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Galactic Pot-Healer Paperback – May 31, 1994

3.9 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Paperback, May 31, 1994
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The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

What could an omnipresent and seemingly omnipotent entity want with a humble pot-healer? Or with the dozens of other odd creatures it has lured to Plowman's Planet? And if the Glimmung is a god, are its ends positive or malign? Combining quixotic adventure, spine-chilling horror, and deliriously paranoid theology, Galactic Pot-Healer is a uniquely Dickian voyage to alternate worlds of the imagination.

About the Author

Over a writing career that spanned three decades, Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) published 36 science fiction novels and 121 short stories in which he explored the essence of what makes man human and the dangers of centralized power. Toward the end of his life, his work turned toward deeply personal, metaphysical questions concerning the nature of God. Eleven novels and short stories have been adapted to film; notably: Blade Runner (based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Total Recall, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly. The recipient of critical acclaim and numerous awards throughout his career, Dick was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2005, and in 2007 the Library of America published a selection of his novels in three volumes. His work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (May 31, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679752978
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679752974
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,002,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
According to the author's biographer, Laurence Sutin, Dick didn't much care for this book. I can't imagine why, except that in his more determinedly resolute moments he may have considered the ending too patly pessimistic. I agree with Sutin's rating: Pot-Healer is a gem. Rarely for Dick, it has only a single point-of-view character, the pot-healer (not mender), stranded in a Stalinist USA of the 2040s, who is somewhat circuitously approached by the Glimmung - a possibly divine, certainly whimsical entity of faraway Plowman's Planet. The Glimmung is putting together a collaborative enterprise of life-forms from around the galaxy in order to raise a sunken cathedral, and along the way our hero meets with some spectacular inconveniences, including his own corpse and a book in which his future (or one of them) is inscribed (possibly), occasionally in language he can understand. This is one of Dick's funniest and most enjoyable books, putting a light touch to many of his favourite issues. It's as packed with energy and invention as any of his more famous works and, perhaps because of the single point of view, feels more focused and coherent than many - and this in spite of the fact that its epic plot and impressive special effects all take place within the space of less than a hundred and eighty pages.
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Format: Paperback
When a man finds a job offer floating in his toilet, he's either desperate or in a Philip K. Dick novel. Joe Fernwright, the title character in this novel, is, of course, both.
We might consider it odd that a job offer in a place like that should lead Joe Fernwright to his life's purpose, but this is, after all, PKD's world; the job offer does exactly that. At the start of his story, Fernwright has little else to hold onto - his ex-wife thinks he's a joke and tells him so as often as possible, the craft of ceramic repair that he loves is useless in his plastic age, his government gives him no privacy even in dreams. It's part of PKD's brilliance to give us such a character - we believe that Joe Fernwright would accept the offer in his bathroom tank, just on the off-chance that it might restore his dignity and give his life some meaning.
The search for meaning is not an uncommon theme for PKD, but "Galactic Pot-Healer" is different in the extent to which Joe Fernwright's search is conducted alone. There's community in it, to be sure; on the other hand, Fernwright begins and ends the book in isolation, an unusual state for PKD characters. It's an important one, though, because although his isolation at the end of the book saddens him, he is content.
It would be unfair to suggest that he's content with his isolation because every other character in the story drives him crazy, but any reader might be excused for saying so. Most of these beings, human and non-human alike, change their attitudes from paragraph to paragraph for no discernable reason, which can get dizzying real quick. For instance, Joe has a love interest, Mali.
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Format: Paperback
Philip K. Dick wrote over forty novels, most of them science fiction. Often churning out books with the expectation that the paperback editions would have the shelf life of lettuce and then vanish from the earth never to be read again, he often repeated himself and took huge leaps of absurdity, sometimes for the sake of laughter, sometimes to work himself out of a painted plot corner. Galatic Pot-Healer is one of his lesser novels, a fast read and almost comic book in its imagery and characters. It recycles some names and concepts from earlier works (his children's story "Nick and the Glimmung" comes to mind) and contains some unexplained absurdities, but it shines out from his other lesser works with its deep use of Gnostic theology and metaphysical ideas couched in science fiction narrative.
The Glimmung is a Jabba-The-Hut-like creature, weighing 40,000 pounds, living on a remote planet but being capable of physical projecting himself by unknown means to other planets where he appears to a select group of humans sometimes in the form of an albatross, sometimes in the form of a hoop of fire and a hoop of water intersected with a paisley carpet and a teenage girl's face floating in the middle. This is clearly a comic composite of Zeus and Jehovah with a heavy dash of Judeo-Christian mysticism thrown into the mix. The Glimmung bundles up his small group of artisans from Earth (including Joe Fernwright, the Pot Healer of the title who can restore antique ceremaics) to come to his home planet to raise the ruins of the ancient temple of the Fog-Things, known as Heldscala, from the ocean floor to restore the ancient way and bring peace back to the planet.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of PKD's more obscure titles, and in some ways, this status is warranted. Of all Dick's novels, I found Galactic Pot-Healer to be the most unconstrained and it is certainly not for the uninitiated. Even though I've read almost all of his other works, the convoluted plot and the always transient identity of the Glimmung was very confusing. But, as Dick's career attests to, just because it's unconventional doesn't mean it can't be successful in a quirky sort of way. And I think because of this, Pot-Healer is one of Dick's funniest books. I just love the part where Joe is trapped in the box and calls in to the radio talk show, asking where he is. But the focus of the book is a very serious exploration of metaphysical interplay between the Glimmung and his (her?) antithesis the Black Glimmung. Strangely, there was something about Joe's investigation that I found terrifying. Even more than The Game Players of Titan, the paranoia is tangible and omnipresent, and it makes Pot-Healer a very dark book. It is NOT light metaphysical comedy, and Dick never provides the reader with sure footing or any character that can truly be trusted. I recommend checking out a few of the more straightforward PKD books (The Man in the High Castle, Now Wait for Last Year) before reading this, because, though it is one of his shorter works, it can be daunting for someone unacquainted with PKD.
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