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If the objects were to turn up now, would they still hold meaning for you? Write a short story in which a song of your choosing appears over and over. Many poems and songs that are performed describe the everyday work of ranchers, herders, and rodeo cowboys, and the wide, open spaces of the rural West landscape. Taking a cue from these themes of cowboy verse, write a poem that celebrates the simple pleasures of a work day, focusing on something mundane that brings joy, perhaps finding a way to incorporate the natural environment.

Listen to a cowboy song for additional inspiration. Labor Day, a holiday honoring the American labor and trade union movements celebrated on the first Monday in September, is the marker of the unofficial end of summer. Oldfangled fashion etiquette dictates that it also marks the annual cutoff point for wearing certain items of clothing such as white shoes or white pants, along with patterns and materials including seersucker, eyelet, patchwork madras, linen, and canvas.

Explore how the seasonal clothing you wear is associated with the climate and traditions of your particular geographic region, as well as the emotional ties and memories linked to this annual transition. Barker, will be published in October by G. Choose a classic horror story and write a short story that acts as a prequel to the main events in the original work.

You may consider an element of structure or style to carry over, such as the use of the epistolary form in the prequel Dracul that is also prevalent in the original Dracula.

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Aside from setting the action of your story earlier than that of the original, how else might you create a sense of anticipation or homage? Despite being only a few millimeters long, the spiders have eyes that are capable of discerning the moon, according to calculations by scientists. Use the notion of moon-gazing spiders as a launchpad for a poem that draws together two unlikely objects—a celestial body and an earthly body. Find a favorite final sentence from a prose piece you have long appreciated and write a personal essay about why you find it particularly resonant.

How has your reading of it evolved over the years, and what memories surface upon its recollection? The iconic shoes had been missing from the Judy Garland Museum since and details about the theft and suspects remain mysterious. Write a short story that revolves around the recovery, after many years, of stolen items that have great value to your main character.

What speculative theories arise about the theft, and how do they match up with what actually occurred? Ultimately, does your main character learn exactly who took these items, or do mysterious elements and unanswered questions linger?

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As you go about your daily tasks this week, keep an eye out for the birds that you encounter, whether flying overhead, perched in trees, or underfoot. Write an essay inspired by the feathered friends that fly in and out of your day. What memories or emotions do birds bring to mind? Have they been symbolic of an important moment in your life? By intertwining multiple themes, an author can imbue a story with additional nuance and allow for a narrative with more emotional balance.

Write a short story that braids two story lines together, perhaps using one thread to explore an extended sequence of flashbacks or to focus more on sensory details. You might decide to research more into its history, or simply let your imagination lead the way. Let that first point be a jumping-off place to deeper questioning. What kind of story would you write for someone reading it one hundred years from now?

The texts will then be printed on paper made from one thousand trees planted in a Norwegian forest when the project began. Visitors can write poems and messages exploring grief on paper cutouts of plants and animals which are then displayed in the gallery. Draw or cut out a paper template in the form of something from nature, and write a poem within its frame addressing or dedicated to a lost loved one.

Does your poem, and the emotions contained within it, take shape in different ways according to the shape of your paper? Can you remember the last time you handwrote a lengthy text? Write a personal essay about how your own handwriting has changed from childhood, through adolescence and adulthood. What memories are brought to mind when looking at your old handwriting? Perhaps try handwriting the first draft of your essay to help connect back into this practice.

Imagine a town with no Wi-Fi, no cell phones or cordless phones, where microwaves are kept in metal cages, and only s and diesel engine cars are allowed on the road. All of these are real restrictions in Green Bank, a tiny West Virginia town situated inside a designated National Radio Quiet Zone, where data collection by astronomers at the observatory can be disrupted by the presence of electronic interference.

Write a short story in which your main character resides in a town with similar restrictions. Is living off the grid a choice? How do the daily tasks and communication of your character differ without the convenience of the tools and technology we often take for granted? There is much inspiration to be found at Edna St. Write an essay about a time when you were caught off guard by a surprising or unusual response to your creative writing, perhaps by someone close to you. How did this unexpected, or unintended, reaction offer a new perspective into your own work?

How did your neighborhood get its name? Was it christened by long-ago settlers or spread slowly by local gossipers or journalists? Invent a descriptive name for a fictional town. Then, write a short story based around the origin of this name. Does the geography or a consequential event play a part in the name and story? This week, write a poem about your summer that incorporates some of these hit song elements. Can you induce danceability in verse form? How might you play around with typography, punctuation, spacing, or diction to create a sense of loudness or acousticness?

As part of its exhibition season focused on the future, the Rubin museum in New York City has a program for visitors to write a letter to an incoming museumgoer. This week, after completing an activity such as going to an art show, watching a movie, or eating at a restaurant, write a letter to a hypothetical follower in your footsteps.

Include your emotional responses and personal memories, and any suggestions or recommendations that might offer guidance for the experience. Scott Fitzgerald. Toxins, acid baths, trigger-haired cages, bursting spores, complex plumbing systems, thorny irritants, and the ability to eat sunlight. Behind their placid green exteriors, plants lead a hidden life full of elaborate processes.

Browse through this National Geographic slideshow of microscopic views of different plants and write a poem inspired by the up close images of cells, stems, and pollen. Do the photos propel you toward otherworldly thoughts, or do they remind you of particularly human tendencies? What does a rolling lemon gather?

Apparently, a mass of viewers. Since photographer Mike Sakasegawa posted a two-minute video of a lemon he saw rolling down a hill in San Diego on Twitter last month, the video has accumulated almost ten million views, and garnered thousands of comments of encouragement and feelings of inspiration. Write a personal essay about a time when you have been cheered up or inspired by a video or photo, perhaps documented by a stranger or from someone you know.

What was it about the imagery that provoked this positive response? Explore any memories or associations that might have made your viewing particularly resonant or emotional at that moment. Sketch out your own map for a short mystery or crime story that takes place in several rooms or floors of a building, or among several landmarks scattered around a specific locale. Allow the map to guide the narrative for your story.

How many times have you tossed away a used tea bag without a second thought? Choose an everyday object that seems unexceptional, perhaps something ordinarily discarded, and write a poem that delves into a deeper history that adds complexity or magical importance. How does taking an in-depth look give more value to an object? Browse through your writing and search for one of your own signature sentence structures. Reflect and write about what this style reveals of your philosophies or how your mind works.

Does weakness have a smell? In a study published in June in Scientific Reports , scientists found that injured ring-tailed lemurs lose 10 percent of their body odor, thereby signaling via scent their weakened state to potential rivals. This week, write a scene in a short story where your main character is exposed and displays a moment of weakness. Who is there to witness this vulnerability and does this person take advantage of it or show sympathy? Write a poem that uses personification in a straightforward yet unexpected way.

On the TV show Parts Unknown , the late chef and writer Anthony Bourdain traveled the world and sampled cuisines from a variety of cultures. Write a personal essay based on an experience when you left your comfort zone for a place, community, or situation that felt different from your own. This week, try writing a short story in which something unassuming and unexpected goes missing.

How does this absence impact your protagonist? Is there an anxious search for the missing object? Petersburg, pretending to be a human being.

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Perhaps your story will include this type of surreal, absurd twist. What can science tell us about love? Make your own discoveries by writing a love poem inspired by a scientific concept or phenomenon. Search for material that casts unexpected light upon your love poem. In a study published last week in Science , researchers reported findings that mice are as likely as people to have a hard time letting go of a task in which they have already invested time, energy, or another resource despite receiving any potential gain.

Write a personal essay about a time when you were unable to let go of something, such as a relationship with a person or a comfortable living situation, even if there was no longer a way of moving forward or your energies would have been better spent elsewhere. What emotions were at play while you made the decision to stay put in stagnant circumstances? What happened when you finally let go? Library books carry with them stories beyond their pages. Write a short story that revolves around a library book and the readers who have checked the book out over a period of time. What significance does this particular book have to your main character, and is this shared or contrasted with other readers?

How are the readers connected and do they end up meeting each other? Think of something in your life that has been either physically or figuratively broken, fragmented, or made distant, and write a poem that attempts to restore its wholeness. How might you use the ideas of rejoining parts, searching for new openings, or creating connections for empathy, to write a poem that begins to make what is broken whole?

In an interview published earlier this year by Electric Literature , Sofia Samatar discusses the concept of speculative memoir with authors Matthew Cheney, Carmen Maria Machado, and Rosalind Palermo Stevenson, all who have written work that blends memoir with elements of the highly imaginative that is typically reserved for science fiction, fantasy, and fabulist literature. Machado talks about alternating between real events and genre fiction that act as extended metaphor. Write a speculative essay or short memoiristic piece in which you approach this memory by inserting a blatantly fictional aspect or character.

Ash, beech, dandelion, fern, ivy, lark, nectar, pasture, and other nature-related terms have been removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary in the past decade or so, replaced by words related to social media and technology, such as blog, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, and voicemail. Write a short story that takes place in a society in which language is experiencing a transition of values from nature to technology, a change reflected in its use or regulation of words. What happens when references to nature are superseded by an emphasis on technology?

How do your characters resist or rally in support of these social changes? Consider how this change in language might infiltrate other elements of daily life in your story, such as politics, food, family, housing, or arts and entertainment. Although we often associate travel writing with essays about journeys or road-trip novels, poetry has had a long, rich history of association with travel. Write a poem based on a favorite travel memory that brings to mind a rich mixture of emotions and a connection with contemporary issues, perhaps touching on ideas of alienation and belonging, or the allure and repulsion of a certain mode of transit.

Consider the binaries of travel and home, movement and stillness, the foreign and the familiar. Where have you been and, perhaps more important, where are you going? What do you do to put off important tasks? The social media hashtag procrastibaking pulls up thousands of posts of goods baked while more pressing matters may have been at hand. Write a personal essay about your own go-to procrastination method. How does your procrastination activity help or hinder your work?

Does it do more than satisfy a desire to feel good and enjoy the present while postponing something else? Octopuses have unusual characteristics and intellectual abilities that might just be from out of this world. Earlier this year, a group of international scientists published research in the journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology asserting the possibility that octopuses may have their origins in outer space. Write a short story that makes use of a character who seems bafflingly odd or otherworldly.

What sort of behaviors can be pointed out as unusual? What theories do the other characters have about the reasons for this strangeness, and what do these judgments and justifications reveal of the characters making them? Write a poem that centers on a misheard conversation between two people.

Experiment with different homonyms or homophones, or other ways the sounds of different words or phrases can be misheard. How might the misinterpretation of words create unexpectedly fresh ideas or images? Scientists published a study in Science magazine earlier this month observing that animals have been sleeping more during the day and increasing nocturnal habits in order to avoid interacting with humans who have steadily encroached upon their habitats and territories. After filing for divorce in , he moved to Oakland to live with a fan, Grania Davis. Shortly after, he attempted suicide by driving off the road while she was a passenger.

Dick tried to stay out of the political scene because of high societal turmoil from the Vietnam War ; however, he did show some anti-Vietnam War and anti-governmental sentiments. On February 17, , after completing an interview, Dick contacted his therapist, complaining of failing eyesight, and was advised to go to a hospital immediately, but did not. The following day, he was found unconscious on the floor of his Santa Ana, California , home, having suffered a stroke.

On February 25, Dick suffered another stroke in the hospital, which led to brain death. Five days later, on March 2, he was disconnected from life support and died. After his death, Dick's father, Joseph, took his son's ashes to Riverside Cemetery in Fort Morgan, Colorado , section K, block 1, lot 56 , where they were buried next to his twin sister Jane, who died in infancy. Her tombstone had been inscribed with both of their names at the time of her death, 53 years earlier. Dick's stories typically focus on the fragile nature of what is real and the construction of personal identity.

His stories often become surreal fantasies, as the main characters slowly discover that their everyday world is actually an illusion assembled by powerful external entities, such as the suspended animation in Ubik , [36] vast political conspiracies or the vicissitudes of an unreliable narrator. The ground is liable to shift under your feet. A protagonist may find himself living out another person's dream, or he may enter a drug-induced state that actually makes better sense than the real world, or he may cross into a different universe completely.

Alternate universes and simulacra are common plot devices , with fictional worlds inhabited by common, working people, rather than galactic elites. Le Guin wrote, "but there are heroics. One is reminded of Dickens : what counts is the honesty, constancy, kindness and patience of ordinary people.

Dick identified one major theme of his work as the question, "What constitutes the authentic human being? Mental illness was a constant interest of Dick's, and themes of mental illness permeate his work. The novel Clans of the Alphane Moon centers on an entire society made up of descendants of lunatic asylum inmates.

In , he wrote the essay titled "Schizophrenia and the Book of Changes". Dick himself was a drug user for much of his life. According to a interview in Rolling Stone , [40] Dick wrote all of his books published before while on amphetamines. He also experimented briefly with psychedelics , but wrote The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch , which Rolling Stone dubs "the classic LSD novel of all time", before he had ever tried them.

Despite his heavy amphetamine use, however, Dick later said that doctors told him the amphetamines never actually affected him, that his liver had processed them before they reached his brain. Summing up all these themes in Understanding Philip K. Dick had two professional stories published under the pen names Richard Phillipps and Jack Dowland. The protagonist desires to be the muse for fictional author Jack Dowland, considered the greatest science fiction author of the 20th century. The surname Dowland refers to Renaissance composer John Dowland , who is featured in several works.

In the novel The Divine Invasion , the character Linda Fox, created specifically with Linda Ronstadt in mind, is an intergalactically famous singer whose entire body of work consists of recordings of John Dowland compositions. The Man in the High Castle is set in an alternate history in which the United States is ruled by the victorious Axis powers. It is the only Dick novel to win a Hugo Award. In this was adapted into a television series by Amazon Studios. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch utilizes an array of science fiction concepts and features several layers of reality and unreality.

It is also one of Dick's first works to explore religious themes. The novel takes place in the 21st century, when, under UN authority, mankind has colonized the Solar System 's every habitable planet and moon. Life is physically daunting and psychologically monotonous for most colonists, so the UN must draft people to go to the colonies. Most entertain themselves using "Perky Pat" dolls and accessories manufactured by Earth-based "P. The company also secretly creates "Can-D", an illegal but widely available hallucinogenic drug allowing the user to "translate" into Perky Pat if the drug user is a woman or Pat's boyfriend, Walt if the drug user is a man.

This recreational use of Can-D allows colonists to experience a few minutes of an idealized life on Earth by participating in a collective hallucination. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? It occurs on a dying, poisoned Earth de-populated of almost all animals and all "successful" humans; the only remaining inhabitants of the planet are people with no prospects off-world.

The novel is the literary source of the film Blade Runner What crucial factor defines humanity as distinctly "alive", versus those merely alive only in their outward appearance? Ubik employs extensive psychic telepathy and a suspended state after death in creating a state of eroding reality. A group of psychics is sent to investigate a rival organisation, but several of them are apparently killed by a saboteur's bomb.

Much of the following novel flicks between different equally plausible realities and the "real" reality, a state of half-life and psychically manipulated realities. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said concerns Jason Taverner, a television star living in a dystopian near-future police state. After being attacked by an angry ex-girlfriend, Taverner awakens in a dingy Los Angeles hotel room. He still has his money in his wallet, but his identification cards are missing. This is no minor inconvenience, as security checkpoints manned by "pols" and "nats", the police and National Guard are set up throughout the city to stop and arrest anyone without valid ID.

Jason at first thinks that he was robbed, but soon discovers that his entire identity has been erased. There is no record of him in any official database, and even his closest associates do not recognize or remember him. For the first time in many years, Jason has no fame or reputation to rely on. He has only his innate charm and social graces to help him as he tries to find out what happened to his past while avoiding the attention of the pols. The novel was Dick's first published novel after years of silence, during which time his critical reputation had grown, and this novel was awarded the John W.


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Dick novel nominated for both a Hugo and a Nebula Award. In an essay written two years before his death, Dick described how he learned from his Episcopal priest that an important scene in Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said — involving its other main character, the eponymous Police General Felix Buckman, was very similar to a scene in Acts of the Apostles , [28] a book of the New Testament. Film director Richard Linklater discusses this novel in his film Waking Life , which begins with a scene reminiscent of another Dick novel, Time Out of Joint.

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A Scanner Darkly is a bleak mixture of science fiction and police procedural novels; in its story, an undercover narcotics police detective begins to lose touch with reality after falling victim to the same permanently mind-altering drug, Substance D, he was enlisted to help fight. Substance D is instantly addictive, beginning with a pleasant euphoria which is quickly replaced with increasing confusion, hallucinations and eventually total psychosis. In this novel, as with all Dick novels, there is an underlying thread of paranoia and dissociation with multiple realities perceived simultaneously.

It was adapted to film by Richard Linklater. The Philip K. Dick Reader [45] is an introduction to the variety of Dick's short fiction. VALIS is perhaps Dick's most postmodern and autobiographical novel , examining his own unexplained experiences. It may also be his most academically studied work, and was adapted as an opera by Tod Machover. Regardless of the feeling that he was somehow experiencing a divine communication, Dick was never fully able to rationalize the events. For the rest of his life, he struggled to comprehend what was occurring, questioning his own sanity and perception of reality.

He transcribed what thoughts he could into an eight-thousand-page, one-million-word journal dubbed the Exegesis. From until his death in , Dick spent many nights writing in this journal. A recurring theme in Exegesis is Dick's hypothesis that history had been stopped in the first century AD, and that "the Empire never ended". He saw Rome as the pinnacle of materialism and despotism , which, after forcing the Gnostics underground, had kept the population of Earth enslaved to worldly possessions. In the science fiction short story, The Pre-persons , he criticizes American pro-abortion law.

Several of Dick's stories have been made into films. Dick himself wrote a screenplay for an intended film adaptation of Ubik in , but the film was never made. Many film adaptations have not used Dick's original titles. When asked why this was, Dick's ex-wife Tessa said, "Actually, the books rarely carry Phil's original titles, as the editors usually wrote new titles after reading his manuscripts.

Phil often commented that he couldn't write good titles. If he could, he would have been an advertising writer instead of a novelist.


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  • Future films based on Dick's writing include an animated adaptation of The King of the Elves from Walt Disney Animation Studios , which was set to be released in the spring of but is currently still in preproduction; and a film adaptation of Ubik which, according to Dick's daughter, Isa Dick Hackett, is in advanced negotiation. The Terminator series prominently features the theme of humanoid assassination machines first portrayed in Second Variety.

    The Halcyon Company , known for developing the Terminator franchise, acquired right of first refusal to film adaptations of the works of Philip K. Dick in A second season of ten episodes premiered in December , with a third season announced a few weeks later to be released in In July , it was announced that the series had been renewed for a fourth season. In late , Fox aired Minority Report , a television series sequel adaptation to the film of the same name based on Dick's short story " The Minority Report ".

    The show was cancelled after one 10 episode season. In May , it was announced that a part anthology series was in the works. Titled Philip K. A play based on Radio Free Albemuth also had a brief run in the s. A radio drama adaptation of Dick's short story "Mr. Marvel Comics adapted Dick's short story " The Electric Ant " as a limited series which was released in In , BOOM!

    Studios started publishing a issue miniseries comic book adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? In response to a request from the National Library for the Blind for permission to make use of The Man in the High Castle , Dick responded, "I also grant you a general permission to transcribe any of my former, present or future work, so indeed you can add my name to your 'general permission' list.

    As of December , thirteen of Philip K. Dick's early works in the public domain in the United States are available in ebook form from Project Gutenberg. As of April 4, , Wikisource has one of Philip K. Dick's early works in the public domain in the United States available in ebook form which is not from Project Gutenberg. Dick , is considered the standard biographical treatment of Dick's life. Dick , which the author describes in his preface in this way:.

    The book you hold in your hands is a very peculiar book. I have tried to depict the life of Philip K. Dick from the inside, in other words, with the same freedom and empathy — indeed with the same truth — with which he depicted his own characters. Critics of the book have complained about the lack of fact checking, sourcing, notes and index, "the usual evidence of deep research that gives a biography the solid stamp of authority. Dick has influenced many writers, including Jonathan Lethem [79] and Ursula K. Le Guin. Dick Society was an organization dedicated to promoting the literary works of Dick and was led by Dick's longtime friend and music journalist Paul Williams.

    Williams also served as Dick's literary executor for several years after Dick's death and wrote one of the first biographies of Dick, entitled Only Apparently Real: The World of Philip K. Dick was recreated by his fans in the form of a simulacrum or remote-controlled android designed in his likeness. Dick simulacrum was included on a discussion panel in a San Diego Comic Con presentation about the film adaptation of the novel, A Scanner Darkly.

    In February , an America West Airlines employee misplaced the android's head, and it has not yet been found. It is hyperreal. It is a universe of simulation, which is something altogether different. And this is so not because Dick speaks specifically of simulacra. SF has always done so, but it has always played upon the double, on artificial replication or imaginary duplication, whereas here the double has disappeared. There is no more double; one is always already in the other world, an other world which is not another, without mirrors or projection or utopias as means for reflection.

    The simulation is impassable, unsurpassable, checkmated, without exteriority. We can no longer move "through the mirror" to the other side, as we could during the golden age of transcendence. For his anti-government skepticism, Philip K. Dick was afforded minor mention in Mythmakers and Lawbreakers , a collection of interviews about fiction by anarchist authors. Noting his early authorship of The Last of the Masters , an anarchist-themed novelette, author Margaret Killjoy expressed that while Dick never fully sided with anarchism , his opposition to government centralization and organized religion has influenced anarchist interpretations of gnosticism.

    Forewarned is forearmed! Instagram's gonna LOVE you. Look to the leading ladies of that era, if you want to find some worthy tales and footage to shoehorn into your metoo documentary. And dibs on the fabled diving horse of Coney Island , whose feats of derring-do were filmed by Thomas Edison. I could watch that horse dive all day! And so could the audience of that 8-hour puppet opera I may wind up writing one of these days. Readers, have a rummage and report back. Any plans for future use, real or imaginary? Let us know. Just check back. New content will be uploaded monthly. There are also plans afoot to create educator lesson plans on historical and social topics documented in the collection.

    Teachers, imagine what your students might create with this classroom tool Begin your visit to the National Screening Room here.