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1. Best of Philip K Dick
2. The Philip K. Dick Collection
3. Selected Stories of Philip K.
4. The Philip K. Dick Reader
5. Philip K. Dick: Four Novels of
6. Our Friends from Frolix 8
7. Now Wait for Last Year
8. The Skull
9. The Eye of The Sibyl and Other
10. The Simulacra
11. The Selected Letters of Philip
12. Confessions of a Crap Artist
13. We Can Remember It for You Wholesale
14. Time Out of Joint
15. The Collected Stories Of Philip
16. Galactic Pot-Healer
17. Ubik
18. The Shifting Realities of Philip
19. Philip K. Dick: Five Novels of
20. A Maze of Death

1. Best of Philip K Dick
by Philip K. Dick
Mass Market Paperback: 450 Pages (1978-02-12)
list price: US$1.95
Isbn: 0345253590
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
This Halcyon Classics ebook collection contains eleven short stories and novellas by acclaimed science fiction author Philip K. Dick.Dick (1928-1982) is best known for his novel DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?This novel was adapted for the big screen as BLADERUNNER.

This ebook is DRM free and includes an active table of contents for easy navigation.


Beyond the Door
Beyond Lies the Wub
The Crystal Crypt
The Defenders
The Gun
The Skull
The Eyes Have It
Second Variety
The Variable Man
Mr. Spaceship
Piper in the Woods
... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great for short stories
If you already like PKD, you will like this collection of short stories.For a sci-fi newbie, this may not be a good place to start since his stories may feel dated.It' s a good collection and a great value on kindle.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Anthology of Early Philip K. Dick
This is a good anthology of Philip K. Dick's early short fiction. A number of stories ("The Defenders," "The Gun," "Mr. Spaceship") begin to explore the theme of machines replacing-- or becoming indistiguishable from-- humans, which Dick later used in his great novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" (later made into the brilliant film "Bladerunner"). The excellent novelette "Second Variety" was also made into a movie, albeit not a very good one, "Screamers." "Second Variety" continues to explore the machines as humans theme, and also adds in the difficulty of distinguishing reality from illusion, which became a major recurrent theme in Dick's later novels. This collection also includes the brilliant short story "The Skull," one of the best science fiction stories to grapple with the theme of religious truth.

Halcyon does their usual good job here-- the Kindle book has a linked table of contents and few to no typos.

5-0 out of 5 stars Genius!Track down a used copy
If you've never read Philip K Dick, this collection of short stories is a great place to start.The first two stories in the collection (his first 2 published stories) aren't the greatest, but from the third story on it's one brilliant gem after the other.I read this book 3 months ago and it's still with me."Electric Ant" is perhaps the best SF short story I've ever read.I've read several of Dick's novels but these short stories are better! ... Read more

2. The Philip K. Dick Collection
by Philip K. Dick
Hardcover: 2950 Pages (2009-10-15)
list price: US$110.00 -- used & new: US$68.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1598530496
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
"The most outré science fiction writer of the 20th century has finally entered the canon," exclaimed Wired Magazine when Philip K. Dick: Four Novels of the 1960s was published in May 2007. Now The Library of America has gathered all three volumes of Jonathan Lethem's definitive Philip K. Dick edition in a boxed set sure to be a must for collectors and sci-fi fans.

Four Novels of the 1960s
The Man in the High Castle (1962)
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
Ubik (1969)

Five Novels of the 1960s & 70s Martian Time-Slip (1964)
Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb (1965)
Now Wait for Last Year (1966)
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974)
A Scanner Darkly (1977)

VALIS and Later Novels A Maze of Death (1970)
VALIS (1981)
The Divine Invasion (1981)
The Transmigration of Timothy Archer (1982) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars A most enlightened collection
For those already familiar with the works of the great Philip K. Dick this collection is of very high quality and well worth the modest premium. Superbly bound in royal blue hardcover and printed on fine (read: thin) paper.

For those yet to have read Dick, I excuse you and suggest that you make haste in amending your condition.

This is the first time I bought Library of America titles. Before this I have been collecting Everyman's Library series. I still do but am glad that I have given LOA a try. The one I have bought from Amazon was the Philip K. Dick box set. The paper is in a slightly thinner quality if you compare with those from Everyman's. However, with this you also got a lighter book to hold on to. LOA also boasts a much bigger collection when it comes to American writers. Really wish to see more box sets from this series in the future.

4-0 out of 5 stars Wondeful collector's edition, but take care
These are wonderful novels in a first class collector's set. I would award 5 stars except that, sadly, volume 1 of my set has some pages missing from the first novel ("The Man in the High Castle"). These are pages 159 to 174 inclusive (pages 158 and 175 face each other), so you should check your edition carefully when you receive it to ensure that you are not similarly disadvantaged.

Amazon has offered to replace the set, but as this requires me to post the entire collection back from Australia I have instead decided to live with the missing pages and accept Amazon's alternative offer of a 20% refund.

I discovered the defect when actually reading "The Man in the High Castle", so you can imagine my frustration and annoyance when I hit the missing pages. The novels are printed on good quality fine paper, so it is difficult to flick through the pages and catch every one to check for further omissions. I think the rest of my volume 1 and volumes 2 and 3 are OK, but I guess I will not know for certain until I have finished reading all 13 novels! Fingers crossed!

Defect apart, I would heartily recommend this set to all SF fans, and others.

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect collection for your library
I love P.K. Dick.When i was much younger I had a copy of "Androids" handed too me and I fell in love.Dick was writing cyberpunk before Neuromancer was a gleam in anyone's eyes.His mixture of science fiction and trancendentialism allows him to create stories where charachters truely morph and grow (or not... Decker) and become something that is bigger than the words that tell their story.There is no wonder at all that Dick has inspired more movies than any other sci-fi author.

These particular volumes are the perfect addition to a library.They really contain the main portions of Dick's work.Perfectly chosen to span his career.You not only get the early works that make for good movies such as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the middle paranoid writings finishing in A Scanner Darkley into the late trancendential novels with my personal favorite, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer.Not only are each of the individual works fantastic but the collection lets you get a great overview of the author's life work.

The volumes themselves are on a light, almost bible like paper that feels fantastic when turning pages.A very solid hardbound book with a ribbon bookmark.High quality and well done without being overdone.I plan on getting several of my other favorite american authors in this series's collection to have on hand.

5-0 out of 5 stars I'm really enjoying this.
The guy who left the first review did a good job explaining most of what you need to know about this set.I received this as a Christmas present along with an Amazon Kindle.I picked the first volume up and started reading it Christmas evening and my Kindle is still in its box.These books are well-made and with proper care will likely be among the items for sale in your estate.I've finished The Man in the High Castle which I found compelling and am working on the Three Stigmata of Plamer Eldritch.I don't remember ever enjoying Sci Fi as much as I do this stuff.Very imaginative and certainly innovative.I think most people who are into reading for pleasure, but not mindlessly will enjoy these books. ... Read more

3. Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick
by Philip K. Dick
Hardcover: 496 Pages (2002-11-05)
list price: US$28.00 -- used & new: US$15.93
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375421513
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Philip K. Dick was a master of science fiction, but he was also a writer whose work transcended genre to examine the nature of reality and what it means to be human. A writer of great complexity and subtle humor, his work belongs on the shelf of great twentieth-century literature, next to Kafka and Vonnegut. Collected here are twenty-one of Dick's most dazzling and resonant stories, which span his entire career and show a world-class writer working at the peak of his powers.

In "The Days of Perky Pat," people spend their time playing with dolls who manage to live an idyllic life no longer available to the Earth's real inhabitants. "Adjustment Team" looks at the fate of a man who by mistake has stepped out of his own time. In "Autofac," one community must battle benign machines to take back control of their lives. And in "I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon," we follow the story of one man whose very reality may be nothing more than a nightmare. The collection also includes such classic stories as "The Minority Report," the basis for the Steven Spielberg movie, and "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale," the basis for the film Total Recall. Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick is a magnificent distillation of one of American literature's most searching imaginations.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars A treasure trove from sci-fi's great master
I might as well admit this at the beginning of the review: I am not generally a fan of short stories. I'm not making any sort of universal statement here so much as saying that I think the form tends to elevate shallow writing that is built around some sort of twist or reveal at the end. Bradbury is a bete noire of mine because of this very tendency, but he shares with many science fiction writers that genre's tendency toward writing about ideas instead of emotions or relationships, which has tended to turn a lot of people off of this particular genre as it can be difficult for a lot of people to connect with that approach. The genre does have its natural strengths: people are always interested in progress and the future, and moreso than many genres, sci-fi lends naturally to the exploration of social, political, and moral issues in its stories. I'm admittedly a huge sci-fi nut for those reasons, though I can understand why a lot of people are scared away.

It's those people, though, who would get the most out of Philip K. Dick. Dick falls into almost none of the pitfalls that I mentioned previously. His short stories are excellent examples of the form, with strong ideas and surprisingly rich themes to boot. Dick's work has obviously been adapted to the screen many times, and a good handful of stories from the book are recognizable from their film adaptations, but the original stories are frequently more interesting and more substantive than the feature films they inspired! So, the average-ish Ben Affleck thriller Paycheck turns out to have been inspired by a story not only about seeing the future, but also about commercial-government tensions and its character turns out to be an anti-hero, motivated by corporate greed. Minority Report was a more successful (and much better) film than Paycheck, and it too is vastly different from its film. The basic ideas (precogs, arresting murderers before they commit their crimes) but in the story, the protagonist has to stop a military coup in Washington (and it lacks the film's sappy ending, too, which is a plus). There are, of course, lots of cool stories here that have not been made into movies, like the post-apocalyptic "Second Variety", in which a few remnants of humanity have to fight against an army of rebellious androids that come in three varieties, as well as some of Dick's more trippy writing, like a story in which an elderly man is asked to become the "king of the dwarves" in their battle against the gnomes, in which it certainly seems like he's going crazy, but the story is told from his perspective and it leaves some ambiguity. It's scary, fascinating, sad, and brainy, but also a little funny in a darkly comic way: that's the Dick trademark, I suppose.

Most science fiction writers who become successful are good at coming up with nifty concepts and cool ideas, and Dick obviously has those, but even more impressive to me is the emotional component that Dick brings to his writing. This is a lot harder for me to deconstruct, but suffice it to say that Dick has that little extra something that turns a good story into a great one. When a story is supposed to be tragic, it almost always is. When the writing is supposed to be exciting, Dick pulls it off. His ability to define characters briefly and thoroughly certainly helps here, but Dick simply just knows how to engage the heart as well as the head, which is likely what has won him such an exalted place among science fiction writers over the years. That place is well-merited. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best collection of Dick's short stories
I have several collections of Phillip K. Dick's short stories and this is by far my favorite.This is the one that I will share with a person not familiar with his writing, since it contains most of the stories that have been made into movies.The movies "Paycheck," "Screamers," "Minority Report" and "Total Recall" are based on stories contained in this collection.

4-0 out of 5 stars As good a collection of stories as can fit in one book
While I'm sure everyone who is a fan of Philip K. Dick has their pet list of the best stories, this book does a good job of grabbing the best ones that would fit into a single book.So if you're looking to read some of Philip Dick's best or most popular short fiction, this is the best book for you.

If you like this and want to read more, or if you think you'd want more before buying this book, I would recommend you just go ahead and get all five volumes of The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick.They contain every story he wrote, and it will save you getting multiple books of PKD short stories and having them contain duplicates of the same story.

4-0 out of 5 stars A stellar collection of thought provoking stories
I'd had only a glimmer of an idea of what the works of Philip K. Dick were about, that that glimmer was pretty much solely based on the films that had been inspired by his works.

Because of that, I don't know if I'd say I was very pleasantly surprised or somewhat dismayed to read this collection."Very pleasantly surprised" to discover how excellent the source material really was, or "somewhat dismayed" to come to the realization of how poorly most of the films based on some of these stories did of conveying the original ideas.

In any event, with the exception of all but possibly the first few stories in the collection this was a great read.Some of the tech that is implied seems a bit dated now (in that it was written in the 60's and all), but overall the ideas and unease that the characters espouse more than makes up for the tech blips.

I've been recommended to read 'VALIS' as it is "Dick at his trippiest" and have put that in my queue along with more of his short stories.

Oh, one last thing - the story I was most curious to read ("Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" which was the inspiration for 'Blade Runner') isn't a story at all but a full length novel; chalk that one up to ignorance.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Set of Stories
I picked this up because I saw a few movies based on Philip K. Dick's work (Blade Runner, Minority Report, Total Recall) and wanted to see how the source material compared to the films as well as what else Dick has to offer.

He is not a great author in terms of writing ability, but I don't think that is what he's famous for.His imagination and sense of the future is, however, unmatched.Predicting things like androids, nuclear apocalypse, and mind control drugs he defined the science fiction of the present. One wonders if some of things he thought of would even exist if he hadn't imagined them first.

Very good set of stories that will give you a good idea of what Dick is about.I also suggest his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner) as more good science fiction reading.

This book features the following stories:
1. Beyond Lies the Wub
2. Roog
3. Paycheck (Paycheck)
4. Second Variety (Screamers)
5. Imposter (Impostor)
6. The King of the Elves
7. Adjustment Team
8. Foster, You're Dead
9. Upon the Dull Earth
10. Autofac
11. The Minority Report (Minority Report)
12. The Days of Perky Pat
13. Precious Artifact
14. A Game of Unchance
15. We Can Remember It For You Wholesale (Total Recal)
16. Faith of Our Fathers
17. The Electric Ant
18. A Little Something For Us Tempunauts
19. The Exit Door Leads In
20. Rautavaara's Case
21. I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon ... Read more

4. The Philip K. Dick Reader
by Philip K. Dick
Paperback: 410 Pages (2001-04-01)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$7.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0806518561
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Amazon.com Review
His religions, psychoses, divorces, and drug use aside, Philip K. Dick changed the face of American science fiction with his mind-bending writing. There may be readers who have only heard of him as the mind behind Blade Runner (based on his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). But even casual PKD fans should take a look at these 24 short stories, among them, "Second Variety," from which the movie Screamers was made, and "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale," basis of the Schwarzenegger film Total Recall. Other standouts include "The Turning Wheel," "The Last of the Masters," "Tony and the Beetles," and "The Minority Report." Readers will recognize PKD's trademark themes: capitalism and the American dream run amok, a disquieting loss of ability to distinguish friends from enemies, and humans versus machines.

Since Philip K. Dick's heyday, and thanks in large part to his influence, the contemporary science fiction short story has evolved into a form more self-reflective and psychologically complex. This is a wonderful development, to be sure. But don't regard the older stories in this collection as dated. Instead, enjoy the peppery punch: PKD's stories provide plenty of plot twists and surprise endings. --Bonnie Bouman ... Read more

Customer Reviews (29)

4-0 out of 5 stars Could have been much better "Reader" with a little effort.
There is plenty here and elsewhere about the merits of Philip K. Dick and the early short stories that comprise the bulk of this book.I want to comment on the book as a product.

This book is published by the same publisher that printed the five volume Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick in softcover.
This book is volume 3 of that set (featuring Second Variety on the cover) with stories 21-23 of the 24 replaced with the stories that have been made into major motion pictures to add interest and market appeal.The final story, in its original position is Second Variety, the source for the movie Screamers.The notes about the stories, when they were submitted, printed and in what magazine found in the Collected Stories is absent here.This is a no-frills edition.The missing stories are: Misadjustment, A World of Talent, and Psi-man, Save My Child which are replaced with Paycheck, The Minority Report and We Can Remember It For You Wholesale (Total Recall). This book also includes The Golden Man. the story that was used for the movie Next in 2007 (and I mean USED, as in exploited for its author's name only, since none of the real story content is found in the movie, read it yourself and see, it's below and beyond "loosely based") almost a decade after this assortment was produced.It does not include Impostor that was made into a movie released in 2001 (and whatever its flaws, it is the most faithful adaptation of them all).

So what is good about the book is that one can satisfy ones curiosity about five of the movie sources (missing Blade Runner and Impostor) and get a cross section of Dick's early work from about 1953-1956.

What is bad about this book is that it is not, as its title suggests, a well considered compilation of his best short story work that also includes all the stories (under novel size) used for movies as of press time to make a great first book for readers unfamiliar with Philip K. Dick many of whom are only familiar with the movies.Many stories in the collection are his routine work making a living at the time and still developing as an author that happened to end up in volume 3 of the near-complete Collected Stories that is mostly in chronological order.For starters, I would include Beyond Lies the Wub (the first printed) and Roog (the first sold), both quite short, for historical perspective along with the longer The Variable Man and A World of Talent that are novelette/novella sized that really show his potential and if given more real estate he fills it more richly and deeply with little evidence of mere padding for length.To get that I would drop as many of the less lustrous specimens as it takes to get the required page count.

It is a good value and covers the movies (good for four stars), but it could have been an even better book if it were a more thoughtful compilation instead of a movie enhanced knockoff of an existing volume minus the notes.The cost benefits to the publisher are obvious, the benefit to the reader not so.If you think you might really want to get serious about the shorter works I recommend going directly to the Collected Stories (apparently becoming unavailable new) before they become pricey collector's items on the used market, and skip this near duplicate of volume 3.

5-0 out of 5 stars Considerable Overlap!
I just wanted to make everyone that might be interested in this excellent book aware that there is considerable overlap between it and The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick Volume 3 (Second Variety):

-= The Philip K. Dick Reader =-
1. Fair Game
2. The Hanging Stranger
3. The Eyes have it
4. The Golden Man
5. The Turning Wheel
6. The Last of the Masters
7. The Father-Thing
8. Strange Eden
9. Tony and the Beetles
10. Null-O
11. To Serve the Master
12. Exhibit Piece
13. The Crawlers
14. Sales Pitch
15. Shell Game
16. Upon the Dull Earth
17. Foster, you're dead
18. Pay for the Printer
19. War Veteran
20. The Chromium Fence
21. We can remember it for you wholesale
22. The Minority Report
23. Paycheck
24. Second Variety

-= The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick Volume 3 (Second Variety) =-
1. Fair Game
2. The Hanging Stranger
3. The Eyes have it
4. The Golden Man
5. The Turning Wheel
6. The Last of the Masters
7. The Father-Thing
8. Strange Eden
9. Tony and the Beetles
10. Null-O
11. To Serve the Master
12. Exhibit Piece
13. The Crawlers
14. Sales Pitch
15. Shell Game
16. Upon the Dull Earth
17. Foster, you're dead
18. Pay for the Printer
19. War Veteran
20. The Chromium Fence
21. Misadjustment
22. Psi-Man Heal My Child!
23. Second Variety

So if you already have PKD Volume 3 you might not want to purchase this book (and vice-versa).

5-0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the real Matrix
As many of you out there may (or may not know) Phillip Dick's writing has been used as the template for the Matrix Movie Trilogies. Readers of this volume with encounter of course wonderfully stories written by a highly imaginative and talent artist, but will almost always be confronted with the theme of what is real? How do you define real?
The stories read like Twilight Zone episodes, which I found quite enjoyable, and many of the stories deal with cultural and social issues that resonate with present day living in these United States or the world for that matter. What does it mean to be human? Has technology doomed us to a life of slavery? And of course the question of war and does anyone really win a war are just some of the questions Phillip Dick brings to mind.
You've got to let it all go people; fear, doubt, and disbelief. Buy this book and "Free Your Mind".

4-0 out of 5 stars Solid collection of some of Dick's more popular stories including some made into films
The advertisement touts "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" and "The Minority Report" short stories both of which became the basis for popular films. Second Variety ("Screamers") and "Paycheck" both became films with mixed success as well.There are an additional assortment of Dick delights in a variety of flavors from paranoid to alternate realities. Other stories include some terrific ones as well and some so-so stories but all are pretty much from Dick's golden age-Fair Game; The Hanging Stranger; The Eyes have it; The Golden Man; The Turning Wheel; The Last of the Masters; The Father-Thing; Strange Eden; Tony and the Beetles; Null-O; To Serve the Master; Exhibit Piece; The Crawlers; Sales Pitch; Shell Game; Upon the Dull Earth; Foster, you're dead; Pay for the Printer; War Veteran; The Chromium Fence.

This is a pretty good short story collection that allows those who have only experienced Dick through the movies to try him out and see if he appeals to them. Keep in mind, however, that Dick's stories were written anywhere from the early 60's to the late 70's (he died just before "Blade Runner" premiered which was based on his novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep"). It's a pity that he passed away before he got the recognition he deserved as a writer. Dick's writing style isn't lyrical like Sturgeon's nor is it in the hard science realm of an Issac Asimov but his themes focus on what makes us human--is it our memories? What if our memories are duplicated? Is the person that has those experiences and memory the same person? Of course one of Dick's favorite themes continued to be the nature of reality.

Dick's work has been raided by other writers for themes in films and for other novels over the years. The TV show "Lost" for example deals with themes that are typical of Dick's work. I'd also suggest the novels UBIK, Flow My Tears The Policeman Said (Winner of the John W. Campbell Award), the first alternate timeline/reality novel The Man in the High Castle, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldrich, Martian Time Slip and a later mainstream novel The Transmigration of Timothy Archer.

5-0 out of 5 stars Nicely complements Library of America volumes
The esteemed late 20th century Sci-Fi writer Philip K. Dick recently has been the object of much renewed attention.The Library of America released two volumes of his novels, with helpful notes and a chronology of his life. Michael Dirda in his book "Classics for Pleasure" also draws attention to the work of Dick. This collection of his earliest short and medium-length stories (23 in all) nicely complements the LOA volumes. I had never read any Dick prior to the first LOA volume and found him incredibily fascinating in his spinning of yarns.As inventive a mind as can be imagined, every story and novel sparkles with fantastic plotting, effective dramatic devices, and almost always a surprise ("Twilight Zone" like) ending.One just marvels at his inventive capabilities, and I have not read a bad Dick novel or story yet.Considering that a number of his novels and stories were made into movies (including "Total Recall" and "Scanners" based upon stories in this volume, as well as "Blade Runner" from one of his novels), Dick had wide appeal.Unfortunately his early death in 1982 stilled the pen of this most creative and prolific writer.But we have plenty of Dick left to enjoy in this and other collections. ... Read more

5. Philip K. Dick: Four Novels of The 1960s / The Man in the High Castle / The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldrich / Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? / Ubik (Library of America No. 173)
by Philip K. Dick
Hardcover: 900 Pages (2007-05-10)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$20.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1598530097
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Known in his lifetime primarily to readers of science fiction, Philip K. Dick (1928-82) is now seen as a uniquely visionary figure, a writer who, in editor Jonathan Lethem's words, "wielded a sardonic yet heartbroken acuity about the plight of being alive in the twentieth century, one that makes him a lonely hero to the readers who cherish him." Posing the questions "What is human?" and "What is real?" in a multitude of fascinating ways, Dick produced works-fantastic and weird yet developed with precise logic, marked by wild humor and soaring flights of religious speculation-that are startlingly prescient imaginative responses to 21st-century quandaries.

This Library of America volume brings together four of Dick's most original novels. The Man in the High Castle (1962), which won the Hugo Award, describes an alternate world in which Japan and Germany have won World War II and America is divided into separate occupation zones. The dizzying The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965) posits a future in which competing hallucinogens proffer different brands of virtual reality. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968), about a bounty hunter in search of escaped androids in a postapocalyptic future, was the basis for the movie Blade Runner. Ubik (1969), with its future world of psychic espionage agents and cryogenically frozen patients inhabiting an illusory "half-life," pursues Dick's theme of simulated realities and false perceptions to ever more disturbing conclusions. As with most of Dick's novels, no plot summary can suggest the mesmerizing and constantly surprising texture of these astonishing books. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (29)

5-0 out of 5 stars Four Novels of the 1960s
Just finished The Man in the High Castle, a great read that left me with more questions than answers. AND that's the point. This was a very thought provoking read. Already read Androids, and that's one of my favorite sci fi reads of all time. Can't wait to get to the others. A great read thus far. Good price too.

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent starter set of the work of one of our most inventive and ingenious pop novelists
This is a great set - as you'd expect from the Library of America.Nicely bound, quality paper.Edited (i.e. selected) and introduced by Jonathan Lethem.Then there are the novels - among his most memorable, and I'd say among his best (apart from, perhaps, the Valis trilogy).

The Man in the High Castle, one of Dick's early novels and the one that brought him critical attention beyond the enclave of sci-fi readers, depicts an alternate history, in which the Axis won WWII.The former USA is divided into three parts, one controlled by Nazis and another by the Japanese.The titular man in the castle - who may stand as a kind of surrogate for the author - wrote an incredibly popular, but banned, science fiction novel in which the Allies won.

The Three Stigmata is an exhilarating work of metaphysical fiction, depicting a future that in its essentials resembles precisely the world we live in now.Elite and powerful figures control the destinies of ordinary folk by manipulating their desires.We follow the work of a psychic whose aim is to predict what will be fashionable in the future, who works for a company that sells a virtual variation on the American dream - and we follow him into the rabbit hole as a more sinister force arrives intending to addict everyone to what seems an even more sinister obsession.

Do Androids Dream is the original upon which Blade Runner's based - but it's got a quirky edge to it that was only touched upon in the film.The obsession with live animals, the futuristic religion of Mercerism, the obsessive question of what it would take for us to lose our essential humanity (where in the film that's a given and the question is what it would take for us to count androids as human).

Ubik unfolds in a similar world as Stigmata and worries similar themes, but may go even deeper in its reflections on reality and how advertising illusions shape desire and identity.

It's all exciting stuff, the work of a fascinating mind, and reminds that some times the best way to see reality clearly is to read and write good fiction.

2-0 out of 5 stars Was he on something?
Since a lot of the sci-fi shows are based on his work, I decided to read them.I find them difficult to follow.He assumes that you already know what he knows.He doesn't seem to provide much of a background story.He just throws you, the reader, into the story.I've been trying to read this for years now and could never finish it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Philip K Dick: 4 Novels of the '60's
Outstanding publishers! These books (Library of America) are quality - acid free paper, thin as bible paper, rayon cloth woven onto the hardcover and a silk bookmark sewn into the woven binding that resists cracking. Well made and very durable.

This particular series of Philip K Dick is a very comprehensive and outstanding compilation of some of his best works. The price from this particular seller was outstanding.

Thanks. Would definitely purchase from this seller again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Having never read PKD before, I took a chance in purchasing this four novel omnibus.Man am I glad I did!!! All four novels are terrific, mind bending reads.Extremely enjoyable.Additionally, the book itself is well binded, with nice, archival quality paper.Excellent quality book.I'll definitely be picking up his other Library of America book now. ... Read more

6. Our Friends from Frolix 8
by Philip K. Dick
Paperback: 224 Pages (2003-03-11)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$6.30
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375719342
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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For all the strange worlds borne of his vast and vivid imagination, Philip K. Dick was largely concerned with humanity’s most achingly familiar heartaches and struggles. In Our Friends From Frolix 8, he clashes private dreams against public battles in a fast-paced and provocative tale that ultimately addresses our salvation both as individuals and a whole.

Nick Appleton is a menial laborer whose life is a series of endless frustrations. Willis Gram is the despotic oligarch of a planet ruled by big-brained elites. When they both fall in love with Charlotte Boyer, a feisty black marketer of revolutionary propaganda, Nick seems destined for doom. But everything takes a decidedly unpredictable turn when the revolution’s leader, Thors Provoni, returns from ten years of intergalactic hiding with a ninety-ton protoplasmic slime that is bent on creating a new world order.

Winner of both the Hugo and John W. Campbell awards for best novel, widely regarded as the premiere science fiction writer of his day, and the object of cult-like adoration from his legions of fans, Philip K. Dick has come to be seen in a literary light that defies classification in much the same way as Borges and Calvino. With breathtaking insight, he utilizes vividly unfamiliar worlds to evoke the hauntingly and hilariously familiar in our society and ourselves. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

4-0 out of 5 stars Lots Of Dick Boners In An Otherwise Fun Novel
Unlike Philip K. Dick's previous two novels, 1969's "Ubik" and 1970's "A Maze of Death," his 27th full-length sci-fi book, "Our Friends From Frolix 8," was not released in a hardcover first edition. Rather, it first saw the light of day, later in 1970, as a 60-cent Ace paperback (no. 64400, for all you collectors out there). And whereas those two previous novels had showcased the author giving his favorite theme--the chimeralike nature of reality--a pretty thorough workout, "Our Friends" impresses the reader as a more "normal" piece of science fiction...although glints of Dickian strangeness do, of course, crop up.

Of all the Dick novels that I have read, "Our Friends" seems most reminiscent of 1964's "The Simulacra." Both books feature the downfall of entrenched, duplicitous governments and sport an extremely large cast of characters (56 named characters in the earlier book, 48 in the latter). In "Our Friends," the Earth of the 22nd century is ruled by an oligarchy of two ruling groups: the New Men, bubble-headed mutants with tremendous IQs, and the Unusuals, who command various telepathic, telekinetic and precognitive abilities. The overwhelming ruck of Earth's billions, the Old Men, are precluded from any sort of government/civil service employment and must make do with their menial-labor positions. In the book, we meet Nick Appleton ("the name a character in a book would have," he is told), a "tire regroover," who is shaken out of his mundane existence when his young son "fails" a rigged civil service exam. Swiftly becoming politicized, he drinks illegal alcohol, buys anti-government tracts from a feisty 16-year-old tomboy, and is soon embroiled in the thick of things in this Big Brotherish, dystopian world. A good thing, then, that Thors Provoni, a space wanderer who had left Earth a decade earlier to seek help for mankind's lot, is about to return...with a "90-ton, gelatinous mass of protoplasmic slime"; the telepathic, titular friend from Frolix 8.

Swiftly moving and filled with humorous touches, simply written yet complexly plotted, alternating furious action sequences with thought-provoking discourse, "Our Friends" is yet another delightful Dick confection. It finds the author dealing with some of his pet topics, such as divorce (Appleton leaves his wife during the course of the book; Council Chairman Willis Gram plots to kill his), Carl Jung ("A Maze of Death" was replete with Jungian subtext; he is referred to by Provoni as "the greatest of the human thinkers"), drug use (drugbars are ubiquitous in the novel, and every citizen seems to possess the knowledge of a Walgreens pharmacist) and 20th century fighter planes (this pet subject of Dick's had received especial attention in previous works such as 1967's "The Ganymede Takeover" and "Ubik"). Nick is an especially well-drawn everyman-type character, and the reader's sympathy for him never wavers, not even when he strikes his wife, Kleo (named after Dick's second wife out of five). No dummy, he recognizes the music of Victor Herbert and has a Yeats poem, "The Song of the Happy Shepherd," committed to memory. Charley, the young tomboy "gutter rat" with whom Nick has a rather icky love affair, is also memorable; in one sweet scene, the two make love in the one acre left of Central Park, and she spins around in circles, arms out, when Nick tells her that he loves her.

The book, however, good as it is, has its share of problems. As in "The Simulacra," several plot threads and characters simply peter out, never to be mentioned again. Worse, the author seems to be guilty here of a good deal of inconsistencies over the course of his story. For example, there is the matter of dates. We are told that the New Men have been in power for 50 years, since 2085. So the book takes place in 2135, right? But wait...Provoni later tells us that he was 18 years old in 2103, and now he's 105. So it's 2190, right? But hold on...his 10-year-old spaceship is a model from 2198. So it's 2208, right? See what I mean? Elsewhere, Dick mentions that there are 10,000 New Men and Unusuals on Earth; later, that figure changes to 10 million! He mentions that the army commands 64 different types of missiles; that figure is later said to be 70! He says that the government maintains detention camps in southwest Utah; later, they are said to be in southeast Utah! Provoni lands on Earth 1 1/2 hours earlier than expected; later, he is said to have landed eight hours earlier than expected! And perhaps most surprising, history buff Dick mentions that the name "Ashurbanipal" was Egyptian, whereas it is fairly common knowledge that the dude was Assyrian! (Granted, that last COULD be a bit of ignorance on Provoni's part.) Anyway, you get my point. Dick and his editors surely would have benefited from another rereading of their manuscript before publication. But despite all these many gaffs (very uncommon for this author, to my experience), the book is still as fun as can be. And really, how can you dislike any book with a 90-ton mass of telepathic slime?

2-0 out of 5 stars The Last of the Old
Boy, this thing is a mess.Philip K. Dick never had much discipline in his writing; he churned out text at warp speed so he could keep himself in food and lodging, so some of his books are kind of junky, but really, now.

It's not going to be easy to summarize this plot, just because it's so all over the place, but let's see how we do.In Frolix 8, the world has fallen into a sort of two-party tyranny, alternately under the control of the New Men - mutant geniuses - and the Unusuals - telepaths, precogs and the like.No one lacking one talent or the other has any access to power whatsoever.

All this suppression has, of course, given rise to a rebellion calling itself the Under Men.One of the rebel leaders, Thors Provoni, has been traveling in space for some years looking for extraterrestrial help.

Into this circumstance comes Nick Appleton, one of PKD's plebian main characters.He begins his adventure as a law-abiding if unsatisfied citizen.He shortly finds himself involved with the Under Men, caught with forbidden rebel literature and on the run with a teenage girl named Charley.

Pretty soon you, the reader, have to keep in mind Nick Appleton's battle with the planet's telepathic ruler for Charley's attention; the disintegration of his marriage and his flight from Charley's alcoholic boyfriend; Provoni's philosophical dialogues with the mammoth alien enveloping his ship as he heads back to Earth; and a partridge in a pear tree, presumably.PKD could barely juggle that much material when his Ace Books editors only permitted him 180 pages.Stretched over at least a third again that much space, it can't help but disintegrate.And his conclusion makes it all too plain that the man simply didn't know what to do next - it's the worst kind of last-minute twitch.He really should have set this one aside for a few months and let it settle, but he probably couldn't afford it.

Indeed, the whole book seems tired.It's got a lot of PKD's great themes, plot points and characters, but in a worn out state.

Nick Appleton, for instance, is a solid PKD working class hero, like the television salesmen and electricians and grocers and such who people his earlier books.Appleton, however, is a tire regroover.He likes to think of this task as a form of art, but in truth it's a cheat and possibly deadly, as he himself comes to realize.

PKD had also dealt before with world dictators, some cruel, some ill, some alien.Willis Gram is maybe the worst of the bunch, a man who uses his enormous power for his own petty ends. This might even add some spice to the story, but Gram emerges as a flabby arrested adolescent who conducts pretty nearly all the planet's affairs from his bed.

In his middle period, PKD loved to set several plot strands going at once and bounce around amongst them.Most of the strands in Frolix 8 simply fizzle out - we never learn what happens to Appleton's wife and son, the gigantic alien leaves off philosophy the minute it lands on Earth and starts behaving like a mindless weapon, and all the threats disappear without another thought.

PKD's gift for sympathetic characters seemed to almost desert him in this piece.There's a lot of talk among these characters about saving the world from the purest of motives, but the actual desires on view seem uniformly petty - sexual gratification, alcohol dependence, the will to power. These people are unattractive even in a physical way, let alone in any other.

He missed a couple of his most fertile themes this time round, too, especially the unsteady nature of reality and the effect of drugs on one's perception of that reality.What little there is in Frolix 8 on those topics feels like an afterthought.Could have been removed without any impact, and maybe should have been.

And finally, he evidently couldn't even bring himself to remember his details from page to page.Provoni has been traveling anywhere from ten to fifteen years, for instance - the number changes periodically.There's anywhere from 10,000 to several million New Men and Unusuals on Earth - that changes, too.And other examples abound.

Now, this is PKD, and even his failures provide more food for thought than many another author's successes, but taken as a whole Our Friends from Frolix 8 is for PKD completists only.If it wasn't for one thing I'd be tempted to dismiss it as an utter waste of time, but wait until you see what ultimately happens to the New Men and Unusuals.Not only does it redeem the exhausted, washed-out feel of the rest of the book, it looks ahead to what PKD was about to become.

PKD wrote Our Friends from Frolix 8 in 1970, at the tail end of a time when he could complete up to five or six novels per year.No wonder he was burned out.Clearly, he realized that something needed to change, and it sure did.Tired and messyas this book is, the compassion at its close leads directly to the conclusion of his next novel Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, maybe the most touching evocation of human despair since the novel was invented.Out of this transformation of his creative process, he produced A Scanner Darkly and the VALIS trilogy.Now, that's the way to conclude a career.

In 1970, PKD had only a few years to live, but he used them well.If he needed to plow through Our Friends from Frolix 8 in order to do that, I say it was worth it.Suppose we look on this novel as his way of clearing the decks and let it go at that.

Benshlomo says, Every so often you have to throw the past overboard.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not among his better, but he's done worse
This novel had some potential, but ultimately left me unsatisfied. The elements for a decent story are here: there are essentially three interwoven subplots, but even while reading it the connection between two of them felt especially forced, contrived, and unrealistic. I was able to suspend disbelief, but just barely.

On the bright side, there are a few amusing parodies peppered throughout, such as a satire of drug culture (substituting subversive literature for drugs) and an interesting characture of messianic expectations. I liked his dystopian setting, too.

On the down-beat, PKD's attempt to create "new" slang was very annoying, and since most of them were variations of '60s counterculture lingo, it ironically ended up coming across as dated. That can probably be overlooked/forgiven by most readers, but the ambiguity of the ending was much harder (for me) to swallow. Although I suspect PKD figured this ended on a "happy note" I'm not convinced that's actually the case... some sense of closure that "everything works out for the best" (or not!) would have helped. [explaining/justifying that, though, is a major spoiler, so sorry for the vagueness.]

Overall, if you're new to PKD, don't start with this one. If you're a PKD completionist (like I am) then give it a go, but keep your expectations reasonable. This isn't on the par of UBIK, High Castle, etc. but at least it's not as bad as Zap Gun or Cosmic Puppets. In all honesty, if anyone other than PKD had written this, I'd score it much lower.

5-0 out of 5 stars Underrated gem!
Another fine work from my favorite guy that's got great action, pacing and, above all, characterizations.The people in this story were very real to me and the society in which they live seemed very plausible.The meandering and intersection of the characters' fates is set against an impending climax that we know is coming from the beginning of the story and when it arrives, it's thrilling and very moving.I loved this one.

4-0 out of 5 stars Typical late-60s PKD with godlike alien
One of Dick's less ambitious novels, this story is a bit thin compared to the density and dazzling complexity of his books of the early 1960s, and perhaps a bit of weariness with the standard conventions of science fiction is showing. The author seems very casual about controlling the plot and characters; both seem pretty random much of the time. We may not prize this novel as a masterpiece of structure, but it is typical Dick, involving and entertaining. The story is set in a world controlled by superintelligent "New Men" and telepathic "Unusuals," who reign despotically together over the "Old Men," or ordinary unevolved humans. In due course Thors Provini returns to Earth with a "friend" for the Old Men in the form of a telepathic, protoplasmic alien with extraordinary powers. This semi-divine intervention overturns the predictable order of the world and replaces it with a vision of the evolution of consciousness of every living thing on the planet toward some unimaginable fulfillment. In this preoccupation, it is congruent with Dick's other interesting novels of the late 60s such as A Maze of Death and Galactic Pot-Healer. ... Read more

7. Now Wait for Last Year
by Philip K. Dick
Paperback: 240 Pages (1993-06-29)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679742204
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In a novel that makes our notions of politics, personality, and time seem terrifyingly provisional, Dick tells of a hapless doctor, whose planet is enmeshed in endless war, whose wife is addicted to a time control drug, and whose newest patient's demise could decide the fate of the world. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best PKD Novel
I've read 15 of PKD's books and this is by far my favorite (followed closely by "Time Out of Joint," "Ubik," and "A Maze of Death.")

As with most of PKD's books, "Now Wait For Last Year" is an entertaining ride - drugs that cause people to travel back and forth through time, a man who's built a detailed recreation of his hometown on an entirely different planet, a world ravaged by war and, of course, lots and lots of marital strife. And there's a unity to this novel that's lacking in a lot of the author's other works: his stories can jump from A to B to Z to F and you get the impression he didn't even make an outline half the time - "We Can Build You" is a good example of this - but this one seems to have been fully thought-out before PKD put pen to paper (or finger to typewriter key).

There's also a touch of the sublime here. There's a chapter centered around leftover energy from a processing plant being funnelled into tiny mechanical carts. At first you think it's just a one-off idea PKD threw in there for entertainment's sake, but by the end of the novel, the idea of these carts turn out to be a really thoughtful meditation on what it means to be a human being. It might sound like I'm giving the text too much credit, but I'm not. It's emotionally affecting stuff, the kind of which I haven't seen in anything else PKD has done.

Do yourself a favor and pick this one up.

5-0 out of 5 stars An underrated classic
Written in '63 (when Dick was arguably at the peak of his powers) and published in '66, Now Wait For Last Year has everything one could ever want in a PKD novel. All of the major "Dickian" themes are here, including the nature of reality, parallel universes, and what it means to be human. Because of this, it would be a good starting point for someone new to the world of Philip K. Dick, and for those who are already fans.

The plot is so convoluted, in a good way, that it's next to impossible for me to try and attempt a plot summary, but the basic gist is this: There's an interstellar war going on between Earth, along with their allies, the humanoid "Starmen," and the bug-like Reegs. The elected leader of Earth, Gino Molinari seems to have a psychosomatic illness that leaves him at various times on the verge of death. Dr. Eric Sweetscent, a surgeon and main protagonist of the story, is signed on to be Molinari's new 24/7 doctor. Meanwhile, Sweetscent's wife is addicted to a new drug called JJ-180, a massively addictive hallucinogen that appears to send the user back and forth through time uncontrollably.

How these things are all tied together is an accomplishment only Dick would even attempt, let alone perfect as he does here. This is a perfect example of Dick's genius, and an under-appreciated classic that deserves more attention than it gets. It's sure to leave you slack-jawed and in awe for days after you've finished.

5-0 out of 5 stars PKD's most perfect novel
How is it after 28 years and 30 books, I finally discover PKD's best novel? I have read the one's people say are his best, and I have loved every one I have read, from SOLAR LOTTERY to MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE and VALIS. But today I finished my 30th book I have read by him, and I am stunned how amazingly perfect it is compared to his other works. Have no doubt, I love PKD. I adore his crazy plots, awesome extrapolations, and wacky world view. I like his writing because he uses sci-fi for what it should be, for what makes it the best genre of fiction--he uses it to explore the human condition that cannot be done in any other way. This novel stands out because of the flaws in his other works. Again, keep in mind I love PKD partly because of the flaws. They add charm to his work. The silly names. The characters who talk like no one would ever talk in real life. The science that could never work. The unnecessary amount of side plots, digressions, and secondary characters. The crazy ideas he sticks in just because it came to him that day at the typewriter, not because it even works in the current novel he was writing. The unfinished endings that wrap up to quickly or wrap up too easily. His other novels are just raw and rough and uneven. What makes this novel stand out is that it is tight. Every character matters. Every plot line eventually has real meaning to the story he is telling, even down to the silly inventions in chapter one that just seem like a goof and the robot taxi drivers that just seem cliche. Every thematic meaning he draws from his characters, from marriage, to being a man, to being a leader, to understanding what it means to be human and what it means to be inhuman. It all just works. I have read almost all his sci-fi novels (over 20) and have only a few more to read (around 5), but as of this moment, I feel I have read the best thing with which PKD blessed his readers.

4-0 out of 5 stars An ordinary person thrust into an extraordinary situation
It's difficult to leave one's personal problems out of one's professional life and vice versa. In this book we see how one regular guy, Dr. Eric Sweetscent, deals with mounting pressure in both aspects of his life. More importantly, we see how Eric handles the enormous responsibility of being given a chance to influence the lives of billions of people. How many people can deal with knowing what's really going on in the world?

Eric is stuck in a loveless marriage with Kathy which has devolved into a struggle of who can hurt whom the most. They seem to be the epitome of the saying "there's a thin line between love and hate". It's the year 2055 and Eric works as a surgeon who transplants artificial organs into people, specifically working for Virgil Ackerman, the head of the company Tijuana Fur & Dye. Kathy works for the same company as a procurer of artifacts from the 1930s. Kathy also experiments with drugs and gets hooked on a new drug called JJ-180 which seemingly transports the user to another time.

Can someone change the future? Science fiction writers over the years have developed various ideas surrounding time travel and Dick's approach is rather interesting. Some people on the drug travel back in time while others travel forward. All this places a crucial part to the story and is involved in its many twists.

In the bigger picture, Earth is ruled under one government by U.N. Secretary Gino Molinari. Through Virgil, Eric meets Gino and becomes employed by him. Gino is an interesting character full of contradictions. He's in rather poor health, but remains somehow impressive to the people. The people need a strong leader because they've been drawn into a war between two interplanetary powers - Lilistar and the reegs. Signing a pact with Lilistar, the humans are forced to fight in the war and things aren't going well. Working with Gino, Eric learns more about the war and what's really going on than most people would.

Eric is a rather insecure person who can be indecisive at times. It's easy to empathize with him because he has so many flaws, he isn't one of those perfect heroes. When circumstances provide him with the ability to strongly influence both his wife's life and the outcome of the war, it's interesting to see how he handles it.

5-0 out of 5 stars War in Public and in Private
This one seldom gets a mention among Philip K. Dick's greats, like "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch," "Ubik," "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" and "The Man in the High Castle".With all due respect to those classics, it's a sin and a shame.This novel should be welcomed into that august company, and without delay.

On the other hand, perhaps "Now Wait for Last Year" flew under the radar because the story is really so ordinary.You can wrap up the basic plot in a very few words; a doctor, in a bad marriage made worse by addiction, grows into a genuinely good man by means of the hardship thrown in his way by a high-pressure government job during wartime.Sort of a combination of "The Days of Wine and Roses" and "Dr. Zhivago".With poisonous addictive drugs and time travel thrown in.

I can't think of any other author who postulated time travel by chemical means - that is, the idea that certain drugs might affect actual reality, not just your sense of reality.Take JJ-180 in the world of "Last Year" and you find yourself in the actual past or future.Of course, then you come down, come back, and die in great pain a few months later if you don't take it again.If you do take it again, you die of irreversible neurological damage in a year or so.

Now, here's what makes this one of PKD's great novels; like the ones mentioned above and a few others, this time the author found a way to unite his multiple plot strands into a cohesive story.In this book, humanity develops JJ-180 as a weapon against the insectoid reegs.Our ostensible allies, the humanoids of the Lilistar Empire, make use of the drug against certain humans to keep Earth in the war on their side.One of their victims is Karen Sweetscent, who hooks her husband Eric to force his help in getting her off the stuff.(Or maybe just out of spite - PKD was a trifle peeved at women during these years.)

The Sweetscents are one of PKD's typical couples of this period in his work - they can't stand each other but can't let go, either - and the whole thing is complicated by the fact that Eric Sweetscent has recently become personal physician to the ruler of Earth, Gino Molinari.In short, here is a war between various galactic species and a war between a man and a woman; each conflict comments on the other, and JJ-180 emerges as a weapon in both.

Eric, the linchpin of all this hoo-ha, must decide where his loyalties lie.The question is all the more pressing because the fate of the Earth may depend upon his answer, by means of his relationship with Molinari, also known as "The Mole".And he doesn't have much time for necessary reflection, because the Mole is not normal either mentally or physically.He's desperately ill with any number of complaints, many of which ought to be fatal, but he keeps on surviving.This is obviously a man of enormous power even when sick.

And the most astonishing thing about him isn't even his ability to overcome cancer, renal failure, heart attack and God knows what.It's the way in which he uses his illness to avoid the destruction of Earth.The sicker he gets, the less he can administer his government, and the less he can subordinate humanity to the destructive Lilistar Empire.Like many of his people, he comes to realize that allying himself with the so-called 'Starmen was a serious error, and so his disease allows him to accept responsibility and pay for his mistakes both at the same time.This is not your typical Christ figure - he's a fat, middle aged, peevish, desperately sick, brilliant political strategist.The Moral Majority will burn this thing in a heartbeat if they ever bother to read it.Which they won't.

Anyway, whatever else may be true, this is a war story like none you've ever seen before, complete with chemical and biological weapons like none you've ever seen before, both of which operate best when turned upon ourselves, not the enemy.And we haven't even gone into the time travel aspects yet.Why, you may ask, would anyone come up with a weapon that literally sends the enemy back in time temporarily?

Oh, no you don't.You're going to have to read the book to learn that little detail.Suffice to say that the time-travel character of JJ-180 lies at the heart of the Mole's power, as well as his illness, and therefore at the heart of Eric Sweetscent's journey into his own character.And there you have the brilliance of PKD and of "Now Wait for Last Year" - everything connects and becomes richer by its contact with everything else.Sometimes this produces paranoia, in life and in PKD's work.At other times, again in both places, it produces some kind of spiritual breakthrough.

So I invite you to follow Eric Sweetscent as his life spirals out of control, first in his marriage, then in his employment, then in his ability to stay in one place at one time.The last chapter is particularly worthwhile, an early example of PKD's trademark emotional conclusions in which his protagonist wanders through the lonely city wondering whether it's even worth going on, and finds inspiration in watching a simple (and in this case artificial) form of life just doing the best it can.When someone blesses Sweetscent as a good man at the end, you know it's true.

Besides, what could be bad about a novel that starts off in a building shaped like an apteryx?No one but PKD would think of that.

Benshlomo says, The road to enlightenment has never been easy. ... Read more

8. The Skull
by Philip K. Dick
Kindle Edition: Pages (2009-12-12)
list price: US$0.99
Asin: B0030IM6VA
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Philip K. Dick's classic short story ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars Ok but...
Be aware that this is a short story but quite good. IMHO the story would have made a great (original) Twilight Zone episode. ... Read more

9. The Eye of The Sibyl and Other Classic Stories (The Collected Short Stories of Philip K. Dick, Vol. 5)
by Philip K. Dick
Paperback: 396 Pages (2000-12-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$8.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0806513284
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
A collection of stories by the celebrated science fiction writer includes never-before-published selections as well as the author's standards--``The Little Black Box'' and ``The Pre-Person'' among them. By the author of The Man in the High Castle. Original. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

3-0 out of 5 stars Okay for Philip K
About half-way through the stories right now. The stories are just okay for PKD, but better than your average writer. Enjoyed earlier collections more.

5-0 out of 5 stars Some of Dick's most personal works
It is not that surprising to witness how this collection of short stories by Philip K. Dick is the least appreciated, since his later novels also tend to be greeted by varied reactions. But this volume is at least as good as the preceding four, and maybe even better. Here we find Dick less concerned with traditional forms, and perhaps more inclined than ever before to explore the issues that really interested him; many revolve around religion and theology. The stories were published from the mid-1960s to the 1980s, and reflect the thematic preoccupations of Dick's longer works from each period. The breadth of the tales is considerable, as the stories vary from deceptively light satire (The War With the Fnools, The Day Mr. Computer...) to politico-religious tensions (The Little Black Box, Faith of our Fathers), testimonies (The Eye of the Sibyl, Rautavaara's Case) and solitary soul-searching (The Electric Ant), often spanning all of these approaches in a single story. This collection might not be the best entry point in Dick's work, but a fair accessment of that work's relevance would not be possible without this essential book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Later but not necessarily better
In this final volume of the Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick, we get a chance to read the short stories he wrote from the late 1960s to his death.For those who were accustomed to the imaginative and off-beat work of the first four volumes, this last book may be a bit jarring:as Dick's life got stranger, so did his stories.Even in the genre of the strange that is science fiction, stranger is not automatically better.

Some of the stories in this collection are every bit as good as the ones in the other books.Tales such as "The Pre-Persons," "Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday" and "The Electric Ant" are among his better stories.There are also stories that would eventually become novels like Counter-Clock World, Dr. Bloodmoney and The Divine Invasion.Then there are the previously unpublished works...which are strictly for PKD completists; there is good reason these were not published.

His later short stories, like his later novels (Valis, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer) are often permeated with the theological and hallucinogenic qualities that also dominated Dick's life.These later stories are dominated more by ideas than by good writing; compare the title story to the similarly themed Waterspider in Volume 4 and you'll see the earlier story is far better.

Overall this book rates a weak four stars, although the whole set rates a full five stars.Even if a bit disappointing compared with the previous books, this still has enough quality to be well worth reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars If I could only recommend 2 Phil Dick books --
This volume has many of the stories from the out-of-print Ballantine "Best of Phil Dick." While his earlier work is more literate, his later style in stories/novels became much looser, but just as enjoyable. The themes here, like his novel "Do androids dream," are more mind-blowing and less reliant on finding a new twist on an old sci-fi theme. "Faith of our fathers," and "I hope I shall arrive soon"(probably the inspiration for movies "Open your eyes/Vanilla sky") are the most powerful, thoughtful and fun stories (how the heck does he do it?!) but may not resonate with gadget-oriented, non-psychological readers. Nevertheless, this is an indispensible book, and like "Do androids dream," my choice when giving a Phil Dick book to friends.

4-0 out of 5 stars This has 'The Electric Ant' and 'I hope I Shall Arrive Soon'
Those two stories make it worth the price of admission.There are other, great stories included too. ... Read more

10. The Simulacra
by Philip K. Dick
Paperback: 224 Pages (2002-05-14)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$5.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375719261
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Set in the middle of the twenty-first century, The Simulacra is the story of an America where the whole government is a fraud and the President is an android.Against this backdrop Dr. Superb, the sole remaining psychotherapist, is struggling to practice in a world full of the maladjusted.Ian Duncan is desperately in love with the first lady, Nicole Thibideaux, who he has never met. Richard Kongrosian refuses to see anyone because he is convinced his body odor is lethal. And the fascistic Bertold Goltz is trying to overthrow the government.With wonderful aplomb, Philip K. Dick brings this story to a crashing conclusion and in classic fashion shows there is always another layer of conspiracy beneath the one we see. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Pretty Whacky Look At Mid-21st Century Life
Fueled by prescription amphetamines, and in a burst of creative effort rarely seen before or since in the sci-fi field, cult author Philip K. Dick, in the period 1963-64, wrote no less than six full-length novels. His 13th since 1955, "The Simulacra," was originally released as an Ace paperback in 1964 with a cover price of 40 cents. The book, written in Dick's best middle-period style, gives us a pretty whacky look at life in the mid-21st century. David Pringle, in his "Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction," aptly describes the work as "an overpopulated novel which flies off wildly in too many directions," and indeed, readers may need a flowchart to keep track with this one. According to my careful count, the book features no less than 56 named characters (not to mention several unnamed), and the manner in which Dick interweaves their stories in an ingenious manner is one of the book's main strengths.

In the crazy world that Dick depicts, the U.S. and Germany have merged to become the U.S.E.A.; the country is in awestruck love of First Lady Nicole Thibodeaux, who has somehow remained ageless for her 73 years in office (a character most likely based on then-First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy); giant drug and simulacra (think: robots identical to humans) cartels hold almost limitless power; northern California has turned into a "chupper"- (think: radiation mutant) filled rain forest as a result of atomic war; and the government is able to make use of the von Lessinger principle to travel backward and forward in time. Against this backdrop, Dick introduces us to some of his sympathetic "little people" with big problems. Dr. Egon Superb, the world's last practicing therapist, wonders why he alone has been allowed to continue, when all other practitioners have been outlawed. Brothers Vince and Chic Strikerock, employed at rival simulacrum companies, become caught up in a love triangle and government plots. Richard Kongrosian, a psychokinetic pianist on the verge of psychotic collapse, worries about his turning invisible, as well as his "phobic body odor." Nat Flieger, a record company exec, travels to northern California to record Kongrosian and observes the chupper community there. Bertold Goltz, street agitator and time-traveling radical, attempts to bring the government down. Ian Duncan and Al Miller, with their classical-music jug-band act, finagle a way to perform before the First Lady in the White House. And, in a sadly underdeveloped subplot, Nazi bigwig Hermann Goering is brought forward 100 years in an attempt to alter history. Somehow, Dick manages to keep all these story lines percolating and interweaving, throwing out interesting bits of speculation and background color along the way, such as insectlike advertisements that burrow into cars and homes to spread their annoying messages, and a machine to which penitant folks offers confessions (the "confessionator") that is more like a lie detector than anything else. The author's pet themes of deceitful governments, the real truth behind the apparent truth ("What's unreal and what's real?" Ian asks succinctly at one point, neatly summarizing just about the entire Dick oeuvre!), and the dubious merits of drugs are given major play here, and some of the author's pet passions, such as classical music (Dick, it should be remembered, managed a record store and programmed a classical music program for the radio in the early '50s) and cigars (a good dozen or so cigars are referred to by name throughout the novel), are strongly represented. Good as it is, "The Simulacra" is not a perfect work. Ultimately, the plottings of Goltz and of National Police head Wilder Pembroke are convoluted to the point of being impossible to fathom, several characters just kind of peter out (such as Israeli P.M. Emil Stark and "conapt" resident Edgar Stone), and the novel doesn't so much wrap up neatly as abruptly come to an end. Dick could easily have kept the multiple plot threads weaving for another few hundred pages here, had he so chosen, or written a nice sequel (a common temptation for most sci-fi authors, and one to which Dick never succumbed). Still, the book is compulsively readable, often very funny, endlessly imaginative and, in all, a real hoot. It has also managed to provide me with a line that may become my new catchphrase: "How are you going to work...that into your Weltanschauung?"

5-0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best Dick I've read
I've read a host of Philip K Dick novels in my time, and have for the most part found them profoundly troubling, extremely original yet for the most part bitty and incomplete. The Simulacra, on the other hand, brings out all the classic Dickean themes -- paranoia, totalitarianism, alternative universes, etc. -- and wraps them beautifully in a coherent and finished work. The cartels and the Chuppers -- with the themes they bring up -- are particularly satisfying. Read it, and contemplate a reranking of Dick's novels.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Poor Imitation of a Philip K. Dick Novel
Philip K. Dick is my favorite science fiction author, a writer who transceneds that label.I have read all of his short stories and 15 of his novels.As an author, he was unafraid to go where others wouldn't, to use his own illnesses and foibles as the basis for many of his works.I even introduced my schizophrenic nephews to his work as a form of therapy, which they greatly enjoyed.That was before I read The Simulacra.Although I enjoyed some of this book, it has so many loose threads I could weave a blanket.Characters are introduced and we follow them to a certain point and then they simply disappear.Much is made of the time travel device but it is merely used as a simplistic plot gimmick.And why all the fuss over bringing back Herman Goerring just to shoot him because he wasn't Hitler?My biggest objection is that Nicole is portrayed as the leader of the USEA but it turns out that she is just a puppet of a ruling board of governors - so how does she have any real power to do some of the things she does before this piece of trivia is revealed to us?The "plot" is all over the place, and the final chapter in Jenner, introducing yet another blind alley with the Chuppers, just doesn't fit in with anything before it.I honestly feel that there are at least three different novels going on here and if any of them had been fully developed they would be much better than this hybrid.Even the title is misleading because this work has little to do with the simulacra that is the actual President or the simulacara that are manufactured for Mars.Although it is a weak entry in my Philip K. Dick collection, it still has his great dialog, offbeat characters, and humorous asides.It's not a bad book, it just isn't up to his usual standard.When it comes down to it, however, the money would be better spent on Flow My Tears The Policman Said or The Man In The High Castle for works that handle similar themes with greater artistry.

2-0 out of 5 stars Who do you root for?
In the first place, I can't for the life of me figure out why this book is called "The Simulacra".It has simulacra in it, all right.Two or three of them appear onstage for a few pages each, and that's it.Philip K. Dick didn't usually pick his own titles; whoever picked this one did a lousy job.

Poor title notwithstanding, there's a lot to like in this novel.For instance, it's got a lot of interesting material in it about German culture; PKD himself was of German ancestry, and sometimes dealt with both German and Nazi history in his work."The Simulacra" delves into those notions more deeply than most of his other novels.Like some of his other novels, though, this one picks up the theme and then drops it for no discernable reason.Frustration.

Similarly, the rest of the good ideas here fizzle out in the last chapter or even before.The sheer volume of invention, though, impresses no end.Other authors could make entire novels out of flying commercials that force their way into your car and ask if you're worried about body odor.Or a telekinetic concert pianist, so neurotic he can barely speak on the phone.Or a system of government where the voters elect a new husband for the First Lady every few years while the First Lady herself remains in office.Or flying used-rocket lots that use a telepathic Martian life-form to entice you into buying.Or a group of Neanderthals waiting in the swampy remains of northern California for humanity to destroy itself.Or a national artistic life based on local talent shows, hosted by individual apartment blocks that send the winners to the White House to appear on television.And on and on and ON.PKD was a genuine phenomenon who could afford to toss off amazing notions like these.I wish he hadn't - they're too good to waste.

What's more, all this excess does some serious damage to the novel's plotline.There's so much happening it's almost impossible to determine what you're supposed to concentrate on.PKD often walked the fine line between stuffing his work full of characters and plot points and ideas on the one hand, and giving his readers one particular protagonist and his or her story to get involved with on the other.In "The Simulacra," he finally stumbled right over that line.

And here's an interesting little detail - unlike a lot of his best work, this novel begins and ends in the same place with the same characters.Most of the novel takes place in Chicago and in Washington DC, but the opening and closing take place some distance north of San Francisco, where a group of otherwise unimportant characters have traveled to record that neurotic pianist.It's almost as if, by bringing "The Simulacra" around to its starting point at the end, PKD was trying to impose some structure on this stew.It didn't work.

I'm going to try to summarize the plot, but I'm warning you, it doesn't make a lot of sense.

America and Germany seem to have merged, and although everyone in government is very concerned about repeating the mistakes of the Nazi era, it's still an oppressive dictatorship disguised as a democracy.The only escape is either emigration to Mars, by means of those jalopy rockets, or getting through one of those talent shows and appearing at the White House on a televised exhibition.One thereupon enters into the upper echelons of society by learning all of its secrets, which I won't go into so you can learn them for yourself.Suffice to say that there are quite a few.

Okay, the psychokinetic neurotic pianist is one such in-the-know type.Another is the sergeant-at arms of one of those talent-show-producing apartment houses, a guy named Vince Strikerock.His brother Chic is not in the know - he's a salesman for a small firm that produces simulacra to act as neighbors for emigrants to Mars.Vince's wife has just moved in with Chic.Another apartment dweller, Ian Duncan, longs to make it to the White House and convinces his former musical partner, Al Miller, to work up their act and try again.Al, who sells jalopy rockets, is reluctant, but the two of them get out their jugs and start practicing the classical repertoire (that's their act, honestly).

Let's see, meantime the First Lady, whose name is Nichole and has been in office for seventy-odd years but still looks young and beautiful, is considering using her time-machine equipment to retrieve Hermann Goering from the past and convincing him to break off the Holocaust in exchange for military help.There's a guy named Berthold Goltz, a Jew who leads an anti-government movement called the Sons of Job for some reason, who thinks negotiating with Goering is a lousy idea and uses time-travel equipment of his own, not to go back and intervene directly, but to pop up at the White House whenever he wants to complain.

And in the meanwhile...

Oh heck, we're less than a quarter of the way in and I'm already lost.Reading "The Simulacra" is a little like playing with a big bowl of pretty pebbles; it's fun, but kind of pointless.Considering how very pretty these pebbles are, this is more upsetting than it otherwise would be.

In the year he wrote "The Simulacra", PKD went on to write "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch".Now, that's a classic.I'm not sure what happened to him here, but thankfully it wasn't permanent.With all due respect, it seems like his brain was burned out at the time he wrote this.Maybe he had to use a simulacrum to write it for him.Maybe that explains the title.(Like how I came full circle on that one?)

Benshlomo says, Everyone gets a brain freeze occasionally.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Underrated Classic On Androids, Time Travel and Commercialism from Philip K. Dick
Published originally in 1964, Philip K. Dick's "The Simulacra" is a giddy dark satire on the evils of American commercialism and politics, as seen through his singularly peculiar take on androids and time travel. It's a hysterical exploration on the excesses of market capitalism and conservative politics cloaked in a near future novel set in a United States of Europe and America. Here Dick also makes some sly commentary on political cults of personality; witty lessons which current American voters eager to elect a Messiah should ponder. Dick's mid 21st Century America is one that will resonate with readers awash in a commercially-oriented, media-driven culture, even with its casual references to alien life and psychotherapy. While "The Simulacra" is not as much a literary classic as "A Scanner Darkly", "The Man in the High Castle","Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said" and "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", it is still an important early example of Dick's work, and one quite worthy of a wide readership.
... Read more

11. The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick, 1980-82
by Philip K. Dick
Hardcover: 288 Pages (2010-06-01)
list price: US$49.95 -- used & new: US$29.11
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Asin: 1887424261
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In this sixth entry in the series of Dick’s letters, the great sci-fi author continues his metaphysical and religious quest initiated by the Valis visions of 1974. In these letters to friends, fans, agents, and other sci-fi writers, Dick speculates on the visionary and archetypal material that intruded into his novels in the latter part of his life, which marked a turning point in his literary career. These intensely personal letters express Dick's deepest thoughts on science fiction, human nature, philosophy, and more. ... Read more

12. Confessions of a Crap Artist
by Philip K. Dick
Paperback: 256 Pages (1992-06-30)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$7.00
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Asin: 0679741143
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Confessions of a Crap Artist is one of Philip K. Dick's weirdest and most accomplished novels. Jack Isidore is a crap artist -- a collector of crackpot ideas (among other things, he believes that the earth is hallow and that sunlight has weight) and worthless objects, a man so grossly unequipped for real life that his sister and brother-in-law feel compelled to rescue him from it. But seen through Jack's murderously innocent gaze, Charlie and Juddy Hume prove to be just as sealed off from reality, in thrall to obsessions that are slightly more acceptable than Jack's, but a great deal uglier.

"One of the most original practitioners writing any kind of fiction." -- The Sunday Times (London)

"Dick is entertaining us about reality and madness, time and death, sin and salvation.... We have our own homegrown Barges."

-- Ursula K. LeGuin, New Republic

"Philip K. Dick's best books always describe a future that is both entirely recognizable and utterly unimaginable? -- The New York Times Book Review ... Read more

Customer Reviews (23)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Lunatics Are Not Taking Over the Asylum This Time
In the first place, what's a "crap artist"?In this case, it's a character named Jack Isidore, who thinks of himself as a kind of scientist.Not exactly.

He likes to spend time in the library, looking up interesting facts and drawing bizarre conclusions from them, such as the supposition that the Earth is hollow and contains a complete additional world under the surface.He likes to collect specimens; he's got quite a heap of rocks in his apartment.He likes to claim scientific sources for the most outlandish speculation, such as his notion that because a flying-saucer cult expects the end of the world on a specific date, the specificity of that date subjects the whole theory to objective analysis and therefore makes it true.

His social skills are rudimentary at best, and although he's got a surprising amount of native intelligence, he has difficulty keeping his job as a tire regroover.And to top it all off, he's a science fiction fan.Considering what a hopeless case he seems to be, I find that last detail a little insulting; on the other hand, wait until you meet the other characters in this novel.By comparison, Jack Isidore may not be quite so annoying after all.

The action of "Confessions" really kicks off when Jack gets thrown out of his apartment, more for being weird than for any sensible cause.Nevertheless, out he goes, and his sister Fay Hume brings him to the rural Marin County house she shares with her husband Charley, their two daughters, and a small menagerie.Under ordinary circumstances, you'd expect Jack to disrupt the functioning of this happy home.Actually, he does just fine.He babysits, takes care of the animals, runs errands and performs a variety of household chores with great contentment.Turns out there's more than enough disruption going on without his help.

Now, honestly, that's about what you were waiting for, isn't it?Any writer worth his salt would know the purpose of introducing a character with some sort of mental ailment into a collection of normal people.You do that to demonstrate that the "normal" folks are weirder than the weirdos - it's a total cliché.So "Confessions" would be just another world-as-lunatic-asylum exercise, except that we're talking about Philip K. Dick here, and you have to remember two things.One, you don't usually read PKD for a brilliantly original plot; you read him to see what twists he applies to an old one like this.Two, PKD was always much too smart to succumb to clichés.In "Confessions", this means that although Jack's "normal" relations turn out to be pretty miserable people by comparison, Jack himself is still pretty weird.It's surprising how surprising that is, I must admit.

All right, here we have a single character who's obviously strange, and a bunch of other characters who are less obviously strange.Several of them get a chance to narrate the story, including Jack and his sister.You also get a few chapters narrated by the traditional third-person voice.As far as I know, this is the only example of multiple narrators in PKD's work.It's a good idea; in his science fiction he showed himself to be an expert thought experimenter, but in most of his mainstream work he limited himself to straight reportage, a pretty severe limitation for such an offbeat writer.The narrative experiments in "Confessions" let him cut loose in standard storytelling in the same way he did in his speculative work.That's the way to play to your strengths, and it shows once more that PKD was a master of the imagination, even when the time came to imagine himself in a new way.

What's more, by giving himself a mentally different character like Jack, PKD found a way to work his off-the-wall sense of humor into his mainstream writing for just about the only time.Several of his other mainstream novels are quite good, but they remain, almost without exception, mighty heavy going.Let's not kid ourselves, the events of "Confessions" get pretty nasty here and there - you get a decent amount of adultery, loneliness, manipulation, cultish behavior and domestic violence - but you also get some surprisingly humanistic and amusing response to the whole business, often courtesy of Jack Isidore.What else can you say when he takes careful notes about a wife's sleeping around and writes them up in a purple bodice-ripping style, thinking that doing so will make the deceived husband take the news more seriously?

I maintain that several of PKD's mainstream novels were at least good enough to get a showing.Unfortunately, apart from "The Transmigration of Timothy Archer" (which appeared shortly after his death), only "Confessions" found a publisher during the author's lifetime - fifteen years after he wrote it, but never mind.On the other hand, if there could only be one, this would be the one.Of PKD's mainstream work, it's the most complete, the most imaginative, and the most demonstrative of that which made the man so great.And I don't like to link fiction to authorial biography, but I have to wonder if PKD in 1959 had some notion of how crazy his later years would be, and gave us Jack Isidore as a kind of heads-up.

Be that as it may, you wouldn't necessarily want Jack Isidore, or Philip K. Dick, in your house for long periods of time, but you wouldn't want to do without them either.If only as a way of keeping you on your toes.

And apart from his very last, that's it on PKD's mainstream work.Back to his science fiction, and not a moment too soon.

Benshlomo says, Disruption is good and good for you.

4-0 out of 5 stars American Woman!
Fay is a spoiled, manipulative woman operating on a level far beyond anything the men in her life can contend with.Her brother is an emotionally stunted man: as wishy-washy as his sister is decisive.Her husband and lover are both victims of Fay's selfish scheming.

Dick has presented Fay's marriage break-up in a very specific way.He's got things to say about the sexual balance of power and the nascent craziness in late 50s California. I'd be curious to know how these observations were received when they were written.Many of them are still relevant and interesting.

On the surface there's nothing sinister about Fay's actions.When people get to know her better, they find her unreflective and a little childish; but they give her the benefit of the doubt.By the time they've peeled back the next layer and realized that everything she does is carefully calculated as part of her grand plan, it's too late and the person is already trapped.The final revelation is that Fay's grand plan is nothing more than a selfish, shallow desire for respectability; and the victim knows then that he's stuck in someone else's nightmare.

The moral is to never trust surface appearances - even if the sex is good.A self-evident point, you may think; but Dick has done his job so well that you may find yourself examining your own partner's actions and intentions more carefully after reading this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best of Dick's mainstream novels
This book, written in 1959 and finally published in 1975, was the first of Dick's mainstream novels to appear in book form. In many ways it is probably the best: its multi-focal narration offers inside glimpses into the minds of two of Dick's most fascinating characters-the "crap artist" Jack Isidore and his sister Fay Hume. The novel derives its energy from the juxtaposition of their radically different perspectives. Jack was the classic nerd in high school, who was obsessed with pseudoscience and adolescent power fantasies, which if anything have intensified as he has grown into his thirties. Faye is impulsive, uninhibited, outspoken, and aggressively sexual. But the root of her attractiveness lies in her ability to live in the moment with a seeming intensity and freedom. This combination is potent in tempting Nat Anteil, a young student, away from his wife, while driving Fay's husband Charlie to a violent end. The predictably tragic consequences of this situation put the reader in the odd position of identifying with the nerd, whose emotionally stunted state make him an ideal and acute observer of the passionate madness of the other characters.

5-0 out of 5 stars the alien EVERYDAY
lift off! the everyday veneer and see whats real and not, like sputtering about in a big head in a small land dicks brilliance shines through more opaque than usual. his most easiest obvious the paranoid as normal premiseREVEALED clear as a shiny brook in the wilds.

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic Stuff
This was the first of Dick's mainstream novels I read, it made me wonder what kind of mainstream writer Dick would have made had he found more success in the genre (was the 50's society he wrote about too conservative to accept these novels?).
Even though this story is set in a 50's environment, it doesn't miss a beat in any regard, Confessions of a Crap Artist is as engrossing and page-turning a book as any of his science fiction novels. The way the story unfolds keeps you at the edge of your seat and you may find yourself laughing at the insanity of regular, seemingly successful people who dig themselves into giant ruts by involving themselves with people when they should know better.
If you like Phillip K. Dick's work you must read this novel, if you buy it it will take a valued place in your collection. ... Read more

13. We Can Remember It for You Wholesale (The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick, Vol. 2) (Vol 2)
by Philip K. Dick
Paperback: 396 Pages (2002-04-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$8.75
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Asin: 0806512091
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Many thousands of readers consider Philip K. Dick the greatest science fiction mind on any planet. Since his untimely death in 1982, interest in Dick's works has continued to mount and his reputation has been further enhanced by a growing body of critical attention. The Philip K. Dick Award is now given annually to a distinguished work of science fiction, and the Philip K. Dick Society is devoted to the study and promulgation of his works.

This collection includes all of the writer's earliest short and medium-length fiction (including some previously unpublished stories) covering the years 1952-1955. These fascinating stories include We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, The Cookie Lady, The World She Wanted, and many others.

"A useful acquisition for any serious SF library or collection". -- Kirkus Reviews

"The collected stories of Philip K. Dick is awe inspiring". -- The Washington Post

"More than anyone else in the field, Mr. Dick really puts you inside people's minds". -- Wall Street Journal ... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Stories, Pick This Over His Novels Any Day
I love Phillip K Dick but some of his issues as a writer really come out in his longer works. That is why a collection like this is essential reading for any sci-fi lover. You get a taste of his unique perspective and ideas with stronger stories and more even plot flows. I really would recommend this book (or any other of his short story collections) to anyone. They are sci-fi at it's best.

4-0 out of 5 stars If you like Twilight Zone episodes, you will enjoy this!
I'm a big fan of Philip K. Dick so this was a delight. The stories are short and quick to read, which is great for short road trips or riding on the bus or train. I will be honest and say a few of the stories weren't as good as usual, but seeing as they don't take long to read, it isn't much of a waste of time, plus it may be a matter taste. Just about every story had a very clever twist, the kind you tend to find in episodes of Twilight Zone, which I love. This is a great edition to have if you enjoy sci-fi shorts or are a P.K. Dick fan!

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Short Stories!
This book is full of great short stories.While most do tend to focus on the aftermath of an extreme nuclear war (the big concern during the time he was writing these), they are all imaginative and unique.This was definitely a page turner for me.

4-0 out of 5 stars cool book but title story is waaaaay to short
all of the stories in this one are good sci-fi stories. unfortunatle the title story for which i bought the book was only like 13 pages long:(We can remember it for you wholesale was the story on which the movie TOTAL RECALL was based on.

3-0 out of 5 stars Early work shows promise
The forward said that this collection of short stories was PKD's early work and it shows.I had problems with some of his endings but found the majority of the stories enjoyable.I should also mention that not all of the stories are really science fiction.I am, however, looking forward to reading some of the later works by (...) to see the development of the author. ... Read more

14. Time Out of Joint
by Philip K. Dick
Paperback: 256 Pages (2002-05-14)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$8.41
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Asin: 037571927X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Time Out of Joint is Philip K. Dick’s classic depiction of the disorienting disparity between the world as we think it is and the world as it actually is. The year is 1998, although Ragle Gumm doesn’t know that. He thinks it’s 1959. He also thinks that he served in World War II, that he lives in a quiet little community, and that he really is the world’s long-standing champion of newspaper puzzle contests. It is only after a series of troubling hallucinations that he begins to suspect otherwise. And once he pursues his suspicions, he begins to see how he is the center of a universe gone terribly awry. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (43)

5-0 out of 5 stars Aweseomest book ever
After reading this book, I was very paranoid about my surroundings. Are we all living in a dream. Initially, when I began reading the book, I felt as though the characters' paranoia was uncalled for and went as fart as calling them irrational, then as the storyline progressed, I realized that the reasons for why they were so afraid were valid. I recommend it to anyone who wants to dig deeper into 50's paranoia. I had to read this book for a lecture on 1950's television production and it's context with society.

4-0 out of 5 stars 4 and 1/2 Stars -- Essential Early Dick
Often called Philip K. Dick's breakthrough novel, Time Out of Joint is one of his best early works, essential for fans and a good place to start. Though not his most ambitious or meaningful opus, it is supremely entertaining and thought-provoking, tackling many themes later handled more complexly.

Time is greatly engrossing even on a very simple level. It draws us in quickly and does not let go until the very end; we truly never know what comes next and read feverishly to find out. It is virtually impossible to discuss the plot without giving away something essential, as many reviewers and even the description on the back of the book unfortunately have. Suffice it to say that there is a wealth of suspense and surprises and that anyone who knows nothing about the book is in for a true thrill. It is highly regrettable that other books - and especially films - have so often imitated and simply plagiarized Time, probably making it impossible to experience initial readers' shock. We can only envy them.

Of course, as nearly always with Dick, this is in many ways a vehicle for deeply philosophical themes. His signature question - "What is reality?" - is here in its then fullest expression, and it still stands as one of his most intriguing and thought-provoking explorations. Mental illness, another classic theme, also has a large presence, and Dick's signature dark humor is here in abundance. However, Time is in many ways unusual mostly in that it has virtually no science fiction content. It is quite far in before anything really out of the ordinary happens, and true SF elements do not come until the last few chapters. Initial readers must have been quite confused. We can easily think Dick wrote a mainstream novel and tacked SF elements on in order to fit a genre into which he had begun to make inroads, which is very likely true. He was one of the few major SF writers who wrote mainstream novels, though only one was published in his lifetime, and becoming a mainstream writer was his goal. Their recent publication demands nothing less than a full canon reevaluation; the mainstream books have always been seen as an SF writer stripping away SF trappings, but a close look at them and Time almost suggests the opposite. Seeing Time as a period piece is thus very legitimate - and extremely interesting. Published in 1959, the twilight of the Eisenhower years that have been widely idealized, Time is a fascinating glimpse into what it was like to live in this important era. We learn about everything from speech to pop culture to gender roles, and it soon becomes clear that the time was not so ideal. Cold War paranoia, female oppression, economic woes, and general ennui made life anything but pristine for the perceptive. One was of course not supposed to point such things out, and the subterfuge by which Dick manages to do so - even sneaking in significant political critique - is brilliant. It also cannot be discussed without giving too much away, but let it be known that he pulls off the seemingly impossible deftly and smoothly. Indeed, unlike virtually everything else he wrote, the ending actually ties everything together.

All told, Time epitomizes the best of early Dick and points to later work more than anything previous had done. It is important to know that this is not his most significant writing, and anyone who likes it should certainly read more, but this is essential for anyone alive to any aspect of his genius.

4-0 out of 5 stars The World Beneath the World
Anyone who lived next door to Philip K. Dick in 1958 might have regarded him with a sense of mild suspicion.He hung around the house most of the day, probably, or he'd go to the library for long periods.He'd spend a lot of time reading books and making notes, and otherwise doing little or nothing that seemed like any kind of paid employment.Then for a week or ten days he'd type nonstop for hours, drop a big package at the post office and gradually sink back into apparent non-activity.You'd have to wonder what he did for food money.

At least, that's what PKD must have looked like on the outside.On the inside - that's another story.In fact, it's Time Out of Joint.(Like how I came full circle on that one?It's a cheap copy of something PKD did all the time.)

Now, before I go any further, I must apologize for rehashing that tired old assertion that any novel is to be read as a thinly-disguised autobiography of the writer who produced it.Interpretations of that kind leave no room for the imagination, ours or the author's, and we've had quite enough of that, thank you very much.PKD of all people was far too original in his thinking to rely on such hackery.Unfortunately, Time Out of Joint reads uncomfortably like thinly-disguised autobiography - it's about a man named Ragle Gumm, a figure of some suspicion, who spends his tense days at home reading books, making notes and sending mysterious packages through the mail.Sorry, kids, thinly-disguised autobiography it is.(Well, maybe a little thicker than that, but you get the idea.)

What's more, like PKD, Ragle Gumm has a sneaking suspicion that all is not well, that there's a hidden world of paranoia and violence behind the tranquility of his surroundings.And like PKD, his suspicions shortly prove to be accurate.

He lives somewhere in small-town Eisenhower America, and those packages he mails every day consist of his solutions to a newspaper contest called "Where Will The Little Green Man Be Next?"The thing is a joke, consisting of a grid of 1,028 squares and a small group of utterly useless "clues", and you're supposed to guess the correct square.Lo and behold, by spending some eight hours a day examining, researching and postulating, Ragle Gumm wins the dratted thing every single time.And naturally, every time he wins, the pressure on him increases to win again the next day.

So far, despite its original publication under an SF imprint, this is about as science fictional as "Wheel of Fortune".Granted, at one point Ragle Gumm has a vision in which a soft-drink stand dissolves out of sight, to be replaced with a slip of paper labeled "soft-drink stand".Well, that could be a mere hallucination, a sign of incipient psychosis.Then he picks up the piece of paper and puts it in a box he keeps filled with other such slips of paper, and you realize that something really is rotten in the state of Denmark.

In other words, we're in PKD Land, where nothing is what it seems to be and reality changes shape while you wait.This is plain enough when the author shows you a town where buildings turn to slips of paper and no one knows who Marilyn Monroe is.The true greatness of Time Out of Joint, however, lies in the fact that PKD somehow managed to convey, even before the façade cracks open, the tension of living in a lying world.This author wasn't really a great stylist, but only a great writer could use simple language to show the rotten underbelly of conformist postwar America just by describing how a man insists on crossing the street in the middle of the block because it's a "point of honor".

Speaking of points of honor, I will say no more about what's actually bothering Ragle Gumm.Of course, Time Out of Joint has been in circulation for going on fifty years, and the true nature of Ragle Gumm's world is no big mystery anymore, but on the chance that someone out there considers reading it and doesn't know what's up, let's keep it quiet, shall we?It would be nice if new readers learned Ragle Gumm's secrets along with Ragle himself.Suffice to say that those who declare this to be PKD's breakthrough work are quite right.After five years of publishing good but predictable pulp according to Ace Books' strict science fiction template and utterly failing to sell any of his mainstream work, here is where PKD scored his first major victory in combining his deep investigations of suburban ennui with his explosive SF imagination.

The style rides rough and unpolished at times, some of the characters behave in the most cardboard fashion, there's at least one major crevasse in the plot, and I'm telling you, you won't be able to put it down.PKD knew what people's lives were like and what they dreamed about; if he wasn't always comfortable to read, he was always, always compelling.

I will conclude with a few words about this book's title.It's a quotation from Hamlet, of course - Ragle and Vic use the phrase to express their sense that things around them aren't quite right.They don't consider the entire quotation, but you should, because it provides a nifty clue as to who Ragle Gumm really is:

"The time is out of joint.O cursed spite, / That ever I was born to set it right!"

Benshlomo says, Combining reality with imagination takes a real genius, or a real psycho, or maybe both.

4-0 out of 5 stars One of the first great Phil Dick novels
One of Philip Dick's more noted early novels is Time Out of Joint, from 1959. This was originally published in hardcover by Lippincott -- perhaps Dick's first appearance between boards.

The setting is what seems a first a slightly altered 1950s. The main character is Ragle Gumm, who makes his living solving a puzzle for a newspaper. Ragle lives with his sister and her husband. He carries on an somewhat unsatisfying affair with the rather immature wife of a not very pleasant neighbor. And he worries about his curious standing as the reigning puzzle-solving champion.

Slowly we realize that his world is somehow artificial. He (and his brother-in-law) uncover curious buried items, occasionally see strange things that seem to imply most everyone in the town in artificial, hear via crystal radio odd transmissions, and so on. One of the most symbolic findings is slips of paper with names of objects -- "the word is the thing", anyone? Most significant is when Ragle stumbles across newspapers and magazines from the future (1998 or so).

The general outline of what's going on with Ragle and his family should be relatively clear -- I'll leave the specific solution and the motivations for readers to discover. The basic idea is, then, familiar enough -- redolent of Daniel Galouye's slightly later novel Simulacron-3, just to name one. What makes the book stand out is for one thing the way Dick uses the 50s setting to comment, as if from the future, on the 1950s (and to do so with an aspect of nostalgia that almost makes the book seem as if written in 1998), also the portrayal of the characters, and finally a certain charged feeling of strangeness -- very much a central feature of much of Dick's work -- that gives the idea of inhabiting an artificial world -- "word as thing" or "signifier as object" if you will -- real psychological immediacy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Don't believe what you see...
It's difficult to talk a lot about what this book is about without giving important plot elements away.This was the first PKD book that I read and, while it is not as deep in meaning as some of his later works, I still think it's one of his best.Time Out of Joint takes place in a 1959 small town world where nothing is as it seems, and it should appeal to both the non-science fiction fan who wants a good suspenseful read, and to dedicated sci-fi readers. ... Read more

15. The Collected Stories Of Philip K. Dick Volume 4: The Minority Report (Citadel Twilight) (Volume 0)
by Philip K. Dick
Paperback: 396 Pages (1998-01-27)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$12.61
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0806512768
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Many thousands of readers consider Philip K. Dick the greatest science fiction mind on any planet. Since his untimely death in 1982, interest in Dick's works has continued to mount and his reputation has been further enhanced by a growing body of critical attention. The Philip K. Dick Award is now given annually to a distinguished work of science fiction, and the Philip K. Dick Society is devoted to the study and promulgation of his works.

This collection includes all of the writer's earliest short and medium-length fiction (including some previously unpublished stories) covering the years 1954-1964. These fascinating stories include Service Call, Stand By, The Days of Perky Pat, and many others.

"A useful acquisition for any serious SF library or collection" -- Kirkus

"The collected stories of Philip K. Dick is awe inspiring". -- The Washington Post

"More than anyone else in the field, Mr. Dick really puts you inside people's minds". -- Wall Street Journal ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars excellent, excellent, excellent!
It was easy for me to get quite excited by this short story set.These stories form the basic of three very fine sci-fi movies:Minority Report, Paycheck, and Total Recall.Being a big fan of all three, it was great to enjoy the original short stories too.There are also two other short stories in the set:Second Variety, and The Eyes Have It.

Second Variety is definitely another fun thriller.Somewhat predictable, but fun nonetheles.The Eyes Have it is mercifully short, because it is a real stinker.

As a whole though, this collection is a real gem, and a bargain as well.

4-0 out of 5 stars Futurist
His stories are amazing, especially considering when they were written.

Of course, my favorie is "Do androids dream of electric sheep" (Blade Runner), but these stories are also fantastic.

4-0 out of 5 stars excellent, mind-bending stories
I really enjoyed the material contained in this CD book.Philip K Dick was truly a very creative writer who made strange worlds of imagination that are hard to understand but truly wonderful.All of the stories with their little surprises and twists were fun, and the final story, which wasa comedy, ended the collection perfectly on a light note.The performance of the material wasn't the best, though.The performer's voice was okay but somewhat dry, and when he read the lines spoken by a female character it was horrible.However, it didn't take away from the fact that these stories are excellent.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Unabridged Audio Collection...
Keir Dullea does a great job narrating this collection of stories by Philip K Dick.Not only does it have five very good stories, FOUR of them are the basis of Dick movies.First off is "The Minority Report." The idea was the same as the movie, but the story was totally different.I definitely didn't see the end coming... it would have made an interesting movie.

Second was "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale," which became the movie "Total Recall."The story was pretty short, shorter than I would have liked, but it was good.The movie was similar, but a lot was changed.

Third was "Paycheck," later made into the movie with Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman.This was actually the most faithful adaptaton.A man wakes up with no memory, finds a bag of clues, and uses them to trace his way back to a secret project.Only the end was different, and of course the movie expanded and added characters, but I liked the story better.

Fourth was "Second Variety" made into the movie "Screamers" starring Peter Weller.Again, the two were much alike.A very good SF story set on a bleak planet where clone robots have wiped out much of civilization and have found a way to manufacture themselves.

The fifth and shortest is "The Eyes Have It," which is a brief, humorous piece where the main character takes the wording from a romance novel literally...

A strong collection and a good recommendation for anyone who wants to compare the stories and movies and wants to get almost all of them in one shot.If only it had contained the story for "Imposter."

3-0 out of 5 stars Miss O's review
Minority Report was a very interesting book. It kept me on the edge of my seat, and it threw many unexpected twists at me. John Anderton, a respectable chief of police,is accused of a murder that hasn't even happened yet, and he will stop at nothing to prove his innocence. Leopold Kaplin (Anderton's victim) will stop at nothing to see that Anderton is detained and that the pre-crime system is proven to be a failure. Anderton suspects his wife, Lisa, and his new "co-worker" Witwar are behind the strange accusation of his murder. This book is full of lies and deceit, and in the end Anderton doesn't know whom to trust. The three pre-cogs hold the secret to Anderton's fate...does Anderton really murder Kaplin??...Or does he get the information he needs just in time? Read Minority Report to find out! ... Read more

16. Galactic Pot-Healer
by Philip K. Dick
Paperback: 192 Pages (1994-05-31)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$6.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679752978
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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What could an omnipresent and seemingly omnipotent entity want with a humble pot-healer? Or with the dozens of other odd creatures it has lured to Plowman's Planet? And if the Glimmung is a god, are its ends positive or malign? Combining quixotic adventure, spine-chilling horror, and deliriously paranoid theology, Galactic Pot-Healer is a uniquely Dickian voyage to alternate worlds of the imagination. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (21)

4-0 out of 5 stars PKD OMG LOL!
My first impression of this book was from a review I read about this book (maybe on Goodreads) that said that Dick did not think much of this work of his.... Yeah, not the most inspiring thing, yet I had such a blast with "Martian Time-Slip" on Audio Cassette, that when I saw this had the same guy reading it, I felt I had to have it.

Actually my first impression would have been just reading the title "Galactic Pot-Healer"--- Well, Hell Yeah!
Well it turns out it is not what it sounds like,.... :)

Ok so on one level I would admit that this is not among Dick's greatest works, but on another level I think "God, what an imagination this man had, and I love all the weird places it takes me!" I love all the weird aliens (and robot "Willis") that Dick introduces us to, and of course the wonderful blend of Science-Fiction and Theology (for want of a better word,[ or maybe Philosophy:]) that is so characteristic of PKD.
"What's not to love?" I kept asking myself as I listened to this strange idiosyncratic tale, and I found most of the time, I was loving it.

What's it all about? Hahahahaha, You figure it out

4-0 out of 5 stars A lost soul in search of redemption, beset by uncertainty
In this story of the far future, sci-fi master Philip K. Dick introduces Joe Fernwright, a man who makes his living by healing broken pottery - until his business dries up on him.Stuck in a world that has no more use for him, Joe passes his time playing silly word games until called by a mysterious entity named Glimmung to undergo a life-changing experience.Glimmung wants him to go to a place called "Plowman's Planet" to help him in an overwhelming undertaking: raising a vast cathedral and all its contents from the depths of the sea.Despite the alien Kalends' prediction of failure (or perhaps because of it) he agrees, at least for the moment.

This is a pretty confusing story, even for Dick, with so many wild ideas, plain absurdities, thinly veiled symbols, and supposedly infallible predictions pointing in different directions that the reader's expectations are continually being toyed with.Are the Kalends really infallible?Exactly what kind of failure are the Kalends claiming will happen?How much free will do the various participants really have?Does Glimmung even care if he succeeds or not?Despite the theoretical and borderline theosophical bent of these questions, the protagonist's dilemma is always defined in very specific terms: yes or no, stay or go, help or hinder.Clearly Dick wanted to write a novel about the nature of religious belief and modern man's relationship to it, but his own personal uncertainties made it impossible to provide the kind of real conclusions that he hoped for.So instead he portrays his protagonist as a lost soul in search of redemption but continually beset by a lack of certainty.Will he throw his life away in meaningless gesture?Or will his defiance bring down the very god that has chosen him?Don't expect any easy answers from Dick.

Despite all the craziness, at well under 200 pages of easy reading, this reviewer breezed through the book in nothing flat.An entertaining read even if it doesn't make as much sense as you'd like it to, but probably not one of Dick's best novels.

1-0 out of 5 stars The worst of PK Dick
I've read more than a dozen of Dick's novels and this one is by far the worst I've encountered. As in too many Dick novels, the main character is an idealized (but still highly annoying) projection of Dick's own personality. The main female character is as empty as any adolescent male fantasy. The writing is horrible, full of awkward and improbable turns of phrase - usually made while Dick was attempting to show off his rather blue-haired erudition. The plot is a lame attempt to grapple with a juvenile theological question. The narration in general is full of contradictions and abrupt shifts of tone and character presentation. And the flaws just keep on coming.

In short, Galactic Pot Healer is a compendium of the worst aspects of Dick's writing, storytelling and ideology. Strangely, the one that followed it, Ubik, was one of his best. Dick was unpredictable in that way.

1-0 out of 5 stars A book for PKD fans only
A bizarre collection of loosely thrown events, not-developed characters, somewhat thin dialog, pot healing aspect that isn't obvious or in significant role in the story, presents Douglas Adams style hilarious robot who expresses feelings that are sarcastically deeper than the main character's girlfriend. What is this?

The story is about group of entities all over the galaxy who are forced to gather to a distant planet to raise a sunken theological relict. The entity behind the effort to collect its workforce is 40-ton Glimmung who has god-like, almost infinite powers. But it also has a counter force called "black Glimmung" whom it must fight like the Ancient Greek mythology titans did.

I guess, the thrown in ideas could theoretically be projected into larger context if pressed hard, but that would be a gross exaggeration. It is not feasible to identify, or project, oneself to a 40-ton entity which takes place of god. The entity does not have meaning for his existence, no goal, no grand plan, nothing to gain from the underwater adventure other than something about carrying "his other self" (cathedral) from the bottom of the ocean to the shore. The lead character, narrator, is an empty pot, shivering in the wind. He just happens to be a piece of a broken amphora; representation of the theme.

One (1) star. "Underrated Classic, unique ..." say other reviewers. Probably so for PKD fans. For others, you have to tune your mind to another channel. And I think that's what PKD wanted: not to take this story seriously. Enjoy the imagination.

4-0 out of 5 stars My favourite author, but I'll try not to gush too much
What's extraordinary about Philip K Dick is that while he often has his characters (even a robot in this book) discuss theological ideas and quote poetry, he is rarely accused of being pretentious. It never feels like he does it to make his own ideas or characters seem deeper than they are, maybe because every page is filled with ideas that could only come from Philip K Dick. This also explains why he can write such plainspoken prose that's still unmistakably him. First his ideas are plausible yet inventive and ahead of their time. I saw an ad the other day for a phone number you can SMS words to and get a reply with a dictionary definition of the word that you SMSed. This is reminiscent of the dictionary and encyclopedia hotlines in Galactic Pot-Healer. But the spin PKD puts on this simple, plausible idea is more ingenious than the idea itself. In the book the technology is supposedly expensive, so the government has put a quota on how many times you can call the encyclopedia robot per day; in other words, a technology that should have made information easier to get at has restricted it. Think of the internet restrictions in China for a real world illustration of this irony. But don't think too long, because PKD has a million more ideas to throw at you, which also makes this novel fast paced with the perfect balance between depth and a sense of fun. The only thing that prevented me from awarding five stars was a weird digression about the lead having believed that robots were impossible after he talked with robots on the phone in the beginning. Also the ending... While not as gloomy as I expected from other reviews and the buildup in the novel itself, it's unusual to come across a down ending that seems tacked on, but this one did. ... Read more

17. Ubik
by Philip K. Dick
Paperback: 224 Pages (1991-12-03)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$6.51
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679736646
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Filled with paranoiac menace and unfettered slapstick, UBIK is a searing metaphysical comedy of death and salvation--salvation which comes in a convenient aerosol spray, to be used only as directed!Amazon.com Review
Nobody but Philip K. Dick could so successfully combine SF comedy with the unease of reality gone wrong, shifting underfoot like quicksand. Besides grisly ideas like funeral parlors where you swap gossip for the advice of the frozen dead, Ubik (1969) offers such deadpan farce as a moneyless character's attack on the robot apartment door that demands a five-cent toll:

"I'll sue you," the door said as the first screw fell out.

Joe Chip said, "I've never been sued by a door. But I guess I can live through it."

Chip works for Glen Runciter's anti-psi security agency, which hires out its talents to block telepathic snooping and paranormal dirty tricks. When its special team tackles a big job on the Moon, something goes terribly wrong. Runciter is killed, it seems--but messages from him now appear on toilet walls, traffic tickets, or product labels. Meanwhile, fragments of reality are timeslipping into past versions: Joe Chip's beloved stereo system reverts to a hand-cranked 78 player with bamboo needles. Why does Runciter's face appear on U.S. coins? Why the repeated ads for a hard-to-find universal panacea called Ubik ("safe when taken as directed")?

The true, chilling state of affairs slowly becomes clear, though the villain isn't who Joe Chip thinks. And this is Dick country, where final truths are never quite final and--with the help of Ubik--the reality/illusion balance can still be tilted the other way. --David Langford, Amazon.co.uk ... Read more

Customer Reviews (108)

5-0 out of 5 stars Ubik
I've always been deeply in love with Philip Dick's paranoid worlds. I love his books, I love his short stories, I even love things like Our Friends From Frolix 8. There is something raw and razor-sharp, almost clinical in Dick's writing, something that transcends style, ideas and story. You can always tell that a part of him - and it might very well be a dominant part - not only believes in what he writes, but lives it.

I haven't read all of Dick's books. I haven't even read half of them. Still I've read most of those whose names everyone knows, and I have read enough to think that even a genius of his magnitude would be hard pressed to write anything quite as good as Ubik twice. If I had to point at a single one of Philip Dick's works as his magnum opus, that would undoubtedly be it.

As Michael Marshall Smith aptly puts it in the forward of my edition of the book, there is a mind-boggling number of SF ideas in Ubik: time-travel; psychic abilities and their corresponding anti-abilities; the dead being kept in a state of "half-life" where they could be reached by the living; alternate realities and reality revision; futuristic space-faring society; dystopian economic system. Many authors would spin a book around any ONE of those, but for Philip Dick it's always what's underneath the flesh that matters, so he casually presents them ALL in the first ten pages of his novel.

In Ubik's world technology has advanced to the state where colonization of the Moon and other worlds is possible. Psychic phenomena are common and many people employ psychics in their business ventures or shadier dealings. And since no law could control such powers, the so called "prudence organizations" have appeared. Those who work in them have the ability to negate one psychic power like telepathy or precognition. Meanwhile, people could be put in "cold-pac" after death - a half-life existence that slowly diminishes until the person dies again, this time - forever.

The main character, Joe Chip, is a technician for Glen Runciter's prudence organization. When a client hires twelve agents to negate telepathic spies in his lunar facilities, Runciter and Chip travel with them to the Moon. The assignment turns out to be a trap, possibly set by the company's nemesis Ray Hollis (who leads an organization of psychics), and Glen Runciter is killed in the ensuing explosion. The party quickly returns to Earth to put him in cold-pac.

But afterwords the twelve agents and Joe Chip begin to experience strange reality shifts. Food and drink deteriorate prematurely, and the world seems to regress into the past. What's more disturbing, they all receive messages from Glen Runciter, implying that it is actually he who is alive, and they who are in cold-pac. And above all is the ever-present Ubik, appearing in commercials on TV and radio. Nobody knows what it is, but it is everywhere. And it is important.

Then the deaths begin...

Ubik is a deeply unsettling book. The characters' hold on reality is at best loose, and the uncertainty they feel as to the nature of their very existence seeps into the reader's own mind, turning the novel into almost a horror story. When the action and the race (quite literally) against time begin, you are almost grateful for the opportunity to evade the disturbing questions concerning what's real, what's not, and which one is more dangerous. Dick's misleadingly simple language and the traditionally schematic relationships between his characters, only seem to accentuate the unnatural events he is painting.

Philip Dick is a master of multiple realities that intertwine and overlapp until the mind's ability to grasp it all simply fails, and madness begins. As Paul Di Filippo says in a review of the book, "No reality is priveliged". Nowhere is Dick's ability to test the limits of perception and self more strikingly demonstrated than in Ubik. And even if you take nothing from the book, but the amazing mystery and suspense filled story, it would still have been one of the most satisfying reading experiences you've ever had.



5-0 out of 5 stars One of PKD's best
To be read by anyone who has questioned there own reality and seen it as being unreal as a dream. Death scenes in the book bring reminders of the Tibetan Bardo Teachings. Recommended Reading for all!!

4-0 out of 5 stars Best place to introduce yourself to Philip K. Dick
'Ubik' is one of the best places to introduce yourself to Philip K. Dick. The story contains a number of his trademarks, but it is also one of his more straightforward books and contains a number of elements that would be familiar to many sci-fi fans.

The story itself is multi-faceted. The set-up involves Glen Runciter and his organisation of "anti-talents", who are a sort of futuristic industrial counter-espionage. When a large-scale operation to the Moon goes badly wrong, Runciter is killed and his employees find reality beginning to disintegrate; time going backwards, Runctiner contacting them from beyond the grave, and themselves frighteningly wasting away. The bulk of the book deals with the efforts of the characters to figure out the cause of this degradation and how it can be stopped.

The book contains plenty of standard Philip K. Dick elements. Protagonist Joe Chip is the standard down-on-his-luck "everyman" hero, with Pat being the cooly mysterious female lead. The dynamic between Joe and Pat is fascinating, with her highly original anti-talent possibly being connected to the bizzare circumstances in which they find themselves. Likewise, the idea of a warped or illusional reality is a standard feature among many of Dick's books, and is utilised well here. In addition, I particularly enjoyed the concept of "anti-talent", whichhighlights Dick's influence on the Cyberpunk genre. In his world, telepathy and precognition are not always used for good, and Dick has some interesting ideas about how they may be employed in an offensive manner against rival organisations.

The story fits together well; all of the pieces seem to be nicely in place by the end, only to have the final chapter throw in a disquietening twist that leaves the ending open. This is reinforced by the ominous introduction to the final chapter, which is complete change from the cheesy advertisement parodies than introduce the earlier chapters ("Eat Ubik toasted flakes"/"Get soft and supple hair with Ubik conditioner"/"Borrow from Ubik Savings and Loan"!). A clever and well-executed touch.

One issue I have with this book (and several other of Dick's books) is what might diplomatically be called his "matter-of-fact" writing. His quite dry style makes it difficult to get emotionally involved with the circumstances or the characters. The characters themselves (apart from Joe, Pat and Glen) are somewhat poorly sketched, and often abruptly die or disappear "off camera". Also, his predictions for 1992 were way off. Keep in mind the book was published in 1969, so it wasn't as if he was looking a hundred years hence; even allowing for the fact that this might be a deliberately "ironic" or alternate-reality approach, his predictions of hovercars and lunar colonies seem very dated in retrospect.

It is a pity that Dick couldn't bring out a little more emotion in the book, and really give a detailed insight into what the characters go through in such a bizzare situation. This means that 'Ubik' succeeds brilliantly as an intellectual puzzle but falls a little short as a novel. But if you can forgive that, 'Ubik' is a clever and thought-provoking science fiction book, and is the best place to introduce yourself to the original but disturbing world of Philip K. Dick.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Joe Chip Is A Grunk"
"The worlds through which Philip Dick's characters move are subject to cancellation or revision without notice," sci-fi great Roger Zelazny once wrote, and it strikes me that Dick's "Ubik" is a perfect example of that statement. The author's 25th science fiction novel since 1955 (!), "Ubik" was originally released as a Doubleday hardcover, with a cover price of $4.50, in May 1969. It finds Dick giving his favorite theme--the mutability of reality--a thorough workout in a wonderfully well-written, at times humorous, increasingly bizarre story. Indeed, the book may be Dick's "spaciest" outing since 1964's "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch," and had me wishing that I had originally read it back in my college days, while under the influence of some, uh, psychotropic substance!

In the book, the reader makes the acquaintance of the various members of Runciter Associates, run by Glen Runciter and his half-dead wife, who is able to give business advice although in cryogenic "cold pac" in a Swiss "moratorium." Runciter Associates is comprised of special individuals who almost come off like very unusual members of the X-Men, except that these individuals, rather than commanding superpowers, possess what must be called antipowers; that is, they can cancel out the fields put forth by telepaths, clairvoyants, telekineticists and so on. During a promisingly lucrative business venture on the moon, Runciter, his assistant Joe Chip, and 11 of the various antitalents are ambushed in an explosion, orchestrated by Glen's enemies. Runciter himself is gravely injured and put into cold-pac storage, while the other team members scramble to find out how this attack transpired. But wait...why does reality itself seem to be changing? And why are various objects reverting to earlier forms, such as a modern (1992) stereo in Joe's apartment suddenly morphing into a Victrola? And how is it that everyone suddenly seems to be living in the year 1939, while one by one the team members crumble to dust? And just what is up with Ubik, a miraculous spray can that seems to be their only ticket to salvation? Dick certainly had his imagination working on overtime when he plotted out this one, that's for sure, and the wonder of it all is that, ultimately, the story DOES hang together coherently and ingeniously. It is a bravura piece of work, and one that "Time" magazine chose for inclusion in its "Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century" article. No argument from me!

"Ubik" really is a consistent pleasure to read. The aforementioned humor pops up in many guises, from throwaway remarks (such as a reference to a Supreme Court ruling to the effect that a man can murder his wife if he can prove that she would never grant him a divorce; the five-times-married Dick giving vent to some pleasant daydreaming, perhaps?) to hilarious turns of phrase (a man is said to be wearing a dress "the color of a baboon's ass") and to the truly outlandish outfits that all the characters wear (the moratorium owner sports a "tweed toga, loafers, crimson sash and a purple airplane-propeller beanie"). As in so many of Dick's other novels, amphetamine and LSD use are spotlighted, and the author's empathy for the plight of his characters is strongly pronounced. Dick also gets to show off his knowledge of 1930s minutiae in this tale, whether from in-depth research or by dint of having been an 11-year-old himself in 1939 America. His details are not ALWAYS spot on, however; a 1939 issue of "Liberty" magazine is said to contain a famous story entitled "Lightning in the Night," although that story actually appeared in the August 1940 issue; the Ford tri-motor plane is said to have come into existence in 1928, whereas 1925 would be closer to the mark. Still, these are the merest quibbles. "Ubik" is basically an extraordinarily clever, mind-blowing entertainment. It may cause some to furrow their brow in bewilderment--"very confusing," Joe Chip thinks to himself at one point--but I can't imagine anyone not being bowled over by this amazing piece of work. It is, quite simply, Philip K. Dick at his best, and modern-day science fiction doesn't get too much better than that.

3-0 out of 5 stars For the choir
The author of the novel that inspired Blade Runner has got to be a genius, and Ubik cannot be representative. If you are new to Philip K. Dick, as I was, don't begin with this book.

There is only so much that can be said, if one is to avoid spoilers. But Ubik has two plots: one about telepaths and their opponents, telepathy-blockers, a number of them working for the agency run by the novel's main protagonist, and another about cold-pack, meaning not-quite-dead people in suspended animation, still dreaming and communicating with the outside world. The first plot is pursued for about one third of the novel, then to all intents and purposes abandoned as the second one kicks in. Ubik is clunky and awkward, with hasty portrayal and often corny dialogue, perhaps reflecting the lack of direction. It is too full of red herrings and loose ends, in particular concerning Pat, the girl on the cover of this edition. I won't give up on Philip K. Dick. But this novel seems to me for established fans. ... Read more

18. The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick: Selected Literary and Philosophical Writings
by Philip K. Dick
Paperback: 384 Pages (1996-01-30)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$6.41
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679747877
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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In a collection of philosophical essays, journal excerpts, speeches, and interviews, the pioneering science fiction writer discusses the union of physics and metaphysics, the impact of virtual reality, and the challenges of basic human values in an age of technology and spiritual decline.Amazon.com Review
A collection of largely unpublished or out-of-print essays,journals, speeches, and interviews on issues from the merging ofphysics and metaphysics to the potential influences and consequencesof virtual reality by the Hugo Award-winning author of The Man in the High Castle.Non-fiction. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars See Into the Mind of PKD
For any PKD fan or anyone interested in the art of SF or any other genre of writing, for that matter, this book should be on every college text list.

Personally as a fan of the writer since childhood, it has only been lately that my interest in the man has increased. What can we lable this writer: sage, druggy, political activist, mystic, expert on esoteric texts - the list simply goes on and on...

These selected "literary and philosophical writings" covers just about everything about SF writing and the pure intent of a writer to, well, simply write. This man, relationship-wise, money-wise and mystic-wise has seen the depths and the heights. Imagine being threatened to have your electricity turned off, (most of us have) kicked out of your apartment, waiting for at least one royalty check to come in...and when it does, the total amount is $4.60.

Here is a writer that sacrificed a lot in order to practice his craft.

One of the most if not the most prolific writers of his time - and what a mind.

If you love PKD or interested in SF or the art of writing in general, read this book.

The revelations, for me at any rate, directly from this text continue and continue and...

Read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not just for PK Dick fans
This book is a gathering of eclectic, mostly non-fictional, writings by one of my favourite authors -Philip K. Dick.I have given it a five star rating in spite of the fact that the material is of uneven quality.Dick can't talk to us anymore since he died in 1982, and so it is wonderful and special to come across these writings.From a literary point of view they are invaluable as spotlights on the mind of the author of such brilliant, disturbing and important works such as The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Ubik, The Man In the High Castle, Faith of Our Fathers, etc.But these works also stand on their own for their intelligent, creative and transcendent analysis of what it is to be human.If you have any interest in Gnosticism, you are in for a treat, since Dick is a kind of Gnostic warrior, and offers up many fascinating, and at times, profoundly uplifting Gnostic thoughts and speculations.There is much more -biographical material, thoughts on SF as a genre, comments on other SF works and writers, political commentary, musical musings, two excellent completed chapters from an abandoned sequel to The Man In the High Castle, and even a brilliant pitch for a never-made television sit-com about angels visiting earth on commission to help clients out of tight jams.Some of this material is frightening, since Dick is constantly challenging the very concept of reality.As with all of Dick's writing -fiction and non-fiction -there is a mind expanding effect.Your universe is never the same after reading him -it will be enlarged or even multiplied, as well as being rendered a lot stranger.All P.K. Dick fans should have this book, but anyone wanting to learn more about the views of one of the brightest, most intriguing minds of the past century will find it an invaluable and entertaining book to read.Lawrence Sutin has done us all a wonderful service by making these pieces available, some of them for the first time.These are peculiar and magical writings from a 20th Century savant.Read it.It could change your life.

5-0 out of 5 stars (Not So)Altered States
Being interested in speculative reality and philosophy, this was a must read. I was not disappointed.
Philip K Dick writes, "All responsible writers, to some degree, have become involuntary criers of doom, because doom is in the wind...and the doom stories are intended to call attention to reality."
This is made all the more relevant by the fact that the human folly that gave way to encroaching doom(war) ~ as the interviews and essays complied for this book run anywhere from twenty five to fifty five years ago ~ is far more manifest and pervasive in our own perceived time. That much closer.

Part five: Essays and Speeches, deals with schizophrenia, LSD and Gnosticism. He delves into the Jungian concept of synchronicity regarding his own life, and the inexplicable coincidences in his novel, "Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said"...(also see the movie, "Waking Life")..of "fiction mimicking truth, and truth mimicking fiction."
What he refers to as "a dangerous overlap, a dangerous blur." Take a look with *open* eyes at the society we've created and you realize that the "dangerous blur" is scarcely acknowledged it is so routine, so deeply solidified. 'Entertainment'(of the mindless sort) has proven to be the ultimate vehicle for Big Brother totalitarianism, so to speak.

The final section, Exegesis, at times feels like listening in on a discussion, a contemplation, within his own conscience, on the matter of God/Cosmos: "Creator: time past. Holy Spirit: time is. Christ: time completed."
Overall, a fascinating and unique read.

5-0 out of 5 stars A modern Gnostic master.
While I've read this entire book cover-to-cover, I have probably read the last half (Part Five: Essays and Speeches, and Part Six: Selections from the Exegesis) at least four times. That's where the real philosophy is. Or perhaps I should say the real mysticism. Actually, P.D.K.'s thought was a combination of philosophy and mysticism, not unlike the works of Pythagoras or Plato. Indeed, I would not hesitate to place him in such exalted company.

Dick's Gnosticism is the Gnostisism of true revelation, of epiphany and theogony (of union with the divine.) Yes, some people arrogantly write this off as the rantings of a "schizophenic", but then they would no doubt apply that same meaningless, garbage diagnosis to every great mystic teacher or shaman.

Here you get the revelations of his novel ,_Valis_, developed and fleshed out in a much more satisfying manner. Indeed, unless you are fortunate enough to track down a copy of his mythical _Exegesis_ this is the best expression of his thought that you will find.

One last note, as much as I agree with the gnostic idea of a transcedent God (or Logos, or Tao) breaking through into our material "Black Iron Prison", I do have a problem with his concept of a Yaldaboath (i.e. deranged, lesser, creator god.) You see, human materialistic, hyper-rational, civilization functions as such a lesser "god." Have we not made money, science, and ego into idols that are worshipped in their own right to the exclusion of the the true transcendant God? You simply do not need to posit the existance of such a supernatural demiurge, devil, or "Moloch" (as Ginsberg called it.) Human ignorance and evil are quite up to the role.


4-0 out of 5 stars More of the extraordinary - but then I am a fan
PKD is my number-one writer, both for style, but more particularly for ideas.There is so much in this book that shows the man was a thinker, an explorer of ideas not just for the novels and short stories he could generate from them.With PKD, ideas developed a unique philosophy which is why his fiction is founded on such a firm basis.Even when his ideas change and we can see the change (for example 'The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch' and 'A Scanner Darkly') there is no contradiction involved, just a clear evolution.For PKD fans who haven't yet read his non-SF novels I encourage you to do so - I would be surprised if you were disappointed.

PKD has also left a great legacy of pithy quotes - such as 'reality is what is left behind when you stop believing in something'.My favourite, however, he wrote in a forward to one of the anthologies of short stories.He said that science fiction is not about 'what if ......' it's about 'My God! what if .....'.

There is a lot of this in his philosophy too. ... Read more

19. Philip K. Dick: Five Novels of the 1960s & 70s
by Philip K. Dick
Hardcover: 1000 Pages (2008-07-31)
list price: US$40.00 -- used & new: US$23.00
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Asin: 1598530259
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Jonathan Lethem, editor

"The most outré science fiction writer of the 20th century has finally entered the canon," exclaimed Wired Magazine upon The Library of America's May 2007 publication of Philip K. Dick: Four Novels of the 1960s, edited by Jonathan Lethem. Now comes a companion volume collecting five novels that offer a breathtaking overview of the range of this science-fiction master.

Philip K. Dick (1928-82) was a writer of incandescent imagination who made and unmade world-systems with ferocious rapidity and unbridled speculative daring. "The floor joists of the universe," he once wrote, "are visible in my novels." Martian Time-Slip (1964) unfolds on a parched and thinly colonized Red Planet where schizophrenia is a contagion and the unscrupulous seek to profit from a troubled child's time-fracturing visions. Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb (1965) chronicles the deeply-interwoven stories of a multi-racial community of survivors, including the scientist who may have been responsible for World War III. Famous, among other reasons, for a therapy session involving a talking taxicab, Now Wait for Last Year (1966) explores the effects of JJ-180, a hallucinogen that alters not only perception, but reality.In Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974), a television star seeks to unravel a mystery that has left him stripped of his identity. A Scanner Darkly (1977), the basis for the 2006 film, envisions a drug-addled world in which a narcotics officer's tenuous hold on sanity is strained by his new surveillance assignment: himself. Mixing metaphysics and madness, phantasmagoric visions of a post-nuclear world and invading extraterrestrial authoritarians, and all-too-real evocations of the drugged-out America of the 70s, Dick's work remains exhilarating and unsettling in equal measure. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Philip K Dick book
The book was for my 24 yr old son for his birthday. He really likes the author. The book was in excellent condition and shipped very quickly. I was impressed. I ordered less than two weeks before his birthday and still got the book in time.

3-0 out of 5 stars A nice package
Sure,major PKD fans should give this tome a four or five star rating.Included is one of my favorite novels "Dr Bloodmoney, or how we got along after the bomb," which admittedly used hokey magic."Flow My Tears" was also interesting, although the drugged time shifts have been done before."A Scanner Darkly" was something I could not finish with the obscenely talking main character and drug driven lifestyle.And, I have been in the army and heard all the words, but I did not consider the dialogue to be at all artistic.Yes, I know, gentle reader, that I am wrong. However, "Dr. Bloodmoney" and biographical chronology appended are worth the price of admission. The lifestyle and mental status of the writer, as given in this book, go a long way toward defining the meaning, if there is any, of Philip K Dick. The Library of America should be commended for this information and the publication of the, so far, two volume set.Readers of PKD will also enjoy the four volume "The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick" published by Citadel Press.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Awesome Collection For A Great Price!!!
Where else can you get 5 of PKD's very best novels for 25 bucks.This book is about 7 dollars more on Barnes & Noble so it was an easy decision for me.The one problem with this book is the pages are VERY thin...it's easy to turn several at a time on accident.This is asmall issue though when you consider the quality of the collection.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Great Gift for Philip K. Dick fans
I gave this book to my son as a Christmas present, and he loved it. It has some of Dick's best stories in it, though not all of them are equally well-known. While my son liked the book a lot, it was missing one story he particularly wanted--which I had to purchase separately from a used book site. I am giving the book four stars instead of five not because of the writing--which of course is always catnip to PKD's fans--but because of the inherent risk of giving an anthology: it may be missing the one story the recipient would like to have seen, or may contain too many with which he or she is already familiar.

5-0 out of 5 stars Philip K. Dick's LOA collections continue
Continuing their collection of Philip K. Dick books, the Library of America has released a new volume with five of his novels from the 1960s and 70s. The stories reprinted are: /Martian Time-Slip/ (1964), /Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb/ (1965), /Now Wait for Last Year/ (1966), /Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said/ (1974) and /A Scanner Darkly/ (1977) (the basis for the 2006 movie starring Keanu Reeves). Of the selections, /Flow My Tears/ is probably the strongest, telling the story of a television star who loses his identity; no one recognizes him, no one remembers his music or his TV shows. The ending feels forced, but many of Dick's books had uneven endings while the substance of the story was well ahead of its time. While none of these books are his best or best known, they all provide a reasonable look into the mind of one of the best science fiction writers of that time period. The collection is well put together and very reasonably priced ($8 per book). ... Read more

20. A Maze of Death
by Philip K. Dick
Paperback: 208 Pages (1994-05-31)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$6.68
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Asin: 0679752986
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Fourteen strangers came to Delmak-O. Thirteen of them were transferred by the usual authorities. One got there by praying. But once they arrived on that planet whose very atmosphere seemed to induce paranoia and psychosis, the newcomers found that even prayer was useless. For on Delmak-O, God is either absent or intent on destroying His creations. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (34)

5-0 out of 5 stars Rumors of a sequel were unfortunately completely unfounded
This probably has to be the easiest novel about everyone being doomed I've ever read.

It occurs to me, reading Dick's novels sporadically over the past few years, that the man wasn't so much out of his mind (well, maybe in his last years, but his last novel is surprisingly coherent and touching considering it was written by a man who was "nuts") as constantly aware of the questions we sometimes ask about existence.Questions such as "what is life?", "what is death?", "what is the nature of God and reality and how do they relate?" . . . most of the time if we consider these things it's only for a second because the potential answers are so harrowing that nobody really wants to deal with them.Dick looked those questions straight in the face and didn't flinch, for better or for worse, because sometimes when you ask the hard questions, you may find that the answers aren't very pleasant.

"Maze of Death" feels like the extrapolation of one of those questions, a gently brutal way of leading you to the conclusion that the Universe is very much not on your side and if God does exist the best you can hope for is that he just doesn't care, because otherwise it means he really dislikes you.It's not a book that delivers a grand shock that will rock you to the core as much as instill a quietly creeping unsettling feeling that maybe the book is right: we're all living in a reality we've created and unfortunately we've created a reality in which we're all doomed and there's nothing anyone can do about it, as the only options are suffering until you die or just getting it over with fast.And neither option is all that good.So we take the easy, cowardly option and hope that maybe God will blink or maybe our assumptions were wrong and someone will come to rescue us and make this all better.But chances are, it's probably not going to happen.

Yeah, this isn't a typical SF book.

Fourteen colonists wind up on Delmak-O, one by prayer, because in this universe all the gods are real and they answer prayers and there's whole methods to it . . . God's accessable.The wish for most people in the world, that they could have a hotline to God and even better, that he listens to it, is fulfilled here.But as with most wishes, it goes wrong at the core because sure, God is listening and granting prayers.But he's still doing whatever the heck he wants and there's nothing you can do about it.So it turns out that not before long terrible things are happening to the colonists, one by one.Someone is killing them, they're killing each other, they're killing themselves.One by one.It's a weird, depressing paranoid world with everyone dying and nothing makes any sense, with the rules changing by the second.There's a Building inside, but everyone sees it differently.Weird gelantious blocks answer questions in the form of the I Ching.All the colonists seemed mentally messed up in some way, engaging in subplots that go nowhere, or just mock them because no matter what they do, they are going to get killed.One by one.

It's an odd experience reading a book where everyone is truly and royally screwed, and the book is so matter of fact about it.These aren't special circumstances, the universe isn't out to get just these people.It's out to get everyone and we just have a front row seat for it here.Dick manages to sketch the characters deftly, so the chapters zip by swiftly and everyone feels like a real, if wildly imperfect person, so that the general tone of the book remains alarming, but quietly so, and while the situation is certainly surreal, it comes across as grounded.You can believe this is happening because the book believes it so clearly.It's going to watch these people burn without a hint of emotion.Just another day's work.

But as with most Dick novels, what we are presented with generally isn't the actual reality and it's not until nearly the end that we find out what's going on.Except while typically those are presented as a kind of escape valve, a way of making the reader feel that some room to breathe can occur, here we don't get that.Things go from hopeless to more hopeless and what we thought was the worst case scenario is actually a font of optimism.Because the reality is, you're not important.As terrible and awful as the universe is, you can vanish from the face of it entirely and nobody will care.Nobody will miss you.And things will go on staying terrible.Because that's just how it is, and will always be, until everyone is snuffed out.

For SF (and fiction in general), this is kind of extreme, and feels like Dick taken out to the nth degree, not to the point of self-parody but to a logical conclusion.Where reality is the fresh-smelling cover we throw over the rotting truth that every terrible thing that ever happened to us was meant to happen, was deliberately done and it's really nothing personal, that's just how the universe operates.Dick was probably at the height of his powers here, as nothing but his best could make this even remotely readable without causing the reader to want to fling themselves in front of a bus.His skill at characterizations and ability to move the shifting plot constantly gives it the feel of a page-turner and helps you identify and even feel bad for these people, even as you can't shake the sinking feeling that this will end well for no one.

It's a necessary book, in its way, because it asks all those scary paranoid questions that we spend a split-second asking ourselves before coming up with a nifty comforting answer.This postulates that the frightening answers are true and then manages to make it entertaining.If Dick hadn't done this I don't know who would have, anyone else would have dodged at the last second, or hammered the point home too hard, done it all gloomy and serious and made sure that everyone was paying attention to the important things being said.Even Dick at an earlier or later stage of his life might have not been capable of this . . . too early and he wouldn't have the skill to delineate as well as he does here, too late and he would be wrapped too much in his own questions and seeing his own realities everywhere he turned.

So, no, it needed to be here and by him and even if it doesn't have the stature of his other novels it's just as vital for taking his other work dealing with the nature of reality and bringing it straight back to us by calling forth our deepest fear and saying, no matter which reality you think you're in or you think is real, it doesn't matter.You're doomed regardless.But at least you can ask "Okay, so now what?" and maybe come up with a better answer.

4-0 out of 5 stars Upping "Ubik"'s Ante
In Philip K. Dick's 25th science fiction novel, "Ubik," a group of a dozen people is trapped in an increasingly bizarre world, in which objects revert to their previous forms, reality itself is suspect, and the 12 bewildered people slowly crumble to dust, murderously done in, "Ten Little Indians" style, by an unknown assailant. In his next published novel, "A Maze of Death," Dick upped the ante a bit. Here, we find a group of 14 people, seemingly marooned on a very strange planet, while a murderous force picks them off one by one, driving them to madness and homicide. But while the two novels have those elements in common, they are otherwise as different as can be, with different themes and tones. "Maze" has been called one of Dick's "darkest" books, whereas "Ubik," despite the outre happenings, maintains a comparatively humorous tone throughout.

Released as a Doubleday hardcover in 1970, with a selling price of $4.95 (!), "Maze" was the author's attempt to construct "an abstract, logical system of religious thought." God exists, in this novel, and can be petitioned (despite Jim Morrison's cry to the contrary) by mechanical means: by attaching conduits to the permanent electrodes in one's pineal gland. Indeed, of the 14 hapless colonists who find themselves on the mysterious world of Delmak-O (in what we must infer is several years after 2105), one arrived due to a prayer that he had sent out, and another couple, Seth and Mary Morley, only survive the trip through space with the help of the Christ-like figure known as The Walker on Earth. Delmak-O is one of the more macabre of Dick's worlds. Its only life-forms seem to be mechanical insects (with miniature cameras built in) and the "tenches": mounds of protoplasmic gelatin capable of reproducing any object placed before them. And then there is the mysterious structure known as The Building, the signs on which read differently for anyone who looks at them. I would be hard put to describe the eerie mood that Dick manages to engender in this work, or the strangeness of the many deaths that ensue. Ultimately, it all comes together in another one of the author's mind-bending finales, which goes far in explaining away much of the mishegas that had come before, even as it reduces the bulk of the novel to a barrelful of several dozen red herrings. Still, what a memorable experience, and what food for thought the author leaves us with!

"Maze" is not a perfect book, and shows signs of being hastily written. The author can be accused of using the word "said" too often (as in this small section: "Give me a few minutes," Maggie Walsh said... "I'll say it," Belsnor said... Seth Morley said, "I'd like permission to go on an exploratory trip..." "Why?" Belsnor said), and makes the terrible mistake of giving Seth and another of the colonists, Bert Kosler, the same occupation at the novel's end (I'm trying to be coy here and avoid spoilers). Still, the book is compulsively readable and endlessly fascinating, and is filled with interesting and well-drawn characters. The many death scenes are unfailingly shocking, and the afterlife experiences of Maggie Walsh--which the author tells us in his foreword were based "in exact detail" on one of his LSD trips--are both psychedelic and revealing. From what I have read online, the two elements of the book that have most confused readers, stirring up debate and bull sessions without number, are the Walker's appearance near the novel's end (an actual manifestation, sez me) and the chapter headings (such as "The rabbit which Ben Tallchief won develops the mange") that have absolutely nothing to do with the chapters themselves (the only Dick novel with such chapter headings, to my knowledge)! While I do have my theory as to this latter conundrum, I really cannot go into it without giving away the novel's surprise twists, which is something that I would never dream of doing. Suffice it to say that "A Maze of Death" finds Dick near the top of his game, providing intelligent sci-fi thrills as well as brow-furrowing speculation for the generations to come....

5-0 out of 5 stars A gripping page turner that still satisfies
Dick presents us with a thrilling sci-fi/murder mystery/adventure yarn with the obligatory PKD twist.A handful of people have been sent on a one-way trip to an uninhabited planet for an undisclosed purpose.The satellite transmission that was to explain their mission is mysteriously disrupted and the group finds themselves in a Sartre-esque predicament: trapped in an environment they haven't chosen with people they don't know (and don't much care for) and with no idea what it is they're supposed to do.Bad enough, certainly, but then the murders begin...

Dick devotes a fair amount of space to describing the futuristic religion common to these people.Their deities seem evocative ofthe Christian Trinity, but with a very matter-of-fact accessibility.Dick included religious speculations in most of his novels around this period, but I'm not sure it's entirely successful here.The one thing it succeeds in is giving the work a gravitas that sci-fi mysteries often lack.

Okay, so maybe the resolution is a trifle pat - at least it makes a certain amount of sense.Seth Morley's encounter with the Intercessor was certainly unexpected enough in its context.And so many murders...

This isn't Dick's most important novel, or his most innovative, certainly not the most scientific, but it's a gripping page-turner that leaves us satisfied when it's done.And for Dick that's really saying something.Perhaps my favorite PKD ever.

5-0 out of 5 stars Misery Loves Nothing
The title of this novel derives from a reflection by one of the characters that he and his fellow-colonists on the planet Delmak-O can be compared to rats in a maze, unwilling participants in a cruel experiment where death chases them through the corridors and alleys until all of them are gone.This being Philip K. Dick, the truth is far stranger.Unlike most of PKD's other work, however, this time there's no way out.You have been warned.

Fans of horror fiction will immediately recognize the set-up.A group of people, having come to a mysterious location in the hope of reward, turn up dead one by one.That story has been around since at least "The Haunting of Hill House," and probably long before that.Most such stories, however, provide some specifics as to what reward these victims expect.PKD dispenses with any such certainty.He also includes a good bit of theological speculation, as he often did.In "A Maze of Death," we seem to have entered an age where God in various manifestations actually appears from time to time, and prayer has direct and swift effects.Provided, that is, that you transmit prayers electronically over a sort of galactic internet and hope they reach their divine destination.

Come to think of it, that particular detail may be the most depressing of all.Here's a group of people with definite knowledge of God's literal presence in their lives, and yet the impact of that knowledge is uniformly negative.There's no comfort or inspiration here for these characters, just the anxious waiting for some response to their prayers and the certain knowledge that, God or no God, they are doomed to kill each other.They don't even have the dubious relief of supposing that some outside agency has them in its sights; most of them die at the hands of a fellow colonist.This is a nightmare, kids, and you have no idea how literally I mean that.

Now, some people enjoy this kind of story.As a rule, I don't.Nevertheless, I completely agree with those who call this one of PKD's classics."A Maze of Death" is focused, thoughtful and passionate.Most of the characters have convincing inner lives to motivate them, although they seem at times a little too self-aware for plausibility.PKD's famous surrealistic details, such as mechanical flies that sing and mechanical roaches that take pictures, serve the plot here rather than hovering around the novel's fringes for mere atmosphere.The author even imposed some control over his tendency to fragment his stories; this novel eventually splits into two storylines, with two character groups and two settings, but the shifts back and forth are at least comprehensible.If "A Maze of Death" is any indication of the author's state of mind at the time he wrote it, he must have been pretty miserable, but even if that's true he was still at the top of his game.

Mind you, even in his more manic phases, PKD could still turn out brilliant work.The author Thomas Disch once referred to PKD's style as downhill racing - he would start a book, write like fury as fast as possible and without looking back, and wrap it up for publication."A Maze of Death" came out in 1970, at the tail end of the author's truly hyperactive period, and it gives all the indications of slower, more careful attention.His earlier method worked well, but it's gratifying to see that he had more than one string to his bow.

Then, at the end, "A Maze of Death" pulls a one-eighty that not one author in a thousand could get away with.I won't say too much about just what happens, but have you ever read a book or seen a movie where the unexplained details fascinate you, and the explanation at the end squashes the whole thing flat?It makes you wish you could just cut off the last few minutes or chapters or what have you, and enjoy the mystery you began with.Well, in "A Maze of Death", PKD found a plausible explanation for all the inexplicable, hallucinatory events of the previous 175 pages, and yet that same explanation leaves the reader even more stunned and amazed than before.Thomas Edison once said that genius is ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration - part creativity, part craft.PKD could do both, but he didn't always combine his invention and his talent as smoothly as he did here.

In short, although the plot is as energetic and hysterical as any you might want to see, the author's style is cool and controlled.Makes the impact of the whole thing downright overwhelming.

PKD seems to have left his usual uncontrolled imagination for the chapter titles, the only novel in which he used them, I believe.Frankly, they are not much help.Chapter One, "In Which Ben Tallchief Wins a Pet Rabbit in a Raffle," concerns that character being notified that his prayer for a job transfer has been heard, so the title may be said to be allegorically accurate.On the other hand, in Chapter Twelve, "Roberta Rockingham's Spinster Aunt Pays Her a Visit," the title character is already dead and there are no signs of any relatives, allegorical or otherwise.I have a hunch that PKD included these titles to increase the sense of disorientation his characters feel during their trials.If so, it's hardly necessary, especially once you find out in the last two chapters what's really been going on, but it's about the only comic relief in sight.

Pleasant it's not, except insofar as we might find any well-crafted piece of fiction pleasant.Undeniably, however, "A Maze of Death" is indeed well-crafted, and very probably cathartic.Value enough for the time it takes.

Benshlomo says, No fun is not always no good.

5-0 out of 5 stars Maze of Death appears to have influenced the tv show LOST!
I love this Philip K. Dick book (Maze of Death)!I think it is one of his five best.The whole feel and atmosphere of the story really brings me in.After re-reading Maze of Death, I think that it is yet another novel that has greatly influenced the ABC tv show LOST.Other books influencing LOST are: Philip K. Dick's VALIS, Watership Down, Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, The Third Policeman, and others.

The whole concept of Maze of Death, and how this PKD novel may be tied to the overall story of LOST, is covered in the Wayne's Take on LOST podcast, at WaynesTakeOnLOST.Libsyn.com and in iTunes. ... Read more

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