- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 14, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679781374
- ISBN-13: 978-0679781370
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 52 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #399,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Radio Free Albemuth Paperback – April 14, 1998
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io Free Albemuth, his last novel, Philip K. Dick morphed and recombined themes that had informed his fiction from A Scanner Darkly to VALIS and produced a wild, impassioned work that reads like a visionary alternate history of the United States. Agonizingly suspenseful, darkly hilarious, and filled with enough conspiracy theories to thrill the most hardened paranoid, Radio Free Albemuth is proof of Dick's stature as our century's greatest science fiction writer.
About the Author
Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and lived most of his life in California. He briefly attended the University of California, but dropped out before completing any classes. In 1952, he began writing professionally and proceeded to write numerous novels and short-story collections. He won the Hugo Award for the best novel in 1962 for The Man in the High Castle and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year in 1974 for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. Philip K. Dick died on March 2, 1982, in Santa Ana, California, of heart failure following a stroke.
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This book is amazingly good. I don't understand why it got such a bad review from the one writer cited and quoted on the wikipedia article for this novel. To me, it is probably the most mature and enjoyable of his books, rivaling "The Transmigration of Timothy Archer" in sheer novelistic skill; for anyone who says Philip K. Dick wrote hurried, choppy, novels of varying quality, they need to read this book! His characterizations, dialogue, arranging of plots and events, etc., are sheer genius. And of course it's amazing to realize (when you research Dick's mystical experiences) just how many of Nicholas Brady's--the novel's protagonist's--mystical experiences were actually Dick's! This novel really is beautiful in many ways, with wonderful passages (but that's common in Dick's work). In fact, the scene where Brady actually meets Valis / The Father, in the vision near the end, is probably the most beautiful passage in Dick's work that I ever read. It's also essentially a Christian book, and it's very encouraging for Christians to read Philip's praise and anticipation of Jesus's return, although Philip was never as dogmatic or biased as many Christians have been.
It IS a kind of dystopian novel, set in a slightly alternate, slightly worse post-World-War-II America (though I'd venture to suggest Dick was writing a lot of true-to-life happenings, since he himself went through the chaotic 1960s and the paranoid Cold War years). Much of it reads like Orwell's "1984". But whereas that novel got bleaker and darker, with a very dark and pessimistic conclusion, THIS novel reveals more and more hope and light--through the divine, supernatural figures of VALIS--as it goes on, so that although the realistic, disturbing conclusion arrives, at the same time there have been more and more beatific and benevolent cosmic revelations and visions revealed to Brady and the others.
I prefer this work to "VALIS", which was apparently the re-written version of this novel, and which seems to me to've obviously reflected a lot of Dick's turmoil, anger, and confusion surrounding his mystical experiences and life-events at the time, whereas this one has more positive resolution, clarity, and peace in trying to understand them.
For what it's worth, in my opinion there is not really a "VALIS Trilogy" at all. "The Divine Invasion" is another great novel from around this time, and so is "The Transmigration of Timothy Archer", but they hardly link up to either "VALIS" or even this novel at all--especially "TToTA". They are rather stand-alone books which do have some common, connecting threads. In fact, if I were ever to suggest there being a "trilogy" of these novels, I would suggest this novel, then "VALIS", then "The Divine Invasion", not "VALIS", "The Divine Invasion", and "The Transmigration..." which is the "official" "trilogy".
In summary, this is one of Dick's most mature, well-written, interesting, beautiful, poetic, moving, spiritual, (and, yes, Christian) novels.
This was one of the most satisfying and important reads of my life. Everyone should experience it - especially those with an affection for metaphysics - but even if you don't, this will open up your mind.