A mind-bending, classic Philip K. Dick novel about the perception of reality.
Named as one of Time's 100 best books.
Glen Runciter runs a lucrative business - deploying his teams of anti-psychics to corporate clients who want privacy and security from psychic spies. But when he and his top team are ambushed by a rival, he is gravely injured and placed in "half-life," a dreamlike state of suspended animation. Soon, though, the surviving members of the team begin experiencing some strange phenomena, such as Runciter's face appearing on coins and the world seeming to move backward in time. As consumables deteriorate and technology gets ever more primitive, the group needs to find out what is causing the shifts and what a mysterious product called Ubik has to do with it all.
"From the stuff of space opera, Dick spins a deeply unsettling existential horror story, a nightmare you'll never be sure you've woken up from." (Lev Grossman, Time)
"More brilliant than similar experiments conducted by Pynchon or DeLillo." (Roberto Bolaño)
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A great performance of an SF classic
I first read UBIK nearly thirty years ago, and while I remembered a lot of the plot (including the final reveal), what I didn't remember (or hadn't noticed) is how well constructed the novel was. Dick took great pains to "play fair" and leave enough bread crumbs to figure out what was going on if you paid attention. I was also interested in how "dated" the technological references might seem, since UBIK takes place in a 1996 with a Lunar Colony established (and others implied); there are a few moments in which the tech references show their age, but they don't detract.
In some ways this novel seems to have been a response (or even a commentary) on Kornbluth and Pohl's "The Space Merchants," while also involving some stylistic similarities to Bester's "The Stars My Destination" and Fritz Lieber's short story "Coming Attraction." But that's probably only me; UBIK is a legit, one of a kind original.
The first time that Pat uses her power to change the past with Joe Chip and his boss Runciter.
I don't have seven-hour sittings available, but it did well in big chunks of an hour or so at a time while I was driving.
Luke Daniels' narration is a real plus, and made the character of Al much more central in my listening than he was way back when I read the novel the first time. I thought he also caught the sadistic/playful nuances in the character Pat much better than I would have imagined. But, then, Luke Daniels is one of my favorite narrators.