- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (December 3, 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679736646
- ISBN-13: 978-0679736646
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (408 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,018,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ubik Paperback – December 3, 1991
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Nobody but Philip K. Dick could so successfully combine SF comedy with the unease of reality gone wrong, shifting underfoot like quicksand. Besides grisly ideas like funeral parlors where you swap gossip for the advice of the frozen dead, Ubik (1969) offers such deadpan farce as a moneyless character's attack on the robot apartment door that demands a five-cent toll:
"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
SALES POINTS 'One of the most original practitioners writing any kind of fiction, Dick made most of the European avant-garde seem like navel-gazers in a cul-de-sac' - Sunday Times 'My literary hero' -- Fay Weldon 'For everyone lost in the endlessly multiplicating realities of the modern world, remember: Philip K. Dick got there first' -- Terry Gilliam --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The plot can be summed up like this: some humans have psychic powers, but rather than being seen as heroes (as is the case in most sci-fi), they're possible sources of invasions of your privacy. Never fear, however, because some humans have developed anti-psychic powers -- they block the powers of the others. A bunch of anti-psychics go on a mission, but something goes wrong and they barely get away with their lives. Almost immediately, they notice that something is not right. Phone directories are out of date, coffee is disgustingly stale, and so on. Time, it seems, is flowing backwards!
For readers who aren't aware, PKD was one of the most influential sci-fi writers, with his reality-warping stories. His interest in this topic can be traced, no doubt, to his youthful experimentation with narcotics -- an experience recounted largely in "A Scanner Darkly."
PKD was an incredibly prolific writer; he wrote something like 16 novels in a five year stretch in the late-1960s, including "Ubik." Many of his best novels were written during that stretch.Read more ›
The first few pages set up the stage for the story in a way that an average author would have required 100 pages of descriptions and explanations. And it all made sense. This is a good book if you have never been introduced to PKD's work, since it is very accessible and well written. It is required reading for any PKD fans who have not yet gotten around to it.
Just remember- it is safe when taken as directed.
Supposedly one of the major influences on The Matrix (along with The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch), Ubik is about the subjectivity of physical reality, death, advertising, consumerism...
In the first few pages PKD introduces more ideas than most sci-fi (I cringe to pigeonhole him so, but it's the closest comparison) authors are capable of their entire careers.
You can't take this book on face value, it engages the reader so completely with it's energy, style and fiercely challenging ideas. Not to mention the plot twists, which will keep you guessing to the final page (without sounding too horribly cliched I hope).
For PKD vets it's comforting to revisit the world he established in his most blatantly sci-fi phase, with all the standbys like precogs, conapts, talking kitchen appliances, etc.
For PKD newbies Ubik is a perfect choice to start in on the incredible feast that are the novels of PKD - trust me.
UBIK is a "best of" Dick's obsessions: it contains obvious reminiscences of The Eye in the Sky (the collective nightmare), The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (the greedy, almighty, elusive son of a b...), Counter-clock world (time running backwards), The World Jones Made (precognition), Time Out of Joint (the fake world), to name a few. In a way, it is also reminiscent of VALIS (the Godlike entity which communicates with the hero by mystical means), which was written 12 years after UBIK!
How could so many themes be exploited so intelligently in such a short novel? The answer is: thanks to Dick's straightforward style. In UBIK, every word counts. The hero, Joe Chip, races with Death: each passing minute lowers his chances to find a UBIK vaporizer and to save his skin. Through Dick's sparing use of words, the reader understands this message: if Joe Chip rests, he will die. Some of Dick's despisers criticize his so-called "hasty" style: can't they see that, thanks to this style, he could describe the undescribable? When you get rid of the superfluous, you get a chance to grab the true essence of horror. At least, that's what Dick thought; I personnally think he was right and that he should be remebered of today not only for his hallucinatory visions but also for his style.
The style allows Dick to exploit the above themes "intelligently", ie in depth and by intertwinig them. But it will probably not allow the reader to fully understand the book after the first reading, unless he's VERY familiar with Dick's tricks, mainly the different levels of reality.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read this years ago and forgot most of it. What a great story. Nothing more. If you like PKD, this is one you have to read.Published 21 days ago by Amazon Customer
Ubik might be my favorite Philip K. Dick book of all time. (The Man in the High Castle was another book I read by him and it's strongly competing with this one, to be perfectly... Read morePublished 28 days ago by Maedelin
PKD is always great. This one is like a science fiction mystery thriller, I was totally gripped the whole time.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Brilliant. I would normally write a longer review, but I'm suddenly feeling very tired and chilly. I just need to lie down for awhile.Published 1 month ago by BLOBSACK
This is the first Dick book I've read though I've seen his film adaptations. Like the movies, you are jerked around on what is reality for the protagonist (if anything). Read morePublished 2 months ago by Arthur Lee
One can see why this is considered a masterpiece. It's a great mystery story, a science fiction novel, and perhaps most of all, a prophetic "book of the dead" so to speak,... Read morePublished 2 months ago by JTR