Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on January 26, 2014
Nuclear war has ravaged the earth. What remains of humanity has mostly moved into "ant farms" - giant colonies that exist below the surface, sealed away from the hazards of radiation that lurk aboveground. And yet, the head of one of the farms has to make his way up top in the hopes of saving a fellow worker - and from there, everything comes apart. The Penultimate Truth is unmistakably a Philip K. Dick novel - it's full of twists and lies, political theorizing, moral complexity, and more shades of gray than you could possibly count. Of course, the fact that it's a PKD book also means that sometimes it doesn't quite make sense, or that some aspects don't entirely coalesce. But that's a small price to pay for a book that develops in such unexpected ways. You might suspect what awaits our hero on the surface, but what does that have to do with the speech writer we meet in the opening chapter? And even if you understand that aspect, how do we get to assassination machines? Or leaders hoarding black market artificial organs? Or even to the possible identity of Christ? Because The Penultimate Truth handles all of that and more, starting with one premise and developing it into something far more complicated than you ever dreamed. And, as always with Dick, it forces you to think about the world - about how television can be used to manipulate the masses, about the nature of religion and belief, and about the complicated play between morality and authority. In other words, it's pure Philip K. Dick - it may be flawed, may be uneven, but it's fascinating and riveting, thought-provoking and surprising, and just plain brilliant.
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