From Publishers Weekly
Miller's follow-up to Sudden Noises from Inanimate Objects
once again experiments with narrative, exploring the life and death of prolific science fiction novelist Phoebus K. Dank through a definitive encyclopedia of the author's work; the commentators—one sycophantic, one antagonistic—devote as much space writing about themselves as they spend on their subject. Dank, based loosely on Philip K. Dick, wrote scores of novels involving secret Martians, twins and doppelgängers, enhanced or diminished senses, and near-futures in which global warming and new viruses lead mankind in drastic new directions. Unlike Dick (who features in one of Dank's alternate universe tales), Dank is an extraordinary hack (though one of his commentators would violently disagree). The book is clever and often very funny, and the murder mystery at its heart is more complex than it first appears. A near total lack of dialogue, though, creates a feeling of endless description, and the structure lends itself to momentum-crippling padding. This novel should prove a delight, though, to science fiction fans with a sense of humor about their genre. (Apr.)
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There has been an enthusiastic resurgence of interest in Philip K. Dick ever since his death in 1982. Given the many biographies, reissued novels, and films based on his stories, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to spoof Dick’s unconventional life and literary legacy. In this “encyclopedia” of the late Phoebus K. Dank, the likenesses to Dick’s career are frequent and only thinly veiled. As were his counterpart’s, Dank’s formative years are spent in Berkeley, and his writing career moves from churning out potboiler fiction to winning sf awards while suffering intermittent psychological breakdowns. The encyclopedia’s A-to-Z entries constitute a fanciful mixture of Dank trivia, plot descriptions of Dank’s myriad stories, and thematic analysis. The most entertaining elements, however, are the arguments, sprinkled throughout the entries, among the volume’s Dank-obsessed biographers, one of whom is responsible for Dank’s demise. Must reading for Dick fans and anyone who enjoys a little irreverent fun at the expense of a literary idol. --Carl Hays