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Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (Vintage) Paperback – 1 Sep 1993

48 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 231 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; 1st Vintage Books Ed edition (1 Sept. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067974066X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679740667
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,526,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Philip K Dick notoriously charted SF's most dangerous, booby-trapped realities. Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (1974) is a relatively straightforward tale of paranoid unease at finding the world isn't what it should be.

Jason Taverner is world-famous for his songs and regular TV show. "Thirty million people saw you zip up your fly tonight." "... It's my trademark." Although this future US is a grim police state with labour camps in Alaska and Canada, jetsetting Taverner enjoys being one of the winners.

Then he wakes up in a sleazy hotel room, still well-dressed and flush with money, but no longer the famous Jason Taverner. No ID--that's a forced-labour offence. His agent doesn't know him. Nor do his closest friends. He's even vanished from police databanks.

Forged documents are needed, hand-drawn by teenaged expert Kathy--one of Dick's most alarming women, a neurotic petty criminal who's also a police informer, who entraps and manipulates Taverner until he's terrified of her. He may deserve it: this self-obsessed megastar inflicts small, unthinking cruelties on virtually every woman he meets.

The title's policeman is another interesting character: Police General Felix Buckman, a mostly good man (and fan of Elizabethan songs: "Flow, my teares...") trapped in a horrible system. Is Taverner, the man with no past, a threat? Less so, maybe, than Buckman's amoral sister Alys, who takes special interest in Taverner and seems to have the world's only copies of his music albums...

Paranoid wrongness is expertly conveyed, and resolved with a typically offbeat SF notion. A sunny finale concludes one of Dick's most approachable novels.--David Langford --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Another classic novel from the world's greatest writer of science fiction --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Symeon Charalabides on 21 Jan. 2003
Format: Paperback
"Flow my tears..." is a book that exhibits Dick's (heretofore PKD) usual thematic obsessions in an expert literary way, having been written during the last decade of his life, in between theological treatises and attempts to explain his personal epiphany. It actually reads like he is showing off that he can write good old SF to his publisher who's asked him to clean up his act before an audience that's not interested in religious revelations. The fourth part of the book, telling what happened to the heroes and institutions involved in the far future, is reminiscent of a B movie ending, and probably reflects the author's overindulgence in the commercial nature of this work.
The book is very reminiscent of Ubik, centered on a man's struggle to make sense of his reality that has suddenly changed (to a very unpleasant one), and it could have been written in one - extended - sitting, PKD driving his points home from page 1. It can certainly be read in one sitting, and its frantic pace will compel most people to do so.
As per usual, the environment only serves as a context for PKD to bring his social commentary home. This shouldn't detract, however, from the fact that the particular world, a heavily policed fascist state where universities and their students (presumably standing for free thought) are offenders by default, is one of his most successful predictions, as we can already see it happening. PKD seems to be aware of it as well, for he describes its functions and mechanisms in unusual detail.
That said, the novel is an exploration of human behaviours and emotions, how they interact and which bring which about.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 April 2011
Format: Paperback
Phillip K. Dick is known for his idiosyncratic sci-fi novels and short stories, and "Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said" touches upon many of his recurring themes - artificially enhanced humans, the malleability of personal identity, the fluidity of reality, and the suppressive state control. The plot centers on Jason Taverner, a genetically modified celebrity pop singer. After being assaulted by his ex-lover by a parasitic lifeform he wakes up one morning only to discover that no one recognizes him and there is no record of him in any of the vast databases of the powerful police state that he lives in. He quickly learns how perilous life without being officially recognized can be in this dystopian future America that has gone through a second civil war. The National Guard ("nats") and the US police force ("pols") are practically at every corner of every major city and they strictly control movements of people and goods. The US is a dictatorship with a "Director" at the top, college students are forced into underground and had become a form of resistance to this oppressive regime. Taverner has been put into an uncomfortable position of having to find his way through this nightmarish maze, and for the first time in his life he realizes what life must be for the ordinary citizens. The story verges on political satire, but Dick takes the narrative very seriously, and if there has been any intention on his part of making this even mildly a humorous novel it has entirely been lost on me.

The title of this book is a reference to "Flow my tears," a piece by the 16th century composer John Dowland. However, it escapes me what this reference was meant to convey. Knowing the way that Philip K.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Olly Buxton on 20 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
Philip K Dick was an unusual science fiction writer in that, while he tended to write in (usually dystopian) alternative universes, the "space opera" aspect - the act of universe creation (which so obsessed Tolkien, for example) isn't what interests him. If Star Wars was the ultimate piece of fantasy escapism, with a ludicrous morality play veneer thrown in for an emotional punch at the end, then Dick's works tend to exist at the other end of the spectrum: the world is described incidentally, the ingenious devices and drugs means of locomoting and teasing out the existential questions they pose the characters. There is always little bit of scientific hocus pocus thrown in, but never for the sake of it: it is always a means to crystallising Dick's theme.

So Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? isn't, really, a futuristic gumshoe PI noir about killing replicants (though it functions pretty well on that level) but an examination of what really makes us human: what *is* empathy, and what consequences would there be for the way we relate to each other if we could achieve it artificially? And here, in Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, Dick ruminates on identity: what am *I*, if not a collection of relationships, impulses and memories in other people's minds? - and reality - what, when it comes to it, is the world itself, if not a collection of relations, impulses and memories in *my* brain?

What if we really could alter brains to change these things - how would that alter the way we see ourselves and the world? How, given the limitations of the above view, do we know we cannot?
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