We Can Build You

  • by Philip K. Dick
  • Narrated by Dan John Miller
  • 8 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In this lyrical and moving novel, Philip K. Dick intertwines the story of a toxic love affair with one about sentient robots, and unflinchingly views it all through the prism of mental illness - which spares neither human nor robot. The end result is one of Dick’s most quietly powerful works. When Louis Rosen’s electronic-organ company builds a pitch-perfect robotic replica of Abraham Lincoln, the firm is pulled into the orbit of a shady businessman, who is looking to use Lincoln for his own profit. Meanwhile, Rosen seeks Lincoln’s advice as he woos a woman incapable of understanding human emotions - someone who may be even more robotic than Lincoln’s replica.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Simulacra for me & simulacra for you.

“Hell,' I said, 'love is an American cult. We take it too seriously; it's practically a national religion.”
― Philip K. Dick, We Can Build You

Is this a PKD novel? Does it contain?

1. Madness? Yes.
2. Paranoia? Yes.
3. Simulacra? Yes.
4. Hallucinations? Yes.
5. Funky inventions? Yes.
6. Metaphysical explorations of what it means to be alive? Hell yes.
7. Loneliness? Yes.
8. Theology? Not so much.
9. A Fascist-type government? Not in this one.
10. A Large Omnipresent Industry? Yes.
11. Unreliable narrator? Yes.
12. Life on another planet? Yes.
13. A Murder? Yes.
14. A US President? Yes.
15. Has it been made into a movie? Not that I'm aware of.

This novel scores 12/15 on the PKD meter, and most certainly is a work of PKD.

The aspect of PKD that makes his novels work for me, I've recently decided, is their ability to span an almost base-level of human existence; the greasy hair, wrinkled clothes-level but link it directly to some metaphysical otherworldliness. He does this not only through his exploration of big themes and ideas, but also through clever beginnings. I love the idea that the company that starts making simulacra in this novel was a small, Western electronic organ company that is trying to schlep its organs to various people using sleazy sales practices.

Because of a changing economy, they arrive at the idea of constructing a simulacra of both Edwin M. Stanton AND Abraham Lincoln. Genius. Anyway, the simulacrum idea is the catalyst that Dick uses to explore his often examined ideas about what it means to be alive, human and to love. I adore that both Lincoln and Stanton appear both just as alive and probably more rational than most of the humans they are interacting with. I love that Lincoln ends up giving relationship advice to the narrator (who happens to be in love with a woman who today would out spectrum Sheldon Cooper). Anyway, it was good, solid PKD. Not a place to start, but if you find yourself on a PKD tear, not a bad book to drive through.
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- Darwin8u


I thought Phillip K. Dick was a better writer. This book did not age well. Not at all. Pass on this. Narration isn't too great either.
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- Eric

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-15-2013
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio