Following a devastating nuclear war, the Moral Reclamation government took over the world and forced its citizens to live by strictly puritanical rules - no premarital sex, drunkenness, or displaying of neon signs - all of which are reinforced through a constant barrage of public messages. The chief purveyor of these messages is Alan Purcell, next in line to become head of the propaganda bureau. But there is just one problem: a statue of the government’s founder has been vandalized and the head is hidden in Purcell’s closet. In this buttoned-up society, maybe all a revolution needs is one really great prank....
©2012 Philip K. Dick (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
Philip K Dick's The Man who Japed is a short story about a dystopic future where a puritanical, authoritarian regime dominates society. The tale revolves around one man, Alan, who while playing a significant role in media propaganda supporting the state, also displays a schiizophrenic nature by "japng" or pranking the statue of the historical founder of this society. Historical context is critical for understanding Dick's message as the original story was released in 1956 towards the end of McCarthyism.
Although the tale has an unsophisticated quality, partly due to its short length, Dick nevertheless focuses on the diffusion of societal passivity in the face of government intrusion into the personal lives of its citizens, as well as the extent the ruling hierarchy will go to preserve the fictional narrative for the basis of its legitimacy. Dick also demonstrates various modes of rebellion from the mundane to the complex.
The narration is well done, although females are rendered in either depressed or aging British high society styles. This is one author with a timeless quality due to themes that resonate across the ages.
This is a minor novel by Phillip K. Dick (PKD). It's certainly not in the same class as his masterworks such as UBIK or The Man in the High Castle (winner of a Hugo award), but it's still a very enjoyable trip down the rabbit hole. Like many PKD novels, this one takes place on a post-nuclear war Earth. The plot centers around Allen Purcell's mocking rebellion against a suffocating morally correct and politically correct social order and totalitarian state. On the surface, Purcell and his wife Janet are respectable upstanding citizens who run a successful agency that contracts with the totalitarian government to produce propaganda-oriented TV shows. But Allen finds himself subconsciously driven to repeatedly "jape" or mock the existing order, by secretly committing such pranks as defacing and decapitating the statute of General Streiter, the founder of the totalitarian order. It wouldn't be a real PKD novel unless mind altering drugs are ingested and reality shifts out from under the reader once or twice, but overall the plot of this book is relatively coherent and straightforward. There is humor here that withstands the test of time and a righteous cry for freedom that can't be denied. Excellent narration. Recommended.
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