Philip K. Dick's impassioned final novel is a wild and visionary alternate history of the United States. It is 1969, and a paranoid president has convulsed America in a vicious war against imaginary internal enemies. As the country slides into fascism, a struggling science-fiction writer named Philip K. Dick is trying to keep from becoming one of that war's casualties.
Meanwhile, Dick's best friend, a record executive named Nicholas Brady, is receiving transmissions from a God-like extraterrestrial intelligence, which he dubs Valis, who apparently wants him to overthrow the president.
Agonizingly suspenseful, darkly hilarious, and filled with enough conspiracy theories to thrill the most hardened paranoid, Radio Free Albemuth is proof of Dick's stature as one of the century's great science-fiction writers.
©1985 The Estate of Philip K. Dick; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"A brilliant, idiosyncratic, formidably intelligent writer. Dick illuminates. He casts light. He gives off radiance." (Washington Post)
"[A]n engrossing, non-stop excursion into a believable vision of Hell." (Publishers Weekly)
You can tell who I am by my reading, or can you?
I love Philip K. Dick books and the way he describes the psychology of its characters. This book is one of its latest and it refers to many of the previous (eg. Valis), but it can serve as an introduction to his world. He puts himself in the book as a scifi writer, and makes you think if the book isn't real. If all the stories he is telling are not reality. He uses this twisted trick in the Man in the Higher Castle, but this time the facts are so close to reality that can make you think. A master piece really worth listening to.
Writer for The MindHut, folk musician.
I've only listened to a handful, but it is definitely middle of the pack. The quality of the novel is enormous but the reading is only fine.
Philip K. Dick is only comparable to other Philip K. Dick.
Fine, but uninspired.
I definitely spent more time laughing and being enthusiastic about it than anything else.
My review from Androiddreamer: Philip K. Dick is nothing if not a paranoid genius. Perhaps, in his case, he had the right to be: in the middle of McCarthy’s Red Scare, Dick’s home was raided and torn apart by FBI agents probably looking for a connection between him and the Communist Party. They came back repeatedly to interrogate Philip, and it apparently did no good for an already troubled psyche. Radio Free Albemuth is essentially straight out of this period, a novel full of paranoid government rebellion and a strange brand of Gnostic Christianity that is so bizarre that it feels true.
There are two primary characters of Radio Free Albemuth, a novel that was shelved by Dick after serious re-writes were demanded by his publishers. The first is Nicholas, a man born in Chicago who moved to Berkeley, California at a very young age, much like the writer himself. He works at a record store and receives very clear visions in his dreams that he knows to be messages from God, or from aliens. The other primary protagonist and narrator of the story is Philip K. Dick himself, a science fiction writer based out of Orange County known for the populariy of his novels The Man in the High Castle and Flow Your Tears, The Policeman Said among others. President Ferris F. Fremont is a kind of terrifying amalgam of real-life president Richard Nixon and crazed Senator McCarthy himself. This is the Red Scare in overdrive.
Nicholas and Philip are both harassed throughout the story by government ages trying to connect them to communist sympathizers in the area. Of course, Nicholas and his partner are indeed linked to the party, but do their best to hide it from FBI agents who pretty assuredly know everything. Philip K. Dick goes through similar interrogation and some entrapment, including being seduced by a drugged up agent who tries to convince him after the fact that she is in fact underage and he will be arrested for statuatory rape if he doesn’t come clean. Another character, Sylvia, is introduced in the second half of the book as someone who has a similar connection to the general scheme of things to Nicholas, and becomes his sort of partner-in-crime in the leadup to their final act of rebellion against the fascist state.
The novel as a whole is a perfectly executed criticism of the sort of Stalinist and neo-Fascist bent of the Republican Party of the era. It is brilliantly written with constantly flawless dialogue that never lulls—not for a second. Although this is one of Dick’s lesser known novels, it is also one of his most poignant; there are several scenes over the course of the novel that are extremely memorable for either their dark humor, brilliant political satire, or simple tragedy. While some readers have criticized this novel for not being particularly accessible, and it may be a harder read than some of Philip K. Dick’s more mainstream efforts, it ought to be seen as one of his more essential novels. Radio Free Albemuth seems to imply that alien visitors from outer space are the source of all world religions; prophets are simply people receiving messages from benevolent (but not omnipotent) extraterrestrials who seek to help us cast off our chains. It may be bizarre, but Philip K. Dick’s brilliance is as prevalent here as it ever was.
God comes to Orange County, California, via satellite. A thinly veiled Richard Nixon becomes President of the United States but is actually a Community Party member aligned with the Soviet Union. Pop recordings carry subliminal messages exposing the truth. Welcome to Philip K. Dick's world. And it is personal. This novel, which features a main character who is a science fiction writer named Phil Dick, is a Mister Toad's wild ride through the 1960's political landscape. Some of the technology and the cultural satire may seem dated to younger readers. But this book is a reminder that political corruption and conspiracy theories are nothing new in these United States. And paranoia never goes out of style.
A widely distributed cadre of insurgents called Aramcheck is receiving instructions from a satellite link to a command center where a Higher Power beams down liminal and subliminal coded instructions on how to prosecute this ideological warfare. The Adversary is tracking its way back to this vital link, and threatens to deliver a killing blow to the organization, to sever its head and leave its disciples isolated and wandering among the lower echelons of the Empire. The Empire never died out. But now we find out that Earth is being invaded by the indwelling of plasmatic life forms, although the ultimate victory of these life forms is in the unimaginable distance.
I came to this book based upon praise of Philip Dick by other authors and the positive Audible reviews I read. What I experienced fell far from meeting my expectations. The author's conceptions did not adequately materialize in execution. The characters were all wooden, one dimensional, and poorly developed in the story. I didn't care about any of them. The story wasn't very coherent and could only serve to support accusations of the author's drug use while composing his work. Perhaps, in it's day this was way ahead of everything else? But it does not stand the test of time. Finally, whenever the reader read for a female character, his delivery sounded satirical (I had visions of Steve Martin portraying a women in "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid"). No suspense, no thrill, no drama. Truly horrible, don't waste your money! YUCK!
"Nice voice, compelling story"
Got totally pulled into this one. In the garden, in bed, at work .... had to finish it. So thought provoking. After having read 'amateur writer' Carl Sagan's 'Contact' novel before this (in comparison), Dick shines through as authentic, direct, economical and DEEP!
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