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Counter-Clock World (Vintage) [Paperback]

Philip Dick
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov 2002 Vintage
In Counter-Clock World, one of the most theologically probing of all of Dick’s books, the world has entered the Hobart Phase–a vast sidereal process in which time moves in reverse. As a result, libraries are busy eradicating books, copulation signifies the end of pregnancy, people greet with, “Good-bye,” and part with, “Hello,” and underneath the world’s tombstones, the dead are coming back to life. One imminent old-born is Anarch Peak, a vibrant religious leader whose followers continued to flourish long after his death. His return from the dead has such awesome implications that those who apprehend him will very likely be those who control the fate of the world.

Winner of both the Hugo and John W. Campbell awards for best novel, widely regarded as the premiere science fiction writer of his day, and the object of cult-like adoration from his legions of fans, Philip K. Dick has come to be seen in a literary light that defies classification in much the same way as Borges and Calvino. With breathtaking insight, he utilizes vividly unfamiliar worlds to evoke the hauntingly and hilariously familiar in our society and ourselves.

Product details

  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; Reprint edition (Nov 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375719334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375719332
  • Product Dimensions: 18.3 x 15.6 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,134,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'One of the most original practitioners writing any kind of fiction'
Sunday Times

'Dick quietly produced serious fiction in a popular form and there can be no greater praise' Michael Moorcock

'No other writer of his generation had such a powerful intellectual presence. He has stamped himself not only on our memories but in our imaginations' Brian W. Aldiss

'The most consistently brilliant SF writer in the world' John Brunner

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and lived most of his life in California. He attended college for a year at Berkeley. A prolific writer, his other main interest was music. He won the Hugo Award for his classic novel of alternative history, The Man in the High Castle (1962). He was married five times and had three children. Philip K. Dick died in March 1982.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Philip K Dick's books are always more rewarding for the intricate settings than for the plots. The settings challenge our ideas about our own reality. The ideas in this book have stayed vivid for a long time.
Time running backwards is a difficult subject to do well. At a perfect level, we would simply be unable to comprehend a description of backwards time. Martin Amis has a separate intelligence as narrator, whose mind runs the same way as ours while the world around him has time that runs the other way. Philip K Dick's take is to leave his characters with forward running minds, but place them in a world where all of life is backwards. People get younger and then have to look for mothers so that they can be born. The garbage men bring the rubbish. Restaurants are not pleasant to consider. It is the character's adaptation to this reality that tells us so much about how weird our own civilisation really is.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Forward to the past 10 Oct 2008
By Bill
Written the year after the extraordinary 'Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch', and a year before the equally brilliant 'Ubik', it's hardly surprising that 'Counter Clock World' tends be overlooked and under-rated. It many ways it's a mess of a novel, built on a premise (time running backwards) that Dick deals with only sketchily - probably because it's unsustainable. Although he plays with the idea of people being disinterred from their graves, and has some fun with regurgitated food and cigarettes smoked from butts to full length, he must have realised fairly early on that in order for the plot to function at all, time still has to move forward, from cause to effect, from order to entropy.

Despite all the flaws, and some tedious chapters where not much actually happens, the book is still - like all Dick's work, however hastily written - well worth reading. And the book certainly picks up around the halfway mark, with some riveting action sequences inside the Library, and a final downbeat, disturbing and memorable scene in the same graveyard where the book begins. Along the way Dick explores race, philosophy and religion, manages to caricature two of his many wives, and (as usual) throws in an entertaining mix of mind-boggling sci-fi inventions and ideas, any one of which would be worth a whole novel on its own.

If you're new to Philip K Dick, then don't start here - try 'Time out of Joint', 'A Maze of Death' or 'Do Androids Dream...', before moving on to 'The Man in the High Castle', 'Martian Time-Slip' and the above mentioned 'Three Stigmata' and 'Ubik'. But if, like me, you're already immersed in alternative Dickian worlds, then you won't be disappointed with this curiosity. 7/10.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars more social debate than sci-fi 3 Aug 2009
The reviews already written say plenty about this novel (and they do so excellently, in my humble opinion). I would just like to add a little, though. That is, I advise new readers not to expect much visionary sci-fi. The 'vidphone' is okay, of course, but even that futuristic device requires a 1960s type operator to make a connection from the western United States to Italy. Then, there is the air car, but that's a bit of a cliched item in sci-fi tales and, I have always thought, a fairly far-fetched aspect of sci-fi vision. But both the vidphone and air car are offset not just by the very 1960s element of a phone operator, but also by the 1960s aspects of needing to get up to manually turn of the TV, and the use of reference cards at the Library, and so on. I have to be honest and admit I was shocked at Dick's lack of sci-fi vision in this novel. Perhaps I am overlooking something and will be taken to task for my criticism. If so, that's okay. If I'm wrong, I like to be corrected.
I know the main thrust of the story concerns matters of societal well-being as opposed to 'true,' futuristic sci-fi, but I would still have expected as reknowned a novelist as Dick to appreciate that if the future has flying cars and vidphones, it certainly wouldn't need TVs to be turned off manually.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  31 reviews
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Packs more paradoxes to the page than the brain can handle 10 July 1998
By Tom Moody - Published on Amazon.com
Dick attempts the impossible task of making time seem to flow backwards as the reader moves forward through the book. An eerie and unforgettable premise has the dead being "born" in their graves, crying out to be exhumed so they can begin their reverse trek through life. In other scenes food is excreted onto plates and then boxed and returned to the shelf, while bodily wastes are ingested through a "sogum pipe," a process alluded to several times but mercifully never depicted. Eventually the book reaches an action-packed climax (shouldn't it have occurred at the beginning?), in which bullets are sucked back into firearms and so forth, but by that time the paradoxes have come so fast and furious that the reader's brain has imploded. As in so many of his novels, Dick throws too many balls in the air to keep the juggling act going, and as scientifically plausible fiction, it's a mess, but only a genius would have attempted an idea as weird as this one, and taken it as far Dick does.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars foody premis, great writing for Dick fans. 26 Aug 2004
By G Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Do you love PKD? Have you read a lot of his books?

If you answered yes then you'll love this. If not I would try one of his more approachable titles first (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, or one of his short-story collections). I would not recommend this to a first time Dick reader; if you don't know what you're getting yourself into you probably will not like it.

With that said, I love PKD, and have read quite a few of his works. I, having been aclimated to his style, found it very enjoyable. The only concerns I have are that some of the ideas, with reguards to the backwards flow of time, are somewhat garbled. A good example is how cigeretts are smoked by inhaling the fumes and blowing into the filter- yet the people still manage to communicate while inhaling. Try it yourself, see it's not so easy. I know it's nit-picky, I can't help it.

All in all a great book for anyone who already enjoys PKD.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer audacious bravery in the face of commercial pressure. 5 Oct 2003
By "massivekipple" - Published on Amazon.com
PKD faced the old problem of commercialism vs. integrity. I consider this book to be a testament to Dick's integrity. Exploring often mentioned, but never developed, ideas.
For example, the Wizard Merlin supposedly lived backwards in time. Yet this idea has only been presented, not developed in the stories I have read. Several religions suggest a rapture or ressurection of the dead, without filling us in on the details.
Dick must have really felt the avenue of backwards time was worth exploring or he never would have finished it. It was brave for Dick to see these ideas through to their conclusion. While facing the realities of rent and editors, etc.
This book is not as morbid as earlier reviews might suggest. The characters are sincere and even light-hearted at times.
I found this to be one of Dick's easier and smoother reads.
I break it down this way. If you go to a movie and willingly submit to a fantasy experience, read this book. If you go to movies to test your analytical and deductive skills don't bother.
If you suspect that time is really just one big cosmic "Wow!" that has already ensued, I highly recommend it.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A counter-clock comment 17 Nov 2002
By Dian Wahyu Utami - Published on Amazon.com
Started of with too many characters and too many conversations, this book almost forced me to give it up straight away. But perseverance to read until the middle will be rewarded.
The concept itself is interesting. A world when times move backwards. When the deads are 'revived' from the grave, being sold as a property to anyone who would bid the highest.
And when the one who's coming back to life is a religious figure, interesting things can happen.
There are two kinds of sci-fi books: one that is written by a scientist and one written by a non-scientist. This book is the latter. Sci-fi Books written by scientist contains the actual correct science or science of what would be possible in the future. While non-scientist writers tends to use science as basis and props for futuristic situation, emphasizing more on (perhaps) psychological and philosophical issues.
This book puts forward some interesting religion and philosophical issues such as how a person who live in the period where times move backwards reacts to the mind that move forwards. However, a reader with a scientific background might be put off by the some of the logic and science in this book, that are rather inconsistent and incorrect at times.
Take the example of this: [A person in a coffin in a grave just woke up]
" 'Get air down to me!' he tried to yell, but since there is no longer air he could not breathe; he was suffocating. `Hurry!' he called, but his call became soundless in the absence of air; he lay compressed, crushed, by an enormous vacuum; the pressure grew until, silently, his ribs broke. He felt that, too, his bones one by one snapping."
Overall it's an enjoyable book if you somehow can disregard the incorrectness of the science behind it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story, flimsy premise 23 Sep 2003
By Steve West - Published on Amazon.com
Anyone who has seen the Red Dwarf episode "Backwards" will know the basic premise of Counter-Clock World. Based on Dick's short story "Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday", Counter-Clock World has time running backwards, curiously only on Earth, due to the naturally occuring 'Hobart Phase' (in the short story the Hobart Phase was artificially created).
Logic would dictate that everything would have to run backwards but in Counter-Clock World people have a forward-pointing 'arrow of time' while the world they are living in has a reverse arrow of time. Dick selctively has his characters doing certain things in backwards (such as 'imbibing' Sogum and later on uneating a plate of food) and other things forwards like driving a car or carrying on a conversation.
Even though the environment of Counter-Clock World is a bit hard to buy it nonetheless a good story and is as worth reading as any of his other novels.
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