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UBIK: The Screenplay



Writing Date

Pub. Date






Sep to Oct 1974






ubik8a.jpg (6688 bytes)     UBIK: The Screenplay, Corroboree, hb, ?, 1985, 154pp, $23.00 (Ron Lindahn, Val Lakey-Lindahn and Doug Rice) 0-911169-06-7 {Locus: There is also a 50-copy deluxe edition signed by the artists, Powers, Williams, and Dick (signatures from checks), for $180.00}


   In September 1974 French film producer J.P. Gorin visited Dick in his home and after an enthusiastic conversation between the two Gorin paid PKD $1500 to write a screenplay for his novel UBIK. The screenplay to be finished by the end of the next year, 1975. But, to Gorin’s consternation, Dick finished the screenplay in a month instead of the allotted year; completing the screenplay by the middle of Oct 1974. Part of the agreement between Dick and Gorin was that Gorin would pay $2500 on completion of the screenplay but, having finished it so quickly, Gorin found himself unable to get this money immediately although he did eventually pay PKD the sum. However, despite great effort Gorin was unable to interest a producer in the project. PKD talks of his screenplay in an interview with Mike Hodel of radio station KPFK-FM which was broadcast on June 26, 1976: 

Mike: You wrote a screenplay of one of your own things.

Phil: Yeah, I wrote a good screenplay. I wrote a really good one of Ubik. And it seems to be the fate that the better the screenplay - boy, there's Gresham's Law. I don't know how it applies to science fiction writing in general but it sure applies to screenplays, you know, that the bad screenplays force the good out. If given a choice they will make a movie out of a bad screenplay and they'll throw the good screenplay back at the author.

Mike: If I remember, The Rolling Stone piece, that screenplay you did of Ubik is currently bouncing around Europe trying to get finances. Is that still the case or is that -

Phil: Yeah, it's still optioned and they're still trying to get financing for it. It's not the director's fault. He spent all the money he had, Jean-Pierre Gorin, and he couldn't get the financial backing. He couldn't get the millions of dollars that it would cost. And he got really sick. He got sick with liver trouble and he had to give up being a director and go teach down in San Diego. He just about died trying to get a movie made out of that. But I wrote a really great - I must say, I wish you'd - I'd like to read it over the air sometime. There's the funniest scenes in that screenplay that aren't in the book that I added that I went back to the old silent film days where these - you know, it's a tragedy. That's the one thing I am bitter about. If I had written a novel with that stuff in it I wouldn't have any trouble selling it. But I can't sell that screenplay. It's too bad.

    The Rolling Stone article that Mike Hodel refers to was the pivotal one for Dick’s popularity written by Paul Williams and published in the November 1975 issue of that magazine. In it PKD and Williams talk about UBIK: The Screenplay:

PKD: I’ve got a little screen in my head, and the people walk around on it.

PW: They’re real.

PKD: They’re little, Paul, they’re about that big. [laughter] I didn’t realise it until I did the screenplay [for UBIK – Phil’s first screenplay, completed in three weeks last year], where I had to visualize, and I realised I didn’t have to ‘cause I was, I didn’t know any other way to do it. I got to where I was literally looking up, type type type and look up. They move around, y’know, and I was going like this, looking up, typing, and saying, ‘And there goes Joe out the door, slam!’ With one character I deduced he had a child ‘cause I could see a tricycle in the driveway.

    UBIK: The Screenplay was eventually published by Corroboree Press in 1985. This is a beautiful edition with many colored plates by Ron Lindahn, Val Lakey-Lindahn and Doug Rice illustrating the text. There is also a deluxe edition of 50 signed by the artists, Tim Powers, Paul Williams and with signatures cut from PKD’s old checks tipped-in. Both of these editions are quite valuable to collectors.

    After completing his screenplay for UBIK, Dick wrote nothing new in 1974.



Hour 25: A Talk With Philip K. Dick hosted by Mike Hodel. KPFK-FM, North Hollywood, California. June 26, 1976. Transcribed and edited by Frank C. Bertrand.

Rolling Stone Nov 6, 1975. ‘The True Stories Of Philip K. Dick’ by Paul Williams.

Collector's Notes

Phildickian: UBIK: The Screenplay, Corroboree, hb, 1985. VG+/NF $175

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