- Paperback: 278 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; Later Printing Used edition (May 23, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400096901
- ISBN-13: 978-1400096909
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (302 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #931,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Scanner Darkly Paperback – May 23, 2006
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Mind- and reality-bending drugs factor again and again in Philip K. Dick's hugely influential SF stories. A Scanner Darkly cuts closest to the bone, drawing on Dick's own experience with illicit chemicals and on his many friends who died from drug abuse. Nevertheless, it's blackly farcical, full of comic-surreal conversations between people whose synapses are partly fried, sudden flights of paranoid logic, and bad trips like the one whose victim spends a subjective eternity having all his sins read to him, in shifts, by compound-eyed aliens. (It takes 11,000 years of this to reach the time when as a boy he discovered masturbation.) The antihero Bob Arctor is forced by his double life into warring double personalities: as futuristic narcotics agent "Fred," face blurred by a high-tech scrambler, he must spy on and entrap suspected drug dealer Bob Arctor. His disintegration under the influence of the insidious Substance D is genuine tragicomedy. For Arctor there's no way off the addict's downward escalator, but what awaits at the bottom is a kind of redemption--there are more wheels within wheels than we suspected, and his life is not entirely wasted. --David Langford, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
America in the near future has lost the war against drugs. Though the government tries to protect the upper class, the system is infested with undercover cops like Fred, who regularly ingests the popular Substance D as part of his ruse. The drug has caused Fred to develop a split personality, of which he is not aware; his alter ego is Bob, a drug dealer. Fred's superiors then set up a hidden holographic camera in his home as part of a sting operation against Bob. Though he appears on camera as Bob, none of Fred's co-workers catch on: since Fred, like all undercover police, wears a scramble suit that constantly changes his appearance, his colleagues don't know what he looks like. The camera in Fred/Bob's apartment reveals that Bob's intimates regularly betray one another for the chance to score more drugs. Even Donna, a young dealer whom Bob/Fred loves, prefers the drug to human contact. Originally published in 1977, the out-of-print novel comes frighteningly close to capturing the U.S. in 1991, in terms of the drug crisis and the relationships between the sexes. But the unrelenting scenes among the addicts make it a grueling read.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Strongly recommended for modern-day "intellectuals" who wonder what their friends would look like on drugs. The beauty of this book is that it seems almost plausible...
A word about the book quality itself. I had wanted the book with the movie cover on it (yes, I am one of those people!!) and the seller did not disappoint, some seller don't even return the book if the cover is wrong. The book itself was in a great shape and was delivered fast, sturdy packing and all!!
However, his real talent is creating fascinating worlds that provoke philosophical inquiry. And the world of A Scanner Darkly is fascinating, psychologically complex, philosophically rich, and deeply moving. If you have dealt with addiction yourself or loved someone who has, you will find that the parts of the book that detail Substance D addiction to be uncomfortable accurate and brilliantly resonant.
But it does have the problem of feeling too dragged out. I think you could have cut 25% of this book and not have lost anything important.
Honestly, I was going to give this three stars, but Dick's heartfelt afterword really bumps it up a notch. This is a good book for people who know or have been drinkers or drug users, but for more casual readers, it might not be for you.
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.