Philip K. Dick never achieved the recognition he deserved in his lifetime and even his induction this year into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame was long overdue. Unfortunately, Lies, Inc. has value only in allowing a reader to see in one “story” both some of Dick’s standard fare and the author at his worst.
During a time in which he was having “visions” that many attribute to serious mental disorder, Dick decided to publish in novel form what he considered a two-part story, but half of which had been rejected by the editor of a science fiction magazine when submitted. Dick died before fulfilling that desire. Lies, Inc. is Dick’s literary executor deciding to implement Dick’s disastrous decision.
Lies, Inc. begins with the previously published novella, “The Unteleported Man.” The Earth is overcrowded and strained, and America is a police state. The citizenry is encouraged to emmigrate to an Eden-like planet via the near instantaneous process of “teleportation.” Emigrants will be gone forever, though, because it is only a one way trip. Our protagonist, whose family business was crushed by the company that developed teleportation, begins to doubt the validity of the glowing reports sent back from that planet. He fights to travel there to investigate on the space ship his father invented, an 18-year trip each way.
As he ultimately embarks on his journey, the original novella has plopped into its midst the material rejected by the magazine editor. The insertion is 100 pages of an almost unreadable tale heavy on hallucination and almost wholly lacking in storyline or coherence. After the 100 pages of nonsense, we end up back to “The Unteleported Man.” By this point, though, that novella has been decimated.
I speculate Lies, Inc. saw print only because, after a lifetime of relative obscurity, Dick has recently been somewhat of a Hollywood favorite. In the last couple of years, two of his short stories were the basis for Paycheck and Minority Report. More films based on Dick’s works are in production. Yet, evidently hoping to capitalize on Dick’s current popularity, his literary executor released a work that detracts from Dick’s reputation. The executor should have realized the wise decision made by the editor who rejected the material inserted here. The only wiser decision that editor could have made was to insist that material be burned. Then Dick’s wish to resurrect that material could not have been realized.