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Notes on SOLAR LOTTERY continued, p2:

IHOW 112:

(PKD): {SOLAR LOTTERY} was my first novel. No it wasn't, it was my first published novel. Yeah, I had written a bunch before that. It was my first science fiction novel. I had written unpublished literary -- allegedly literary, what I thought was literary -- novels.
When I wrote SOLAR LOTTERY, I modelled it on A.E.Van Vogt, and I modelled it deliberately on Van Vogt, and I have no shame, because he was my hero as a writer and as a person. I wrote a Van Vogtian novel. I was not an original writer at that time. I was a very derivative type of writer. I had heroes, and I tried to write like they wrote. he was my idee fixe as far as a writer.
So it does resemble a Van Vogt novel, which Damon Knight pointed out. When you read it now -- when Tom Disch did the Gregg Press novel, he really couldn't see anything good in this novel [Disch wrote the Introduction to the Gregg Press hardcover edition of SOLAR LOTTERY in 1976]
But Tom is forgetting the time in which it was written... 1954. Well, shit! There was nothing good then. There was one novel, one science fiction novel that had been written that was good. And that was Bester's THE DEMOLISHED MAN (1952). And I cribbed from that, the Telepathic Corps.
I mean Disch doesn't have to live those pulp years. It's really easy in the late 70s and early 80s, to talk about quality. But if he thinks that he could sell a quality science fiction novel in 1954, he doesn't realise that there was one market and one market only, and that was ACE Books. And that books were "Doubles", two novels for 35 cents. And that you had no latitude. It had to be 6,000 lines and it had to be an adventure novel. There was no latitude. You were told exactly what to write. And if we didn't write it for Don Wollheim, we didn't sell it.
I really cannot take responsibility for the state of the art. Science fiction was rapidly devolving into very poor stuff. By 1959 the total readership had shrunk to 100,000. And when you consider that SOLAR LOTTERY had sold over 300,000 copies you realise what a commercial success it was. The readership wasn't even there for SOLAR LOTTERY and it sold very well.
I'm very defensive about SOLAR LOTTERY. In terms of the field at the time it was a hell of a good novel. And Damon Knight saw it as what he called an architectural plot in the structure [see Knight's In Search Of Wonder (1967), for his review] But in relationship with later stuff, it sucks. But I was a novice.
I'm shouting. I'm becoming hysterical [laughs]. I'm defending my first novel. PLAYER PIANO (1952), was a masterpiece, and mine wasn't. He's smarter than me...

IHOW 121:

In many ways I was an anti-capitalist, but that didn't make me a Marxist. I was very, very suspicious, teribly suspicious of totalitarian states, whether right or left wing. I would say the real enemy, the enemy which to me is the paradigm of evil, is the totalitarian state, and it can be religious, it can be left wing, it can be right wing. I was just horrified at what I saw during the Eisenhower period in this country, at what appeared to me to be a great movement toward a totalitarian state in the United States. A right wing totalitarian state. Where anybody who is a dissenter is labelled a traitor. That is of course the mark of a totalitarian society, when any dissent is regarded as treason.
The moment you know dissent is regarded as treason, you know right away you've got totalitarianism, and then its incumbent on you to dissent your ass off. Just protest everything. At that point a really moral person, once he notices that trend, of the equating of dissent and treason, has a moral obligation to oppose the authorities.
My real stance was opposing authority. And I opposed the Communist authorities as much as I opposed the American authorities...

IHOW 125:

In SOLAR LOTTERY the captain of the spaceship is black. That was deliberate on my part, because Heinlein had said somewhere that all the races had their place in the future. The blacks would serve the food, you know, and the Chinese would do the laundry, the whites would be in the control room. he had a caste system with a descending order of intelligence, with the blacks at the bottom. I was just furious about that, and I had a black guy be the Captain of the space ship. Just as an answer to Heinlein...

Abruptly, soundlessly, the girl winked out of existence. A sheet of glaring white flame filled the room around him; there was nothing else, only the cold glittering fire that billowed everywhere, a universe of shimmering incandescence that ate away all shapes and being, that left nothing but its own self.


The novels before 1962 are approximates to such a technique of multi- focal narrative. It's lower-limit case and primitive seed, the one-hero-at-the-center narrative, is to be found in EYE IN THE SKY and, with a half-hearted try at two subsidiary foci, in THE MAN WHO JAPED. SOLAR LOTTERY has two clear foci, Benteley and Cartwright, with insufficiently sustained strivings toward a polyphonic structure (Verrick, Wakeman, Groves). Similarly, there are half a dozen narrative foci in TIME OUT OF JOINT. {D.Suvin}

OnPKD 11:

This characterology is not yet clear in the earlier novels, which deal more with the Ibsenian theme of social deceit vs. infividual struggle for truth than with the theme of destruction vs. creation. Of SOLAR LOTTERY's two heroes one, Benteley, is a classical "cadre", a biochemist, and only the other, Cartwright, is an electronics repairman and human being with a conscience. {Suvin}

OnPKD 154:

But if Dick was appreciated by his fellow writers, what did the critics think of him? From 1953 to 1973, Dick published 32 novels and short-story collections and had 110 reviews in SF magazines. These reviews covered first editions and re-editions seperately in all cases but two:CLANS OF THE ALPHANE MOON and OUR FRIENDS FROM FROLIX 8. From 1974 to 1979, Dick got 95 reviews of 25 novels and collections. SOLAR LOTTERY, for example had 5 reviews in 1955, 1 in 1968, and 8 more when it was reissued in 1968; FLOW MY TEARS was reviewed 16 times: A SCANNER DARKLY, 13... {R. Bozzetto}

OnPKD 159:

Curiously, Dick found himself following the traces of another writer who had a great influence on French SF: A.E. Van Vogt. THE WORLD OF NULL-A had the same kind of impact in France as UBIK and SOLAR LOTTERY subsequently enjoyed... {Bozzetto}

OnPKD 162:

And with the publication of SOLAR LOTTERY (which had already been published in the Galaxie-Bis series), six Dick novels were now available in pocketbook form to readers by the end of 1975. {Fondaneche}

OnPKD 181:

How important is economics in shaping Dick's art? As we have seen, his stated concern is for philosophically metaphysical questions and the Pauline virtues; but the terms in which he states these concerns are often economic. this strikes me not as accidental but as part of a powerful pattern. His first novel, for example -- SOLAR LOTTERY(1955) -- concerns a presumably fair system for arranging changes in personal status and power, the revelation that the system still favors those previoiusly favored, and the possibility that a working-class man can "fix" the system in two senses: predetermine its outcome and cause it to put power in the hands of those who appreciate human individuality. {E.E.Rabkin}

Silence. And then... the mind screamed.

Twilight Zone(TZ)

June 1982, p51:

"By the year 1959 the sf had totally collapsed. The readership had shrunk down to 100,000 total. Now, to show you how few readers that is, SOLAR LOTTERY alone had sold 300,000 copies in 1955." {PKD interview with John Boonstra}


Vol.1, #2, Aug 1987, p48

(PKD:) "In June of 1953 I published 27 stories and about as many the next year. In June 1953 I had seven short stories on the stands simultaneously, but no American publisher had approached me to do a collection. This was before I had done any novels and Rich & Cowan in England approached me with the idea of putting out a collection of stories."

(RL:) How did they contact you? Did they come through your agent?

(PKD:) Yeah, through Scott Meredith. They bought SOLAR LOTTERY, my first novel, and brought it out as WORLD OF CHANCE. But they brought it out in a truncated form. They insisted that a great dal be deleted from it. I did, in fact, make a different version of SOLAR LOTTERY for them. It's quite different from the US version. But they just simply contacted me through Scott, which was easy enough." {PKD interview with Richard Lupoff}

The following is a summary of the SOLAR LOTTERY manuscript situation [Lord RC]:
  1. Original ms of QUIZMASTER TAKE ALL sent to the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, Mar 23 1954.
  2. Sent back to PKD for revisions.
  3. Revised ms sent to Ballantine and two other publishers: rejected by all.
  4. Revised ms sent to ACE.
  5. ACE sends revised ms to SMLA who return it to Dick for "major revisions."
  6. 2nd revised ms sent by Dick to SMLA in Dec 1954 and forwarded to ACE. (Cut to 60,000 words from 63,000)
  7. Meanwhile, the first revised ms (or the original?) sent to Rich & Cowan in England.
  8. Rich & Cowan call for revision in "Spring 1955," returning the first revised ms to SMLA.
  9. In May 1955, Dick refuses further revisions, telling Rich & Cowan to print from the ACE editions, "which will be out in a few days."
  10. May 1995, ACE publishes SOLAR LOTTERY
  11. 1956: Rich & Cowan publish WORLD OF CHANCE in UK.

    TDC 20-21

    (PKD:) "Ya know," he drawled, "I've never met Leigh Brackett. People think that when you work in a small community like science fiction writing that everybody knows everybody. But I never met her, and I've always admired her work. Do you guys think. . .uh, would you mind if I tagged along? I mean, I won't get in your way or anything; I just want to meet her and then I'll go get my drink. I'll behave myself; I promise. I won't go rushing around the room drinking up all the booze and gibbering like an idiot and telling her the truth about you guys..."
    {...} Phil behaved himself, exactly as he'd promised. We introduced him to Leigh, they exchanged a few words of mutual admiration, and then he bowed out gracefully.

    TDC 41

    (PKD:) Yeah. Like, I remember in June of 1953 I went to... to...wherever it was I bought my SF... and there were seven magazines which were carrying stories of mine simultaneously. So I was doing nothing but writing stories. Then in 1954, I met an editor t the '54 WorldCon, and he said, "Novels." I said, "Huh?" He said, "Novels. Write novels." I said, "How come?" He said, "You'll make more money." I said, "How come?" He said, "Well, Astounding will print them as a serial, and then you can sell it later in book form. So you can sell it twice." I said, "That's terrific. I never thought of that. I'll write a novel!" So I went home and wrote SOLAR LOTTERY. And it didn't work out the way the editor had said. Nothing that I wrote for any of my early novels got bought by any magazine. They just went into Ace Books, and the revenue was not any greater than if I had written a whole lot of stories. Ace Books paid $1000.

    TDC 70

    (PKD:) First of all, Donald Wollheim said, "I will buy it if it is exactly 6,000 lines long. I did not say 60,000 words, I said 6,000 lines. I don't really care what's in it, as long as there are not too many characters and it's not too complicated." That was SOLAR LOTTERY, and he bought it


    (Interviewer:) What about the first novel you sold?

    (Dick:) That was SOLAR LOTTERY. That's been in print off and on for about twenty years, and I've made about fifteen hundred dollars off of it.

    (Interviewer:) That's what I meant about Kilgore Trout--a man who is virtually unparalleled in the field. Nobody knows you; you could, if you pardon the hyperbole, be starving to death in the field, but you're damn good, you're still gonna be making fifteen hundred bucks.

    (Dick:) I got a thousand dollars advance on the book, and then when they reprinted it ten years later, they gave me another five hundred. But that's the last I ever saw of any money off that book. And it's still in print. I could walk over there and pull a copy out of the bookcase, and it'd still bear the original publishing date. There's no second, third or further printing date. It still says, "Copyright Ace Books, 1954" or whatever, and it almost borders on the illegal for them to copyright it rather than give me the copyright. It means I can't get a reversion, whereby I'd get title again, because I never had the title. They took copyright out in their name, and they just recycle that book all over the world. People find it in Hong Kong, and the royalty sheets show that no copies have been sold since 1954.

    SL:38SL:38 - 34

    Dear Scott,

    I'm sorry but I can't sign these contracts; so here they are back exactly as they arrived.

    For the chicken-feed sum of $184, Rich & Cowan expects me to perform a major overhaul on the novel. There'd have to be another decimal to that figure to make it worth it.

    I might add in passing that the particular revisions suggested are unworthy of my time and labor; and by no possible stretch of the imagination could be described as "in the interest of the book."

    Tell Rich & Cowan that they can have a copy of the ACE edition, which will be out in a day or so. They can print from that.

    Very truly yours

    Philip K. Dick

    {Letter to Scott Meredith, May 16, 1955}

    SL-38 122:

    {...}(where would PKD be today if Marty Greenberg, in 1954, hadn't talked him into trying a novel -- it was SOLAR LOTTERY, which Ace printed, and which sold around 149,000 copies; so there).

    {PKD > Terry & Carol Carr, Nov 11, 1964}


    SOLAR LOTTERY Essay by Barb Mourning Child

    Four part essay on SOLAR LOTTERY by Lord RC

    1. Ours Not To Reason Why
    2. A Rose By Any Other Name
    3. The Marxist Bent
    4. Excited Newsmachines

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