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on April 5, 2014
I've ready pretty much all of the sci-fi novels of Philip K. Dick (and some of the mainstream ones) and I consider him a genius of transcendental ideas and speculative nightmares. Biochemistry, physics, cybernetics, politics, history, Japanese culture, opera, hi-fi fidelity--all are his métier, immersed in a hallucinatory traumatized reality (and irreality). In "Galactic Pot Healer," Joe Fernwright a "healer" of broken pots, living on an overpopulated totalitarian Earth, is summoned to Plowman's Planet by a massive pancake-shaped creature or demigod called the Glimmung. The multifarious residents of other planets--including gastropods, jellied invertebrates, and a gray-skinned female with whom he falls in love--who are experts in specialized fields, such as hydraulic engineering and graphic archaeology, have also been summoned by Glimmung to participate in the epic task of raising a sacred Cathedral from the ocean. One of the major obstacles to success is the existence of the Black Cathedral, its malignant twin, resting alongside it on the ocean floor. Another is the Book of Kalends, which is constantly being rewritten to account for the ever-changing present, and which also predicts the future. Two significant predictions are that the Cathedral-raising project will fail and that Joe will kill Glimmung.

This minor masterpiece is replete with humor, myth and mysticism, and offers the proposition that every person's life has a purpose, however bizarre that purpose might be, and that he or she must find it and cling to it if existence is to have any meaning.
It is a short but incredible read.
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on February 8, 2017
This is one of the stranger Philip K. Dick books I've read (which is saying something) and is an amazingly prescient look at the loss of hope and purpose in the 21st Century. Many questions are asked, few are answered, and the book ends with an amazingly funny one liner. What more could you ask for?
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on January 24, 2014
This is another PKD sci-fi effort that is wild, vivid, and touches on philosophical matters. It's like nothing else in the world, except for his own books. IMO this one is up there in his top 20, and the difference between most of those is not so great as reductionists like to pretend. He works magic here, and brings a unique world to life. The book does not have a great ending ... and in fact I think that he went on to spend a lot of the the 1970's and early 1980's trying to find a way to express some of these themes (which resemble VALIS and the Exegesis) from slightly different angles, perhaps striving for some type of ending or more perfect resolution.
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on August 4, 2015
Another great crazy science fiction novel from the inimitable Philip K Dick. Darkness and paranoia are always evident, including imaginative and unpredictable plots with unearthly characters. Dick lived in the Bay Area during the 50s and 60s, and some of the flavor of that period, such as creating modern ceramics and making contemporary jewelry, often make their way into his books. I enjoy these personal insights of Dick's, which just add to the scope of his talents. I love this book and highly recommend it.
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on May 3, 2010
My first impression of this book was from a review I read about this book (maybe on Goodreads) that said that Dick did not think much of this work of his.... Yeah, not the most inspiring thing, yet I had such a blast with "Martian Time-Slip" on Audio Cassette, that when I saw this had the same guy reading it, I felt I had to have it.

Actually my first impression would have been just reading the title "Galactic Pot-Healer"--- Well, Hell Yeah!
Well it turns out it is not what it sounds like,.... :)

Ok so on one level I would admit that this is not among Dick's greatest works, but on another level I think "God, what an imagination this man had, and I love all the weird places it takes me!" I love all the weird aliens (and robot "Willis") that Dick introduces us to, and of course the wonderful blend of Science-Fiction and Theology (for want of a better word,[ or maybe Philosophy:]) that is so characteristic of PKD.
"What's not to love?" I kept asking myself as I listened to this strange idiosyncratic tale, and I found most of the time, I was loving it.

What's it all about? Hahahahaha, You figure it out
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on January 26, 2015
One of my favorite books by him, wish the seller made it a bit cheaper though.
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on April 2, 2017
You rarely see "Galactic Pot-Healer" rated as one of PKD's best works. I don't know why. Oh, certainly it doesn't have the gravitas of "The Man in the High Castle", nor quite the unsettling atmosphere of "VALIS", or the pop-culture cred of "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep". Who cares? I love Galactic Pot-Healer because it is so unabashedly, messily insane. This was clearly written, as were many of PKD's books, at a breakneck speed. PKD claimed to be able to write up to 70 pages of final copy a day (with the use of certain, ahem, pharmaceuticals), and I'm sure this book was written in such a state. It's full of wild ideas, but they fly at you like a cloud of rabid bats released from long-term underground confinement. A future world of dreary, state-controlled slavery! Check. Messages from God found floating in a toilet! Check. A book that reveals the future! Check. A commission to raise a temple from an alien sea bed! Check. What it lacks in coherent structure and pacing it more than makes up with the sheer amount of hilariously brilliant images, settings, characters and deities that flit across the pages. Perhaps one or two of them will roost in your own mind. PKD was America's own, private, wigged-out demiurge and this is one of his most cuckoo books. Check it out, man.
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on July 18, 2017
Galactic Pot-Healer is an odd melange of concepts all rolled into a strange, almost nonsensical journey of Joe Fernwright, Pot-Healer. It's 2046 and the set up is very much like 1984 where Big Brother is everywhere and constantly waiting for you to screw up, put you in your place and remind you you're nothing.

Joe is a regular guy trying to use his talents as pot healer (and by that, he restores ceramic pots; that's it, nothing else to it) but there just isn't any work these days. His office day job consists of sitting at his desk and playing The Game, which involves translating tongue-twisty and oddly used words to name real titles of classic works. After awhile, he realizes that there is no point to his own existence. He has no purpose. He's a failure. His talent has no meaning and thus, why live at all? Just when he's contemplating suicide, he gets an anonymous note from some being who wants to employ his talents and for a great deal of money. Not only that, but a purpose, something for Joe to do that will make him feel useful. And so, along with others from various planets, Joe goes to Plowman's Planet. However, he soon realizes that it's not so much about pots, but about the journey, fate, dreaming in philosophy, and gods.

Enter the Glimmung. An esoteric, god-like entity whose only goal is to raise the Cathedral that has been submerged at the bottom of the plant for centuries. The Glimmung is both savior and trickster and something else entirely. As Joe embarks on this adventure, he comes face to face with his own value as a being, as part of existence itself while trying to understand the Glimmung's real intent. Is it for good, or evil? Why did this being bring Joe and all the others to this one planet? And will he survive the choices he's made and will any of it have any meaning?

Okay. SO. This is my second read of PDK. I loved Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and like that book--it was weird, kind of depressing (but not grim and drag you down depressing, just kind of pathetic and sad depressing) and sort of meandering but quite philosophical at times. It's less sci-fi (to me), which acts more like dressing since everything felt like it was on Earth with aliens all acting like humans and fully aware of earth sayings and history, but whatever. Initially, for the first half of the book, I had no clue what the heck was going on and why but I felt there was a 'point', but whether I'd understand was a whole other thing. The way PDK weaves this story makes you think it'll go one way and that it'll be somehow related to this pot-healing aspect but it's not at all what I thought. The pot-healing byline is really a doorway for Joe to start reflecting inward about himself, his purpose in the universe and ultimately, why he took a chance, a huge risk to leave Earth for a harebrained 'job offer'. Like Joe, the others that also arrive on Plowman's Planet, are as lost and directionless, alone and lonely as him. The strength of their convictions for leaving their planets is about avoiding constant failure in their old lives, and to seek something new, elemental, true meaning; and perhaps, a usefulness that they've never had.

The second half, we have a sort of mythos-mystery that starts to emerge about the Glimmung, and why he really brought everyone together--and that's when the real plot of the story also comes to light. The real question that arises is about fate, about the self and understanding one self. The way PDK challenges our hero is forcing him to make decisions about his future. If, by knowing what is supposed to happen, even if it's his eventual demise, will he play it safe and go back to his planet or will he find the strength in himself to test fate and to keep taking a chance, to not keep failing. For Joe, he's trying to do what's right, for him, even if it means his life. This story is about Joe re-discovering himself as a man, a human, and just another lifeform amongst lifeforms with the same problems as him but in a loopy, strange, and oftentimes illogical route that only PDK can do and still make somewhat intriguing, baffling and even humorous. The dark, gritty humor of PDK's style is rampant in this book. The dry wit and subtle delivery came at the right time when I felt the story was starting to get unwieldy.

The plot moved super fast and there were a lot of moments where you just had to go with the flow and accept the plot holes and the many 'how can that happen' parts. Even though you want to stop and analyze, don't. Just keep reading and don't overthink it, you'll enjoy it more. Despite the flaws, I couldn't stop reading it and read it fairly quickly and it's not a difficult read and there are some really great inner dialogue from Joe that is as honest and poetic as it is sad and poignant--like PDK was talking about himself through Joe.

In the end, this is not a book for everyone but I won't mind re-reading it. It reminded me Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach Trilogy. It had that unknowable, clever, uniqueness to it that will stay long after I've read it. GPH is completely mad-hatter and absurd, at the surface of it. But I think that was the main point but underneath... It's definitely dynamic, working on several levels and PDK is clearly a man that had lot of thoughts about everything and wove it seamlessly into his narrative. It certainly isn't the best book I've ever read but it was original, creative, even gutsy and *mostly* entertaining. It was food for thought and it's a kind of book with a message that is left up to the reader and I sense, there is no real right to wrong discovery of that message.
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on November 24, 2015
One of Phillip K. Dick’s most absurdist novels (and that’s saying something), Galactic Pothealer (1969) follows the adventures of Joe Fernwright, a pot healer (literally someone who repairs ceramic items) in the future Earth of the 2040s (which sound suspiciously like the USSR of the 1950s where the state has its eye on everything each citizen does, even the most mundane—this is also one of Dick’s most overtly libertarian books).

He and some others from around the galaxy are brought to a distant planet where they will be tasked with helping raise an ancient sunken cathedral that will supposedly bring on the Age of Aquarius or some such thing on that planet.

As is the case with many of Dick’s books, the premise exceeds the execution. Frankly, I wish the story had stayed on good old Planet Earth, and Dick had explored his dystopian society a bit more instead of giving us the extraterrestrial episode of Sea Hunt he winds up with.
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on April 25, 2011
Philip K. Dick's 24th published sci-fi novel, the whimsically titled "Galactic Pot-Healer," first saw the light of day as a Berkley Medallion paperback in June 1969, with a cover price of 60 cents. It both followed up and preceded two of its author's finest and most beloved works, 1968's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" and 1969's "Ubik," and if not in the same rarefied league as those two, remains a fine yet mystifying addition to the Dickian canon nevertheless. In the book, in the dystopian Cleveland of 2046, we meet a depressed individual named Joe Fernwright. A ceramics repairman in a world now largely gone plastic, Joe spends his useless days sitting in a cubicle, waiting for work that never comes and playing retranslated word games via computer with "friends" around the globe (a la the Internet games of today!). Joe's lot is rapidly changed when a message in a bottle (found in his toilet tank, of all places) informs him that the semidivine being Glimmung wishes him to travel to Sirius 5 (aka Plowman's Planet) and assist an interstellar team in raising the cathedral Heldscalla from the oceanic depths of that world's Mare Nostrum. Joe's adventures of Sirius 5, and his budding relationship with the gray-skinned sweetie from Proxima, Mali Yojez, make up the bulk of this somewhat atypical novel from P.K. Dick.

In truth, I'm having a bit of trouble writing about this novel, even more so than I had with Dick's largely unfathomable "Lies, Inc." "Galactic Pot-Healer" is simply written and tells a simple story, and yet it is difficult to tell whether its author is trying to make subtle statements or if everything is on the surface. Do the Glimmung and its dark doppelganger represent some sort of Zoroastrian-like cosmology or are they merely cool action elements in Dick's story? Sirius 5's Book of the Kalends, which predicts the futility of the Heldscalla endeavor: Is this just another fun story element, or is Dick making some kind of veiled pronouncement regarding free will vs. determinism? Joe's decision to go off on his own, at the novel's end: merely a nifty wrap-up or Dick saying how individual creativity is more important than love, companionship and teamwork? It is hard to know for sure, as none of these disparate story elements is explored with any great persistence. As usual, some of the author's pet themes and obsessions are touched on, including religion, suicide, divorce, classical music and operettas; the punlike "Thingisms" are trotted out again (they had been featured also in "Lies, Inc."); and the early 1930s vibe of Plowman's Planet is very similar to the devolved U.S. found in "Ubik." The book reads like a fantasy novel in parts, and is filled with any number of surreal, dreamlike touches. In one section, one of the mysterious Kalends appears in Joe's apartment and just kind of peters away as the author seemingly forgets its presence; in another baffling scene, Joe encounters his own decomposed yet still talkative corpse while exploring the planet's undersea realm! This is hardly a Hal Clement-like "hard" science fiction novel! The book also contains numerous imaginative touches, such as the SSA machine that can determine a couple's future compatibility (Dick, who was himself married five times, might have benefited from one of these); the talking beds that compel everyone to dream the same dream; the "rapid-transit hover blimps"; Hardovax, a drug for male erectile dysfunction that Phil thought of almost 30 years before Viagra came on the scene; and the book's remarkable cast of unusual life forms (Joe eventually befriends Nurb K'ohl Daq, a bivalve from Sirius 3). Glimmung itself, a blustering blowhard of indeterminate weight (Dick tells us it weighs 80,000 tons in one scene and 40,000 in another; still, either would make the "90-ton mass of protoplasmic slime" that figures in Dick's "Our Friends From Frolix-8" seem like a pip-squeak), is quite different from the Glimmung of Plowman's Planet to be found in Dick's only book for children, "Nick and the Glimmung" (written by Phil in 1966 but not published until 22 years later). The novel features a more blatant use of Dick's penchant for fragmented sentences, too. Thus, instead of writing "A Fog-thing from antiquity which still lived," Phil gives us "A Fog-thing. From antiquity. Which still lived." More readable this way? More dramatic? Perhaps. Anyway, whatever else might be said about "Galactic Pot-Healer," the fact remains that it is both unpredictable and fascinating from beginning to end; just try to foresee how Glimmung, Joe and the others ultimately grapple with that undersea cathedral, for example. And, oh...this is the first book I've ever read that contains my favorite word; the coolest word in the English language: chthonic. I would recommend it to all readers on that basis alone! One last thing: Can anyone please tell me the answer to the riddle "Bogish Persistentisms. By Shaft Tackapple."? I'm assuming that "Shaft Tackapple" is Ray Bradbury, but "Bogish Persistentisms"? Oh, wait a minute: "Something Wicked This Way Comes"?!?!
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