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A Scanner Darkly | [Philip K. Dick]

A Scanner Darkly

Bob Arctor is a dealer of the lethally addictive drug Substance D. Fred is the police agent assigned to tail and eventually bust him. To do so, Fred takes on the identity of a drug dealer named Bob Arctor. And since Substance D, which Arctor takes in massive doses, gradually splits the user's brain into two distinct, combative entities, Fred doesn't realize he is narcing on himself.
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Publisher's Summary

Bob Arctor is a dealer of the lethally addictive drug Substance D. Fred is the police agent assigned to tail and eventually bust him. To do so, Fred takes on the identity of a drug dealer named Bob Arctor. And since Substance D, which Arctor takes in massive doses, gradually splits the user's brain into two distinct, combative entities, Fred doesn't realize he is narcing on himself.

Caustically funny, eerily accurate in its depiction of junkies, scam artists, and the walking brain-dead, Philip K. Dick's industrial-grade stress test of identity is as unnerving as it is enthralling.

©1977 Philip K. Dick; (P)2006 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

What Members Say

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4.0 (606 )
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  •  
    Eileen USA 11-29-08
    Eileen USA 11-29-08 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Listen for the narrator alone!"

    I can't say enough good things about Paul Giamatti's narration of this excellent book. It was a great book to listen to - especially because of the narrator. Great story, great characters - highly recommend it!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shawn Fairfax, VA, United States 06-21-08
    Shawn Fairfax, VA, United States 06-21-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A must read for any PKD fan"

    Paul Giamatti does an excellent job bringing this book and it's characters to life. I would not have enjoyed the book as much without his ability to make you connect and feel involved with the characters.

    I am a big fan of Philip K. Dick, but I really struggled at the beginning of the book. I found the large cast of characters introduced at the beginning without much plot development confusing. Once the book settled down on the character of Bob Arctor and his struggle I found it more enjoyable because I was able to connect to someone and their struggle. Unlike other PKD works, this book seemed very dated. Another review mentioned that this book felt like it was stuck in the 1980's and I concur, which is a bit strange for a "science fiction" writer. The ending of the book made the book and I am glad I stuck with it. Once I read the background on the book, I had a greater appreciation of the material. I rarely recommend reading the background of a novel before the novel itself, but this novel is so personal to such a great author, I think it is necessary to fully appreciate the autobiographical nature of the novel. All-in-all, this is not one of my favorite PKD stories, but it is a must read for any PKD fan.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vincent Mississauga, Ontario, Canada 01-02-07
    Vincent Mississauga, Ontario, Canada 01-02-07 Member Since 2006

    A science fiction fan for as long as I can remember but I also enjoy history (fact and fiction) and humor.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It Helps To Be Crazy"

    Philip K Dick's stories are more frequently the source for feature films than those of any other SF writer. This is surprising when you consider that much of the dialogue in Dick's stories occur in the central character's head. In the case of "A Scanner Darkly", there are two central characters who just happen to inhabit the same body courtesy of a narcotic, appropriately known on the street as "Death". I have no idea how this will be handled in the feature film but the Audiobook is a definite treat (and trip) for the ears. The reading is clear with near-perfect pacing and the 'voices' of the individual characters are distinct.
    This is another audiobook that I started listening to at work and ended up finishing on a vacation. If your already a Dick fan, this reading of the story is a worthwhile addition to your collection. If you're not, and are looking for something really different, this story will certainly fit the bill.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael East Peoria, IL, United States 06-27-06
    Michael East Peoria, IL, United States 06-27-06 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    316
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    "really great novel"

    This is a great psychological novel. I wouldn't classify it as science fiction. I would classify it as a gonzo, drug, spaced out future fiction. Everything from the plot development to the character development was really great, I thought. One thing I don't understand is how they made a movie out of the plot of this book? It didn't really have alot of intensive action because the plot was psychological and thought driven, you are basically in the head of the characters as they go through drug induced phsychosis. I wonder how they will portray this on the silver screen, I suspect the movie will suck, but the audiobook was great. Oh yeah, Paul Giamatti did an excellent job as a narrator. He's not the greatest actor, but he may have a career as an audibook narrarator. His narraration is probably one of the reasons that I enjoyed the audiobook so much.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Birmingham, AL, USA 05-12-06
    Amazon Customer Birmingham, AL, USA 05-12-06 Member Since 2002

    Angelicide

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    "Good story - Fantastic narration"

    Philip K. Dick is one of my all-time favorite authors, although I've never felt this title is one of his best. Don't get me wrong, the story and characters are interesting, and there's the usual philosophical themes of divided reality and questioned identity that are common in PKD's work, but I suppose having never been a part of the drug-culture it just didn't resonate with me.

    Enter: Paul Giamatti. I cannot imagine a better choice of narrator for this book. He infused each character with such distinct personality that I couldn't help being drawn into the story. I wish I could thank him for making it possible for me to enjoy this book from a new perspective.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Cano California 01-11-08
    J. Cano California 01-11-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "great production quality"

    Enough as been said about the actual book being good. I'd like to chime in that the production quality is great! The reader is good and the sound quality is great!

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Parsons Seattle, WA 01-16-07
    D. Parsons Seattle, WA 01-16-07 Member Since 2007

    D. Parsons

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A wonderful listen!"

    Paul Giamatti brings this story to life! You feel as if you are falling into the psychosis of the drugs along with Bob Arctor. You feel Fred being pulled more and more outside himself.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Gibson Wellington 03-14-15
    J. Gibson Wellington 03-14-15 Member Since 2015
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    "one of the best science fiction novels ever"

    listened to it a couple of times. so relevant to today despite being decades old

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justin United States 03-03-15
    Justin United States 03-03-15 Member Since 2012
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    "not good"

    I couldn't get through this book. the reader did a great job but the story was just a jumble of drugged out nonsense.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    paul brennan san francisco 02-08-15
    paul brennan san francisco 02-08-15 Member Since 2014

    WYLKEN WYLDER

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    10
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    Story
    "Not just a look at a subculture of America"

    Dick gives us an inside look at a subculture that many don't want to ever happen to us. But beyond that there is a story of just what the human mind can overcome even if all is destroyed and lost.
    Paul's reading of the novel is by far a riveting performance that none could have matched. His voice carries you through it and the separation of characters and each of their qualities are brought forth in his reading. As a first time listener of Paul, I found that he was able to bring to life each character and it was clear who was who.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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