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The Penultimate Truth (S.F. MASTERWORKS) by [Dick, Philip K.]
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The Penultimate Truth (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Length: 212 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description


‘An entertaining and disturbing read’
Sunday Times

‘As full of muscle, teeth and flashing surprises as an alligator pool’
Brian Aldiss

‘A fine parable, grippingly written’

‘A great philosophical writer’

Book Description

A masterly tale of political deception from the most significant writer of SF in the 20th century.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1048 KB
  • Print Length: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Gateway; New Ed edition (18 April 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003HV0TOG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #32,252 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: 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.
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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Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: Paperback
This is a short novel describing - without revealing anything specific - the politics, power struggles, deceit, greed and inequality on a post world war 3 Earth. It is both clever and thoughtful, full of intricate, ingenious twists and speculations on the nature of propaganda and leadership.

There is a revelation about a quarter of the way into the book which is possibly the most striking, disturbing moment of science fiction reading I have experienced. Although that is early on in the book, the pace of twists, dilemmas and revelations continues right to the end. What started as a post apocalyptic scenario becomes an exploration into universal human behaviour. As another reviewer said, the war hardly matters.

Altogether it is a fascinating, enjoyable and provocative read, although he does have a stuttering prose style which could surely have been improved by an editor or advisor. It is hard to give an idea with short quotations but here are a few examples:

"And then his own voice, but slightly speeded up, it seemed to him, answering."

"Because aging, Adams realized, as Brose said, can't be faked."

"Both, staring at the screen, said nothing to him, as if he weren't there. In fact each person in Wheeling Hall was isolated, now, by the catastrophe on the giant TV screen and the announcer, then, said it for them."

"But it was hard on the tankers to be subjected to Dale Nunes' rah-rah tactics whenever Dale - or rather his superiors above ground - saw fit, such as now, at bedtime."

"Still shuffling his documents, trying to come up with something of use, trying and unhappily failing, the abstract-carrier Footeman said, "I wish you good luck. Maybe next time". And he wondered if, for Runcible, there would be a further report. This inadequate - admittedly so - one today might well be the last, if his employer Webster Foote's extrasensory intimation were at all correct."
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