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The Man Who Japed Paperback – November 12, 2002

4 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Released in 1967 and 1956, respectively, these volumes offer Dick's usual bleak outlook for the future. In CounterClock World, time begins moving backwards, and, as a result, there is a reanimation of the dead, including a religious leader who has amassed a sizable number of followers since his demise. Back above ground, he finds himself worshipped by millions who will do anything he says, making him quite dangerous. Japed follows a similar theme in the character of Allen Purcell, a highly placed politico who has the power to change the world. Dick fans and Blade Runner nuts will be glad to see these.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Dick is entertaining us about reality and madness, time and death, sin and salvation." —Ursula K. LeGuin

Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (November 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375719350
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375719356
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,525,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is very short, and it is quite straightforward for PKD. As this is one of his earlier works, I was expecting an extremely outdated view of the future, but surprisingly, PKD kept the details of the mechanisms vague enough that there were no glaring 'futurisms', such as those that jammed the first chapter of "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch". Simply stating that they took a ship between planets rather than inventing the Amazing Steam-Powered Punch-Card Engine helped the book a lot.
Despite the fact that this book came before PKD really started to 'write outside the box', I was expecting the traditional PKD chestnuts- the nature of reality, psychotherapy, bleak futures, evil robots, etc.- to be mostly overlooked. Happily, he managed to investigate most of his favorite topics without tripping over himself or screwing up the plot, as he did in "The Simulacra". The plot flowed straight and true, and although one part seemed a little forced, it didn't detract from the book- it was simply a wee bit off.
If you are new to PKD, you should give this book a try, but don't expect any cosmic insights, just a good book. You might also try "Time Out Of Joint". If you are familiar with PKD, you should read this as his inventive take on the good old distopian novel. It is also proof that though the man wrote a lot of mind-bending novels, he could also get a point about individuals in a distopian system across perfectly clearly.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"At seven A.M., Allen Purcell, the forward-looking young president of the newest and most creative of the Research Agencies, lost a bedroom," and so begins the Man Who Japed.

This novel, published in 1956, a product of the very early period of Philip K. Dick's career, is an immense step forward from his inferior, disjointed, and amateurish novel, The World Jones Made. The uncanny feeling, which one associates with PKD when reading his later and more famous works, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Martian Time-Slip (Among others), is apparent from the very first line. For example, Purcell's apartment randomly changes shape - his oven is a table that is a sink that is a food cupboard - his intelligent, caring, and somewhat bewildered wife constantly sedates herself with a vast array of drugs - and mankind emigrates to other planets and moons. The most surprising element is Allen Purcell himself, a remarkably well-rounded character (albeit as a previous reviewer noted, the secondary characters are flat as ironed cardboard).

Also, the society of The Man Who Japed is remarkably vivid. The reader must remember that this book was written in the late 50s so concepts and societies that we might consider cliché were fresh off the oven (the totalitarian masterpiece 1984 had only been around for 7 years). The Man Who Japed takes place in 2114 after a nuclear war in a society founded upon Puritanical ideals (no extra marital sex or classic books). Allen Purcell simultaneously creates propaganda 'brochures' and debases symbols of the regime without understanding his own motivations. He eventually must decide if he is to change society.

All in all, this is a very good effort.
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Format: Paperback
In this delightful early (1956) effort, Philip K. Dick reaches all the way back to Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" and all the way forward to Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
To jape is to cut up, to spoof outrageously a la Monty Python. Dick's hero, Allen Purcell, is about to assume the most powerful media position on the planet; at the same time, he is in fear of being imminently arrested for a jape involving the mutilation of a monument to Morec's beloved founder, the infamous Major Streiter.
Morec is short for Moral Reclamation, a kind of Moral Majority Heaven on Earth in which any offenses -- most particularly of the sexual variety -- trigger vicious Maoist self-criticism meetings culminating in the loss of one's apartment lease. And without a lease, there's nowhere to go but the outer planets.
Philip K. Dick weaves in a number of themes masterfully, from the devastation following a nuclear holocaust to the "Health Resort," a scheme for processing those who crack under the strain of Morec. There are juveniles everywhere (not what you think), not to mention the Cohorts, Active Assimilation, the Domino Method, "nooses," and the usual panoply of brilliant Dick inventions, such as all food dishes being enclosed in quotes, as in "His 'eggs' were cooling on the plate."
There are arresting throwaway lines such as when the character of Sue Frost is introduced: "Her eyes, he noticed, were an almost colorless straw. A strong kind of substance, and highly polished."
Although he has been compared to Borges and Kafka, Dick is very much an American original. THE MAN WHO JAPED's unusual combination of paranoia and a wicked sense of humor is unique, as if Orwell's Winston Smith in 1984 were played by John Cleese.
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Format: Paperback
At the beginning of this novel, the hero gets in trouble with his client for failing to make the moral content of his product clear enough. That's not a problem with the novel itself - the moral of "The Man Who Japed" is very plain. Don't run away, though - for a novel concerning the values and limitations of public morals, it's mercifully low on preaching.

Allen Purcell lives in a world governed by Morec, which stands for Moral Reclamation, a governmental system developed by one Major Streiter hundreds of years before the story begins, and designed to protect civilization against waste and vice after a nuclear holocaust. Purcell contributes his bit by running an agency that produces scripts for television shows and sells them to the government-run media outlet. Each of these scripts has to have a moral, of course, for the edification of the public. Like everyone else, Purcell also has to lead a morally upright life or face the possibility of eviction from the one-room apartment he shares with his wife Janet, not to mention public disgrace and economic ruin. Mechanical spies crawl all over everything to make sure that he and everyone else tows the line, and he and his neighbors gather in local meeting halls every few weeks to pass judgment on each other.

None of this bothers him much, of course - he's used to it and believes in the values he was born into. Then one dark night, someone vandalizes the government's big statue of Major Streiter in a way that turns it into a big joke, and evidence suggests that Purcell did it, although he has little or no memory of the incident.

Now, this was one of Philip K. Dick's earliest novels, and you will not be surprised to learn that the moral of the story is a pretty simple affair.
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