Philip K. Dick News Archive #3 (November 1999 - February 2000)

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February, 2000 - The Empire Never Died! The Roman Empire's Dirty Secret

Scientists have recently unearthed the Roman Empire's uncelebrated, enduring legacy rivaling the Forum, the aqueducts, the roads of Europe: industrial pollution. At the site of an ancient Roman smelting site in Spain, researchers have measured very high levels of pollutants: more than 1000 times the lead, 100 times the zinc, and 900 times the arsenic for these elements in US soils - and were talkin 1,920 years after the metal smelters closed. Read the geologic, geochemical, geobotanical, and archeo-metallurgical data compiled studying The Plasenzuela silver-lead district in west-central Spain. The Web site is sponsored by the US Geological Survey.

What the hell is this, anyway? Feb. 2000 - Random Reality: Space and the material world could be created out of nothing but noise.

That's the startling conclusion of a new theory that attempts to explain the stuff of reality, as Marcus Chown reports

IF YOU COULD LIFT A CORNER of the veil that shrouds reality, what would you see beneath? Nothing but randomness, say two Australian physicists. According to Reginald Cahill and Christopher Klinger of Flinders University in Adelaide, space and time and all the objects around us are no more than the froth on a deep sea of randomness.

January, 2000 - Book About Philip K. Dick to be Published in September, 2000

It's called "What If Our World Is Their Heaven : The Final Conversations With Phillip K. Dick", and it's been edited by Gwen Lee and Elaine Sauter. Here's the description from Amazon.com:

"In November of 1981, four months before the author's death, journalist Gwen Lee recorded the first of several in-depth discussions with Philip K. Dick. The subjects touched upon included the specifics of his writing process, his enthusiastic response to the scenes and trailers he'd seen of Blade Runner (he never lived to see the finished film), and accounts of his religious experiences. But the greatest amount of time was devoted to discussions of his next novel, Owl in Daylight, a book he would never get the chance to write. A tale steeped in mysticism, biotechnology, and the relationship between music and language, it was to be his masterpiece.

These extraordinary interviews are filled with the wit and aplomb characteristic of Dick's writing, helping make What If Our World Is Their Heaven? not only an engaging read, but a unique and compelling historical document. It will be a must read for anyone interested in the field of science fiction.

Gwen Lee is a journalist and freelance writer. She lives in Ocenaside, California.

Elaine Sauter met Philip K. Dick in 1972, and knew him until his death in 1982. She is a journalist and freelance writer, and has lectured widely on the horror and science fiction genres. She lives in Dallas, Texas.

January 25, 2000 - Spielberg Intent on Minority Report Despite Rumors about Harry Potter Project

Minority Report
Fantastic Universe, Jan. 1956. Featuring
Minority Report.
Click for full-size image
It appears that Steven Spielberg is still intent on making Minority Report his next film. According to NY Daily News gossip columnist Mitchell Fink, Spielberg is said to have revealed, "Right now, Minority Report is next. Tom Cruise spent three hours at my house today talking with me about the movie. Of course, with movies, you never know what can happen to bring about a delay. If a delay were to happen in this case, then I would do Harry Potter next. But right now, it's Minority Report, then Harry."

Tom Cruise also talked about the project during the Golden Globes with Fink quoting him as saying, "This is a dream to be able to work with Steven. I can't wait to get on the set with him just to see how he does it. He is such a visionary."

January 18, 2000 - Labs Close In on the 'God Particle', Search for 'Quark-Qluon soup'(from Which Universe Was Created) Continues

The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider will zap beams of atomic nuclei at nearly the speed of light around a 2.4-mile-wide ring - visible at upper left in this aerial photograph.
The race to find an elusive but all-important particle called the Higgs boson has been heating up since August when Europe's most powerful accelerator reached an energy that may bring the target within range.

Because of its presumably vital importance to universal existence, the Higgs boson was dubbed "The God Particle" in the title of a book by Dr. Leon Lederman, a Nobel laureate in physics. The godlike importance ascribed to the Higgs is based on the belief that its interactions endow all the constituents of matter with mass; it is the universal giver of heft.

Meanwhile in what some have made it out to be a "mad scientist" story: Using an experimental particle collider, researchers are planning to create an exotic kind of matter they believe existed a millionth of a second after the Big Bang. But in this case, the scientists are really mad ó about the doomsday talk that has overshadowed the experiment itself.

Cosmologists believe that the universe as we know it began billions of years ago in a cataclysm popularly known as the Big Bang, and that in the first millionth of a second after that Big Bang, the entire cosmos was contained in an ultradense, ultrahot dollop of quark-gluon soup.

January 13, 2000 - Man Claiming Government Poisoning Him With Rays From Satellite Smashes Cars

The title says it all. Shades of PKD . . .

TAMPA -- (AP) -- A man who claimed the government was conspiring against him and pumping poison rays into his body with a satellite rammed 20 parked cars with a stolen Mack truck before being arrested.

"Like a broken record, he kept saying he had a chip in his belly and that when a satellite flies overhead, it burns his brain and fries his belly," said Patrick Sistrunk, a GTE customer service representative who witnessed the commotion.

  • Read the full story from the Miami Herald. (Thanks, Bruce)
January 12, 2000 - On CBS News, Some of What You See Isn't There

Talk about manipulation of reality. From the New York Times:

If you were watching the "CBS Evening News" broadcast live from Times Square on New Year's Eve, you might have seen a billboard advertising CBS News out in the square behind Dan Rather. You might have looked at the well-placed billboard and wondered just exactly how it was that CBS was able to place its ad so fortuitously. The truth is, it didn't. The billboard and the advertisement for CBS did not exist. The image was digitally imported onto the live CBS broadcast and used to obliterate real objects, the NBC Astrovision underneath the New Year's ball and a Budweiser ad.
January 10, 2000 - Files Report that Blade Runner Author Suspected Syphilis Plot: Told FBI He Was Being Used by 'Secret Health Organization'

Blade Runner NEW YORK (APBnews.com) -- Science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, whose grim visions of the future inspired movies like Blade Runner and Total Recall, believed he was being drafted by a "secret world health organization" to spread its message, according to letters contained in his FBI file.

The letters show that in 1972 Dick wrote to the bureau for help with what he believed was a plot to use hiswriting to relay messages on "paresis, an alleged new strain of syphilis sweeping the United States, which caused quick death."

The episode was triggered by a break-in to the author's apartment in 1971. Dick wrote to the FBI that "at least one entire room of stuff is missing," listing a .22-caliber pistol and some of his canceled checks among the items at large.

January 6, 2000 - Dead birds cover man's yard
ANDERSON, S.C. - In a scene reminiscent of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, Charles Getsinger walked outside to get his newspaper and found dozens of dead blackbirds in his yard. ''I said to myself, 'Lord have mercy. What's going on?' '' said Getsinger, 66, who discovered the grisly sight when a bird dropped out of a tree and landed next to him. Clemson University researchers took the carcasses from Getsinger's lawn and are testing them to find a cause of death. Theories include poisoning to a bird virus that caused deaths in New York last summer.
- USA Today "Slightly off center . . ."

This seems an awful lot like Philip K. Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep". (Thanks, Bruce)

December 9, 1999 - Spielberg and Cruise Publicly Commit to Minority Report

Steven Spielberg Tom Cruise was interviewed on Entertainment Tonight and confirmed that his next project was in fact, Minority Report. Also Steven Spielberg appeared on the Larry King show this week and confirmed his commitment to MR disproving rumors that he might shoot Stanley Kubrock's AI before Minority Report. About AI, Spielberg said, "that is something Iíll do later. Not now."

December 9, 1999 - Warning! Strange Behavior: Seeing Crimes About to Happen?

This is right out of the Philip K. Dick story "Minority Report" (see below) but it's happening in real life.

They're onto you! LONDON (Reuters) - A sophisticated new surveillance system may soon be tipping off police and security officers about crimes before they even occur, a science magazine said.

British researchers have developed a means of spotting a potential shoplifter or mugger, a car thief lurking in a parking lot or someone about to commit suicide, perhaps by throwing themselves in front of a train.

People contemplating these acts behave differently from others and their actions can be predicted mathematically, New Scientist magazine said. Although it is still early days, the system designed by Steve Maybank of the University of Reading in southern England and David Hogg at the University of Leeds in the north of the country, is already attracting attention.

The researchers plan to develop a range of security features to spot criminal behavior in a project funded by the European Commission. The system will be connected to closed circuit televisions and send an alarm to security guards or the police if it sees something suspicious.

December 9, 1999 - Spielberg Stresses Involvement with Minority Report

Steven Spielberg Steven Spielberg made a surprise guest appearance on CNN's, Larry King Live last night. It was a great interview and the audience was able to get some inside information about Spielberg's kids, his lifestyle, and how he came up with the name 'Dreamworks'.

Perhaps most importantly, we were able to get official word from Spielberg that the first project he is doing is MR and that work has already began. Interestingly, he also said that he will be doing Memoirs of a Geisha right after it, back to back. What about Indy4? Well, he said he is very interested in it and is willing to do it if he and Harrison Ford "aren't too old." Steven Spielberg is 56.

December 3, 1999 - Good News for Film Version of Philip K. Dick's Imposter

Although this has been floating around the web for a while, the following blurb appeared in this week's Entertainment Weekly. There is no mention that Imposter is based on the Philip K. Dick story but you can be sure that it is!

This is Gary Sinise"Strange Love - Nearly two years ago, Miramax's Dimension Films announced plans for a three-part sci-fi anthology feature about aliens and humans. In Spring, 1992, Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) filmed the first segment, Alien Love Triangle, starring Heather Graham, Courteney Cox, and Kenneth Branagh; shortly thereafter, Gary Fleder (Kiss The Girls) went to work with Gary Sinise and Madeleine Stowe on part 2, Imposter. But Dimension was so impressed with Fleder's 40-minute short about warring extraterrestrials that the studio has decided to transform Imposter into a feature-length film, leaving Triangle two legs short. While Imposter will begin production this winter with the same cast, no decisions have been made about how - or when - to finish the anthology. A Miramax executive says it's in active development, but no start date has been set."
- Rebecca Ascher-Walsh for Entertainment Weekly
November 17, 1999 - Disney to Adapt Philip K. Dick's Valis ?! STATshot

Can this really be true?

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