The Pequod Review:
In 1974, Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) underwent what he believed to be a spiritual transformation. He claimed to see a series of pink lights that he interpreted as a form of communication from a higher power he called the Vast Active Living Intelligence System, or VALIS. Whether it was an actual vision or a hallucination, this experience would have a profound influence on Dick’s remaining life. As he put it later, “In my opinion Holy Wisdom herself took over my life and directed me… I lived a wild, unstable, desperate, Quixotic life, & would soon have died. Hence it is not accident that Holy Wisdom came to me; I needed her very badly.”
In 1981, a year before his death, Dick wrote the novel VALIS as an attempt to capture and explain his experiences. Narrated by a science fiction writer named “Phil Dick,” the book describes the events as if they happened to another person (Horselover Fat) and considers the religious and philosophical implications of an alien existence. The book’s plot barely holds together but this is one of Dick’s strangest and most surreal novels as he explores the duality of consciousness and the uncertainty of reality.