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Ubik [Kindle Edition]

Philip K. Dick
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (237 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“From the stuff of space opera, Dick spins a deeply unsettling existential horror story, a nightmare you’ll never be sure you’ve woken up from.”—Lev Grossman, Time

Glen Runciter runs a lucrative business—deploying his teams of anti-psychics to corporate clients who want privacy and security from psychic spies. But when he and his top team are ambushed by a rival, he is gravely injured and placed in “half-life,” a dreamlike state of suspended animation. Soon, though, the surviving members of the team begin experiencing some strange phenomena, such as Runciter’s face appearing on coins and the world seeming to move backward in time. As consumables deteriorate and technology gets ever more primitive, the group needs to find out what is causing the shifts and what a mysterious product called Ubik has to do with it all.

“More brilliant than similar experiments conducted by Pynchon or DeLillo.”—Roberto Bolaño


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Nobody but Philip K. Dick could so successfully combine SF comedy with the unease of reality gone wrong, shifting underfoot like quicksand. Besides grisly ideas like funeral parlors where you swap gossip for the advice of the frozen dead, Ubik (1969) offers such deadpan farce as a moneyless character's attack on the robot apartment door that demands a five-cent toll:

"I'll sue you," the door said as the first screw fell out.

Joe Chip said, "I've never been sued by a door. But I guess I can live through it."

Chip works for Glen Runciter's anti-psi security agency, which hires out its talents to block telepathic snooping and paranormal dirty tricks. When its special team tackles a big job on the Moon, something goes terribly wrong. Runciter is killed, it seems--but messages from him now appear on toilet walls, traffic tickets, or product labels. Meanwhile, fragments of reality are timeslipping into past versions: Joe Chip's beloved stereo system reverts to a hand-cranked 78 player with bamboo needles. Why does Runciter's face appear on U.S. coins? Why the repeated ads for a hard-to-find universal panacea called Ubik ("safe when taken as directed")?

The true, chilling state of affairs slowly becomes clear, though the villain isn't who Joe Chip thinks. And this is Dick country, where final truths are never quite final and--with the help of Ubik--the reality/illusion balance can still be tilted the other way. --David Langford, Amazon.co.uk

Review

'The best sci-fi mind on any planet' Rolling Stone

Product Details

  • File Size: 621 KB
  • Print Length: 241 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0547572298
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (April 17, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005LVR6ZA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,945 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
178 of 188 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Although "Ubik" wasn't the first Philip K. Dick novel I read (having read just about all of them now, it's hard to remember which was first, but I think it was "Martian Time-Slip"), I would recommend it as the best starting point for someone trying to decide if PKD is your cup of tea. "Ubik" has all of the major elements of the typical PKD novel (to the extent there is any typicality): (1) questioning of the meaning of reality; (2) an almost pathetic sense of humor in the face of the unraveling of reality; (3) an everyman protagonist; and (4) extreme readability despite a somewhat pedestrian writing style.
The plot can be summed up like this: some humans have psychic powers, but rather than being seen as heroes (as is the case in most sci-fi), they're possible sources of invasions of your privacy. Never fear, however, because some humans have developed anti-psychic powers -- they block the powers of the others. A bunch of anti-psychics go on a mission, but something goes wrong and they barely get away with their lives. Almost immediately, they notice that something is not right. Phone directories are out of date, coffee is disgustingly stale, and so on. Time, it seems, is flowing backwards!
For readers who aren't aware, PKD was one of the most influential sci-fi writers, with his reality-warping stories. His interest in this topic can be traced, no doubt, to his youthful experimentation with narcotics -- an experience recounted largely in "A Scanner Darkly."
PKD was an incredibly prolific writer; he wrote something like 16 novels in a five year stretch in the late-1960s, including "Ubik." Many of his best novels were written during that stretch.
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I laughed, I cried... December 28, 1999
By Ed Lee
Format:Paperback
This was the first PKD I ever read, so it's got some sentimental value...as it is, it's stood the test of time to remain one of my all time favorite PKD novels.
Supposedly one of the major influences on The Matrix (along with The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch), Ubik is about the subjectivity of physical reality, death, advertising, consumerism...
In the first few pages PKD introduces more ideas than most sci-fi (I cringe to pigeonhole him so, but it's the closest comparison) authors are capable of their entire careers.
You can't take this book on face value, it engages the reader so completely with it's energy, style and fiercely challenging ideas. Not to mention the plot twists, which will keep you guessing to the final page (without sounding too horribly cliched I hope).
For PKD vets it's comforting to revisit the world he established in his most blatantly sci-fi phase, with all the standbys like precogs, conapts, talking kitchen appliances, etc.
For PKD newbies Ubik is a perfect choice to start in on the incredible feast that are the novels of PKD - trust me.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic PKD December 31, 2002
Format:Paperback
I finished reading Ubik and I couldn't even start any other books for a week because I had to sit and think about everything that had just happened. I've read several other books by Mr. Dick and, while they are all excellent, this is the best. So far. It has everything that I have come to expect from him. You never quite know where reality is. Then you figure it out only to find that you are wrong. Then another twist comes. It has excellent pacing, a good bit of humour, and - of course - loads of wild ideas about life, death, the future, consumerism, dreams, drugs, psychic abilities, and the human condition.
The first few pages set up the stage for the story in a way that an average author would have required 100 pages of descriptions and explanations. And it all made sense. This is a good book if you have never been introduced to PKD's work, since it is very accessible and well written. It is required reading for any PKD fans who have not yet gotten around to it.
Just remember- it is safe when taken as directed.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, but not for beginners June 30, 2002
Format:Paperback
With UBIK, Dick wrote a book which is, in the same time, extremely pleasant to read and extremely confusing - quite a feat...
UBIK is a "best of" Dick's obsessions: it contains obvious reminiscences of The Eye in the Sky (the collective nightmare), The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (the greedy, almighty, elusive son of a b...), Counter-clock world (time running backwards), The World Jones Made (precognition), Time Out of Joint (the fake world), to name a few. In a way, it is also reminiscent of VALIS (the Godlike entity which communicates with the hero by mystical means), which was written 12 years after UBIK!
How could so many themes be exploited so intelligently in such a short novel? The answer is: thanks to Dick's straightforward style. In UBIK, every word counts. The hero, Joe Chip, races with Death: each passing minute lowers his chances to find a UBIK vaporizer and to save his skin. Through Dick's sparing use of words, the reader understands this message: if Joe Chip rests, he will die. Some of Dick's despisers criticize his so-called "hasty" style: can't they see that, thanks to this style, he could describe the undescribable? When you get rid of the superfluous, you get a chance to grab the true essence of horror. At least, that's what Dick thought; I personnally think he was right and that he should be remebered of today not only for his hallucinatory visions but also for his style.
The style allows Dick to exploit the above themes "intelligently", ie in depth and by intertwinig them. But it will probably not allow the reader to fully understand the book after the first reading, unless he's VERY familiar with Dick's tricks, mainly the different levels of reality.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Crazy, Confusing, and Wonderous
I got to be honest, I had completely no idea of what I was going to get into when I started reading Ubik by Philip K. Dick. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Anthony Agbay
4.0 out of 5 stars headline....
Interesting read...may have to go back and check some parts for early spoilers but enjoyed it on both my kindle and my phone...
Published 9 days ago by Craig A Hendrickson
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm not entirely sure I read it. And by the time you finish it, you...
Just when you think you've figured it out, it throws you another curve, making you question why you're questioning your initial conclusion.
Published 11 days ago by Some guy on the internet
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm not much of a book critic...
It was like reading about a dream with consumerist satire woven in. I've only read a few PKD stories and this one doesn't stand out as one of his best for me although I would love... Read more
Published 12 days ago by Nathaniel
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad
Not a bad book, with some realy good ideas, but it didn't blow me away.
Published 13 days ago by Waterschoot Serge
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic PKD! There are a lot of characters in ...
Classic PKD! There are a lot of characters in this book, which can sometimes make following what's going on somewhat difficult. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Mister K
5.0 out of 5 stars It left me wanting to read it again!
I really love the way some books leave you sitting there and marveling at the abillity of the author to catch your attention like that. This books does this and more. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Yiannis Miliatsis
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading
Classic but dated like 1984. Enjoyed reading it.
Published 19 days ago by Richard Africano
2.0 out of 5 stars Maybe it's me
Or maybe the book is dated. I just couldn't get into it, had to give up after several pages. Perhaps it would have been interesting in the 1960's.
Published 23 days ago by Just another reviewer
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit dated
Interesting concept but a bit too disjointed for me and an unsatisfactory ending after wading through all the details. Just ok not stellar.
Published 24 days ago by AmyCQ
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