Monday, January 13, 2003
posted 5:28 PM

I usually skip the ďinfluenceĒ questions, on grounds that if you know your own influences, your digestionís pretty sluggish. Iíll make an exception, though, when someone suggests an influence I know I havenít had, and PKD is definitely one of those.

I read THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE when I was twelve or so, and a proud new member of the Science Fiction Book Club. The concept of American vintage collectibles in a Japanese universe stuck with me, and not much else. Thereafter, I read virtually no PKD. Why? My guess is that my MDR of paranoia was satisfied by reading Pynchon instead, and my regular nature-of-reality workout provided by the ever-limber Jorge Luis Borges. Dick just never found a niche in my ecology of favorite writers.

While Iím at this, Iíve never read much Chandler either, another frequently supposed influence. The real deal, in that particular rainslick modality, for me, is Dashiell Hammett. Invented the vehicle, as far as I know, though Chandler brought a classier chassis to it.


Deborah Solomonís wonderful life of Cornell, UTOPIA PARKWAY, hadnít been written when I wrote COUNT ZERO, so at that point I knew almost nothing about the man himself. I didnít actually see a Cornell box in person until years after CZ, but I had been fascinated, since 1969, with the small black and white photographs of his boxes that Iíd find in histories of Surrealism.

He was believed, in the New York art world of the Forties, to possess complete and perfect recall of the entire contents of certain Manhattan junk-shops, shelf by shelf, drawer by drawer. I came to the conclusion, after reading Solomon, that, whatever else he had going on, he may well have been autistic.


I did indeed write that, my first foray into screenwriting, though most net versions seem to have been condensed. Mine was about 130 pages. It was written under the ludicrous disadvantage of having to write Ripley out of the story, as Sigourney Weaver at that point seemed not to be getting along with the producers. (For a remarkably detailed and accurate account of how ALIEN III came to be the film you saw, see THE ALIEN QUARTET by David Thompson.)

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