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.
Paul Giamatti's narration of Philip K. Dick's "A Scanner Darkly" is quite likely one of the best works by an actor of an unabridged audiobook that this reviewer has ever read. PK Dick will never be anyone's garden-variety Science Fiction writer. He deals with social, cultural and psychological complexities that some may find unsettling or even challenging. In the end, it becomes a matter of taste but "A Scanner Darkly" explores the decline and paranoia of a future drug culture as written in the early 70's. But somehow it works. It's offers a nod to Orwell's world of surveillance, deception, betrayal and sacrifice but woven with a thread of hilarious caricatures in a household of high-wired drug fiends and marginally sane confidants. But again, cudo's to Paul Giamatti for delivering this world with true theatrical perfection.
I can't say enough good things about "A Scanner Darkly" or about Giamatti's narration. Note that this story is pretty hard going. If you want a less sad and heavy introduction to Dick, try the "Minority Report" short story collection.
Audible Member Since 2003
I am not sure about this one. To be sure, Paul Giamatti's performance is perfect. This guy is quite a talent. However, the material he reads is bizarre, as I am sure Philip K Dick intended it to be. The story is a bleak depiction of the southern California drug subculture in the then future of the late 1990's (the book was written in the late 1970s). Many of the supposed "futuristic" devices employed are dated, which seem to add to the strangeness of the story.
As the main character, Bob Arctor, an undercover narc who becomes addicted to "Substance D" begins to move in and out of reality, the reader/listener does so right along with him. As a result, I found the experience strange and uncomfortable.
I believe this story was semi-autobiographical, learning a little about P.K. Dick, who apparently struggled with paranoid schizophrenia. This book will definitely provide a glimpse into that abyss.
I enjoyed this book very much.
PK captures the ethos and ecology of the '70's drug culture very well.
The conversations between the mind-altered denizens are the best part of the book.
This book also asks questions of personal identity and values.
This is all enclosed in a Dickian envelope of paranoia and deception.
Paul Giamatti does an awesome job reading this book. He is a very good Actor! Who knew? It gave me a new-found appreciation of him.
A deep introspective of a brilliant writer. Dick causes confusion, induces humor and grips you with truth. Paul Giamatti does an admirable job, but I get the feeling he didn't read the book before performing it. Although some of the characters sound the same, he still does a worthwhile job. Dick though, hit everything right on the spot, take out the bell bottom references and this easily could be present day. But, the book can be so strange at times, that I really don't know who to recommend it to. So, as the title states, it is very dark. At times it can almost satire like too. I guess it's a dark, trippy, mystery satire.....
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
This was my first exposure to Philip K. Dick, and he definitely lives up to his reputation as an author of dystopian visions, conspiracy theories, and mind-bending philosophical ideas. But he also turns out to be an articulate, witty writer with a lot of apparent first-hand knowledge of the drug culture he focuses on. Once you get past the dated 1970s slang, A Scanner Darkly is a pretty intense and darkly comic reading experience, capturing the madness and paranoia of drug addiction, and the suffocation and distrust that users feel towards "straight" culture. There's relatively little "science fiction" in the novel, but Dick uses a few clever futuristic inventions to heighten the trippy surreality of his novel, in which no one is quite who they seem, and as a springboard for musings about the morally ambiguous mirror-on-mirror relationships between doper and straight, police and criminal, watcher and watched, self and other, user and used, reality and delusion.
At times, the story gets a little incoherent, and action often takes a back seat to the ideas and observations Dick wants to share (often through dialogue). I think this is more a book to read for its most entrancing or insightful passages than, necessarily, the sum of them. But, if you like dark, cerebral speculative fiction whose alternate reality blooms from the author's own experience of a real-life dystopia, and don't mind unevenness and not-entirely-sane characters, there's much in A Scanner Darkly that still resonates.
PS. If you like this book, be sure to watch the Linklater film. I loved it.
I'm a politically conservative, technologically inclined, open-minded, all American citizen of this great terrestrial ball we call home. I keep my head in the clouds, I love Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels but I keep my feet on the ground, I stay informed on news and current events, and I love the fact that I can still form and express my own opinions in this great nation we call The Untied States.
I saw the movie first. I really liked the movie, but found it a little hard to follow. While listening to the book I couldn't help but see the images put forth in the movie, but I was able to follow the story line much easier. Robert Arcter and his crew could easily be friends from my past. I find it sad, the points in the story about the toll living in a drug infested world can take on a person and the soul. It really made me reflect on my past and my friends from long ago.
Having lived through it, Dick nailed the 60s drug culture perfectly. I thought it was very funny and well written, love Dicks books.
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!
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.
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