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Valis Paperback – July 2, 1991

Book 1 of 3 in the VALIS Trilogy Series

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Paperback, July 2, 1991
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (July 2, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679734465
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679734468
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #473,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

The first of Dick's three final novels (the others are Divine Invasion and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer). Known as science fiction only for lack of a better category, "Valis" takes place in our world and may even be semi-autobiographical.

The proponent of the novel, Horselover Fat, is thrust into a theological quest when he receives communion in a burst of pink laser light. From the cancer ward of a bay area hospital to the ranch of a fraudulent charismatic religious figure who turns out to have a direct com link with God, Dick leads us down the twisted paths of Gnostic belief, mixed with his own bizarre and compelling philosophy. Truly an eye opening look at the nature of consciousness and divinity.

From Publishers Weekly

The quest for God is the binding theme of this trilogy. The "funny and painful and sometimes brilliant" VALIS(anagram) finds protagonist and Dick alter-ego Horselover Fat unable to reconcile human suffering with his belief in God. Invasion is a "fascinating and highly readable" vision of Armageddon, blending New Testament, Kabbalah and Dick's own worldview. In Transmigration , Angel Archer reminisces about her father-in-law, Timothy, an Episcopal bishop obsessed with a set of ancient scrolls that shed faith-threatening new light on Jesus: "This finely crafted, odd but compelling book demonstrates Dick's great erudition, keen human insight and subtle ironic sense of humor," said PW.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

VALIS is one of the finest books I've read.
What I do know is that I read this book in one day, one sitting, and I couldn't do anything else until I got to the end.
My favorite of the PKD books i've read thus far.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Accidentally Disastrous on March 2, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a huge PKD fan, and I put this among my favorite of the man's work. It is a difficult work, yes. It took me 3 tries before I could get through the first 70 or so pages. I feel that many of the reviewers here are overlooking a major part of the story. Yes, it's full of endless religious speculation and it is terrifically solipsistic and postmodern, but beyond all that, it is one of the most heart-wrenching books about grief that I have ever read. VALIS is not about YHWH in pink lasers, or the Gnostic gospels (Well, _of course_ it's about both of those things, just bear with me), it is about a man who has lost, and because of that, is lost. He cannot allow himself to understand death and goes on a quest to understand everything but. It's a brilliant novel, not one for everybody, but certainly one for the ages.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By CV Rick on October 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
Philip K Dick experienced something profound in 1974 after a long battle with drug addiction, depression, and paranoia . . . what that experience was can best be described as a hallucinatory encounter with God. This book may be fiction as it's labeled, but more likely it's as close to autobiography as Dick could remember of his life from 1974 to 1978.

Many people consider this to be an unreadable volume because of its surreal journey through the mind of one with some sort of severe psychosis, and of its wild switches from first to third person, not to mention the confusion with which Dick puts himself in the plot as both the protagonist and narrator, but those being two different people. Add to that a heavy dose of gnostic gospel and widely varied obscure theological elements from many cultures, and you have a book few can even understand in the first reading.

That said, I loved it. Why? Because its actually a journey of awareness through a universe where time doesn't really exist, chaos reigns because the creator is insane, and Philip K Dick has trouble keeping it together yet manages to birth an entire religious awakening at the same time.

Before reading it, please familiarize yourself with Taoism, Buddhism, Gnosticism and even Jungian Psychoanalysis as well as various creation mythologies - perhaps a little light reading in the Joseph Campbell library - then dive in and see what can happen when this is all revealed to one man in a beam of light.

- CV Rick
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56 of 66 people found the following review helpful By P. Nicholas Keppler on August 31, 2003
Format: Paperback
Before this, he had written about a robot-hunter who suspects he may be a robot himself and a world in which people age in reverse, but Valis is the point where Philip K. Dick really got weird. Based on a supposed experience of the author himself, Valis is the story of Horselover Fat, a man who God (or some being of the sort) contacted using a pinkish ray of light. Fat is a 60s burnout trying to survive in the 70s and this encounter encourages him to write an exegesis, explaining the workings of the universe which apparently include a race of three-eyed creatures and an elaborate system of holograms. Fat is egged on by a group of friends including the Catholic David, the cynical Kevin, the cancer-ridden Sherri and a science fiction named Philip K. Dick, who freely admits he is also Horselover Fat (It will almost make sense after you have read it). Valis is part postmodern experiment, part philosophical treatise and even part science-fiction novel. For people who like their literature inventive, pensive and consciously bizarre (and that is how most Dick fans like their literature), Valis is sure to be a winner.
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50 of 59 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on December 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book comes from the later stages of PKD's career, when he probably didn't even care about making his books accessible to the masses. That's something that up-and-comers have to do, and by this point PKD was surely trying to sort out his own personal philosophies in narrative form. You can see the websites for several different PKD fan clubs for speculation on what was going through his mind when he wrote this one. Here we have musings on religious visions, spiritual quests, and arcane ancient Greek and Gnostic Christian philosophies. Obviously one would also suspect experimentation in the arts of mind expansion, though in real life (if such a thing exists) PKD hated to be branded in that way. These are all played out by the typically off-center characters and curveball speculative plotlines of classic PKD.
This book can be quite frustrating at times, with long philosophical passages that are merely a mishmash of ideas PKD had come across in his personal studies, and that lead to philosophy overload but with little direction or grand overall insight to be found. Plus you have to wonder if this book is a literal or merely mental autobiography, or not an autobiography at all but one of PKD's subversive storytelling techniques, designed to warp the reader's mind. This book is told in both first and third person by the same character, a schizophrenic with two personalities that operate simultaneously and even interact with each other (a feature of several PKD stories). Here one of the two selves is the increasingly insane Horselover Fat and the other is his sane alter ego, who happens to be the author PKD himself. Ultimately, the mass philosophical confusion of this novel morphs into sheer fascination, albeit in a pretty cluttered way.
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