"Was she Earth's First Lady -- or the last?"




{For the best bibliographic info in French goto: Thanks for the cover pix, Gilles}


Vote for your Fave PKD Story!   "The only PKD novel I've found less than fascinating is THE SIMULACRA. Don't ask me why, but it just fails to take off -- everything in it seems cribbed from other PKD novels, there's too much intrigue and not enough plot, there's precious little of PKD's dark humour, and it just gives the impression of being a piece of hack-work." -- Peter Fenelon via Paul Rydeen in FDO 6

SL:38   87:

Dear (ahem, if I may) Terry,                                                    


... However, what is "THE SIMULACRA"? Is that what I called "FIRST LADY OF EARTH"? I mean, have I forgotten an entire novel? Wire instructions. Wire diagrams as to how to reassemble memory of forgotten novel. Or something.
{PKD> Terry Carr, Aug 13, 1964} 

SL:38 89

Dear Terry,                                                                   


    I know now that THE SIMULACRA is (one) out and (two) FIRST LADY OF EARTH because my lawyer one night, while drunk, called me from his mistresse's apartment to say, "Yr logich inna buk wunt so shitty damn smart, an no wunner your so fucked up in yr life, cuz ya cant think fuckin straight and wanna meet Jean, here? Here's Jean, baby." Etc.

{PKD> Terry Carr, Aug 19, 1964} 

SL:38 115

Dear Terry and Carol,                                                      


{...}And even my wife, whom I hate so, and who I guess hates me or some such fool thing, remarked that in reading THE SIMULACRA she saw, for the first time in my work, what she called "signs of true genius." For her that is a rather strong statement. So I guess I can take pride in my work. {...}
{PKD> Terry and Carol Carr, Oct 16, 1964}

TDC 78

(PKD:) ... I like THE SIMULACRA; I think its a very fine book in some ways. It's incredibly complex. There's an incredible number of characters...

SF EYE #14 Spring 1996 p.39

(A & F:) What do you think is one of your best novels?

(PKD:) Well, the novel that I like the most is THE SIMULACRA, because there are more characters in it and it is more of the slice of life thing where you have all kinds of things and it culminates in what I regard as one of the funniest scenes of human disaster that is imaginable.

We have two characters who are equivalent to used-car salesmen, and their great hope is to perform before the first lady of the White House. When they finally get their chance, their little animal, the Papoola, bites somebody and they're ruined. Their whole career has worked up to this point and this loveable little animal, the Papoola, who does it bite? The first lady?

(A & F:) I think so, I can't remember.

(PKD:) It does something dreadful. To me it's a funny matter, because it's a comic tragedy and a tragic comedy. That they have pinned all their hopes on this moment and then this little animal, which normally is completely benign, suddenly takes it into its head to bite the first lady.

SF EYE #14 Spring, 1996 p43

(PKD:) He goes on trying and this, of course, is what Faulkner said in his marvellous Nobel Prize speech, that Man will not merely endure, he will prevail.

There is a tremendous opportunity for humour within this context, which all goes back to what started this diatribe, my book THE SIMULACRA. That is why I like it so much, because these men have devoted their entire lives, to aspire, to perform before the first lady. That is the highest joy this society offers. You can go to perform before the first lady. And she's a complete fake, she's an actress, and when they do perform their little animal screws it all up for them. And yet they go on living. And all the other characters go on living too. And I think that it's certain Faulkner's man will not merely endure, he will prevail. That in the midst of the rubble, there will still be the sound of a man's voice planning, arguing, and proposing solutions. I think Faulkner caught the essence of what is really great about human beings, and so I don't write about heroes.

{Interview by Uwe Anton and Werner Fuchs, tr. Frank C. Bertrand. 1977 Metz}

DLB-8 138:

In THE SIMULACRA, as the title indicates, Dick gives emphasis to another of his major themes, that of mechanical, electronic, or other simulations of organic life. These simulacra range from insect-sized "commercials," futuristic advertising devices which invade one's privacy, to der Alte, the "consort" of Nicole Thibodeaux, the latter having nominally ruled in the White House for almost a century, apparantly without aging. In addition, there are devices such as "the living protoplasm incorporated into the Ampek Fa2 recording system." This "Ganymedean life form did not experience pain and had not yet objected to being made over into a portion of an electronic system...." This novel, like SOLAR LOTTERY and THE PENULTIMATE TRUTH, concerns a power struggle. Among those caught up in it are the last practicing psychiatrist, Dr. Superb, and a famous psycho-kinetic pianist, Richard Kongrosian. Among other developments, Nicole turns out to be an impostor, an actress (thus one of the simulacra), and National Police Commissioner Pembroke tries to seize power. Nicole escapes, transported by Kongrosian's developing talent to a community of chuppers, a radiation-spawned subrace which is either a genetic reversal or the prospect of a regressive development of the future. The real power seems to be in the hands of cartels such as the Karps; escape from conditions on Earth seem to be possible only in the vehicles available at Looney Luke's "jalopy jungles" for those who can afford such transportation to Mars. In the ostensibly happy ending the story concludes with the army of the United States of Europe and America in temporary power, the plants of the Karps and the pharmaceutical cartel A.G. Chemie blown up, and the National Police overcome. But as so often in Dick, the ending is ambiguous, for the question of who is really in charge remains unanswered as fewer and fewer individuals -- not to mention phenomena -- can be identified as anything other than simulacra. {Patrick G. Hogan}

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