Top critical review
You can do better than this!
on 16 April 2016
The Divine Invasion tells the story of how Yah and Emmanuel managed to penetrate Belial’s hold on the Earth, with a little help from Herb Asher and Rvbys Rommey and Elijah. Along with Valis, and Radio Free Albemuth, it forms a trilogy which puts PKD’s weird cosmology into fictional form. I’m not sure that it would have been published had it not been written by a writer of significant reputation, because the plot is lame, completely unbelievable, and full of the obscure, mainly Christian theology that Phil was obsessed by towards the end of his life. (I even looked up Zina Pallas in Wikipedia, and discovered it linked back to TDV, and nowhere else as prominent). And you can see where it all stems from – the death of Phil’s twin-sister at birth – because The Godhead is Reunited, or something similar, when the male form finally works out the identity of the female form.
There’s Phil’s usual stuff about ‘what is real?’ because Herb Asher spends most of the novel thinking that he’s back in his hut on a planet beyond the Solar System, when he is actually in cryogenic suspension on Earth. And the crucial part of the book, in which The Fate Of The Universe is decided depends upon Herb falling for Linda Fox, who he knows is a mega-star, but at this point is very ordinary ‘looks like a pizza waitress’ – which suggests to me that Fox is based on Linda Ronstadt – seems to be the least credible part. (‘May The Fox be with you’ is an actual quote.)
The best sequence comes near the end when Herb is pulled up by the police, whilst the battle between Good and Evil has not yet been settled, and he tells them the truth about everything; that he is the legal father of God, but thinks he’s still in cryogenic suspension. The cop, echoing our own thoughts at this point says ‘you are the most fucked-up human being I have ever met.’ So Phil, bless him, is ridiculing his own plot.
I read this when it first came out, in 1982, the year that Phil died, and think I was happier with it then than I am now, probably because I thought all the mystical bollocks was fun, but now I think it’s just tedious. This, imho, wouldn’t get into his Top Ten sci-fi novels. Anyone thinking of buying this would do much better to read, A Scanner Darkly, Ubik, The Man In The High Castle,The Three Stigmata, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep….. maybe even Valis, instead.