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Ubik (Thorndike Science Fiction) [Large Print] [Hardcover]

Philip K. Dick
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov 2001 Thorndike Science Fiction

Philip K. Dick, ‘SF’s premier visionary’ (Vox), gives us Platonic reality in a spray-can in this fabulously funny and spectacularly weird story of Joe Chip and the ubiquitous UBIK.

Glen Runciter runs the largest Prudence organization in the world. He employs forty or so anti-psi operatives, that is, people with the power to neutralize the various and dangerous psychic powers manifest in the late twentieth century. His chief scout is Joe Chip, a hopelessly shambolic but intuitively gifted reader of souls. He would be quite right, for instance, about the evil lurking in Pat Conley, precog neutralizer, only Pat’s talent keeps shifting Joe into timelines that confuse him. Being anti-precog, the only one known, history is hers for the making.

Worse, if that’s possible, she’s not in fact alone in the space (or time) between realities: a very nasty little boy is busy eating the half-lives of the cryogenically stored and will soon invade… if not the real world, what passes for it.

Joe Chip must solve the murder of Runciter, the disintegration of Wendy, the girl he loves, and foil the dastardly plot by psi corporations to eliminate Prudence.

It’s a race against devolving time with the aid of doubly impossible messages – from Runciter, who is dead, and found in match books and soap wrappers bought off store shelves. He devolves almost back to a time before flight was invented before there’s any resolution, and then, surprise, it is not the solution he had hoped for. It’s all UBIK.

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


Product details

  • Hardcover: 279 pages
  • Publisher: Thorndike Press; Lrg edition (Nov 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0783895852
  • ISBN-13: 978-0783895857
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16.4 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,298,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

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 parlours 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 badly 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 time-slipping 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 US 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...Another nifty choice from Millennium SF Masterworks. --David Langford --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Review

‘The best sci-fi mind on any planet’
Rolling Stone

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

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
68 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blew my mind... 13 Aug 2002
Format:Paperback
After Reading "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep", I must admit that I was concerned that I would not be able to top that. Fortunately, Ubik surpassed all my expectations. Other reviewers here have detailed the plot, which I think is unfair, since Ubik is a constant page-turner and fascinator. So I will not give anything away.
Fortunately, Minority Report touches upon many of the major themes within Ubik, espcially the industry grown out of Pre-cognition and Psionic ability. It is therefore timely to read this now, and hopefully this will spur on others to take an interest in this most fascinating of authors.
Ubik touches upon many of Dick's core themes (a true Auteur): psychic ability (and its power), faith and religion, regression and postmodernity, death, insanity, drugs, experience etc. etc. However, it truly excels as a narrative, and I completely disagree with those critics who merely saw the characters within this book.
Some points within in are beyond imagination, and will simply blow your mind. The vertigo within this surpasses any other SF I have read. Added to this is some excellent characterisation and social commentary (for example, Runciter vs. Joe Chip, both attempting to save the company, but both representing the dichotomies within capitalism), and some crazy philosophy.
Anyway, before I drool too much, and contemplate starting it again, I shall leave you with my strongest urges to read this book! Forget the rubbish about "well, its not technologically accurate", because that is to lose the point with Dick; unlike other SF writes (most notably Asimov, who likes to portray a history of the future), Dick merely expresses possible worlds (very dark and crazy worlds). Yes, themes do exist, such as 'papes and hovercars and vidphones, but ignore this and concetrate on Dick's stiringly accurate imagination. Sit back and realise that the future is now, in the most unbelievable way imaginable.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great place to start 21 Mar 2006
Format:Paperback
This was the second book of Philip K. Dick's I read and one of the few that I regularly return to. Ignore its cheesy cover (which seems to be going for the single male market, since it has nothing to do with the story) and just absorb all the weird concepts and twists and turns PKD has to offer. It's a superb thriller, where you can't take anything for granted, and shot through with his superb humour. What other author would envision a corporate world where you have to pay a toll to use doors, and where psychic powers are so commonplace that those with telepathy are treated like common neighbourhood pests?
Above all, Ubik is very very accessible. It's not cluttered with the messed-up amphetamine-fuelled oddness of his later novels, and there's less techno babble than usual. Even if you're not into science fiction, it's well worth a look if only to show you that just because a novel is set in the future, doesn't mean it has to be full of ridiculous overblown theatrics and weird aliens.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philip K. Dick's masterpiece 31 Mar 2010
Format:Paperback
Ubik is my all-time favourite novel - and that is a considered view, not an idle claim. SF writers are sometimes said to be ahead of their time. In many cases, though, these writers are prescient not through some special gift of foresight but because they take the trouble to inform themselves about leading edge discoveries and theories. Jules Verne, for example, visited every famous scientist in Paris, as a journalist, and asked them what were currently the hot topics. Similarly, H G Wells attended what is today Imperial College where he was fortunate to study science under Thomas Huxley - one of the sharpest scientific minds of the nineteenth century. The genius of these writers lay in them seeing the potential of new developments.

Philip K Dick, in my view, was genuinely ahead of his time not because he made himself privy to the latest discoveries but because he was truly gifted with an extraordinary ability to perceive, as long ago as the 1950s, where scientific trends were taking western society. Ubik, on the surface is an SF tale involving some far-out ideas (many of which have since come true and some of which are currently hovering on the edge of reality). But beneath the surface of futurology, it is the most perfect exploration and the most economical explanation of the central problem that attracts every intelligent person, that of solipsism. What is outside and what is inside? What is the connection between coincidence and the `reality' of everyday life. Are we asleep, dreaming of butterflies or are we butterflies dreaming of being human? In this novel, Dick provides answers so frightening that most people would prefer not to know them.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Philip K. Dick wrote "A Maze of Death" in which the bizzare lives of the individuals in the book turn out not to be what you , or they , think. In the end they are able , if they so wish , to be reedemed by the intercessor. It is not a well written or readable book ( and I am a life long PKD fan).
In contrast we have a better written and very readable 'Ubik'. 'Ubik' has similar themes and visions of a future to place them against. Once again a disparate band are thrown together and , as one by one they are eliminated , struggle to make sense of their changing world and the circumstances they find themselves in. Of course reality is not what it seems , but in the end they , with some intercession ,strive struggle and endure. Maybe.
Philip K.Dick was praised and feted for 'The Man in the High Castle' and 'The Martian Time-slip' and these are fine and dandy. Several of his ideas have been 'translated' into films such as 'Blade Runner' and others. However I feel that , after 'A Scanner Darkly' and 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' 'Ubik' is one of his better works focused on one of his more interesting writing themes.
RECCOMMENDATION Try 3 of them , they are short and read ( the first time ) quite quickly - 'Ubik' first then 'Do Andriods dream of Electric Sheep and finally 'A scanner darkly'. Then go away and read everthing else he ever wrote.
Later books by the author decline into navel gazing introspective and personal vision stuff which is not , unless you have the same vision , easy to read or get much from. If you have started with one of those , give him one more go read 'Ubik'.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly his best
Possibly as mainstream as pkd ever gets. Has the structure of a 'normal' novel. Good characters and a narrative drive. Plus the usual left field ideas and twists. Excellent read.
Published 2 days ago by Lord Agrostis
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story - fast delivery and quality print.
All as expected and delivered quickly. Great timeless story as with all of PD's stories. Well worth the read. thanks.
Published 22 days ago by A. J. Anderson
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe not as iconic as 'Do Androids Dream...' but a fascinating piece...
As most readers are likely to start with Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? (Gollancz) when it comes to the author's science fiction, 'Ubik' will possibly not come as a complete... Read more
Published 1 month ago by AK
5.0 out of 5 stars influential SciFi
The granddaddy of them all, Ubik has lefts its gleaming residue on quite a few Hollywood movies and countless books. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Chupacabra
5.0 out of 5 stars Big Dick
The man his not just a writer, he is a philosopher and sadly underrated by the main stream. Read him.
Published 1 month ago by craig callaghan
5.0 out of 5 stars eerie And thought-provoking
Eerie and thought-provoking. Are our dreams reality or is reality a dream? Like a Claude Monet painting of the sky reflected in a pool of water lilies, which is real, after all it... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Stephen Revard
1.0 out of 5 stars rubbish, didn't measure up to the hype
Rubbish, didn't measure up to the hype. It really is a poor science fiction story that starts of well and gets tedious.
Published 2 months ago by Chris
3.0 out of 5 stars Good
This was an interesting read that managed to keep you engaged, although there were times when the story sagged a little.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars I wonder if this influenced Inception
I do not seem to be a P K Dick fan. Was not too excited by this and it has not made me wish to run out and buy his other works that I have not got to yet. Read more
Published 2 months ago by tiredoldgit
5.0 out of 5 stars First Class All Round
Novel arrived promptly. In first class condition. It's an SF masterpiece. I recommend it to anyone who appreciates great SF and very good writing.
Published 3 months ago by JPC
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