Past PKD Days

2017: Philip K. Dick and Vast Narrative

The second PKD Day to be held at Birmingham City University

Saturday 22nd of April 2017

Unlike many writers of SF and fantasy literature, Philip K. Dick never synthesised his plots or characters into vast story-worlds. Apart from rare exceptions, his novels and short-stories are self-contained narratives. Despite this, many commentators on Dick have encouraged readers to work across his fiction as part of one “continuing conversation” (T. Disch 1986), arguing that there is something more than a simple sharing of tropes going on here.

This one-day, interdisciplinary conference will seek to explore the contours of the Dickian vast narrative, examining whether it is fair to talk about a Dick-iverse that is neither connected by narrative continuity (like Lord of the Rings) nor the repetition of characters and situations (like Marvel or DC comics). Furthermore, this provides the opportunity to explore how creators, commentators, industry and fans compete over the canonicity of different interpretations of Dick.

Our discussion of Dick’s work is not limited to his fiction, but expands out to include, along one axis, his non-fiction; interviews, letters and, often unreliable, biographical writings. And, along the other axis, adaptations, allusions and references to Dick and his oeuvre by, for example, filmmakers, other writers, musicians, robotic engineers and academics. Indeed, this conference provides an opportunity for the academic community to reflect on the key role they have played in the formation of dominant interpretations of Dick’s themes and concerns.

Topics for presentation might include, but are not limited to:

  • Vast narratives and storyworlds
  • Texts and intertexts
  • Canonisation
  • Adaptation theory
  • Convergence culture
  • Fictionalised or unreliable biographies
  • Genre studies
  • Fandom and participation (especially around the Exegesis project)
  • Gnosticism and other readings that resist the dominant interpretation of Philip K. Dick

We welcome proposals for twenty minute presentations from both creative and academic practitioners, and from undergraduates, postgraduates, researchers and established scholars.

Please send 300-word proposals to Thomas Knowles and Terence Sawyers by the end of March 12th 2017.


2016: Philip K. Dick And the Counterculture

Hosted by Birmingham City University

Philip K. Dick’s cultural stock has continued to rise since his untimely death in 1982, and with the past year seeing the release of Amazon’s series based on his counter-historical The Man in the High Castle, the trend seems set to continue. Dick’s science-fictional thought experiments are the countercultures that precede the culture, the culture-beds in which new cultures are cultivated. But how do we read Dick’s engagement with the radical psychoanalytic, marxist, feminist and race movements of the 1960s and 70s in light of his burgeoning ubiquity? How might we vouchsafe the subversive potential of his legacy?

This interdisciplinary one-day conference seeks to explore evolving conceptions of culture and the countercultural through the lens of the life and works of a countercultural figure who appears to be in danger of recuperation.

This event is co-organised by Dr Thomas Knowles and Charlotte Newman.


  • Keynote: Umberto Rossi, ‘Vinyl and Tapes: P.K. Dick and the Reproduction of Sound’
  • Philip K. Dick and Psychology panel featuring: Dr Souvik Mukherjee (Presidency University, Kolkata) joined us live from India to talk about Philip K. Dick and computer games. Dr Pelham Carter (BCU), ‘A Maze of Death: Implications for CyberPsychology and Virtual Worlds’. Professor Craig Jackson (BCU), ‘Occupational Psychology in Dick’s Future Worlds’.
  • Philip K. Dick and Visual Media panel: Steven Chamberlain (BCU), ‘FilmBites’: introduction and screening. Mattia Petricola (University of Bologna), ‘An advertisement for the undead: watching television in Ubik’. Paul Levinson, ‘The Man in the High Castle: On Print and Screen’.
  • Creative Panel: Featuring readings from Dr Derek Littlewood (BCU), Dr Imogen Marcus (BCU), Charlotte Newman (BCU) and novelist David Wake.
  • Discussion Panel: The Man in the High Castle. Chaired by Professor John Goodridge and students from BCU’s third-year science fiction module.

Previous years’ PKD-Days have been held at Nottingham Trent University and has seen some interesting and intriguing contributions to the study of Philip K. Dick including:

PKD-Day 1

  • Underground, Overground: Bomb Shelters, Suburbia and Philip K. Dick’s The Penultimate Truth (Dan Cordle, NTU)
  • Phildickian game theory: ‘Blade Runner’ (Souvik Mukherjee, NTU)
  • PKD and Escapism (Emrys Jones, Cambridge University)
  • Philip K. Dick on film (Mahendra Solanki, NTU)
  • Writers on PKD: Graham Joyce and Ian Watson in conversation

PKD-Day 2

  • Which PKD Story are we in today? (Palmer Eldritch)
  • Videogames: Playing in a Dickean Universe (Dr. Barry Atkins)
  • Tomorrow’s History, Yesterday’s Futures: Philip K. Dick’s Versions of the 1950s (Andrew M. Butler)

PKD-Day 3

  • Kindred Beings: Defining Humanity in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Lois Brown, University of Liverpool)
  • Responses to PKD (Jim Morrow, NTU)
  • ‘It had not worn the aspect of a simulation’: Reconceiving the Re3al in Do ANdroids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Daniel Laing, University of York)
  • ‘If you Find This World Bad, You should See Some of the Others’: PKD’s Videogame Worlds (Souvik Mukherjee, NTU)
  • PKD-Precog?’ (Anthony Peake)
  • Samizdat Presentations of PKD on the Web (John Goodridge, NTU)

PKD-Day 4

  • Visual Presentation of ‘Kipple Pond’ (Dr. Simon Schofield, NTU)
  • The Preserving Machine: Philip K. Dick and Music (Mark Herdman)
  • Synthesising the Synthetic, Realising the Real (Adam Wood)
  • David Gill on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, via video-feed (David Gill)
  • David Gill and Tessa Dick in Conversation with Souvik Mukherjee

Past PKD Days at Nottingham Trent University