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Ubik Paperback – April 17, 2012
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From the Back Cover
From the stuff of space opera, Dick spins a deeply unsettling existential horror story, a nightmare youll never be sure youve woken up from.Lev Grossman, Time
Glen Runciter runs a lucrative businessdeploying his teams of anti-psychics to corporate clients who want privacy and security from psychic spies. But when he and his top team are ambushed by a rival, he is gravely injured and placed in half-life, a dreamlike state of suspended animation. Soon, though, the surviving members of the team begin experiencing some strange phenomena, such as Runciters face appearing on coins and the world seeming to move backward in time. As consumables deteriorate and technology gets ever more primitive, the group needs to find out what is causing the shifts and what a mysterious product called Ubik has to do with it all.
More brilliant than similar experiments conducted by Pynchon or DeLillo.Roberto Bolaño
PHILIP K. DICK (19281982) wrote 121 short stories and 45 novels and is considered 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.
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Having read PKD a couple times previously, I found the book rather predictable, but after it got rolling, hard to put down. I did have the ending pretty well pegged right from the start. That's what dismayed me when I came to the end and was not at all surprised. It was a typical Dick ending, and therefore predictable. I can say that even with having my own precog ability to guess the ending, it was enjoyable. I wonder how this would really work in a screen play. I kept thinking about that the enitre way through the book...I just don't see it working. I see a lot of Minority Report in there, and didn't much like the screen version of that either...mind numbingly dull and with someone else's interpretation that just didn't work.
I can see where people want to say UBIK was God, and Jory seeming like the devil...or death...the way he "ate" people. That was rather odd, and just like someone on acid may think up. It's like he was on one bad acid trip the entire time he wrote the book....which is probably right.
Glen Runciter is co-owner, with his half-dead (or half-alive) wife, of the leading anti-psi firm. He and his assistant, Joe Chip, find themselves challenged by new, even more sinister forces they don't quite understand. Some of the members of their firm seem to have died in an act of sabotage, but which ones? Who's responsible? What is Ubik, the aerosol spray that claims to do everything (when used as directed)? And why is time regressing to 1939? Every clue seems to be a red herring, and the "truth" isn't revealed until the very end--or is it?
As others have noted, Dick's writing is characteristically featureless (a minimalist, almost pulp-fiction style), but the intricacies of the page-turning plot more than compensate for the pedestrianism. Published in 1969, "Ubik" still entertains while it scrutinizes (and lampoons) both crass commercialism and metaphysics. On the one hand, the omnipresence of advertising and pay-per-use dispensers is dead-on satire in a century where we've become seemingly immune to paying a couple of bucks for a bottle of water with a fancy label on it. (Perpetually in debt, Joe Chip has to pay every time he opens his refrigerator, uses the shower, and enters--or leaves--his apartment, which leads to some pretty hilarious dilemmas.) On the other hand, how seriously you take the "philosophy" presented in this book might depend on your beliefs in the afterlife and/or reincarnation (not for nothing does Dick refer twice to the "Tibetan Book of the Dead"). But even if such metaphysical concepts aren't your thing, you can still sit back and enjoy the ride.
This was my first time reading Philip K. Dick, and it lived up to how he was described to me. I blew through this book in one evening and enjoyed it thoroughly.