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A Scanner Darkly Paperback – October 18, 2011
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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From the Back Cover
Dick is Thoreau plus the death of the American dream. Roberto Bolano
Bob Arctor is a junkie and a drug dealer, both using and selling the mind-altering Substance D. Fred is a law enforcement agent, tasked with bringing Bob down. It sounds like a standard case. The only problem is that Bob and Fred are the same person. Substance D doesn t just alter the mind, it splits it in two, and neither side knows what the other is doing or that it even exists. Now, both sides are growing increasingly paranoid as Bob tries to evade Fred while Fred tries to evade his suspicious bosses.
In this award-winning novel, friends can become enemies, good trips can turn terrifying, and cops and criminals are two sides of the same coin. Dick is at turns caustically funny and somberly contemplative, fashioning a novel that is as unnerving as it is enthralling.
Over a career that spanned three decades, Philip K. Dick (1928 1982) wrote 121 short stories and 45 novels, establishing himself as one of the most visionary authors of the twentieth century. His work is included in the Library of America and has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. Eleven works have been adapted to film, including Blade Runner (based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Total Recall, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly.
About the Author
Over a writing career that spanned three decades, PHILIP K. DICK (1928–1982) published 36 science fiction novels and 121 short stories in which he explored the essence of what makes man human and the dangers of centralized power. Toward the end of his life, his work turned toward deeply personal, metaphysical questions concerning the nature of God. Eleven novels and short stories have been adapted to film, notably Blade Runner (based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Total Recall,Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly. The recipient of critical acclaim and numerous awards throughout his career, Dick was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2005, and in 2007 the Library of America published a selection of his novels in three volumes. His work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages.
Top customer reviews
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This book reminds me a bit about fight club/momento. Theres a cool mystery to things and I'm sure if I were to re-read it, I would see tons of hints and clues about what is really going on. I enjoyed this, and hope you do too!
The main character, Bob Arctor, is an undercover nark who has gotten into drugs as a result of his occupation. Almost all of the people around him are drug users. He is romantically pursuing Donna, a small time drug dealer whom he buys from. With Dick's descriptions it's easy to picture the people and the squalor in which they live. At first you feel sorry for Bob for having to live with such people; later you feel sorry for him because you find out the extent of what has happened to him. Wearing the scramble suit, he is known only as "Fred" to the officers he reports to. So with a fair amount of irony, Bob/Fred is assigned to spy on - who else? - but Bob Arctor. They received a tip from someone that Bob has gotten into some bad things, not just simply using drugs. I found one of the most interesting portions to be how Bob handles his assignment.
In many ways, the story tends to be on the depressing side much of the time. There are things to like about some of the characters though, particularly Bob and Donna. Fortunately it also includes some nice twists, the type which make you think. It is one of those books I wanted to continually read toward the end to see if my suspicions proved correct. Some were...
The following will likely contain spoilers so please be warned if you haven’t yet read the book:
Following the main character’s journey from what seems to be a relatively normal (or at least slightly abnormal) place to becoming a former shell of himself was like being part of a painfully slow descent into oblivion. It was like watching the layers of who he was being peeled away like the layers of an onion. There were a few parts that were a bit difficult to follow for a short while but they soon sorted themselves out.
I cannot believe the sense of crushing emotional despair I got out of reading this book. It seemed to really reach me on a deeper level than I would have expected because I’m not an overly emotional person. This may be in part because I just finished reading it and I’m right now at a period in my life when I’m facing an incredibly depressing personal situation (certainly NOT drug-related though). Maybe it just struck the right cord. Maybe it’s because I have family and friends in law enforcement as well as some who are recovering addicts to either alcohol or drugs. Maybe it’s all and none of those reasons.
I would have like to see the ending taken a little father down the road but it is what it is.
This book certainly won’t appeal to everyone and there are some who will absolutely hate it but I’d recommend giving it a try.
This PKD is not as hard as some, but not a quick read. Partly, it is dated, but the writing is very current feeling, so when you run into a reference to something that happened in 2010 or 2012 you have a moment of confusion where you need to remove yourself from the immersion and remember it is a story written many years ago, when 2012 was a hypothetical future.