I became vaguely aware of Philip K. Dick a decade ago. An author of more than 100 works of science fiction, he died suddenly in 1982 just as his work began to be recognized by the mainstream. This was the year that Blade Runner, which was based on Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, was released in theaters. In the years since then, more of Dick's body of work -- which often deals with questions of metaphysics, delusions and self-identity -- has seeped into the public consciousness. The films Minority Report, Total Recall and A Scanner Darkly are all based on his work.
I began to seriously delve into Dick's books this year and have found myself addicted to his altered and alternate world view. The strangeness of his work is an extension of the author's paranoid, mystical outlook on his own life. R. Crumb's illustrated story of Dick's journey into the divine (or descent into madness, which Crumb admits may be the same thing) is an enthralling read. It's an interesting way to reflect on your own emotional and spritual experiences and attempt to divine which are ghosts in the machine and which are just the machine.