Has anyone read The Grasshopper Lies Heavy? :-)
The God In the Trash: The Fantastic Life and Oracular Work of Philip K. Dick.
Alexander Star The New Republic Dec 6 1993
Dick grew up with his mother on the fringes of Berkeley's fledgling bohemia. A troubled student, he was often "hypochondriacal about his mental condition," as one of his wives later put it. And like many troubled boys of the time, he became a voracious reader of the science fiction pulp magazines that were then at their peak. In Confessions of a Crap Artist, a novel written in 1959, he wryly portrayed himself as an awkward kid spouting oddball ideas from Popular Mechanics and adventure stores: "Even to look at me you'd recognize that my main energies are in the mind."
... Throughout his career Dick longed for a wider audience, and sought to escape the science fiction ghetto. He envied writers such as Ursula Le Guin, who acquired a serious reputation and was even published in The New Yorker. His readers, he complained, were "trolls and wackos." In the '50s and early '60s, he wrote a series of non-science fiction novels, all of which were rejected by publishers at the time. These books were mainly somber tales of thwarted love in northern California, peopled with cranky record salesmen and bitter couples and narrated in a glumly painstaking fashion. On the whole, their vision of domestic life is an unhappy one. In Confessions of a Crap Artist, an accumulation of errant jealousies and petty insults leads to illness and insanity. The novel ridicules the newly formed UFO cults of Marin County, though years later Dick reflected that the cults "didn't seem as crazy to me now ..."
Rebuffed by "mainstream" publishers, Dick abandoned his realist writings in 1963. By then he had discovered a different way out of the Ace formula: he would transform the genre of science fiction from within. Concerned with psychic dislocation, and its moral and philosophical consequences, he began to ignore the expectations of his editors. In particular, he disregarded the most honored conventions of "hard s.f.," that science fiction should be rigorously "extrapolative" of hard science, and that it should be "prophetic" of plausible futures.
... Philip Dick's fictional worlds have a great many attributes, but sanity is not among them. Campbell, the monarch of postwar science fiction, refused to publish his stories because they were "too neurotic." In his preoccupation with abnormal psychology, collective delusions and implanted memories, Dick in part followed the path of irregular science fiction writers of the '50s such as A.E. van Vogt and Theodore Sturgeon. Yet he ranged further in his subversions. Dick continued to rely on the ready-made materials of science fiction, the pulp prose, the planetary conflicts, the "psionic" powers of "precogs" (who read the future) and "telepaths" (who read minds); but he employed these materials to his own extravagant ends.
... Dick's biggest literary advance came in 1962, when he published The Man in the High Castle. This study of an alternate universe in which the Axis won the Second World War was entirely devoid of the usual sci-fi devices. ("No science in it," a character observes. "Nor set in future.") Mr. Tagomi, a Japanese bureaucrat and connoisseur of American antiques, is one of Dick's most sympathetic characters. Repelled by international intrigue and devoted to the occult beauty of old bottle caps and cheap jewelry, he resists Nazi brutality with a fragile but steady will. After Bormann dies, a power struggle breaks out among the remaining Nazi leaders (Hitler has long since entered a sanitarium) and Tagomi unhappily plays one faction off against another, aware that they are all unspeakably evil. Ingeniously, the book contains its own counterfiction: in this America divided into German and Japanese zones, rumors spread of an incendiary novel speculating that the allies actually won the war. The narrative adroitly maneuvers back and forth between these two competing accounts of what is real. The Man in the High Castle was Dick's most assured and subtle work, and he hoped it would win him a wider audience. He was chagrined when reviewers treated it as just another thriller. Ironically, it was the science fiction community that celebrated the book, bestowing the Hugo Award on it in 1963.
In the early '80s Dick's hopes for renown revived, as younger writers arrived at his doorstep, royalties increased and German, French and Japanese editions of his work proliferated. Back in the early '70s he had optioned his 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? to Hollywood; by 1980 the producers of the film promised that it would be the next Star Wars. (Dick hoped that Victoria Principal would have a starring role.) In fact, Blade Runner was a commercial disappointment in its initial release. But Dick never knew of its early unsuccess. In March 1982, he died of a stroke after proudly attending an advance screening of the movie. ...
Dick explored the problem of decency in a dead world most forcefully in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Rick Deckard is a bounty-hunter, paid to track down and destroy a party of androids that has infiltrated the planet. Deckard employs an "empathy" test that records his subjects' responses to unpalatable thoughts of cruelty and death; the test can distinguish between androids and their identical-looking human counterparts. The typical Dickian twist comes when Deckard, unlike one of his partners, begins to empathize with the androids that he kills. Does this mean that he might be an android himself, or does his powerful feeling of empathy confirm precisely that he is human? Deckard investigates incidents of empathy with the care of an experienced detective, but he cannot take anything for granted. The special horror of his work is that a sudden "flattening of affect" might occur at any time, to others or to himself. The practice of empathy is fragile, uncertain and imperative. ...
This appears to be the full text of The Man in the High Castle.