Valis (1981) by Philip K Dick
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Philip K Dick won the admiration of writers beyond his genre, including Roberto Bolaño and Martin Amis. Photograph: Philippe Hupp/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Imagine you woke up one morning and found everything was as it seemed. A reality TV star controlled the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. Life on Earth was presided over by omniscient tech corporations whose ambitions rivalled that of God. Citizens hooked on licit and illicit drugs shared their every thought in a global contest for followers and likes, and chose their sexual partners via handheld devices. Meanwhile, economic, political and meteorological systems were all winding down. Everything felt tacky and eschatological at once.
That’s right, the first decades of the 21st century were written by a troubled science-fiction novelist who died in 1982. Philip K Dick has won the admiration of writers beyond his genre, including Roberto Bolaño, Martin Amis and Emmanuel Carrère (who wrote a biography titled I Am Alive and You Are Dead).