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Valis | [Philip K. Dick]

Valis

This disorienting and bleakly funny work is about a schizophrenic hero named Horselover Fat, the hidden mysteries of Gnostic Christianity, and reality as revealed through a pink laser. Valis is a theological detective story, in which God is both a missing person and the perpetrator of the ultimate crime.
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Publisher's Summary

Valis is the first book in Philip K. Dick's incomparable final trio of novels (the others being The Divine Invasion and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer). This disorienting and bleakly funny work is about a schizophrenic hero named Horselover Fat, the hidden mysteries of Gnostic Christianity, and reality as revealed through a pink laser. Valis is a theological detective story, in which God is both a missing person and the perpetrator of the ultimate crime.

©1981 Philip K. Dick; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"The most brilliant SF mind on any planet." (Rolling Stone)
"What Dick is entertaining us about is reality and madness, time and death, sin and salvation....we have our own homegrown Borges." (Ursula K. Le Guin)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (215 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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Overall
3.8 (97 )
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Story
4.0 (99 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Devon Dallas, TX, USA 05-26-08
    Devon Dallas, TX, USA 05-26-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bizarro, Sacrilegous"

    Off-beat, surreal, sacrilegous, sordid, and almost no robots involved, at all. Its a twisted hallucinogenic tale of improvised dogma based on science-fiction constructs. Its like a Phillip K. Dick version of scientology. Reminded me of Fuceault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco.
    Valis is like Naked Lunch meets Life of Brian. Very sublte humor. Who knew irreverent science fiction could be so much fun?

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darleen Rohnert Park, CA, USA 05-29-08
    Darleen Rohnert Park, CA, USA 05-29-08
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    "A must listen for avid Lost fans..."

    This is a very enjoyable listen containing the trifecta of audio book essentials: Well narrated, conviently timed segments and most importantly great material that grabs your attention. As a Lost fan, you have to read this book because so much of what's happening on the island is inspired by this novel. An eye-opening experience, without a doubt.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P K Rotterdam, Netherlands 08-28-12
    P K Rotterdam, Netherlands 08-28-12
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    "Weird, sometimes dense but original and rewarding"

    This is a strange combination of a modern novel, detective story, mystical revelation, gnostic theology and science fiction. It can be tough going sometimes - when there are lots of dense theology - but it also has lots of cynical black humor and it is very original. You have never read something like that before!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Craig Santa Fe, NM, United States 02-21-12
    Craig Santa Fe, NM, United States 02-21-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great beginning, but hard to stay with it"
    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    The beginning was very engaging--borderline genius, I thought. But the next several chapters just seemed to ramble on and on; I had no real sense of where the book might be going, or if it was even going anywhere at all. Eventually I gave up and stopped listening. The performance was a bit monotone, too. That wasn't too bad, but it may have added to the sense that the story was not progressing. Valis is thought-provoking but lacking in plot.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Entropical Disease 04-10-14
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    "Simply a Masterpiece"
    What made the experience of listening to Valis the most enjoyable?

    Few books have ever ignited my imagination so vividly. Or perhaps more properly, few books have ever truly spoken to my imaginal aspect in its native tongue... at all. But this one did, in a profound way.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Having experienced my own personal form of anamnesia, VALIS has continued, over many years, to serve as a quixotic touchstone of sorts, enabling a possibly tenuous connection with consensus reality to maintain its ontologocal integrity, or even dignity. There are precious few books that offer the victims of grace such an opportunity to experience that most wonderful aspect of art: feeling unalone.


    Which character – as performed by Tom Weiner – was your favorite?

    Tom Weiner did a fantastic job with the narration. Though I am asked to pick a favorite character vis-a-vis the narration, I am unable.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    A particularly moving moment? Hard to say. I don't want to leave any spoilers. I suppose I'll just drop one quote that stuck with me throughout the book, adding poignancy to Horselover Phat's frustrations, and a note of divine mercy to the lighter parts:

    "Mental illness is not funny."


    Any additional comments?

    This book isn't for everyone. As some have said, this is the most 'meta' of Dick's books. If reading philosophy bores you, so might VALIS. Which isn't to say there isn't a plot, or even some good laughs. But mainly the story takes place in the main character's head. This is Dick putting in novel form his personal struggle to understand a cluster of life changing mystical experiences. Not just the intellectual/ontological struggle, but also the human toll that such a struggle can and often does take upon the stricken party in the effort required to absorb, understand, and integrate such psychic traumas, which is what they are, no matter the imagined source or intent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    trevornewland Vancouver, BC, Canada 02-19-13
    trevornewland Vancouver, BC, Canada 02-19-13
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    "Amazing"
    What did you love best about Valis?

    One of Dick's best stories. An truly important book. Tough going, but worth the time for anyone interested in the nature of God.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott USA 04-19-12
    Scott USA 04-19-12 Member Since 2006

    “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…The man who never reads lives only one.” (George R. R. Martin)

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Navigating the Black Iron Prison"
    Where does Valis rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Probably in the top-10.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The complexity of it.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I don't think I have one particular favorite scene.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    I'm not sure. This would be very difficult to film.


    Any additional comments?

    Dick’s books, at least his good ones, are similar to David Lynch’s later works in that I am able to follow the story pretty well at first and then at some point I have no idea where I am. In some ways listening to Valis is like navigating a maze. It’s a complex work for science fiction, as it deals with Christianity and Gnosticism, Taoism, and psychoanalysis, and I believe it is Dick’s best novel, or if not his best then at least his most ambitious.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    marcus Berwyn, IL, United States 12-15-11
    marcus Berwyn, IL, United States 12-15-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Progressive documentation of his degeneration"

    into madness. Or maybe I'm too dense to get it. I have read most of P.K. Dick and recommend him highly, but not this one.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shawn Fairfax, VA, United States 11-14-10
    Shawn Fairfax, VA, United States 11-14-10 Member Since 2006
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    "Definately disorienting"

    ...and not in a good way. I have listened to many PKD titles which is the only reason why I selected this book and kept at it. If it had not been written by PKD, I would have walked away from it. Everything comes together at the end, but when the dust settles, I had to ask was it worth it? and I am not sure the answer is yes.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric C. Zawadzki Minneapolis, MN, United States 05-12-09
    Eric C. Zawadzki Minneapolis, MN, United States 05-12-09 Member Since 2007
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    "Couldn't get into it"

    I really enjoyed Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, but I couldn't get into this one. The style reminded me of Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions except without certain essential qualities that make Vonnegut so entertaining to read. There is something to this book, but it didn't grab me after reading about a quarter of the way through.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 11 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Robert
    Putney, United Kingdom
    11/25/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "At times it hilarious, other times complicated"
    If you could sum up Valis in three words, what would they be?

    Funny Complex Intriguing


    If you’ve listened to books by Philip K. Dick before, how does this one compare?

    I've read many Dick books, this was the first I listen to. Have since listened to two more. This is a good book, I did enjoy it. At times though it get really bogged down in thought processes, going off on tangents, talking about Gods. If you don't know what's being referred to it's hard to follow and you can't read at your own pace to take it in.

    When compared to the other this sits somewhere in the middle of Dick books. Can be followed by not completely straight forward.


    Which character – as performed by Tom Weiner – was your favourite?

    Kevin's cat was definitely my favourite.

    The performances by Tom were first class though.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Explain my dead cat


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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