

Terry - The heart of what PKD represents that sci-fi stopped being about the future, and started being about the present. Thought Rudy's manifesto was interesting. The novel was something that came along when society was so fluid that folks could change social classes. Now, write about how technology changes world. What's essential is that the quotidian story has ‘wonky,’ crazy element to it.

Howard V. Hendrix - What do folks make of PKD - I am the novel.

Rudy - the novel becomes your life around you as you become more sophisticated. Some folks deny this to cover their asses from lawsuits.

Michael - Writing creates empathy for him - letting others into his experience. PKD - Scanner - lovely, strong snapshot characters - trying to get beyond ourselves a little more as writers.

Rudy - not just putting folks in who are you, but different people who don't always agree with you.

Aud - Transrealism sounds a lot like a process that she calls writing.

Rudy - slippery slope here - this is just what all writers do, some folks say. But for a period in 60-70s, just a lot of it wasn't 'real' - e.g., hereditary space navy characters.

John - keeps saying that transcendental aspects are not just writing.

Rudy - not just using fiction, but science fiction. Able to really use wacky stuff to change it.

Aud - how much of real writer's experience is modified and correlated by people around you? Like Truman Show

Rudy - effective way to show real life by using the fantastic.

John - New wave and cyberpunk fed on it - the contemporary rushes in and finds the fantastic in the contemporary.

Richard - not just contemporary but banality of contemporary – with PDK, first time Richard could see sci-fi folks w/ dirty dishes in the sink.

Michael - can talk about stuff that wouldn't otherwise be said.

Charlie - harder for hir, because s/he's made most of fantasies into reality. Then has to dig into anxieties that are implicit in hirself and others and move away from fantasy and toward anxiety.

Aud - how diff. from character driven sci-fi and transrealism.

John - a lot of transreal fiction - lots of scientific stuff stands in for personal stuff. But also realize more fuller dimensional stuff - new dimensions of experience. Not just a sci-fi thought experiment - it's a fulfillment of transrealism promise.

Richard - just a technique that applies more to writer than reader - how writer gets where they need to get to - for reader, it may not make much difference.

Loren - since Freud, we've got lots of haunted parts and split selves, etc. Now with contemporary robotics - little and not very smart are more effective - like a panel!

John - Buddha, Christ, etc. harped on that – we are fragmentary until we transcend.

Rudy - hasn't read much Gene Wolfe - but it comes to mind - usually in Rudy's books, characters leave reality in some way - they take a trip to another dimension or the center of the earth - and that really stands for his being a writer - gets to go to another, more fun world himself. Difference in character / trans - level of observation. To put in the things that are less socially acceptable. To put in the warts and stuff. The folks on the bus.

Terry - what Aileen said - isn't this what books do? Movie theater - floor sloped, seats all alike - coming up with a very fancy way for what we do anyway. If it's transcendental, all literature is that in some way. If talking about transreal talking about mixing sci-fi elements and transcendental elements.

Rudy - why did he write the manifesto? Manifestos are usually written because the writer feels disempowered and having problems getting published. Was a transrealist before he was a cyberpunk. The cyberpunk stuff was less like him.

John - aren't there a group of sci-fi writers influenced by beat poets.

Rudy - cyberpunks were all big fans of beats.

John - Rudy, and Delaney. Beats would write about folks you didn't usually write about. Artists rather than engineers, for instance.

Any linkups between transrealism and magical realism – Gabriel Garcia Marquez and ?. Taking epic stories and throwing in magical events. Taking the myth or subtext and giving it an objective corollary feel.

Terry - Transrealism is opposite - more rather than less real. More in "reality" rather than less.

John - Rudy’s stuff - real characters, but they're always breaking out of the quotidian. Also in PKD, in his gnostic influenced stuff. Grounded in mundane, then the fantastic breaks in on the character. Rudy - character breaking out. Gives a kick - it's all about "wake up"!

Aud - Lucius Sheppard - also a Transrealist.

Lots of humorous kibitzing about the different authors and their works.



Saturday Night Playbill





Adapting PKD

Participants: Bill Humphries (ringleader), David Levine, Lori Selke, Ryder

Notes by Ian Carruthers

Ryder - Had a chance to review the stories and films again recently. An evolution that people go through in terms of their reaction and judgment of film adaptations. Most people start off as sing films shorthand - to find out about stories they don't have a chance to read. In the past - seeing a film was more of an event - folks wanted to get the shorthand as a way to know what happened in the book and connect with a group of larger people. Not so much true of PKD - his adaptations - the values in films are different than in books. Once the books goes through it's thing on the way to becoming film - some times improved upon book, but often not the case.

Thinks film audience is different than book audience. Book may have been ruined, but when adaptation happened - creates new opportunity to react to some of the content. Unfortunately some content not there.

E.G - LOTR - hard to really watch the film and not miss some of the depth of Tolkein's creation.

Some of later stages of reactions to film adaptation - if you have a strange reaction to films and name of characters and subject matter - it's like a very personal experience when watching films - maybe the filmmaker is reacting to all kinds of people like you - but maybe not. Sort of PKDian - leaves you with a question like, "why was that there - what are they trying to get me to feel / think/ do?"

Also - in terms of next step of evolution of film adaptations. Think that at some point, one may read a book and say, "I'd love to read a screenplay of that" - and you may want to write it differently for some reason. Want to create something

David - list of PKD films - 2 parts - about or based on PKD novels. 2nd part - works that are suggested as being influenced by PKD. 2nd is much larger. Most of both lists have postdated his death. PKD really liked Blade Runner. Also with the man who fell to earth. PKD listened to Bowie albums.

2nd part of list - the resemblance works - seemed a lot more like his work than the movies that were actually directly based on his work.

Is it a close or loose adaptation? David thinks it's more important to capture the general fell of writing. And it's harder to do this in works directly based on his work.

Jane Austen - film that had the most feel of her work was Clueless.

LOTR - Harry Potter - totally lost the feel of the books.

Blade Runner - the movie is more film noir action flick, rather than the heart of the story - like why did they need to be destroyed?

Hasn't seen most of other films - heard that they tended to be mainly horror films, which isn't his thing. Imposter, is a good example.

very little characterization in PKD's early works - better as horror stories, because you don't get a real harrowing idea from it.

Lori - Wanted to mention that in novels of PKD - main char is someone who generally has stuff happen around him, not much happening with him. But in movies, the main chars are action heroes. Changes the work, but not necessarily in bad way.

We have a tendency to disparage adaptations - it's not true to the book - but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Very interested in retelling of stories. Not necessarily inherently a flawed process. What needs to be changed in the adaptation process, inherently.

Total Recall sucks because it wasn't scientific and a bad story, not necessarily a bad adaptation.

Bill - What jumped out? Notions of PKD films in spirit are better than direct adaptations. 2. main char is one who is acted upon in books, but is actor in movie. 3. Many movies are changed into a man against a conspiracy, but in books it's left up to the reader to decide that.

David - The Truman Show - very PKD plot. the approach is very different from the way the story is told. the movie is about a puppet trying to break free of it's strings.

Other movies - why is that PKD? Why 2001? It's humor. Arguments between bowman and HAL - same as Joe Chip and his apartment door. HAL dying while singing Daisy Bell - Funny!

Very impressed by films written by Charlie Kaufman - Being John Malkovitch and Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind. Spirit - way they employ a very PKD idea of the multiple protagonist (Joe Chip and Employer in UBIC). Little and big protagonists. Main char is occasionally shoved to the side to show char who created the reality issues and their stories.

David Cronenberg - a poor man's PKD. Favorite - man Facing Southeast. Is inspired by PKD's work. Like "Open Your eyes" - has been remade, in a sense - has same plot and characterization as KPAX. KPAX was smooth, slick and coy - NOT PKD like. but with Southeast - music really important, rough and interesting. music very important to folks in film.

Bill - Adaptation is a very difficult thing to do - especially with works of PKD's complexity.

Try - Robert Bloch's Psycho. first thing director had to do is create a new character. In book, it's from the perspective of Norman Bates. Can't do that in movie - give away end. So invent Janet Lee's character. Can do things in a novel you can't do on screen. Can't directly show internal state - otherwise, it's all one big voice over.

Question of paranoia - what is real - do we have to make the films into films about conspiracy?

Ryder - question of what's real is a very compelling idea - that's very interesting in PKD. Also - question of what's human? that's an ethical question.

Does there need to be the idea of conspiracy - idea of post-modernism is that we all have different realities - in PKD - there is something about larger realities - institutions - pressing their reality down on us.

Lori - Underlying question of panel - What makes PKD's work so tasty for film industry? Some of it's boring and not worth talking about - but if it didn't work, they wouldn't keep doing it. Question of what is human and reality - why is that so compelling on screen?

David - There are some rules that are true of cinema, but rules are made to be broken. Some movies on list really expanded his idea of what can be done on film - time and internal state. Memento was one, and Mullholland Drive. How much director could convey in Drive that are usually told in novels by careful use of adjectives.

Lori - you can show anything in films, as long as it's visual. If you can't - then you can't do it.

Aud - Point - don't hear people complaining about what fairy tales are re-written. but there is much complaint of Disneyiation of fairy tales.

David - problem with Disneyfication - not that they're taking the story, but that they're doing those things to the story. Whether it's good or bad, is often beside the point. When discussing the new LOTR's, must distinguish between the films as adaptations and the films as films.

Aud - Dark City and Pleasantville - also very much about solipsism, what's human.

David - didn't think that Pleasantville

Bill - Book buy Richard Vogel called the Hero's Journey. He sat down and read Joseph Campbell and said, "Ah-ha!" the way we make hit movies in Hollywood, we do the hero's journey. the world is off, the hero must make it right. Affected a lot of screenwriting. Many of PKD stories are not made from the hero's journey.

Aud - Dark City - main character is god at end. Much more PKD than Joseph Campbell.

Aud - Much of what can be done visually can tell the internal state of mind and heart by film. Can do it indirectly.

cynical prop. - reason people buy PKD movies, they are actually buying Ridley Scott. Saw that Blade Runner made a bunch of $, and they want to make money too.

Lori - good point, but - it is true. Partly. but it still works. They do it again a bunch of times. Some part of it PKD that keeps working - perhaps not as PKD, but as a story.

Aud - reason PKD stories work really well as movies - his stories are really compact short stories. Some of the best movies are short stories. When adapt a novel, have to leave so much out. A short story can include the most important elements, and still feel like a whole. Lots of PKD is not that complex - there really isn’t a lot of character development - the most important points are right at the surface - very compelling to turn into movies. On list - some of very favorite movies - it's a whole piece - none of important parts have been left out - short journey, but still outlining whole world.

Bill agrees - 120 pages of screenplay for 2 hour movie.

David - has to add things in if something's too short. Ideal length is about a novelette. Room to wobble around in.

Novelette - is about 17000 words.

Screenplays themselves really are different - reading them. Great joy. Must be compelling read to make someone want to make film of it.

Aud - Hollywood more likely to put A team onto PKD that's when Blade Runner and other films are successful.

Because PKD wrote so many stories - when have good team who have creative freedom - there's a lot of material for them to pick from.

Ryder - Relates to marketability - 2003 December Wired article on PKD? All of his films weren't big financial successes originally. Imposter and Screamers only made 6 mil total. PKD's agent has decided they're not going to turn over stories without well established lines and success.

Aud - PKD influenced by AE Van Vogt - character discovers in 2 pages that nothing is as it seems that there are wheels within wheels, and discovers superhuman powers - Scanners, Dark City. More about superheroes in fake reality - PKD is more about regular guy in extraordinary reality.

Aud - Question - is there something that makes a movie more "novelistic" - or bookiness" - when adapted from a novel?

David - Attempt to cram in a lot of stuff when you realize you've got a lot of stuff that doesn't make sense.

Lori - amazed when Academy awards come out - wow, that was adapted? Didn't notice a bunch of stuff that was adapted, because it was just so good as a movie.

Aud - Man Facing Southeast - very obscure and a favorite. Technique in movie to express inner - crazy people comments on what they think lead char. is thinking. Other thing - that's been copied a bunch - people who are trying to help lead char -= seen as total ding-dong for helping and feel great sympathy for trying to help.

Blade Runner - didn't know it was a PKD adaptation when it first came out. When first saw it - time of great cowboy and indians - great hero is extremely in charge - but in Blade Runner - he's a lot less in charge. Relative to the time, it was very much hero as victim, rather than in charge.

Aud Reality is not so much not as it seems, but may not be as it seems. This ambiguity is very rare. Why? does this striking part of P

David - lots you can do - but only if you're good.

Lori - Mullholland drive - very good example - but lots of folks just don't know what's going on.

David - with film like that - need a clue.

Bill - but there is a closure that says - this nail being driven in is reality.

David - compare "The Girl in the Swing - deliberate ambiguity in book that is not there in film.

In Scanner - even that's brought back around. and all puzzle pieces are tied up.

Aud - 1. "Equilibrium" - cop who ends up investigating himself for crime. Is this a plot idea that works, or is PKD?
2. Scanners - whole cinematic people inhabiting other folks bodies genre.

Bill - idea of Freaky Friday as PKD film.

Aud - Sitcom Night Court - the Richard Moll character - Bull - all the sci-fi characters were treated with compassion. Bull - speaks to Jupiter - things happen to him, and people misinterpret him. His reality seems to be solo.

David - greatest sci-fi comedy film of all time - Dark Star - comedy of frustration - folks trapped in environment.

Bill - so many TV. series - go ahead and do twist ending - it breaks the whole reality of the show - it's a gag, and some are better than others.

Aud - ambiguity question - why people want films to be nailed down - they are used to believing what they see. They will feel either confused or cheated. Want to understand what's going on.

Aud - Futurama - great - but not PKD, because it's not sinister.

Lori - Oh, yes it is.

Ryder - what would PKD think about his own success? Interview with him. PKD was offered a lot of money to rewrite Androids Sheep to be more like the movie. he didn't take it.

PKD wanted to be a mainstream writer - achieved it after his death because of film. He'd probably be annoyed at how his work ahs been treated, but also happy on some level. Probably would have written some things about how dark and oppressive Hollywood is - to him and others. Maybe a future novel about PKD reacting to crazy Hollywood conspiracy.