In this lyrical and moving novel, Philip K. Dick intertwines the story of a toxic love affair with one about sentient robots, and unflinchingly views it all through the prism of mental illness - which spares neither human nor robot. The end result is one of Dick’s most quietly powerful works. When Louis Rosen’s electronic-organ company builds a pitch-perfect robotic replica of Abraham Lincoln, the firm is pulled into the orbit of a shady businessman, who is looking to use Lincoln for his own profit. Meanwhile, Rosen seeks Lincoln’s advice as he woos a woman incapable of understanding human emotions - someone who may be even more robotic than Lincoln’s replica.
©1979 Philip K. Dick (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
A man. A plan. A canal. Panama
I thought Phillip K. Dick was a better writer. This book did not age well. Not at all. Pass on this. Narration isn't too great either.
"One Man's Schizophrenia is Another Man's Happiness"
We Can Build You follows Dick's fascination with mental illness and what it is to be human, culminating in a remarkably good book that unfortunately loses its narrative theme once too many times to be considered a classic.
The story concerns Louis Rosen, a piano salesman, as he embarks on a joint venture with his business partner in recreating life like simulacra modelled after American civil war icons. During this he falls in love with his partners schizophrenic daughter and slowly tumbles down the rabbit hole into mental illness himself.
Although linked to Dick's novels of the same period 'Clans of the Alphane Moon' and 'The Simulacra', for me this work felt closer to his final novel 'The Transmigration of Timothy Archer'. Told from the first person, we see Rosen's attempts and failures at life and work, and his slow mental decline all told from the matter of fact and simple writing Dick is so well known for.
The problem with We Can Build You is that the main crux of the story, the building of a Abraham Lincoln simulacrum, gets overshadowed by the schizophrenia. An obvious way of portraying life's difficulties with the illness, but as a result lacks the mystery and adventure Dick can do so well.
If you are a fan of Dick's works then this will entertain and enthral you, as it covers so many of his themes. However the strong subject matter and disregard for the story's central narrative may turn some away.
The narration by Dan John Miller is perfect and truly brings the novel to life.
A five star by itself. In comparison to other Philip K. Dick works; an eight out of ten.
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