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Publisher's Summary

What is VALIS? This question is at the heart of Philip K. Dick's groundbreaking novel, the first book in his defining trilogy. When a beam of pink light begins giving a schizophrenic man named Horselover Fat (who just might also be known as Philip K. Dick) visions of an alternate Earth where the Roman Empire still reigns, he must decide whether he is crazy or whether a godlike entity is showing him the true nature of the world.

VALIS is essential listening for any true Philip K. Dick fan, a novel that Roberto Bolaño called "more disturbing than any novel by [Carson] McCullers." By the end, like Dick himself, you will be left wondering what is real, what is fiction, and just what the price is for divine inspiration.

©1981 Philip K. Dick (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

What listeners say about Valis

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Life changing

This is exactly the kind of story I need to hear. If you are dealing with depression or you feel alone and confused about the Universe, I would highly recommend this book. It maybe baffling at times, but that just makes me feel more connected with the characters (especially Dick himself). It won't make you less crazy, but you might feel less alone. You may even find a spark of faith you never thought you had.

31 people found this helpful

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Definitely not for those who are new to PKD

I’m really shocked that anyone who hasn’t read a few PKD books would start with this one...it’s definitely a great book and it’s not like you can’t understand it at all without having read his other books, however, you will have a much easier time discerning what’s fact and what’s fiction if you know the author better and have read some of his other books. Some of the ideas in this book are scattered through out his other books, the Tibetan book of the dead is a big theme in Ubik, seeing god then becoming depressed to the point of suicide was also a theme in Scanner Darkly, the clay pots and young girl theme comes up in Three Stigmata. When you read into the author, you find out these are based on real life experiences. So much of the first half of this book is based on his real life experiences, actually. It helps to have those novels to connect some of these ideas to.

I was obsessed with the first half of this book, and it wasn’t until the last 2 chapters or so that I felt myself being slightly uninterested. In usual PKD fashion, the ending was sort of a flop. However, the book in its entirety was so good it didn’t totally ruin it for me at all. And there are two more to this series. Looking forward to them.

5 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

Creative and cleverly witty. An impressive mix of theology, gnosticism, psychology and humor. Expertly narrated.

5 people found this helpful

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love this book

really helps me deal with the hard days and the sad times to search for a God with PKD. hopefully something has my back.

4 people found this helpful

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Horselover Fat, Marin County, Is this even real?

Would you listen to Valis again? Why?

Yes. I enjoyed the book, but like before I will follow along in the text. I found it useful to make use of both formats.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Horselover Fat is a fantastic character for many reasons: 1. he transposes his visions/dreams to what could be alternative realities of real life on Earth, 2. he is basically Philip K. Dick so he is automatically amazing.

What about Phil Gigante’s performance did you like?

His voice with a hint of "southern-ness" when speaking for Horselover Fat aided to his characterization, particularly when trying to shape a character who is altogether somewhat unreliable and could be perceived as lacking in his mental faculties.

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

Is this even real?

3 people found this helpful

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Briljant, original or ramblings

Can't make up my mind on this one. So much philosophical rambling and semi religious stuff that I was waiting for it to end really badly. But it brilliantly weaves aliens with dreamworld with religion and science into one big hallucination that makes it really hard to pin down.

3 people found this helpful

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PKD’s strangest and perhaps best book

Valis is a total trip. It tells the story of Horse Lover Fat, a mentally unwell man who is trying to get in touch with a higher life form. From there it just gets crazier and crazier, partly a piece of meta fiction, partly philosophical ramblings. Overall a masterpiece. Enjoy!

1 person found this helpful

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A caution:

Hearing this story may cause: Strange Dreams, Derealization, a breakdown of the listener’s Ontological, Epistemological, Philosophical, and Theological beliefs and assumptions, or cause the listener to see patterns where none exist.

But relax, it’s a great story, and really should be heard. Besides, I’m sure your the kind of reader to realize it’s just a silly science-fiction pseudo-autobiography written by a mad man. Certainly not the type to be shaken by something as trivial as a novel...


Right?

1 person found this helpful

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Thought provoking

Nice fun read! Thank you to those involved for producing this book. Let me get some of that pink light PKD.

1 person found this helpful

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Speculation meets madness--but misses an editor

With a very talented editor, this could have proved a worthwhile work. There are scattered esoteric commentaries on classical myths and canonical works of art and music in the Western heritage which I found to be of interest, and the explication of Horselover Fat's hodgepodge bricolage cosmology *at times* -- such as the high stakes conversation with Dr. Stone in the psychiatric ward -- serves a compelling dramatic interest. While the unique dynamic between the reasonable narrator Phil and his hallucinatory alterego Fat is a productive one, and while Phil's role in bringing the counterpoint personalities of Kevin and David into skeptical relief enriches the texture, this arguably delicious batter decidedly fails to serve up viable cookies owing to 2 chief flaws: 1. its lack of events of import that we can connect with a *relatable human interest* whose future fate is at stake (this is much needed to counterbalance and contextualize a text heavy in dry, esoteric commentary). 2. it's veritable diarrhoea of half-formulated, whispy attempts at a thematic syntheses of a vast catalogue of mythic, religious and philosophical sources with personal, paranormal visions.

Were a slightly more learned or ironical artist like Thomas Pynchon or Umberto Eco to undertake the same literary project, attempt to weave the same torturous metaphysical unity from the same amateurish smattering of comparative religion source texts, the results would be far more salient, far more piquant, since such high stakes require a critical distance between the author and his or her subject matter. Otherwise, instead of subordinating the panoply of presented material to the rhetorical and dramatic aims of the presenter--in short, to communicative ends--the reader is fated to drown within the slow whirlpool of fulminations that a particular, personal catharsis imposes on the same materials. Dick clearly lacks this vital distance between his personal psycho-philo-theological imbroglios and the narrative means that will convey their import to his readers. Despite the attempts of Phil to periodically reinterpret the mystical forrays of Fat or David as poetic projections of pyschological trauma (say, in Fat's case, by the loss of Sherri or Gloria), Dick fails to create a forward-stretching string of consequence which will rationally confirm or supernally explode these speculations in a way we care about...Since these real world dramatic anchors are what anchor the flights of fancy to our sympathetic interest, Dick's relative inattention to their counterpoint with the messianic quest means that he catalogues, rather than immerses his readers in the grand mysteries' relevance to his subjects. The event, detail, anticipation, the arousal of sympathy to characters' core interests is outweighed by sloppy mystical problem solving. Hence, in this book, Dick remains unable to convert his highly promising novelistic premise into a palatable whole. The work is therefore to be appreciated for certain of its parts (which predominate the first and not the second half), its unique storyworld and diegetic POTENTIAL, and a few, but only a few, of its Theosophic musings.

The narrator strikes an admirably appropriate tone to the uneven material Dick tasks him with rendering into speech. He intones the neo-Gnostic axioms of H. Fat with the pitch-perfect, eerie adamancy, mixed with autonomic flatness that would befit a perplexed--and arguably insane--zealot of the Nous who, despite his ever-evolving views, must aver each new inference with sacerdotal solemnity and propound each hazy revelation with oracular assurance.

1 person found this helpful

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  • MatCult
  • 10-15-15

Brain-bending brilliance

First I want to mention the excellent performance by Phil Gigante. His reading is pacy and expressive, really bringing the story to life.

The book itself is a deep, profound meditation on the nature of reality itself, on mental illness and theology. It incorporates elements of science fiction in an unusual way. The result is a book like no other I have ever read. Mind expanding, thought provoking, strange and wonderful.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Jonathan D
  • 11-06-16

Gnosis

Christ is a physician
The Buddha is in the park
Sophia lives and speaks yes

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  • thereadaholic
  • 03-30-17

Confusing ramblings of a mental breakdown

Would you try another book written by Philip K. Dick or narrated by Phil Gigante?

I love most of Philip K Dick's books and Phil Gigante is a great narrator but this actual 'novel' is just a stream of consciousness of an intelligent man who has had a mental breakdown.

Would you ever listen to anything by Philip K. Dick again?

Yes. most of his books are a fantastic mind-f@ck.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Philip K Dick is a highly intelligent man and has lots of interesting ideas and perspectives but this book just seemed to ramble with no point.