Top critical review
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Interesting, varied stories, but print quality poor.
on 26 June 2013
Before I ordered this book, I was aware that Philip K. Dick had suffered from some mental health problems during his life, so I was expecting some variation in the style, themes and perhaps quality of the writing. But the spectrum of stories included here was still a little surprising. The surreal nature of some of the writing has made it difficult for me to really "get into" some of the stories. For example, "Cadbury, the beaver who lacked" seems to be a fantasy story about a beaver who is having trouble finding relationships and love. "The little black box" is intriguing, as it refers to a device called an "empathy box" which enables people to experience a new form of "religion", which may threaten the basis of society. But the story ends rather abruptly and illogically, as if the author couldn't be bothered to continue with it any more. (Dick later went on to explore the idea further in his book "Do androids dream of electric sheep?".)
Hopefully, with some re-reading, I can come to appreciate the surreal moments a little more than I do now.
On the plus side, there are some good stories too, including one called "The war with the Fnools" which successfully combines sci-fi and humour, and which made me chuckle.
However, there is another problem with the book. Presumably to save paper, the publishers have decided to use a very small size of typeface. Also, the quality of the actual printing could be better, as a lot of the text appears to be slightly blurred. (It's not me - I've recently had new glasses which work great for everything else!) And to top that, the text is printed so that it runs very close to the "gutter" (the centre of the book), so I have to pull the book open quite firmly to read the text at the inside edges of the pages. I'm quite sure that after I've re-read this book a few times over the next couple of years, the spine will be weak and the pages may start to fall out.
Overall though, this is an interesting peek at part of the career of one of the most iconic sci-fi writers of the 20th century, and it's worth having. Just try to approach the book without too many preconceptions, and an open mind.