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4.3 out of 5 stars
Ubik (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2009
This was only the third PKD book I read, (the others being Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Martian Timeslip) but I found it to be one of the most amazingly imaginative, bizarre and thought-provoking stories I've ever read. It seemed a little hard to get into at first but after a while the story takes off and gets progressively stranger and intriguing. You can never predict where the story is going and the whole concept of 'UBIK' is absolutely fascinating. PKD has a very unique writing style and a great sense of humour. Science Fiction doesn't come much better than this and Ubik is easily one of Dick's greatest novels. it requires a bit of effort and concentration (even I'm not quite sure what happened at the end) but it's immensley rewarding. Recommended for anyone with a brain if they don't mind their head spinning afterwards and the result of reading this book will make you look slightly differently at the world afterwards - I did. Amazing.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 31 March 2010
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Being a recent convert to the futuristic world of Philip K. Dick, this was the fifth of his novels that I'd read. Bearing in mind that the first four novels provided some pretty stiff competition (i.e. Martian Time Slip, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, The Penultimate Truth, A Scanner Darkly), I can honestly say that I was blown away by this one.

One of the most interesting points about this novel is that it really does throw you after the first few chapters. I started off thinking that it was going to be a reasonably standard sci-fi yarn all about pre-cogs and psychics, etc., etc. However, from Chapter six onwards, it takes a complete left turn and becomes a different kind of story altogether.

Brilliant stuff!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 April 2012
A full story from Dick rather than a short story which he often does. It captivated me from start to finish. I read it straight after "Do androids dream of Electric Sheep" and would say both books are amongst Dick's finest. Ok its not all scientifically sound but it is thought provoking and reflects the darker side of human nature. The plot has been given away by many other reviews but if you are new to Dick this book is a great start and a relativly easy read. That said I will need to re read it. As with many sci fi books of this nature, I often understand the book better the 2nd time!
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on 16 May 2015
"Sick of the same old Space Opera? Bored with Bug-eyed Monsters? Tired of technical tosh? You need to read Ubik! Make your imagination sparkle with this weird and wonderful novel. Safe when read with the right attitude."

This is a weird one, even by Dick's standards. Here he posits a future world where psi talents are so commonplace there are organisations offering anti-psi talents to combat them. And people don't die immediately; they slip into half-life, stored in cold-pac, where relatives can still communicate with them. If this sounds weird, the plot's stranger. Head of a group of anti-psi talents is Glen Runciter. He and his faithful psi tester Joe Chip and a group of anti-psis head to the Moon (such trips are easy in a Dick novel) to investigate a possible psi intrusion. But it's all a trap, and a bomb blast leaves Runciter dead. Or does it? His poor employees manage to get him back to Earth, but there they start receiving strange messages from their supposedly dead employer.

That's just for starters. Really, the first third of this book is a rather clunky, stodgily written tale of intrigue and psis that makes you wonder if you're really reading a classic. But then the fun begins, and as Joe Chip's world starts to fall about around his ears and characters speculate on the nature of reality and death itself you're off for a weird Dickian trip that's a million miles away from hard-SF and has more in common with his later, more mystical works. Great stuff!
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on 3 April 2014
Although I'm familiar (as most people are) with the work of PKD through the various films that his short stories and novels have spawned, and others he has inspired, this was to my shame, my first ever PKD read. Ubik centres on a near future earth where telepathic and pre-cognitive abilities have become commonplace, and indeed dangerous to big business. As Dick wonderfully explains, in a form of natural evolutionary balance, an opposing force has developed alongside them, that of the "inertials": people born with an innate the ability to "block" specific types of psychic ability. When a business magnate hires the Prudence organisation (a company of such inertials) to secure his lunar facilities from telepaths, it's owner Glenn Runciter assembles eleven of his agents for the task, including Joe Chip a debt-ridden technician, and the newly hired Pat, a young woman with the unprecedented parapsychological ability to counter pre-cog ability by undoing past events. But what follows sends Chip and the team spiralling into peculiar events where their very existence seems to shift between past, present, and an eerie alternative universe where an ominous presence appears to be bearing an unfathomable influence. As they struggle to understand what's happening, the lines between reality and unreality begin to blur and the truth perhaps lies only in the strangely scrawled messages and notes that begin to appear in impossibly random locations, and the significance of the mysterious multi-purpose product "UBIK". But can the team survive long enough to find the answers and save themselves?

Ubik firmly deserve the accolade of "Masterwork". It's amazing to think that this visionary novel, exploring the themes of technology and reality is over 50 years old and it's clear why PKD continues to be such a massive influence on the science fiction community. The book itself is beautifully told, with the downbeat and broke Technician Joe Chip, and Prudence owner Runciter sharing the pov for the majority of the narrative. Dick's concise descriptions of a somewhat disconnected and impersonal future through its incessantly rigid machine operated systems and steampunk-esque 'retro-future' devices are brilliantly evocative, whilst his explanations of complicated physics keep you firmly rooted in the genre, yet awlays on the right side of sci-fi babble. In fact, through a seamless use of character and scene, Dick does a perfect job of maintaining tension and momentum in a story that in other hands could easily be nothing more than a massively self indulgent mess. Above all, in spite the wealth of its wonderfully inventive ideas and tehcnological world building, Ubik is much mroe than a set of brilliant concepts moulded into a story. It's a darkly comic, intriguing, and thoroughly absorbing narrative that works because of a perfect symbiosis between setting chracter and story and pushes forward to the next mind bending twist and turn with the masterful ease of an author who understands his reader.

At a basic level it's a solid sci-fi yarn, but Ubik has so much more to offer than that; with PKD's typical themes of humanity and boundaries of reality and in the case of Ubik itself, even the very nature of faith in its human and theological forms.

As an intro to PKD's writings, I can't recommend this highly enough. I for one will now be scouring through his catalogue!
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on 14 January 2013
This was the first book I purchased for my Kindle, and the second PKD book, (the first being Andriods). Reading on the Kindle was a little awkward, even on the smallest font, there are to many gaps. Sometimes as little as a dozen lines on a page and it ruins the pacing :/.

I had the same experiance with Palmer Eldritch, another good PKD book, that I would also recommend. But I bought this in paperback and loved it 10x more :). The language is diverse, and as an aspiring writer it's great for expanding ones vocabulary. It flows much better in regular paperback.

To be honest I was confused by a couple of things, but they were not critical to the whole plot, and certain characters are mentioned once or twice, and you never hear about them. But it doesn't matter becaue the characters that are involved primarily, are the ones you are giving your full attention.

The twist at the end is great, and the thoughts of PKD that are poured onto the page are just profound, though I will admit I only noticed it more during my second read.

So overall it's great and even the bad layout of the Kindle was not enough to break me away from the flow, but paperback . . . all the way. I don't have problems with a kindle by the way, other novels are laid out just fine, absent of constant spaces.

Kindle version: 8/10

Paperback: 10/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2013
This book is definitely more science fiction and less philosophical than some of his novels. The story is quite tight and coherent considering that it's about time travel, alternate worlds and the afterlife. There was a real sense of paranoia and death in this one. The climax was really intense as the main character fought for his life. Definitely one I'd recommend for people who are interested in reading some PKD but don't know where to start.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 11 May 2004
This book is fantastic! I have to admit that Ubik was the first Philip K. Dick book I read and I was thrilled by his concepts. I loved this book from the very first page on because it is…abnormal. In the meantime I have also read a couple of other Philip K. Dick books but Ubik is the one which is above all them. The kind of ideas he throws at you are just stunning. Objects are morphing back into earlier technologies (a fancy high speed elevator transforms into an old cable operated thing), a talking doors threatens to prosecute one of the main characters, messages from a dead guy, the picture of the same dead guy turns up on money coins, and last but not least the all important question: are we dead or is everybody else dead? The book has only 200 pages and not a single word is wasted. The story is superbly and plotted in a complex way and takes countless unexpected turns. Every single time when you start to believe what this is all about, it just changes in such a drastic way that you have to put your thoughts together from scratch. Philip K. Dick is a master in his own genre and I don't think anybody else dares to enter his realms. The only sad thing which is currently happening to his brilliant stories is the way Hollywood turns them into cheap blockbusters such as Pay check. I can understand that the complexity of his stories can not be easily turned into movies but using 10% of his genius ideas and 90% action crap is not good
Enough!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 June 2014
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 surprise. That is not to say that it is inherently worse or so similar that reading is only for the dedicated fans - but it may also not have the same effect you would have when reading 'Do Androids...' for the first time.

The book is very indicative of the period, when it was written, where exploring alternate social structures and hypotheses on future societal organization was more important in science fiction than a space based action filled narrative. In this way Ubik is certainly an interesting read, with lots of potentially possible alternatives explored (to their logical conclusion, something the inventors are sometimes loath to do) and with a suitably deadpan humor to boot.

If you liked previous Dick work, or have enjoyed your Heinlein, you cannot really go wrong with Ubik. If you are more looking for a techno thriller in your sci-fi, the book is most likely not it, though.
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