Dr Bloodmoney, published in 1965, is one of Philip Dick's most consistent novels. It is set in an imagined late 20th century California, in the years immediately before and after a catastrophic nuclear exchange, and follows the lives of a variety of local people who are obliged to forge an existence in greatly changed circumstances.
This being a Dick novel, things are more complicated than this bare outline might suggest. Dick is relatively uninterested in the obvious consequences of nuclear war. Instead, he focusses on the changes brought about in the human and animal population by mutation, and the peculiar interaction between human psychological frailties and the opportunities created by the realisation of a fantasy of destruction and the disruption of existing hierarchies of authority.
Among the talking dogs, telekinetic thalidomide victims and stranded astronauts Dick takes the time to construct complex, credible characters who are neither simply villains nor heroes. Only in a Dick novel would such people exist alongside others who can talk to the dead, or who have limited knowledge of the future. This is thoughtful science fiction, and even now both a credible meditation on the roots of human evil and an insight into the fears of the Kennedy years.
Dr Bloodmoney isn't as celebrated as some of Dick's other novels, but it deserves to be better known. It's among the half-dozen best, and is more approachable than most - by Dick's standards, a work of optimism.