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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A disturbing read..............
Ok, so this is the 5th in the series of SF Masterworks I have read in as many weeks. I cannot, so far, recommend this list enough, having started on 'I am Legend', to 'Do androids dream', 'The Forever War' and 'Time out of Joint'. So far, I have been blown away by them all, but this story has really got to me.

The other review here will tell you about the...
Published on 19 Sep 2006 by Mr. Simon D. Blackman

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars "...low velocity cyanide dipped homeostatic dart..."
After the outbreak of the Third World War, the main worry was the radiation sickness and the general population went underground. It was a long war and when we are introduced to the cast of characters it is still (ostensibly) taking place. Nicholas St James is the President of the Tom Mix ‘ant Tank’ and one of the most important and valuable members of Tom Mix...
Published 3 months ago by Eileen Shaw


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A disturbing read.............., 19 Sep 2006
By 
Mr. Simon D. Blackman "simonthedude" (London, Baby) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Penultimate Truth (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Ok, so this is the 5th in the series of SF Masterworks I have read in as many weeks. I cannot, so far, recommend this list enough, having started on 'I am Legend', to 'Do androids dream', 'The Forever War' and 'Time out of Joint'. So far, I have been blown away by them all, but this story has really got to me.

The other review here will tell you about the story. I don't need to repeat that. But really, I was quite unsettled by this book (which is a good thing!!!).

There was no easy solution. The story was full of twists, conspiracies and points where I actually thought about what I would do if I were faced with the same choices.

For those of us growing up in the 80's with all the propaganda about what to do in the event of a nuclear war (what were those cartoons all about?) the harsh reality of what could happen, combined with the politics and greed behind it all, is all dealt with, and in a way that seems, even today, totally believable (if you can excuse all the time travel stuff!).

Not an easy read to start with, but one you will find immensely satisfying, even if all you do is remember the total insignificance of war.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous and entertaining - typical PKD, 8 Jan 2006
By 
A. Morley (Ripley, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Penultimate Truth (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Whilst the description may give the impression of a Matrix-style awakening and eventual hostility, The Penultimate Truth is rather a decent examination of propaganda and its methods. The book runs parallel stories of the man who discovers said truth and the political (and ethical) wrangling that the people maintaining the lie experience.
SPOILERS***************
Nicholas St. James is the President of the underground tank, the Tom Mix, which manufactures components vital to the perceived war effort. However, when their chief mechanic becomes ill he is chosen (through dubious methods) to go topside to find an artificial pancreas. What he discovers is what the reader already knows - that the war is in fact over.
Of the two stories, though, the liars' is more convincing and entertaining. Memorable characters such as the ancient, overweight and artiforg-enhanced Stanton Brose as the true world dominus add an aspect of ghastliness - he can only understand people when he can see their lips move.
As the alternative protaganist, Joseph Adams is the speech-writer with whom the people underground connect to albeit through the lies of a simulacrum called Talbot Yancy - what they think is their leader. Along with the 'Yance-men', Adams preserves the lie until all is disrupted by a young, genius speech-writer called David Lantano.
It is here, in the middle third that a murder mystery is thrown in and really starts finding its feet. Unfortunately as with many Philip K. Dick books the end feels rushed (e.g. Flow My Tears..., ) and whilst a conclusion is necessary perhaps it shouldn't have needed such an ending as was written. Perhaps a little more dystopian maybe...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sci-Fi??, 21 Jan 2008
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Penultimate Truth (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Not being a great reader of sci-fi Philip K Dick is an author that I do read. What he writes is so much more than mainstream sci-fi, raising both metaphysical and philosophical questions. This book is really ahead of its time as it shows us to some degree that we're going through the same predicaments currently. We are all aware of media manipulation and political spin, and that is mainly what this book is about.

The setting is after the third world war, where millions of people are living in giant town sized bunkers underground. The information they receive comes from the tv and political officers, showing them the devastation and the war raging on the surface of the earth, where the government are still and robots are fighting the war. These people are stuck underground for years whilst this war rages on. But what if the war had ended and there was peace on the surface? What if the few people on the surface lived on massive tracts of land? What would happen if people found out? Read this book and find out, and you will never view the news or statements from politicians in the same way again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A post-apocalyptic detective story, 16 Sep 2007
By 
Andy Phillips (Leicestershire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Penultimate Truth (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
The story is set in North America, which is now part of an alliance known as Wes-Dem, following a nuclear war with the USSR-based Pac-Peop group of countries. The war resulted in the vast majority of the population being forced to live underground in crowded 'ant tanks', which is where we pick up the action 15 years later, in the early 21st Century.

The chief mechanic of one of these tanks is seriously ill, so the president of the tank is forced to go to the surface and find an artificial pancreas. The tankers are under the illusion that the war is still going on, and that the surface is uninhabitable, with mechanical warriors and various plagues being the major threats. However, the president finds that this is not the case and that the war ended 13 years ago.

Simultanously, we follow the story of one of the ruling elite who live in luxury on the surface. He helps to write speeches for faked news reports that are delivered to the tankers in order to keep them under control and under the ground.

The story then progesses into a kind of detective story with this backdrop. There is a series of crosses and double crosses and plot twists that we follow in order to discover the ultimate fate of the tankers and the ruling class. This isn't a typical post-apocalyptic novel, but if you like that sort of thing, I would definitely recommend it. Many of the questions raised are resolved, but the only down side is a slightly ambiguous ending that I won't discuss as it will spoil the story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book that could have been brilliant, 26 Feb 2009
By 
Alison "runninggirlcycling" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Penultimate Truth (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
A book that, for me, just didn't reach it's potential! A great story that starts really well and then gets bogged down in a conspiracy story that doesn't really add much to the overall tale. I wanted to know much more about the plight of the tankers, the feelings of the con-apt dwellers and the guilt of the elite.

Like other books in this genre that haven't quite satisfied, this book skims over some of the things that I find so interesting - the nature of human survival against terrible conditions. The lead characters are possibly too numerous to really learn about their deeper feelings and so the book never quite gets to the core of the issues.

I did enjoy the book and it was a story that kept me interested but again it was a book that just didn't quite make it to the brilliance that Dick could have achieved.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Theres something great about this book, 20 Sep 2007
By 
This review is from: The Penultimate Truth (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
I'm begining to be quite a big fan of Philip K. Dick, but I think this is probably one of, if not the, best I've read so far. This is a much more cohernet novel than his later stuff which is a little too driven by his own psycological problems, but at the same time not dated sci-fi from the '50s. The premise, as you can see, is interesting and the book is not only crammed with great little details and ideas, but it is actually very well-written aswell. I bought this book after reading the begining in the shop becuase that very first paragraph captured me totally. A real joy.
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3.0 out of 5 stars "...low velocity cyanide dipped homeostatic dart...", 25 July 2014
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Penultimate Truth (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
After the outbreak of the Third World War, the main worry was the radiation sickness and the general population went underground. It was a long war and when we are introduced to the cast of characters it is still (ostensibly) taking place. Nicholas St James is the President of the Tom Mix ‘ant Tank’ and one of the most important and valuable members of Tom Mix is Maury Souza whose pancreas is only replaceable by an artiforg, an artificial pancreas. Desperate to save the old man Nicholas decides to go to the surface by digging a tunnel and he has raised money from the whole ant Tank to pay for the artiforg and hopes somehow to make his way through the dangers of the outside world and find the required organ.

But as chapter one has already shown us, the real situation of the earth is entirely different from what they have been shown in on-screen videos. Rather than a wasted dangerous radioactive world they see on their screens, the world is otherwise undisturbed. All the animals have been killed off (so what do they eat?). The Yance-Men have huge tracts of land and can make claims as they will. The terrible truth is that the vast majority of people have been sold the story of a war that doesn’t exist. The USSR and America have abandoned hostilities and are keeping the population underground where they have quotas to meet in the production of robot warriors called leadies.

The logic of this scenario is a little wonky of course. Since there is no war, what are leadies being created to do? I was some way into this story and involved with the struggles of the Yance-Men before this point struck me. By that time, of course, I felt I had to finish the novel, which is a farrago of in-fighting and struggles between very rich men. I felt it would have been more interesting to have the leadies being re-trashed over and over again. Why waste more expensive materials when you can just recycle them?

I did enjoy some of this, but the big plot hole of why they needed more and more leadies never got filled. I suppose you could read this as the triumph of the few over the many. Coming to an ant Tank near you any day. Propaganda as a way of life. The struggles of the ultra rich are a bit of a bore and I didn’t much care which of them ended up on top. I liked Nicholas St James, however who stuck to the point.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read!, 16 Dec 2009
By 
M. Shaw - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Penultimate Truth (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
This was the second book i read from sf masterworks and i chose this over others because i really liked the premise. The story doesnt dissapoint and overall its a great read. Slightly hard to read to start off with but towards the middle of the book alot of things get explained and it flows nicely. The only thing stopping me from giving it 5 stars would be the inclusion of some slightly confusing aspect of the story involving time travel which i sturggled to get my head around. would recommend it though!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not his best, 1 April 2008
This review is from: The Penultimate Truth (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
This is PK Dick treading his usual themes:
what is reality?
how can you tell what is real?
are the people around me real?
am i real?
etc etc.
The subject matter of a post WW3 community is really just a backdrop to these themes. At least there is none of his later preoccupations with religion in this book.
HAving said all this, this is still a very good SciFi book and I would recommend it, but as I say there are better PKD books out there.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward book on propaganda, lies and stupidity, 8 Jan 2008
By 
Rupf Peter - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Penultimate Truth (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Ph. Dick entagles us straightforwardly in intrigues, propaganda and human stupidity. This author appears to be quite pessimistic about our capability to think for ourselves - not blaming us, he just writes a superb story full of warnings against taking for granted whatever appears to be real. Probably one of Dick's more accessible books, and a real pleasure to read either as just entertainment, or as food for your brains.
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The Penultimate Truth (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
The Penultimate Truth (S.F. MASTERWORKS) by Philip K. Dick (Paperback - 10 Feb 2005)
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