It was always my hope, in writing novels and stories which asked the question “What is reality?”, to someday get an answer. This was the hope of most of my readers, too. Years passed. I wrote over thirty novels and over a hundred stories, and still I could not figure out what was real. One day a girl college student in Canada asked me to define reality for her, for a paper she was writing for her philosophy class. She wanted a one-sentence answer. I thought about it and finally said, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” That’s all I could come up with. That was back in 1972. Since then I haven’t been able to define reality any more lucidly.

“How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later” by Philip K. Dick, speech given in 1978, first published in 1985. © 1985 by The Estate of Philip K. Dick

The essay was first presented as a speech in 1978 and then published in the book I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon in 1985. It is the first and only essay of this collection otherwise composed of 10 science fiction short stories (Doubleday editors). See the book on Amazon, read the Wikipedia article, see how it is listed on the official Philip K. Dick website or browse a PDF version available online.

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