Neither Huxleyed, nor Orwelled: living in the Phildickian dystopia

Originally published at:


Points for the adjective “Phildickian”


Phildickian dystopia

I’m Phildickian right now.


At least PKD had some really trippy drugs and alternate realities for us to enjoy.


I am reminded of the “Artificial Inanity” program mentioned in Neal Stephenson’s novel Anathem:

“Early in the Reticulum-thousands of years ago-it became almost useless because it was cluttered with faulty, obsolete, or downright misleading information,” Sammann said.

“Crap, you once called it,” I reminded him.

“Yes-a technical term. So crap filtering became important. Businesses were built around it. Some of those businesses came up with a clever plan to make more money: they poisoned the well. They began to put crap on the Reticulum deliberately, forcing people to use their products to filter that crap back out. They created syndevs whose sole purpose was to spew crap into the Reticulum. But it had to be good crap.”

“What is good crap?” Arsibalt asked in a politely incredulous tone.

“Well, bad crap would be an unformatted document consisting of random letters. Good crap would be a beautifully typeset, well-written document that contained a hundred correct, verifiable sentences and one that was subtly false. It’s a lot harder to generate good crap. At first they had to hire humans to churn it out. They mostly did it by taking legitimate documents and inserting errors-swapping one name for another, say. But it didn’t really take off until the military got interested.”

“As a tactic for planting misinformation in the enemy’s reticules, you mean,” Osa said. “This I know about. You are referring to the Artificial Inanity programs of the mid-First Millennium A.R.”

“Exactly!” Sammann said. “Artificial Inanity systems of enormous sophistication and power were built for exactly the purpose Fraa Osa has mentioned. In no time at all, the praxis leaked to the commercial sector and spread to the Rampant Orphan Botnet Ecologies. Never mind. The point is that there was a sort of Dark Age on the Reticulum that lasted until my Ita forerunners were able to bring matters in hand.”

Update: A “syndev” is a “syntactic device” (read: computer).


Crap, no we still call it Crap.


It sounds like one of those holiday franken-feasts: We’re having TurDuckPhildickian.


I think we’re in a Brunnerian dystopia, myself.

The hungry Sheep look up, and are not fed,
But swoln with wind, and the rank mist they draw,
Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread.

The next Prexy will fix everything, you betcha.


All three of them at the same time.


What? Sounds insanely delicious!

1 Like

We Can Cook It For You Wholesale.


As Hunter S. Thompson once mentioned, you should never write while on drugs. You just end up with a horrible mess like Naked Lunch. You should do drugs, and have experiences whilst on those drugs, and then write about it later after you’ve got your head straightened out and can examine them objectively.

Also, you should never do too many drugs in too short a time frame - after a certain point, you lose contact with consensus reality and you lose that magical ability to connect people’s worldview to what you’re trying to share with them.

You can really tell the writers that did just enough to open up their heads and shift perspectives from those that passed the event horizon of sanity at some point and then just kept on going. Y’know, like Dick.


Too busy keeping the bats away then anyway.


Hot take: Negative points.

Me, I’ll take Burroughs and Dick over Thompson. Thompson, I enjoyed one of his books and couldn’t finish another. Those other guys, I enjoyed all of and some of them more than once.


May I ask your age? Seriously. Because those of us who lived through the 60s and 70s can relate quite strongly to HSTs writing.

1 Like

Sure… nearly 60.
And I did a lot of drugs, just like all three of the authors in question.
Thompson was a journalist and I’d say his work is a bit light in comparison with the other two.
The Great Shark Hunt is the book that I couldn’t find a reason to finish.


seems like Gibsonian times these days, especially Pattern Recognition


Part of why early dystopic fiction seems different is due to the assumption that tyrants are efficient rather than accepting the reality that tyrants are by their nature highly inefficient (and sometimes ineffective) rulers. Computers just make it more obvious how stupidity and incompetent they are. And I’m thankful since despite all the problems computers bring with them (all the chaff they throw into a sea of facts) it makes it easier to break the system as is. Tyrants can’t rule if they can’t give orders but the system itself now makes those orders kinda like how Brazil’s premise starts with a stuttering printer.


I’d add a dose of Robert Sheckley to the analysis. One should never forget Robert Sheckley.

At times it seems like the US have turned into a gigantic Prize of Peril.