Solar Lottery, Dick’s first published science-fiction novel, was his best-selling book prior to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? That fact says much about the audience for science fiction, for of all Dick’s novels Solar Lottery most resembles the stereotypical and ephemeral products of the genre. Even in this early work, however, some of Dick’s recurring preoccupations and distinctive gifts are apparent.
Most of Dick’s novels are set in the near future (indeed, in certain instances, Dick’s future has already become the reader’s past). Solar Lottery, in contrast, takes place in the distant future, in the year 2203. In many science-fiction stories (especially those written in the period from the 1930’s through the 1950’s), the futuristic setting is never coherently or convincingly established. Rather than undertaking the difficult task of imagining a future society, the writer relies on the power of suggestion (simply to say “2203” is to conjure vague but exciting images), supplemented by a bit of technological extrapolation. Such is the case in Solar Lottery.
The world of 2203 is one in which space travel has long been a reality, yet in other respects humanity seems to have regressed. This future society is feudalistic. Skilled individuals must swear fealty to corporations or powerful figures. Loyalty is the highest virtue—but in practice, “loyalty” means blind...
(The entire section is 504 words.)