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"This, I realized, is how a man becomes what he is not: by doing what he could never do"
- Philip K Dick, Radio Free Albemuth
My brother and I were discussing how PKD would absolutely lose his shit to see how much the world has become what he wrote. I think he would AND wouldn't be surprised by Facebook, the NSA, the surveillance state, cellphones, robots, talking refrigerators, fake news, pharmaceuticals, Trump, perpetual war, fake news, virtual reality, corporatism, etc.
For me this book was a bit of post-Trump-election therapy. Well not therapy. No. Perhaps, acquiescence? Resignation? The resemblance between Ferris Fremont seemed uncanny. Even the relationship between the election of Ferris Fremont and the Russians seemed a bit too close to reality:
"Why should disparate groups such as the Soviet Union and the U.S. intelligence community back the same man? I am a political theoretician, but Nicolas one time said, 'The both like figureheads who are corrupt. So they can govern from behind. The Soviets and the fuzz, they're all for shadow governments. They always will be, because each of them is the man with the gun. The pistol to the head."
The second part of this book that was fascinating was the semi-autobiographical presentations of Dick's own 2-3-74 experience with the "vesicle pisces" and the "pink beam". This experience in February - March of 1974 lead to PKD's gnostic trilogy (VALIS, The Divine Invasion, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer) and his later assembled The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick. This novel was the first he wrote AFTER his visionary experiences of 1974, and every work after seemed impacted by this experience. There is a part of me that thinks the probability of a PKD religion coming into existence is fairly high. Hell, if Hubbard's Scientology can exist, why not one that worships a Vast Active Living Intelligence System?
14 of 19 people found this review helpful
If you read this as a "remedy" for Donald Trump you might find that this is another case where the side-effects of the "cure" are just as bad as the disease.
1 of 9 people found this review helpful
While this is not PKD's best science fiction, the fact that much of it comes from his own experiences makes this an interesting read.
From being burgled, by what PKD believed to be an FBI covert operation, to hallucinatory visions, this posthumous book reveals much about his thought processes at the end of his life. Although this novel was written and scrapped, it was released in 1985 and has similar themes to his Valis series. In this, PKD plays a main character himself as a science fiction writer, while Nicholas Brady, a quirky record shop clerk, is his friend although he represents parts of the author himself.
In this dystopian science fiction, an alternate reality shows the US being run by a secret Communist regime despite appearing to be the opposite. Brady one day starts seeing visions in which he is controlled and he is able to communicate with an outer being who is trying to change the course of the country. His sceptic friend, PKD follows him wherever he goes only to find that there are some truths to his ravings.
It's quite a horrifying ending, and it does make you wonder how mentally stable PKD was at the end - but it definitely shows why PKD is still the master of sci-fi.
Since this deals with Philip K Dick coming to terms with his religious experience and includes a lot of material concerning his theology, it is recommended only for the reader interested in understanding PKD. I found it a much better take on VALIS, but to some extent I think that is because I recently read Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy. PKD is actually making a detailed statement about his beliefs in the context of the canon of Western metaphysics in the form of a science fiction book, so I imagine the readership is small and specialised