A Scanner Darkly

Narrated by: Paul Giamatti
Length: 9 hrs and 12 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2,318 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Bob Arctor is a dealer of the lethally addictive drug Substance D. Fred is the police agent assigned to tail and eventually bust him. To do so, Fred takes on the identity of a drug dealer named Bob Arctor. And since Substance D, which Arctor takes in massive doses, gradually splits the user's brain into two distinct, combative entities, Fred doesn't realize he is narcing on himself.

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.
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Drugs are bad

Having lived through it, Dick nailed the 60s drug culture perfectly. I thought it was very funny and well written, love Dicks books.

116 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profound

I first read this book as a daily opiate addict. I connected with it on an emotional level and felt understood in a lot of ways. I'm thankful to have escaped my own nemesis with minimal long term damage. It was interesting to re-read this on the flip side. I have great empathy for the characters and the millions of people they represent both deceased and still breathing.

6 people found this helpful

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Giamatti is excellent narrator, it's a pleasure!

Paul Giamatti should narrate more books, because he is just perfect for this.
The story itself felt somewhat disjointed, so I actually watched the 2006 movie with the same name - A Scanner Darkly to fill in the gaps & give me the full grasps of the story, still in the end it leaves you feel like it is a collection of vignettes that the author PKD experienced himself when going through the drug abuse & recovery period of his life, so I would say this book has less sci-fi elements and it is more about life experiences and stories from the dark side of the society.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Good but what the heck is going on

I liked it. It was engaging and kept my interest which far too few books do these days. However, I either missed it or it wasn't fully explained exactly what the heck was happening in the bigger picture ie with Donna and the guy from new passage. I would have liked to known... Oh well. Paul is a great narrator, I had no idea. I will listen to more of his if he does something other than Stephen King.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

"Dark" is the operative word

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.

34 people found this helpful

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hmm....

I think PKD was on Substance D when he wrote this. Many spots were confusing. Way too many rambling conversations. The narrator was excellent though. He really brought the characters to life. If not for the narrator I would not have finished this book.

1 person found this helpful

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very good book.

Great book, Paul Giamatti does an excellent read.
very very good listen. The way the story slowly drips down into the end result is rarely done better.
dialogue is very well written also.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Brillant Novel, Read to Perfection!

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.

23 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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A long, drugged out rant

I have heard that PKD didn't spend a lot of time editing his work. If he had, he would have removed the nonsensical ranting about nothing that makes up the first half of the book. The second half is interesting, and the narrator is decent, but your credit is better spent elsewhere.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Listen for the narrator alone!

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!

11 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 07-08-19

Giamatti Nails It

Perfect casting. Paul Giamatti’s various intonations, character voices and general growl are well-matched companions to PKD’s gruelling, hilarious and tragic journey through the psyche.