Pocket Essentials


Saxon Bullock, Hot Dog February 2001

'A new pair of pint-sized primers with a distinct literary air. Cyberpunk thrashes knowledgeably through all the genre touchstones as well as covering relevant films such as The Matrix, but suffers from some bizarre choices (Run Lola Run?) and an awkward, stodgy style. Much better is the look at the author behind Blade Runner, packing insane amounts of information into 93 pages. Deeply comprehensive, with breakdowns of all Dick's books, it's an essential guide for those wanting a quick tour of sci-fi's craziest mind.


Interzone books received:

'in over 30,000 words of text, it presents a remarkably clear and level-headed discussion of its topic, and includes brief but pertinent readings of authors such as Gibson, Sterling, Pat Cadigan, Neal Stephenson, Gwyneth Jones, Jeff Noon, Greg Egan, Tricia Sullivan and Jon Courtenay Grimwood; recommended.'

Barry Forshaw, Starlog (December 2000)

'fascinating and surprisingly comprehensive'

Mike Woods, Waterstone's Online

'Cyberpunk is one of those cultural frenzies that occurred pre-millenium that is perhaps more discussed than understood. As this sharp and concise guide to the movement points out, the movement itself was very short and so concerned with modernity and the fluid appetites and modes of fashionable urban life that is was over as soon as it became popular. [...] The scope of this book is suprisingly deep given its size, and this is helped by clear and narrow definitions of Cyberpunk that concentrate on the core texts and the more important or successful translations to the big screen and other media. [...] This is the kind of introduction that will make you want to read more widely in the genre, packed with choice facts, smooth critique and atmospheric and well-chosen range of sources.'

Marc James (mail2marcjames@aol.com) from London, England, 9 December, 2000; posted on www.amazon.co.uk

Virtual Lightweight

'An entry in the Pocket Essentials Literature series, Butler's Cyberpunk guide is a flawed work tackling a difficult subject with a questionable focus. [...] A neophyte readership might do worse than to start here, but then should move beyond and not look back.'

Philip K Dick

Science Fiction Studies

'Butler succeeds admirably. A short introduction, in a hip informal tone. ... [A]n admirable effort. Butler has clearly read Dick with a great deal of attention and respect, and his insights into the books are often incisive and never boring ... [A] laudable project ... a valuable resource for Dick scholars. As a compendium of Dickian leitmotifs, it is exactly what its title claims.'

Interzone books received:

'it's another lucid, well-knit, little guide -- excellent value for the money.'

Barry Forshaw, Starlog (December 2000)

'Butler's love and enthusiasm for the writer shines from every page, and this is both a compelling read and a book that creates an irresistible impulse in the reader to rush out and plug those PKD gaps in their own collection.'

Review by Tony Floyd at http://www.6degrees.co.uk/en/2/200101brphilip_1.html

'As Butler states in his pithy introduction Dick was the Poet Laureate of false memories and fake experiences, where what the characters believe to be real may only be an illusion, and vice versa. [...] This Pocket Essential is in fact one of the better entries in the series and is to be recommended whether or not you are familiar with Dick's books. Some may cavil at the ratings system used in these books but I am quite partial to them. If you are already a Dickhead then it's fun to agree or disagree with the assessments given and for the newcomer it provides a handy way of working out exactly where to start.'

Justin Alan Price from Lineboro, MD United States, on www.amazon.co.uk.

'An excellent introduction to the complex world of Philip K. Dick, filled with insight and synopsis galore, it gives a quick and in-depth look into each of the works of this Chicago born genius. [...] This book is a must have for any reader of Dick, novice or expert.'

Richard Shephard, Waterstone's Online.

'Along with their Alan Ladd-sized volume on Noir Fiction, those nice folk at Pocket Essentials have trained their microscope on sci-fi guru and drugfiend, Philip K. Dick and produced this handy little stash of info, anecdotes and all sorts. [...] This nifty little guide helps to show that sometimes, and to a certain extent, the drugs do work.'

Marc James (mail2marcjames@aol.com) from London, England, 9 December, 2000; posted on www.amazon.co.uk

Apparently Real

'The Pocket Essentials Literature series moves ahead to cover one of science fiction's outstanding minds in this slim guidebook by Andrew M. Butler [...] There's a carefully academic lack of judgement in Butler's book, allowing Dick's work to be played as it lays and keeping to a middle ground that stays informative even when describing the greater extremes of Dick's drug-fuelled, expanded-mind fiction.'

Terry Pratchett

From www.amazon.co.uk

'It a Terry Pratchett Biography. Anyone who loves his books, will be interested to know what makes him tick, where his inspirations lie.' (*****)

'This is a decent book for any serious fan of Terry Pratchett's work. It gives an account of all his major books and works, of which of course the discworld series stands out.' (***)

'To me, this is simply humourless and very subjective reviews of Terry Pratchett's works. "The Colour of Magic" got 2/5, which must mean that it's not worth reading. But it's a great book! Anyway, if you're looking for reviews of the Discworld books (though I can't see why you would be), go ahead and buy this book' (*)

From www.amazon.com

'I am not sure how to rate this book. It is a reference book so I can't hold it to the same standards as a work of fiction. Reference books should be rated on their usefulness and accuracy. Since it is mostly reviews, which are subjective, accuracy does not really apply and how useful can a book of literary criticism really be? [...] The type and the margins are small, so all 88 pages of text are stuffed as full of words as they possible could be. You are definitely getting your money's worth. Andrew Butler does have a sense of humor' (**)

Corrections and Second thoughts

In any writing anything for publication you read, research, take notes, you flesh out the notes, draft, redraft, correct and profread. And what do you know - pesky errors appear between your final draft and the printed version. I blame the printers myself...

On the other hand, no work is ever finished, only abandoned, and when was the last book you bought that was free from error? So in an act of sheer folly, I'm going to list here any errors, disputes and comments I find or receive on Philip K Dick or Cyberpunk.

First note that there are a few instances of hyphens that aren't en-dashes - but only the typologically picky would care. And a handful of clauses have brackets closed but not opened.

Philip K Dick


Terry Pratchett

Corrections to abutle01@bcuc.ac.uk