The PKD series continues with a look at his first published novel.
Raw Feed (1989): Solar Lottery, Philip K. Dick, 1955.
Given all of Dick’s own statements and complaints about the supposed bad quality of this novel, I was expecting a bad read.
I was pleasantly surprised.
Dick creates an intriguing society ruled by lottery, social Darwinism, and the economics of conspicuous consumption. (Frederick Pohl also addressed the absurdity of conspicuous consumption in The Midas Plague.) Dick postulates economic depression eroding people’s faith in natural law and a political system based entirely on chance emerging. People also become absurdly superstitious. The omens at the novel’s beginning are very Roman like as is the social feature of patronage mentioned in passing.
The application of von Neumann’s game theory to society was interesting. I know little about his mathematical theories, but I have seen other references to them in sf stories of the early fifties. I’d like to know about their application in the Korean War. [Specifically, Ralph Williams’ “Pax Galactica” involves game theory and alludes to its use in the Korean War.]
Dick’s political order is randomness and survival of the fittest incarnate. Continue reading