A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
Friends, this wild review is 100% PKD approved. Ubik the review is only seconds away! Ubik the review is easy-to-read, easy-to-understand, nonflammable, and avoids directly mentioning those aspects of your existence that might make you squirm. Safe when read as directed. Avoid prolonged viewing. Beware grammatical and typographical errors.
Dick, like Pynchon, has a THING for entropy and he perfected this theme in Ubik. While not a direct part of Dick's Gnostic God trilogy (VALIS, The Divine Invasion, & The Transmigration of Timothy Archer), Ubik still manages to be one of Dick's minor God novels (if the Valis trilogy:Dick's trinity :: Ubik:Dick's Demiurge). Dick seems more than willing to bend entire universes to create a world where he can ask some really BIG questions in ways that give you two more levels of uncertainty. What? WHAT?
My first introduction to Dick was age 19. In a SLC airport I bought a copy of Valis (cover looked cool) and figured it would be a fun book to read on a plane. Hours later the plane landed and 20+ years later, I don't think the Earth I landed on was the same as the one the plane left prior to me cracking open Valis. Every time I read another of PKD's novels it is the exact same thing. Something breaks. Time freaks out or at least flips a bit. Something in my brain gets frozen, something else in my head gets lost, and a memory gets replaced. Each Dick novel should come with its own Ubik-type of warning: this novel will alter your reality, even when read as directed
Brilliant, tight and prescient. Wells is working about 3 themes right on top of each other. He makes us the rabbits, the ants, the colonized and is able to explore not just themes of technology and evolution, but colonialism and imperialism.
The Spencer narration, however, just doesn't seem able to carry the full weight of Wells. It was clear, but his clipped reading seemed unable to make the Wells words flow easily.
Top shelf Philip K Dick exploring a tangled web of heavy themes like: what it means to be human, the nature and limits of empathy, love, religion, God, entropy, animals, decay.
I had mistakenly put off this novel because HELL I already saw the movie. How can you improve upon THAT movie? Well, the book is better. A cliché, certainly I know, but it is spot on with this book. The movie captures a piece of the PKD mad genius, but it is a 2D representation of a 3D Dick. IT is an android, an artificial sheep of a movie that moves, bellows and behaves perfectly but doesn't have the spark the sizzle or the depth of the novel and IT was a HELLUVA good movie.
Anyway, I'm caught up in a PHDickathon and just ordered a bunch more of his novels off EBay, so I should at least have room to softly land my tattered soul after this amazing novel. Next up? 'Ubik' or 'a Scanner Darkly'.