The Dice Man is a semi-comedic novel published in 1971 by George Cockcroft under the pen name Luke Rhinehart and tells the story of a psychiatrist who begins making life decisions based on the casting of dice. The novel is noted for its subversivity, anti-psychiatry sentiments and for reflecting moods of the early 1970s. Due to its subversive nature and chapters concerned with controversial issues such as rape, murder and sexual experimentation, it was banned in several countries. Upon its initial publication, the cover bore the confident subheader, "This book can change your life" and quickly became a modern cult classic.
The book went through a number of republishings - in the United States it acquired the even more confident subheader "Few novels can change your life. This one will", in spite of its being a highly edited version of the original. Perhaps because of this, and despite the author and the character both being from the USA, it was initially less successful than in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia. After a further UK reprint in 2003, The Dice Man enjoyed something of a miniature comeback as it was introduced to a new generation.
The themes of the book are continued in two other novels, The Search for the Dice Man and Adventures of Wim and a companion title, The Book of the Die.
The book tells the story of a psychiatrist named Luke Rhinehart who, feeling bored and unfulfilled in life, starts making decisions about what to do based on a roll of a die. Along the way, there is sex, rape, murder, "dice parties", breakouts by psychiatric patients, and various corporate and governmental machines being put into a spin. There is also a description of the cult that starts to develop around the man, and the psychological research he initiates, such as the "Fuck without Fear for Fun and Profit" program.
References in popular culture
- Two plays have been produced based on the ideas in The Dice Man: The Dice House, written by Paul Lucas and produced by Neal Foster's Birmingham Theatre Company, and The Six Sided Man by Gavin Robertson.
- The song "Dice Man" by Mancunian band The Fall is inspired by the novel. It can be found on their 1979 LP Dragnet.
- English band, star27 wrote a song called 'The Diceman' inspired by this book. They also had a "Day of the Dice" where they handed out special die which were numbered 2-7 (which adds up to 27) so that anybody with a die could make decisions based on rolling it.
- The song "Such A Shame" by Talk Talk was inspired by The Dice Man, which was one of lyricist Mark Hollis' favourite books.
- The song "X, Y & Z" by Pop Will Eat Itself is a reference to a sentence from The Dice Man, in which the main character predicts that there will come a time when a person is considered insane who believes that "I am he who is X, Y & Z, and X, Y & Z only."
- The book and the lifestyle it presents have been the subject of a number of television documentaries.
- The melodic death metal band At the Gates has quotations from the book in the songs "Slaughter of the Soul" and "World of lies" from the Slaughter of the Soul album.
- In Quentin Tarantino's segment of the film Four Rooms entitled "The Man from Hollywood," Chester urges Ted the Bellhop to chop off his friend's finger by referring to him as "The Dice Man."
- The website Ind.ecisions.net uses the same premise to provide decisions to its users
- The song "Random I Am" by Swedish Pop/Punk band Millencolin is a homage to The Dice Man in which the lead singer is singing from Luke Rhinehart's perspective.
- Electronic music artist Aphex Twin has used the name The Dice Man as an alias for some of his work.
- The song "Roll the Dice" by Danish group Jaconfetti is also inspired by the novel/lifestyle.
- An excerpt was published for Day 272 of This Book Will Change Your Life by Benrik.