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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 22 July 2012
Considering both the lack of one star reviews here on Amazon and the frequency with which this appears in Top 50 Science Fiction book recommendations (or similar) I must admit I was expecting this to be one of the best books I have read in a long time, being such a keen fan of the genre.

But it wasn't. Let me start with the technology aspect. Any book written so long ago and set in the future is always going to be a gamble when read today. Some authors, such as Isaac Asmiov, deal with future technology as a small part of sweeping ideas and although the terms used seem dated, the plot carries it through. Ubik unfortunately does like to make technology a key part in some scenes and suffers for it. For example on a spaceship on the way back from the moon, one of the characters wants to telephone someone. Summoning the ship's telephone book (for those who already put these redundant wastes of paper straight into the recycle bin, they are comprehensive printed lists of people's landline numbers). This book has a keyboard on it for number entry - you don't speak to it - and then "quick scans" the whole book in seconds - that is to say it physically scans the pages, it is not a computer - before returning a punched card with the number, which is then fed into the telephone. You can overlook this silly and dated idea of the future (appreciating that in the late sixties, this would have been seen as visionary) a few times, but when each chapter contains several technology ideas that just don't work it becomes tedious.

Add to this an almost total lack of emotion and involvement from the characters. If I'd been apparently blown up by a bomb and the whole fabric of reality was changing I'd be pretty concerned by it. The dialogue in Ubik however is so devoid of any meaningful sign of worry from the main characters I was left wondering if ALL of this book was intended as dead-pan black comedy and it was me who was missing the plot. I could not engage with a single character from this book.

And speaking of the plot, this has to be one of the most disjointed stories I have read in a long time. In terms of quality I would rate the plot alongside that of a typical episode of Midsummer Murders from TV. In other words, some crime is committed for reasons to which the bulk of the story is inconsequential, leaving you wondering what the point of half of the characters was. And surely I can't be the only one who finds Dick's tendency to describe most new characters with long winded descriptions of every item of clothing they are wearing very tedious.

Maybe as I have said it was not the book at fault but my inability to tune into the style. Maybe having just finished an Iain M Banks book with deep characters and believable technology, Ubik seemed dated and shallow in comparison. I have to look at the weight of ratings (mine being the first one star) as evidence I just "didn't get it". But whatever the reason, I would neither read this again nor recommend it. And I won't be trying any more of Dick's works.
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on 8 May 2001
This is the book that got me into Science Fiction 15 years ago. I have re-read it many many times and it remains one of my top 3 books of all time. In my opinion, one of the best Dick books.
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on 8 April 2012
Of Dick's essential catalog of sci-fi epics, Ubik stands head and shoulders above. Worth the read until the end. Confused as it may seem, everything makes sense in the end. Re-read and relish.
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on 11 February 2016
Interesting book. Could have skipped the last few pages, otherwise though a good and intriguing sify read. Would definitely recommend to sify readers with a flair for the mysterious. :)
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on 21 July 2014
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.
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on 23 April 2015
A wonderful story of a vision of what the future could be like even though it is now set in the past. The story keeps you on the edge of your seat as it builds to its climax.
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on 4 January 2013
Dick's trademark, his ability to make us question the nature of what is reality, is never more richly delivered than in this cracking good read. Highly recommended.
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on 28 February 2013
Awesome book, been a long time fan of Phil's but for some reason had never read this. One of my favourites I think and a lot more cohesive than many of his novels.
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on 12 June 2013
A very weird psychedelic sci fi story. And terrifying. A must read for every P.K. Dick fan and also curious what kind of movie Michel Gondry will make of it.
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on 3 March 2011
such haunting ideas, layers of meaning - not the best writing style but after a while the mental images take over.
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