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"I'll sue you," the door said as the first screw fell out.
Joe Chip said, "I've never been sued by a door. But I guess I can live through it."
Chip works for Glen Runciter's anti-psi security agency, which hires out its talents to block telepathic snooping and paranormal dirty tricks. When its special team tackles a big job on the Moon, something goes terribly wrong. Runciter is killed, it seems--but messages from him now appear on toilet walls, traffic tickets, or product labels. Meanwhile, fragments of reality are timeslipping into past versions: Joe Chip's beloved stereo system reverts to a hand-cranked 78 player with bamboo needles. Why does Runciter's face appear on U.S. coins? Why the repeated ads for a hard-to-find universal panacea called Ubik ("safe when taken as directed")?
The true, chilling state of affairs slowly becomes clear, though the villain isn't who Joe Chip thinks. And this is Dick country, where final truths are never quite final and--with the help of Ubik--the reality/illusion balance can still be tilted the other way. --David Langford, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
- Publication Date : April 17, 2012
- File Size : 7192 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 241 pages
- Publisher : Mariner Books; Reprint Edition (April 17, 2012)
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Language: : English
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- ASIN : B005LVR6ZA
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #41,470 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Starting out, I wondered why. While the plot and world building were intriguing, I found the writing a bit clunky (lots of adjectives and made-up words) and the attempt at future technology dated. (not surprising--it was written in 1969 and takes place in 1992). The style reminded me of a sci-fi version of a Phillip Marlowe detective story--a bit cliché even though it may have been the prototype for the cliché.
But as the book progressed, the mood took hold of me, an unsettling feeling like the kind you get in those seconds between dreaming and awakening, when you struggle to figure out which is which. By the end, I knew I'd been treated to a great book, a complex, well-crafted and intertwined story of multiple realities, none of which is ever grounded enough to let you sort through them. But there's something more: these realities make you question your sense of life, like The Matrix without the machines, a floating reality that is the state of being itself.
The ideas rather than the characters are central to this story. Most of the characters are pretty flat. But once you get used to the world (psychic powers, colony on the moon, dead people in half-life), the mood takes over, as what appears to be reality fluctuates and changes.
It's a slow start, but as I stuck with it, I found it well worthwhile, an original work with a deeply unsettling feel. Think Kafka plus Twilight Zone in the Matrix.
Down-to-earth folks whose world view is grounded in what they perceive to be reality should probably avoid this book. But despite some rough edges, I found it to be a great read.
"He felt all at once like an ineffectual moth, fluttering at the windowpane of reality, dimly seeing it from the outside."
Dick never quite fills in the whole picture of the world he creates here, but that's part of the charm. You're struggling to find out what's going on, just as the characters are. The role of the title substance plays a role, but it's not completely clear what that role is. That doesn't prevent the story from having a satisfying arc though. You're carried from one end to the other, provoked with stimulating thoughts the whole way.
I think its pretty hard to go into allot of detailed without giving it away. It deals allot with psychics etc and a process of death where people who are basically dead are put in chambers in which they have brain function and are in a dream like state. So pretty sci fi. lol
I don't think its too crazy. I guess I was a bit worried that his books would be so far out there that it would be hard to grasp. I didn't find this book to be this way. He explains everything to understand it in due time. Well maybe not everything. lol
It is a book to make you think and question existence etc. Pretty interesting all around. I plan on reading more of his works.
But hold on because the second half is totally worth it. Still having technical mistakes and ugly mis-use of technical jargon, but absolutely consuming.
If not for those technical and logical missteps, that would be a solid 5-star novella.
Top reviews from other countries
Ubik firmly deserve the accolade of "Masterwork". It's amazing to think that this visionary novel, exploring the themes of technology and reality is over 50 years old and it's clear why PKD continues to be such a massive influence on the science fiction community. The book itself is beautifully told, with the downbeat and broke Technician Joe Chip, and Prudence owner Runciter sharing the pov for the majority of the narrative. Dick's concise descriptions of a somewhat disconnected and impersonal future through its incessantly rigid machine operated systems and steampunk-esque 'retro-future' devices are brilliantly evocative, whilst his explanations of complicated physics keep you firmly rooted in the genre, yet awlays on the right side of sci-fi babble. In fact, through a seamless use of character and scene, Dick does a perfect job of maintaining tension and momentum in a story that in other hands could easily be nothing more than a massively self indulgent mess. Above all, in spite the wealth of its wonderfully inventive ideas and tehcnological world building, Ubik is much mroe than a set of brilliant concepts moulded into a story. It's a darkly comic, intriguing, and thoroughly absorbing narrative that works because of a perfect symbiosis between setting chracter and story and pushes forward to the next mind bending twist and turn with the masterful ease of an author who understands his reader.
At a basic level it's a solid sci-fi yarn, but Ubik has so much more to offer than that; with PKD's typical themes of humanity and boundaries of reality and in the case of Ubik itself, even the very nature of faith in its human and theological forms.
As an intro to PKD's writings, I can't recommend this highly enough. I for one will now be scouring through his catalogue!
Was quite short and I personally would not award it 'Classic' status as I was not really blown away by it. Maybe my idea of classic is not the same as everyone elses! Would try another of his books in the future, though.
-- from the back cover
Written in 1966 and published in 1969, Ubik is Philip K Dick's twenty-fifth published novel. PKD's abiding themes were 'What is reality?' and 'What is it to be human?' and it is perhaps the first that is explored most obviously.
As with all PKD's works this novel makes you marvel at his imagination but also (if you are of a philosophical turn of mind) brings you to question and consider the themes he raises for yourself. PKD also creates characters that I at least find believable. As Ursula Le Guin has said "There are no heroes in Dick's books, but there are heroics. One is reminded of Dickens: what counts is the honesty, constancy, kindness and patience of ordinary people." PKD's characters always strike me as in some way authentic.
In 2005, Time magazine named Ubik as one of the 100 greatest English-language novels published since 1923.
"[Dick] sees all the sparkling and terrifying possibilities. . . that other authors shy away from."
--Paul Williams, Rolling Stone
"Philip Dick does not lead his critics an easy life, since he does not so much play the part of a guide through his phantasmagoric worlds as give the impression of one lost in their labyrinth."
-- Stanislaw Lem, "Philip K. Dick: A Visionary Among the Charlatans"
If you are new to Philip K Dick's work I would also recommend the following novels (which generally seem to be regarded as among his best):
The Man In The High Castle (S.F. Masterworks)
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? (S.F. Masterworks)
A Scanner Darkly (S.F. Masterworks)
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (S.F. Masterworks)
Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (S.F. Masterworks)
That said, though some of PKD's works are better than others, to my mind they are all well worth reading. I would also recommend his short story collections:
Beyond Lies The Wub: Volume One Of The Collected Short Stories
Second Variety: Volume Two Of The Collected Short Stories
The Father-Thing: Volume Three Of The Collected Short Stories
Minority Report: Volume Four Of The Collected Short Stories
We Can Remember It For You Wholesale: Volume Five of The Collected Short Stories