4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Perhaps the Most Moving of Dick's Works,
This review is from: A Scanner Darkly (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
"Substance D -- otherwise known as Death -- is the most dangerous drug ever to find its way on to the black market. It destroys the links between the brain's two hemispheres, leading first to disorentation and then to complete and irreversible brain damage. Bob Arctor, undercover narcotics agent, is trying to find a lead to the source of supply, but to pass as an addict he must become a user..."
-- from the back cover
Written in 1973 and published in 1977, A Scanner Darkly is Philip K Dick's thirty-third published novel. The novel is semi-autobiographical in nature based on what Dick himself saw in the drug culture of California during the 1970s. It is also I think perhaps the most moving of Dick's works. I, at least, am fighting back the tears at the end.
As with all PKD's works this novel makes you marvel at his imagination but also (if you are of a philosophical turn of mind) brings you to question and consider the themes he raises for yourself. PKD also creates characters that I at least find believable. As Ursula Le Guin has said "There are no heroes in Dick's books, but there are heroics. One is reminded of Dickens: what counts is the honesty, constancy, kindness and patience of ordinary people." PKD's characters always strike me as in some way authentic.
A scanner Darkly was a British Science Fiction Award winner in 1978 and a John W. Campbell Award nominee, again in 1978.
"[Dick] sees all the sparkling and terrifying possibilities. . . that other authors shy away from."
--Paul Williams, Rolling Stone
"Philip Dick does not lead his critics an easy life, since he does not so much play the part of a guide through his phantasmagoric worlds as give the impression of one lost in their labyrinth."
-- Stanislaw Lem, "Philip K. Dick: A Visionary Among the Charlatans"
If you are new to Philip K Dick's work I would also recommend the following novels (which generally seem to be regarded as among his best):
The Man In The High Castle (S.F. Masterworks)
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? (S.F. Masterworks)
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (S.F. Masterworks)
Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (S.F. Masterworks)
That said, though some of PKD's works are better than others, to my mind they are all well worth reading. I would also recommend his short story collections:
Beyond Lies The Wub: Volume One Of The Collected Short Stories
Second Variety: Volume Two Of The Collected Short Stories
The Father-Thing: Volume Three Of The Collected Short Stories
Minority Report: Volume Four Of The Collected Short Stories
We Can Remember It For You Wholesale: Volume Five of The Collected Short Stories
A Scanner Darkly was also turned into a movie starring Keanu Reeves A Scanner Darkly [DVD] .