A Night at the Dicks

Deservedly, at Norwescon on Friday night, M. John Harrison’s Nova Swing took this year’s Philip K. Dick award. Filling in for Mike Harrison, I delivered the following acceptance speech:

“The idea that people have a simple, fixed, continuous character seems to be the least realistic assumption of most fiction. Human personality seems to me to be too emergent and shadowy to support either the motivation of fiction or the fiction of ‘motivation.’ Most explanations of the things we do are, in terms of cognitive science, after-the-fact rationalisations. So what kinds of stories can you write about lives that are, as the British philosopher John Gray puts it, ‘more like fragmentary dreams than the enactments of conscious selves’? My fiction always tries to question our sense of ourselves as complete, continuous personalities in a dependable matrix of cause and effect–a project I think Philip K Dick might have approved of. I’m honoured to have been considered for this award, and delighted to receive it. I’d like to thank the judges and organisers; Juliet Ulman and Bantam Spectra for their efforts in the US on behalf of Nova Swing and its predecessor, Light; and Marc Laidlaw for briefly becoming–or not becoming–me.”

I also had the pleasure of meeting Jon Armstrong and inducting him into the Near-Dickian PKD Also-Ran Society (he was there to read from his novel, Grey). Other highlights were meeting Naomi Novik and her husband Charles, hanging briefly with Michael Swanwick, and indulging in a bit of Matango-philia with Jeremy Lassen of Night Shade Books.